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Jewish Studies

American University's Jewish Studies Program emphasizes the rich tradition of Jewish heritage in Western Civilization. The interdisciplinary Jewish Studies Program encompasses more than a dozen award-winning faculty from a variety of departments across the University. AU's Jewish Studies professors and scholars include prize-winning authors; internationally-renowned experts in the humanities, social sciences, and the arts; and several recipients of the Scholar/Teacher of the Year Award, AU's highest faculty honor. In addition to spending time in the classroom, these faculty make frequent media appearances and work with a wide range of scholarly and cultural institutions in our nation's capital and beyond dedicated to advancing knowledge of Jewish civilization to a wider public. Internships and other opportunities enable AU students to join with the faculty as they reach out to the wider community. A degree in Jewish Studies enables students to analyze the civilizations of the Jewish people and their various cultural and religious expressions from the antiquity to the present. The Jewish Studies Program offers a major in Jewish Studies, and minors in Jewish Studies and in Israel Studies.

Why Take a Course in Jewish Studies?

Through the Jewish Studies Program, students may train for a career in the Jewish community or in Jewish education, learn about Jewish issues and opportunities for Jewish public service, and develop a deeper understanding of American and world Jewry. Moreover, since dynamic contact with many other religions and cultures influenced the development of Jewish civilization, students study Jews and Judaism within the broader context of dominant societies and the spectrum of the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

*Please click here for a list of Fall 2016 course offerings.*

Faculty News

History Professor Lisa Leff's new nonfiction book, The Archive Thief: The Man Who Salvaged French Jewish History in the Wake of the Holocaust, was published in April 2015 by Oxford University Press.

Distinguished Professors Richard Breitman and Allan Lichtman (History) received a Tikkun Olam award for "raising enormously important issues and opening up a dialogue leading to a new sense of understanding" through their book FDR and the Jews. They also won the highest award in American Jewish Studies, The National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies.

Michael Brenner (History, Israel Studies), was elected International President of the Leo Baeck Institute, the foremost research institute on the history and culture of German-speaking Jewry with centers in New York, London and Jerusalem, and an office in Berlin. 

Gail Humphries Mardirosian (Performing Arts) directed Vaclav Havel's Protest, presented by Ambassador Theater. The production was sponsored by the Embassy of the Czech Republic.

Caleen Jennings' (Performing Arts) "Cream Soda and Creme de Menthe" was staged at Theater J in Washington, DC. 

Pamela Nadell's (History, Jewish Studies) article "Sisters in Arms: Jewish Women in the Civil War," co-authored with Dale Rosengarten, appeared in Heritage: The Magazine of the American Jewish Historical Society (Winter 2014). Her chapter "'The Synagogue shall hear the Call of the Sister': Carrie Simon and the Founding of the National Federation of Temple Sisterhoods" was published in Sisterhood: A Centennial History of the Women of Reform Judaism (Hebrew Union College Press, 2013). In December, Nadell was also elected to a two-year term as Vice-President for Program of the Association for Jewish Studies.

Guy Ziv (SIS) wrote an article titled "Netanyahu: A Prime Minister Beholden to Right-Wing Pressure," which appeared on The Huffington Post in March. Ziv also received an SIS faculty award for Outstanding Term Faculty Teaching at the end of the Spring 2014 semester.

Student News

Congratulations to our scholarship winners!


Claire Bailey, Judaic Arts and Studies Scholarship         

Alexandra Schultz, Judaic Arts and Studies Scholarship

Raizl Campbell, Estelle Seldowitz Endowed Scholarship Fund

MacKenzie Freudenrich, Estelle Seldowitz Endowed Scholarship Fund

Lesley Agatha Igra Grossman, Estelle Seldowitz Endowed Scholarship Fund

Aaron Torop, Estelle Seldowitz Endowed Scholarship Fund

Kelly Whitehead, Estelle Seldowitz Endowed Scholarship Fund

Hannah Ehlers, Everett and Marian Gordon Scholarship


Yediaut Newsletter


Yediaut, the newletter from the Center for Israel Studies and the Jewish Studies Program.

Read Yediaut

Live Video Stream: Michael Oren and Tamara Wittes

Michael Oren, Member of Knesset and former Israeli Ambassador to the United States, discusses the state of U.S.-Israel relations with Tamara Wittes, director of Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution.

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Coming Soon

  1. The Kibbutz: Ideal, Crisis, Renewal

  2. Israeli Perspectives on the U.S. Elections

  3. The Legacy of Shimon Peres

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