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Center for Judaic Studies

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Center for Judaic Studies

Advancing knowledge of Jewish history, thought and culture through learning, intercultural dialogue, and social action.

The Center for Judaic Studies (CJS) is a vibrant source of in-depth Jewish learning on campus and across Colorado.

Our faculty are research and teaching experts in a wide range of interdisciplinary areas of Judaic Studies. Their work is internationally recognized, and they offer an impressive annual lineup of undergraduate and graduate courses in fields of Jewish history, religion, language, literature, philosophy, film, and culture.

In addition to being home to our own faculty experts , CJS hosts annual visiting scholars, performing artists, authors, poets and filmmakers from around the world.

We offer a minor in Judaic studies, and a number of joint MA and PhD degrees with programs across campus. We are home to the Holocaust Awareness Institute , the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site and The Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society . We also serve the broader community through many annual events and co-sponsored activities across Colorado. 


Click on the text to read more about CJS events and happenings!

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Contribute to CJS success in 2015

A 2014 tax-deductible end-of-year gift to CJS * shows your commitment to expert-led Judaic Studies courses and educational programming for the entire community. Your generosity champions our Acclaimed Faculty Research, In-Depth Classes, Holocaust Awareness Education, and more. Both students and community members benefit from an ever-growing number of creative learning opportunities when you give.

Sponsor CJS at any of the following levels:

  • $3,600: Festival
  • $2,500: Shofar
  • $1,800: Pomegranate
  • $1,000: Apples and Honey
  • $500: Citron and Palm Leaves
  • $250: Myrtle and Willows

Or support us with a donation of any amount!

Paula Berger 2014 Menorah painting
Support the Holocaust Awareness Institute at the University of Denver’s Center for Judaic Studies.

Show your commitment to Holocaust education and programming with a special Chanukah gift to HAI . Keep an eye out for this year’s annual Chanukah card mailer, featuring a beautiful new card designed by local artist and Holocaust survivor, Paula Burger.

Not sure you are on our current Chanukah card list and interested in being part of this project next year? Click Here

Dr. Irwin Vinnik
Start prepping your applications for the Annual Dr. Irwin E. Vinnik Fellowship for Advanced Study in Israel

The fellowship, honoring the late Dr. Irwin E. Vinnik , provides educational travel funds for academic study in Israel. Past applicants have researched diverse subjects, including urban gardening, Israeli film, Dead Sea Scrolls, peace-building, yoga, music, and art. Their projects give life to Dr. Vinnik’s wish to encourage understanding of Israel, Judaism, and Israeli & Jewish culture.

Applications are open to students, teachers, clergy, and community members from all cultural backgrounds. Please download a PDF of the application requirements here .

NYU Press publishes CJS faculty Adam Rovner's In the Shadow of Zion: Promised Lands before Israel.

IN THE SHADOW OF ZION brings to life the amazing true stories of six exotic visions of a Jewish national home outside the biblical land of Israel. Israel’s successful establishment has long obscured the fact that eminent Jewish figures, including Zionism’s prophet, Theodor Herzl, seriously considered settling enclaves beyond the Middle East. Christians and Jews, authors and adventurers, politicians and playwrights, and rabbis and revolutionaries all worked to carve out autonomous Jewish territories across the globe in remote and often hostile locations, including Angola, Kenya, Madagascar, Suriname and Tasmania. The would-be founding fathers of these imaginary Zions dispatched scientific expeditions to these far-flung regions and filed reports on the dream states they planned to create. But only Israel emerged from dream to reality.
IN THE SHADOW OF ZION explores this remarkable shadow history of Jewish nationalism, making this an important book for understanding the trajectory of Zionism and the contemporary Middle East. A gripping narrative drawn from the author's own travels and from his meticulous research in archives the world over, IN THE SHADOW OF ZION recovers the mostly forgotten stories of these promised lands and of the fascinating figures who championed them. These individuals included the man credited with reviving Hebrew as a spoken language, a lovelorn Christian adventurer, two famed African explorers, a Yiddish-speaking member of Lenin's first Soviet cabinet, and a cast of author-activists hailing from America, England, and Germany.
Provocative, thoroughly researched, and written to appeal to a broad audience, IN THE SHADOW OF ZION offers a timely perspective on Jewish power and powerlessness.

Purchase a copy

Early Reviews of IN THE SHADOW OF ZION

“In this path-breaking study Adam Rovner takes us on a riveting journey through a boundless fantasy. Masterfully written, this little known chapter in modern Jewish history is also painfully thought provoking, for had there been a viable Jewish homeland anywhere on earth prior to the Second World War, the Holocaust may not have happened.” —Tom Segev, author of One Palestine, Complete

“Equipped with verve and an eye for the absurd detail, Adam Rovner set out across continents and into archives to recover the story of a time when desperation, imagination, and a sheer unwillingness to surrender to reality led some Jews to consider alternate Zions in unlikely corners of the globe. The result is a colorful and offbeat contribution to our understanding of modern Jewish history and of the fevered milieu out of which the state of Israel was born.” —Matti Friedman, author of The Aleppo Codex, Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature

“Through his travel and his scholarship, Adam Rovner recovers the search for a Jewish homeland in upstate New York, in Great Britain’s East African Protectorate (now Kenya), in Angola, on the island of Madagascar and on portions of Australia, and in Dutch Guiana (now Suriname). A fascinating physical and intellectual geography before the establishment of Israel.” —Susan Gubar, author of Poetry After Auschwitz, Indiana University

“From an island in the Niagara River to the depths of Africa, In the Shadow of Zion shows that the contemporary state of Israel was just one of many modern attempts to solve the ‘Jewish problem’ through land. This compelling and beautifully written book reveals a history of alternative Zions rendered invisible today by national and imperial ambitions that conspired against them. A masterpiece about the true origins of Zionism and the ‘paths not taken,’ this volume is a must read for anyone interested in global Jewish history or in the history of Israel." —David Shneer, author of Through Soviet Jewish Eyes, University of Colorado-Boulder

Dr. Adam Rovner is Associate Professor of English and Jewish Literature at the University of Denver. His articles, essays, translations and interviews have appeared in numerous scholarly journals and general interest publications. Rovner's short documentary on Jewish territorialism, No Land Without Heaven, has been screened at exhibitions in New York, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

Ben Franklin's World
Jeanne Abrams, CJS Faculty & Director of the Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society and Beck Archives, interviewed on Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History

Jeanne Abrams joined Ben Franklin’s World host Liz Covart to discuss the world of 18th-century medicine and her recent book, Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health.

What you’ll discover in this podcast:

  • What Americans living in the 18th century understood about disease and how to prevent it
  • What the most common diseases in 18th-century America were and information about them
  • What inoculation is and the controversy that surrounded it
  • How 18th-century doctors treated disease
  • Information about the 1793 Yellow Fever epidemic in Philadelphia
  • Details about the death of George Washington
  • Why 18th-century doctors like Benjamin Rush believed bleeding was an effective treatment for illness

Download & listen to the episode
Learn about the Ben Franklin’s World podcast
Purchase Revolutionary Medicine: The Founding Fathers and Mothers in Sickness and in Health Here

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Highlights on CJS around the web

See what CJS has been up to recently:

Rocky Mountain Jew, the blog of Denver’s Intermountain Jewish News, did this recent blog post titled “ DU’s forward looking Holocaust memorial

Meanwhile both the print and online version of the IJN wrote about our 12th Annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture in “ Bringing Miep Gies to life


Click here for upcoming CJS events!

Click here for past CJS events!

Philosophy Abrahamic Traditions

Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions Conference, July 10-12, 2013