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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 drop-down title of each item to read more about CJS events and happenings!

  • Ponderosa pic
    CJS Joins Stanford, NYU, and others in National Association for Professors of Hebrew
    The National Association for Professors of Hebrew (NAPH) is the professional organization of professors and instructors in colleges, universities and seminaries who specialize in Hebrew language and literature of the ancient, medieval, and modern periods. CJS recently joined the NAPH and is honored to be part of the organization and benefit from the networking and resources the NAPH has to offer.

    CJS Professor and Director of the Hebrew Program at DU, Sari Havis, will be representing CJS at the Annual conference this year. Professor Havis notes, "By joining the organization, the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver has not only joined a long list of top-ranked academic institutes supporting Jewish and Hebrew studies world-wide, but it has also created a new platform for the kind of intellectual exchanges and events that are so central to CJS." Learn more about the NAPH.

  •                     stained glass
    Rocky Mountain Jewish Historical Society's Object of the Month: Leaded stained glass window in the Lewisohn Chapel

    The leaded stained glass window pictured featured a Star of David design and formed part of the decoration in the Lewisohn Chapel at the National Jewish Hospital for Consumptives (NJH). The chapel was built in 1909, and the window was removed before the chapel was demolished in 1973.In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tuberculosis was the leading cause of death in the United States and Europe. By the 1880s, as Denver’s climate became known throughout the country as one favorable to curing tuberculosis, or consumption as it was also commonly known,  people flocked  to Colorado for their health, and the state earned the nickname “The World’s Sanatorium.” NJH, opened in 1899 by Denver’s small Jewish community, was the first to come forward to provide free aid to the hundreds and then thousands of largely indigent TB victims who soon flooded the state. Although it was formally non-sectarian, until the 1930s the majority of NJH patients were poor Eastern European immigrants, and the Lewisohn chapel was built to serve their religious needs.

  • Karin headshot
    CJS Minor, Tommy Tyson, Participates in World Languages Poetry Event

    "The Hebrew poetry project was part of a cultural event put on by the Center for World Languages. The event has been a tradition for three years now, and it is meant to promote intercultural appreciation through reading various works by poets of different nationalities. I attended the event last quarter and was very impressed. I was inspired to reach out to Professor Havis so that Hebrew could be represented. We decided to share a short poem written by Israel Eliraz about appreciation for nature called "I Went Out to a Field, I Found a Field." I love this poem's clean, concise framework, along with its simple message that reflects the sensible and coherent structure of the language itself. It was a wonderful experience to be able to share a fragment of Israeli culture at the event.

    I first came to the University with the intent to learn a third language, and as a student of history I was interested in learning one of the world's oldest spoken languages. I decided to give Hebrew a try, and after my first quarter with Professor Havis I was inspired to pursue a Judaic Studies minor and master the Hebrew language.

    Pursuing a Judaic Studies minor has affected my educational and personal goals because it has motivated me to study more languages and expand my abilities to communicate. I have also learned an incredible amount about Israel and its culture. I now have a strong desire to travel to Israel and would highly recommend this course of study to other students."

    -Tommy Tyson, History major and Judaic Studies minor

    • Miep Gies
      12th Annual Fred Marcus Memorial Holocaust Lecture- October 26, 2014

      Our 2014 Lecture will be the premiere performance for the Denver Jewish Community of Judy Winnick portraying Miep Gies, A Beacon of Hope. Miep Gies (1909-2010) is one of the unsung heroes of the Holocaust. This humble woman helped hide Anne Frank and her family in the Netherlands during WWII. Miep provided them with food and other basic necessities. The care and support of Miep and her husband enabled Anne's inspiring and historically significant...


    • Pessin Book Cover
      History Major, Shannon Reimers, describes her experience studying US-Israeli relations with CJS and History Faculty member, Professor Jonathan Sciarcon

      My work on US-Israeli relations and media perception is an extension of my history thesis, and has focused on understanding how the George HW Bush Administration was able to organize the Madrid Conference during 1991. In my original research I had concluded that the conditions created by the Persian Gulf War, mainly the increased international legitimacy for the US, allowed the administration to pressure Arab and Israeli leaders to come together for the conference. Now my research has focused on examining opinion articles to understand how the American public perceived the Bush Administration's efforts to organize the conference. Because of the special US-Israeli relationship, I believed it was important to understand how the public felt about the administration's efforts to organize the Madrid Conference. The articles I have examined suggest the American public was very supportive of the Madrid Conference and wanted the Arab states and Israel to participate in regional talks. I was drawn to this topic because the Madrid Conference was the first time where Israel and its Arab neighbors had a peace conference and I wanted to better understand the conditions that allowed for it to happen. After studying the region and living in Jordan I would say that I already had a strong grasp on the complexities of the Middle East. This project has certainly reinforced that there are no guarantees in the Middle East. Even with a very committed presidential administration and a supportive American public, Middle East peace needs to come from the Middle Eastern leaders themselves.

      Studying US-Israeli relations has been a highlight of my experience at DU. I've taken many classes focusing on the Middle Eastern history and relations, and last year I was able to study abroad in Jordan, and travel to Israel and Palestine. I was lucky to find such a strong interest in a region so early in my undergraduate experience. I have been able to expand my knowledge of the Middle East, culminating with my thesis. I have loved this research topic, and it has spurred a greater interest in diplomatic history, which I hope to study more in the future. At this point I am not sure where my feet will land after graduation, but I don't think I could stay away from Middle East for long.

      -Shannon Reimers, History Major, 2014


    • Elizabeth Karlsgodt
      Third Thursdays-An Experiment in Transdisciplinarity

      Edward Soja's notion of thirdspace offers a place where the differences of disciplinary boundaries no longer protect and compartmentalize, but rather, provide the very conditions of possibility for meaningful dialogue. Thirdspace articulates a transdisciplinary approach to inquiry that not only crosses disciplinary boundaries, but encourages the rich and complex interdependency of fields of study that often operate as islands. I can think of no space better suited to explore the complex intermingling of spatiality, historicality and sociality of thirdspace than the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site (HMSAS) at DU. Together, the vision of the HMSAS and the pedagogical values of the graduate programs at DU and the Center for Judaic Studies provide a unique collaborative opportunity to practice a kind of thirdspace...



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