Jewish Studies Mission Statement
Jewish culture and religion have flourished in a rich variety of forms and in remarkably disparate places on the globe for thousands of years. Jewish contributions have deeply affected the art, language and literature, law, philosophy, and political thought, and the sciences of all nations. The global impact of Jewish culture thus warrants its study as an important component of the liberal arts curriculum at KU. The Jewish Studies Program at KU is the only such program in the state of Kansas. Its mission, therefore, is to celebrate in the US heartland the Jewish experience and promote the understanding of its cultural importance with courses and academic programs that focus on the history, diversity, culture, languages, thought, and practices of the Jewish people and their religion. (approved 23 Feb 2015, reaffirmed 26 Sept 2016, revised 31 October 2016)
The Program in Jewish Studies offers an undergraduate major (BA in Jewish Studies) and minor, Departmental Honors (both by research paper and by service learning), and courses in Jewish Studies, Hebrew, and Yiddish; we also co-sponsor courses in many other units, especially Religious Studies. Among our several focus areas are Judaic studies, identities and ethnicities, languages and narratives, history and archaeology, and applied service in Jewish organizations.
Among the oldest of academic interdisciplinary studies, dating back to the 19th century, Jewish studies explores Judaism, the Jewish people, their culture, and their role in the shaping of human experience. The breadth of Jewish studies is extensive, with a strong foundation in biblical scholarship and the ancient world combined with more recent study of European, American, Mediterranean, and Middle Eastern history; it is therefore relevant to every department and program in the humanities and social sciences. Jewish Studies Program prepares students for graduate school and for careers in Jewish agencies, federations, and community centers. The Jewish Studies minor fits neatly with several KU majors, such as American Studies, English, History, or Religious Studies.
The faculty and students of the Jewish Studies Program fully support the Chancellor's strong statement, "Confronting Racism and Hate" (https://chancellor.ku.edu/news/2017/aug14), published soon after the recent events of 14 August in Charlottesville, Virginia.
The Jewish Studies Program is also acutely aware that anti-Jewish slogans, signs, and gestures were very much present at the rallies of the white supremacists. Such antisemitism has been on the rise in the United States for some years, but there has been an especially sharp rise in recent months, with some people feeling empowered by the current political climate in the US and elsewhere.
The Jewish Studies Program and its faculty and students are devoted to resisting and calling out racism, antisemitism and all forms of dehumanizing discrimination. We believe that discrimination and bigotry are antithetical to the egalitarian principles of our country, that all people are created equal, deserve equal respect, and should enjoy equal protection of the laws. Bigotry, hatred, and discrimination hurt us all.
voted and accepted by the Jewish Studies Executive Faculty, 28 August 2017
endorsed by the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, 10 September 2017