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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Center for Judaic Studies

Center for Judaic Studies

Center for Judaic Studies

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



לא תעמוד על דם רעך

Do not stand idle while your neighbor's blood is shed. (Leviticus 19:16)

The Center for Judaic Studies stands in solidarity with our Black colleagues, supporters, partners, students, and neighbors. We stand with those demanding justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and the countless other Black men and women who have lost their lives because their killers denied them human dignity. We stand against the dehumanizing acts of violence and the systemic inequities suffered daily by Black Americans and other minorities in this country. We stand to mourn with the families and friends of the victims of these injustices. We stand in commitment to the principle that Black lives — Jewish and non-Jewish — matter. And we stand in hope that as Americans rise together to demand accountability, justice will prevail. We will not stand idle while our fellows' blood is shed.


In response to COVID-19, the University of Denver and the Center for Judaic Studies have cancelled events until a later date. Please check back for updates on our programming.

Register now for summer classes. Design your own schedule and graduate faster!Click to learn more.




The Center for Judaic Studies and the Holocaust Awareness Institute honor the loss of two members of our Survivor Speakers Bureau during the past year. Jack Welner  and Paula Burger shared their experiences with many audiences throughout Colorado and beyond. We celebrate their resilience and their generosity to CJS. They are deeply missed.

"There was no rhyme or reason why we should have survived, except to tell the story."
Portrait of Paula Burger by Deborah Howard

Paula was born in Novogrudok, Poland (today Belarus) in 1934. She and her brother survived the Holocaust with the Bielski Partisans in the Naliboki forest. In 1949, Paula immigrated to the U.S. She was a gifted writer and artist. More than 90% of the art hanging on the walls of our Center was created by Paula. Paula passed away in September 2019. 

"Never let hate take root in your heart." 
Portrait of Jack Welner by Deborah Howard

Jack was born in 1920 in Lodz, Poland. He and his family lived in the Lodz Ghetto from 1940 until it was liquidated in 1944. Jack survived several concentration and labor camps, including Auschwitz and Dachau. He was reunited with his sister after the war, and both immigrated to the U.S. Jack passed away in August 2019.

Portraits of Paula Burger (2006) and Jack Welner (2004) by Deborah Howard. Images courtesy of the Beck Archives, Special Collections, University of Denver Libraries.




Drawings by Deborah Howard

DU professor of studio art Deborah Howard has interviewed and completed drawings of 25 survivors in the course of her portrait project, including Jack Welner and Paula Burger, pictured above. The entire series can be viewed here .

Select Documents from the Loewenstein Family
Papers and Art Collection

The historic documents in the Loewenstein Family Papers and Art collection tell the story of one Jewish family's miraculous survival and amidst the horrors of the Holocaust. Henry Lowenstein was born in Berlin in 1933 and left Germany in 1939 via Kindertransport to England. He was reunited with his family in the U.S. in 1947.The documents in the collection were assembled by his mother Maria, and donated by Henry to to the Beck Archives. Explore the exhibit here.

Lighthouse Writers Workshop and the Center for Judaic Studies, the Department of English & Literary Arts, and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences at DU present: 

Inside the Writer's Studio with Edwidge Danticat / Winner of the Neustadt International Prize for Literature

This event has been rescheduled on October 3. Stay tuned for details!


CJS and the Dr. Irwin E and Sandra Vinnik Endowed Fund, in partnership with the Denver Jewish Film Festival presented by Sturm Family Foundation, presented the documentary GOLDA to a full house at the Elaine Wolf Theatre!

Directors Sagi Bornstein & Udi Nir were on hand to discuss their film with CJS Director Adam Rovner and members of the audience. 

Graphic image Golda Meir smoking

Towards the end of her life, Golda Meir was interviewed for Israeli television. After the interview ended, the cameras kept rolling, recording an intimate conversation with the fourth Prime Minister of Israel. GOLDA tells the story of Meir's dramatic premiership through these never-before-seen materials, the reflections of colleagues and rare archival material.

Long before she became the first - and only - woman to ever hold the office of Israeli Prime Minister, Golda lived in Denver! In 1913, at the age of 14, she ran away from home to avoid an arranged marriage and came to live with her sister at 1608 Julian St. She attended North High School, but got her real education while washing teacups in her sister's kitchen and listening in on passionate debates about socialism and women's rights.


Guest curated by RMJHS's Dr. Jeanne Abrams from the University of Denver Libraries' Beck Archives, this exciting exhibit at History Colorado tells the story of the Jewish community's role in revolutionizing our state's health care in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.

A Legacy of Healing is on view from November 17, 2019 through April 19, 2020.

Dr. Jeanne Abrams was interviewed by Colorado's 9News for a feature on the exhibit! The segment aired on Feb. 3, 2020. WATCH THE CLIP HERE!

Take a look at some of the other great press coverage for A Legacy of Healing:

Hyperallergic  (Jan. 7, 2020)

Durango Herald  (Dec. 27, 2019)

5280  (Nov. 13, 2019)

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 SocietyWe also serve the broader community through many annual events and co-sponsored activities across Colorado.


Click to view past CJS Spotlights


RELIGIOUS LITERACY, RELIGIOUS DIVERSITY: Click here to learn more about this important NEW PROJECT

Click here to read the 10.29.18 Denver Post op-ed from Drs. Pessin, Hashemi, and Stanton calling for increased religious literacy and support for religious diversity, or click here for the pdf version.

Congratulations to new CJS Director, Adam Rovner, associate professor, Center for Judaic Studies, who received a Dean's Award for Excellence (DAFE) award to support travel and research for his book manuscript, Savage Invasions: The Shipwrecked Jew, the Zulu King, and the Invention of Empire.


