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Jewish Studies Undergraduate Degrees

The Jewish Studies Program invites undergraduate majors to apply for graduation with program honors. They must meet the following criteria:

1.  Candidates will have an overall grade-point average of at least 3.25 and a grade-point average in Jewish Studies of 3.5 both at the time of declaring their intention to seek honors and by graduation.

2.  In consultation with the JS honors coordinator and with approval from a supervising professor, candidates will declare their intention to seek honors no later than the time of enrollment for the final undergraduate semester.

3.  Candidates will fill out a declaration form (available here) and submit a copy of that form to Student Academic Services (109 Strong Hall).

4.  Candidates intending to conduct research and write a substantial, original research paper (honors essay) will enroll in JWSH 490 Directed Study in Jewish Studies or in 491 Directed Study in Jewish Studies Honors (if they are in the University Honors Program) for one or two semesters. Candidates intending to engage in service learning at a community organization will enroll in JWSH 650 and, at the end of service, will submit an essay that describes the service and reflects on the student's experience. A grade of B or higher must be earned in this/these courses.

5.  A committee of three members of the University faculty (the supervising professor and two others, one of whom must be a member of the Jewish Studies faculty) will approve the honors essay or service learning project and will certify to the JS honors coordinator that the candidate has successfully completed the requirements to earn honors. The JS honors coordinator will write to notify Student Academic Services that the JS Honors Program has been successfully completed.

6.  If the candidate is earning a double major and is attempting to earn departmental honors in two different departments, one research project may be used to satisfy the requirements of both departments if the candidate obtains approval from both. Both departments must be represented on the student’s committee.

original text approved by CUSA 27 October 2015
updates to text approved by CAC 17 January 2017

Jewish Studies Program statement in solidarity with protests against police brutality

Beloved community,

As an academic program in the University of Kansas, we stand in solidarity with Black Americans -- including Black Jewish people -- and everyone hurting after the senseless, brutal murder of George Floyd and all people targeted by systemic racism and injustice in our country. We continue to be committed to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This morning, the Association for Jewish Studies sent out an email reminding us that as scholars of Jewish Studies, we are keenly aware of the devastating impact of discrimination and violence against minority groups. Dr. Cécile Accilien, the Chair of the KU Department of African and African-American studies, shared with us the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The Jewish Studies academic community is rich and diverse – it includes scholars and students who are Jewish and non-Jewish, scholars and students of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and from multiple denominations and creeds, people who are immigrants (like myself) and those who are American-born. The Bible commands: צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף tzedek tzedek tirdof, which translates into English as “Only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). In this well-cited verse, the Hebrew word tzedek, or justice, repeats twice. There can be many explanations of the repetition – textual interpretation in all its many forms is a beloved pursuit for many of us. Today, I am going to give you my own interpretation -- though I am sure that it already exists somewhere in the treasury of Jewish exegesis. One tzedek, or justice, you must pursue for yourself and for people like you; that is, perhaps, the justice that is easiest to understand, because we keenly feel injustices committed against ourselves and people like us. The other tzedek is the justice you must pursue for the sake of people who are not like you. It is often a harder lesson, but a necessary one. The justice, or tzedek, which we pursue thus also becomes a gift of chesed, of lovingkindness that enriches all of us.


In solidarity,

Dr. Renee Perelmutter,

Director of the Jewish Studies Program

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