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Jews and Judaism: An Introduction



The identity of contemporary Jews is greatly diverse and consists of various elements including religion, culture and ethnicity. Starting with the present and reaching back towards the past, this course will offer a survey of the various forms of Judaism, the holidays and the liturgy.

Course objectives

  • The student will gain insight into the ever-changing identities and manifestations of Jews and Judaism.

  • The student realizes that terms such as religious or secular do not sufficiently cover the varied and ever-changing lifestyles and forms of expression in Judaism.

  • The student is challenged to think about models used in the study of religion.

  • The student will be able to distinguish between insider and outsider perspectives.

  • The student will be introduced to material culture and its importance for the study of religion

  • The answers to the exam questions should be clearly formulated and well argued.


Timetable Religiewetenschappen Timetable ONOS Timetable MOS Timetable Religion in a changing world

Mode of instruction

  • Lecture

  • Excursion – compulsory attendance, scheduled for November 2, 2018 @13.00

  • Films – compulsory attendance

Course Load

  • Total course load: 140 hours (5 ecs x 28 hours).

  • Hours spent on attending lectures and excursion: 2 hours per week x 12 weeks = 24 hours

  • Hours spent on the excursion: 3 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature: 54 hours

  • Time to write a paper (including reading / research) and prepare for the exam: 59 hours

Assessment method

  • a paper relating to the museum excursion to be handed in mid-semester 40%

  • written examination with essay questions at the end of the semester 60%

The minimum grade for the paper is 5.5 and for the examination 5. An average of 6 is the minimum passing grade for the course. Rewrites of the paper are to be submitted within 2 weeks after receiving a failing grade.

Students may consult the instructor about the results of their paper and/or exam by appointment.


The final mark for the course is established by determining the weighted average.


Rewrites of the paper are to be submitted within 2 weeks after receiving a failing grade. A resit for the written examination is possible.

Exam review

When and where the exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest.


Blackboard will be used for:

  • for course information,

  • the weekly schedule,

  • announcements,

  • assignments

  • reading material.

Reading list

E. van Voolen, Joods leven thuis en in de synagoge (Parthenon 2011) or H. Goldberg, Jewish Passages. Cycles of Jewish Life (University of California Press 2003) entire book.
M. Satlow, Creating Judaism. History, Tradition, Practice (Columbia University Press 2006) capita selecta
M. Brenner, A Short History of the Jews (Princeton University Press 2010) entire book

These books will be made available on the reserved book shelf in the University Library. However, as Brenner and Van Voolen are to be read in their entirety, students are expected to purchase them. Satlow is available online via internet and Goldberg is available online via the University Library.

Other reading will be assigned and provided on an ad hoc basis via blackboard.


Students are required to register through uSis

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


All queries should be posed to Drs. S.R. Goldstein via her university email address.


Participation in the excursion to the Jewish Historical Museum as well as attending the film screenings are mandatory.

The Excursion to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam will take place on Thursday 19 October 2017 at 2.15 pm. More information will be given in the course.

Academic Integrity

Students are expected to be familiar with Leiden University policies on plagiarism and academic integrity. Plagiarism will not be tolerated. If you submit any work with your name affixed to it, it is assumed to be your own work with all sources used properly indicated and documented in the text (with quotations and/or citations).

Students with disabilities

The university is committed to supporting and accommodating students with disabilities as stated in the university protocol (especially pages 3-5). Students should contact Fenestra Disability Centre at least four weeks before the start of their courses to ensure that all necessary academic accommodations can be made in time conform the abovementioned protocol.