Jewish Studies


This field offers a wide variety of foci in which to study Judaism in periods ranging from the Second Temple to the contemporary. The methods of study vary with the concentration of the individual candidate, but in all cases involve substantial involvement in historical and textual approaches in the original languages and in the placement of the phenomena of Jewish religion within the larger cultural and religious contexts of the period. The students are encouraged to acquire basic familiarity with the broad sweep of Jewish history, literature, and religious thought beyond the limits of their own specialization and to develop an understanding of Judaism within the broader framework of the study of religion.


Students are expected to have, or acquire, advanced proficiency in Hebrew and a good reading knowledge of German. In addition, depending on the individual specialization, they may be expected to acquire a sound reading knowledge in other languages, such as Aramaic, Greek, Latin, Arabic, Yiddish, and French.

General Examinations

Students are to work out their general examination structure and the bibliography for specific examinations in consultation with the faculty in the field and with awareness of the overall expectations of the doctoral program in the Committee on the Study of Religion. At least one examination will ordinarily be based on a special topic.

Recent and Current Dissertation Topics Include:

  • An Intellectual and Spiritual Biography of Rabbi Avraham Yitzhaq Ha-Cohen Kook, 1865 - 1904
  • ‘Big Boston’: the impact of Community Organizing on Christian and Jewish Congregations in Boston
  • Post-WWII American Judaism: How Judaism Became an American Religion
  • The Power of Silence: The Empty Temple Mount in Late Antique Jerusalem
  • Reciprocity and Responsiveness: Self-Transcendence and the Dynamics of Covenant in the Theology and Spirituality of Abraham Joshua Heschel