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Course Offerings

Course Offerings

Jewish Studies

Independent and Online Courses
For Enrolled Spertus Jewish Studies Students

These courses are offered on an ongoing basis.
They can be started anytime after a student is admitted.
Click on course title for faculty and course description.


Orientation: Introduction to Jewish Studies
Introductory Biblical Hebrew I, II, and III

The Bible and the Ancient Near East
The World of the Rabbis
Jews and Judaism in the Middle Ages
Early Modern Jewish Experiences
Modern Jewish Experiences
Contemporary Jewish Experiences


History of Antisemitism I: Antiquity to Late Eighteenth Century
History of Antisemitism II: Dawn of the Enlightenment to the Present
History of Jewish Biblical Interpretation

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Onsite Seminars

Twice a year, Spertus Institute holds Jewish Studies Seminars onsite on our Chicago campus. Seminars offer dedicated time to advance your studies, learn with skilled and accomplished faculty, and engage with your fellow students from around the world. During seminars, courses are offered that meet program requirements for students in Jewish Studies master's and doctoral programs.

Spring Seminar Schedule | March 11-15, 2018

Orientation | Sunday, March 11 | 4:00 to 4:30 PM 

TIMESLOT 1 (Morning)
These courses meet Sunday 2:00 to 4:00 pm and
Monday-Thursday 9:00 am to 1:00 pm

Jews in Late Antiquity: From Ezra to Mohammed
Course 3316 | 3 credits
Meets MAJS second-level core and elective/concentration requirements. Meets Doctoral elective requirements.

Taught by Dr. Gary Porton

The largest concentrations of Jews in Late Antiquity were in the Land of Israel and ancient Babylonia. Yet Jewish communities also existed within most of the countries surrounding the Mediterranean Sea. This course will examine the development of the political, social, economic, and religious life of these various Jewish communities. Our goal is to discover what they had in common and how they differed from each other.

Biblical Law
Course 4117 | 3 credits
Meets MAJS second-level core and elective/concentration requirements. Meets DSJS text and elective requirements and DHL text requirements.

Taught by Dr. Anne Knafl

How many legal traditions are preserved in the Bible? Who wrote them and when? Were they intended to be implemented? Do they complement or contradict each other? This course will survey the legal materials preserved in the Hebrew Bible (Tanakh and Old Testament). It will compare the different law codes contained in the Pentateuch (Torah) to each other and to Ancient Near Eastern legal material, such as the Laws of Hammurabi. Students will gain familiarity with the relevant content of the Hebrew Bible and engage current scholarly interpretations and arguments over the interpretation of these passages.

Complimentary Community Lunch | Monday-Thursday | 1:00 to 2:00 pm

TIMESLOT 2 (Afternoon)
These courses meet Sunday 4:30 to 6:30 pm and
Monday-Thursday 2:00 am to 6:00 pm

Rabbi Akiba: His Life and Teachings
Course 4173A | 3 credits
Meets MAJS second-level core and elective/concentration requirements. Meets DSJS text and elective requirements and DHL text requirements.

Taught by Rabbi Dr. Vernon Kurtz

In this course we will examine the life, teachings, and legacy of the great sage Rabbi Akiba. We will delve into his biography, carefully study his Torah, and engage ourselves with his influence. We will study original sources and read secondary material concerning his lasting impact upon Jewish life throughout the ages.

For What May We Hope?
Messianism in Twentieth Century Jewish Literature and Thought
Course 4177A | 3 credits
Meets MAJS second-level core and elective/concentration requirements. Meets DSJS text and elective requirements and DHL text requirements.

Taught by Dr. Claire Sufrin

In this course, we will bring novels and short stories by Jewish writers into conversation with Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. Using messianism as a focus, we will look at how literary writers can use both the form and content of their work to interrogate some of the same ideas and questions that theologians address in essays and treatises. We will examine many of the ideas and questions that emerged in response to the Holocaust and the establishment Israel. Students will read the literary works ahead of the seminar and we will examine the theological material together.

Synchronous Jewish Studies Webconferencing Course

Faculty and students "attend" class together via iMeet.

Jewish Humor
Tuesdays, April 10 - May 8, 2018 from 6:00 to 8:30 pm CST

Course 4240 | 3 credits

Taught by Dr. Leonard Greenspoon

Humor is often identified as a characteristic feature of Jews and Judaism. In spite of a history of crises and living on the edge (or perhaps because of this history), Jews have frequently created or resorted to humor. In this course, you will explore different descriptions and instances of humor as well as what makes types of humor “Jewish.” We will look at examples from the Hebrew Bible through the Talmud and medieval period, then on to the Enlightenment and into the 21st century. In the process, we will discern common features of “Jewish humor” as well as acknowledge the individualism and eccentricities of many of the figures we discuss.

Jewish Studies Onsite 

Jewish Psychology: From Theory to Self-Actualization
8 Tuesday Sessions April 17 - June 5, 2018 from 6:00 to 9:00 pm
Course 3118 | 3 credits 
Open for audit and degree credit | For degrees students, meets MAJS elective/concentration requirements and DSJS elective course requirements

Taught by Dr. Maya Avinadav

Utilizing Jewish sources and concepts, this course will engage its participants in new ways to think about their personal, professional, and communal lives, applying Jewish Psychology to offer novel approaches, methods, and models as paths for personal change, growth, and healing. Session topics include personal development, interpersonal relationships, resilience, and life transitions. The course will engage classical and modern Jewish texts via case studies and havruta (paired study).


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Letter from the Dean

Dear Jewish Studies Students:

We are pleased to provide you with a schedule of course offerings.

This list includes ongoing online courses and a series of new courses that will be delivered via web-conferencing.

There is quite a range of exciting courses, taught by distinguished international faculty, delivered in a variety of ways to meet your needs, schedules, and interests.

If you have questions, feel free to email me at or contact Dr. Victor Mirelman (Jewish Studies Faculty Chair) at

We look forward to learning with you.
Dean Bell
Dr. Dean P. Bell
Provost and Vice President
Spertus Institute

Why Spertus Institute?

  • Welcoming nondenominational environment open to all
  • Distinguished international faculty
  • Flexible scheduling and locations, distance learning available
  • Opportunities to pursue individual interests
  • Extensive resources


At Spertus Institute, we embrace the idea that the wisdom of Jewish thought and the richness of Jewish experiences inform Jewish society and Judaism today. Our programs encourage intellectual and spiritual reflection. Students grapple with Jewish ideas in the service of their personal, professional, and communal advancement.

Course Costs for Admitted Students

  • Masters level 
    $350 per quarter-hour credit 
    ($1050 per 3qh course)

  • Doctoral level 
    $400 per quarter-hour credit 
    ($1200 per 3qh course)

A registration fee of $25 is also required.

For New Students

Spertus offers graduate programs in Jewish Studies through a unique blend of distance learning and intensive on-campus instruction. Students — from half a dozen foreign countries and more than two dozen US states — come to Spertus for week-long academic seminars. Seminars include a range of courses in Jewish history, thought, and culture, accompanied by study of classical Jewish texts.

Applications for Jewish Studies programs are accepted all year. MORE>