The critically acclaimed documentary about a group of empowered Hasidic women creating the first all-female ambulance corps in the U.S. is available on iTunes, Amazon, Vudu, Google Play and DVD, starting September 6th.  




Cook-In Students
A huge thank-you to all who donated to CJS's Intercultural Cook-In, as part of One Day for DU!

This year, CJS' Graduate Student Intercultural Cook-In Series was chosen to participate in One Day for DU, a 24-hour crowd-sourced funding campaign held in Spring 2017.

The Graduate Student Intercultural Cook-In is a diversity-enhancing, community-building, interdisciplinary project of the Center for Judaic Studies, The Office of Graduate Education & the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management (with a number of other campus co-sponsors). Piloted with 3 events in 2016-17, this exciting project brings together grad students from across DU for an afternoon of intercultural cooking lessons with Knoebel Teaching Chefs followed by a reception open to the entire community where the culturally diverse foods they have prepared are enjoyed by all!

In addition to featuring delicious graduate-student-prepared foods, the community-wide reception also includes slides about the featured foods and cultures as well as conversation prompts to help get people talking about food-memories connected to their own cultural identities and experiences.

Our 3 pilot events – featuring Sephardic+Latino, Indigenous Southwestern, and Middle Eastern foods – have been a huge success. Graduate students appreciate how much the events have gotten them thinking about other cultures AND how effectively the events have gotten them meeting and talking with more interdisciplinary graduate students from across campus than in any other context during their time at DU.

The project truly enhances campus-wide diversity and inclusivity outcomes while helping graduate students build community around an evening of interdisciplinary and intercultural learning and conversation. The reception opens up the event even further to undergraduates, faculty, staff, and community members near and far!

For a 90-second video featuring student quotes about what this series has meant for students across campus, as well as photographs from past cook-in events, please click here.






Day in the Dirt
Course Highlight: "A Day in the Dirt" and CJS' new course Creation & Humanity!

On May 17, students from Prof. Amy Balogh's new Judaic Studies course Creation & Humanity (cross-listed with Religious Studies) spent their class period working in the DU Bridge Community Garden, while learning about permaculture and sustainability with Prof. Julie Morris from the Department of Biology.

After watching our campus bee-hive, weeding, and planting, the students spoke about the effects of the work on their stress level, and how connecting to nature, even in a small way, was of great benefit to their general sense of health and well-being.

"The students loved a day in the dirt, and so did I! In addition to their diverse academic interests and majors, students bring a wide-variety of experiences to this course — from growing up on a farm, to never having potted a plant — and so to see them all equally excited to get their hands dirty was a delight. It was also great to work cross-campus with the Dept. of Biology and the Sustainability Program toward increasing student awareness of our innate connection to nature." —Prof. Balogh







Sara Moses at Veterans Affairs

HAI Highlight: New partnership with Veterans Affairs

Thanks to a new partnership, HAI and Veterans Affairs (VA) have worked together to bring Holocaust education to the clients of the VA Office of Community Care. In addition to curating and loaning a trunk of materials for a month-long exhibit on Holocaust history during the month of April, centered on the question "How can life go on?," HAI also donated 26 books in the areas of Holocaust and Judaic Studies to the VA's Diversity Library.

VA and HAI also worked together through the HAI Survivors Speakers Bureau to bring the powerful story of Ms. Sara Moses to an audience of veterans and relatives of veterans. Liberated from Bergen Belsen Concentration Camp by U.S. troops at the young age of 7, Ms. Moses has a special place in her heart for our veterans — and thanked each of them individually as people lined up after the event.

For information about our HAI Survivors Speakers Bureau, or how HAI can support your school's or organization's Holocaust education goals, email us at





Moses Among the Idols

Congratulations, Dr. Amy Balogh
Former CJS Program Manager & Adjunct Lecturer!

Congratulations to Dr. Amy Balogh on the publication of her first book, Moses among the Idols: Mediators of the Divine in the Ancient Near East (Lexington/Fortress).

In Moses among the Idols, Amy draws from the fields of Assyriology, Archaeology, Biblical Studies, and Comparative Religion to make the argument that when it comes to understanding the special status of Moses as YHWH's mediator, the best analogy the ancient Near East provides is that of the idol — the most common form of mediation between divinity and humanity for most of religious history.

For more information on Moses among the Idols and Amy's other work, visit






 Sciarcon, Educational Oases in the Desert
Congratulations to Prof. Sciarcon on receiving tenure & on the publication of his new book!

CJS congratulates Prof. Jonathan Sciarcon, Associate Professor of Jewish History, on two recent accomplishments! First, congratulations to Prof. Sciarcon on his recent promotion to the tenured position of Associate Professor of Jewish History.

Second, congratulations to Prof. Sciarcon on the publication of his new book Educational Oases in the Desert: The Alliance Israelite Universelle's Girls' School in Ottoman Iraq, 1895-1915 (SUNY Press, Aug 2017), a history of the French schools that pioneered female education in Ottoman Iraq's Jewish communities. Click here for more information and to order Educational Oases today.

Congratulations, Prof. Sciarcon!



Click here for upcoming CJS events!

Click here for past CJS events!



New Courses:

The American Jewish Experience (ANTH/JUST/RLGS 2070)

Anthropology of Jews and Judaism (ANTH/JUST/RLGS 2011)


Ongoing Projects:

Self-Guided Walking Tour of CJS, HAI & RMJHS Exhibits & Spaces

DU Hebrew Program (CJS & Languages and Literatures)

RMJHS & Beck Archives Research Fellowship Program


Jessica Kohkoska

In Her Bones  table read with playwright and actor, Jessica Kahkoska