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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.

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.


CJS has an exciting 2020-2021 year planned for you

Look out for details on our upcoming virtual events. We hope to see you in person again soon.

CJS was back at the Denver Jewish Film Festival
February 8-17, 2021 

YidLife Crisis - Poster

CJS is a proud sponsor of the Denver Jewish Film Festival. This year, we welcomed Canadian comedy duo YidLife Crisis for a series of virtual events:


In their documentary film, Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman (a.k.a. YidLife Crisis) take us on a virtual tour of their hometown as they nosh their way through 100 years of Jewish food and rich cultural heritage in Montreal. 

Watch the "Featurette": A Taste of YidLife Crisis 

Get a taste of the world's only Yiddish-language web series. Eli and Jamie - a.k.a "Leizer" and "Chaimie" of YidLife Crisis - pay homage to the yiddishkayt in their upbringing and try to reconcile their new world lifestyle with an old world inheritance. They put together this curated selection of episodes just for DJFF!

Watch the Live Q&A with YidLife Crisis from Feb. 14

Did you miss it the first time around? YidLife Crisis (Eli Batalion and Jamie Elman, aka Leizer and Chaime) joined CJS Director Adam Rovner for a fun and fascinating conversation about Jewish humor, food and Yiddishkayt on February 14. Watch the recording here.

YidLife Crisis Q&A with CJS at DJFF 2021

Why The Nazis Looted Art And Why It Still Matters

Tuesday, March 9, 6-7:30 PM MST (Webinar)

ACE E. Campbell & WWII German Art Depot

Join us as we investigate the connections between Nazi art plunder and the Holocaust, and why this history of expropriation still matters today.

As the Nazis devised and implemented the Final Solution, they also expropriated a wide range of assets from Jews across Europe — real estate, investments and mobile assets. This massive theft included several hundred thousand works of art, the result of confiscation and forced sales within the Third Reich and in occupied territories. The aftermath of Nazi art plunder continues to present legal and ethical challenges in the art world as the heirs of Jewish victims seek restitution of looted paintings and other objects now held by museums, galleries or private collectors.


This event is co-sponsored by DU's Center for Art Collection Ethics (ACE), the Holocaust Awareness Institute (HAI), the Holocaust Museum Houston and Program in Jewish Studies at Rice University.

Presented by Associate Professor of History and Director of the Center for Art Collection Ethics, Elizabeth Campbell.

Peace? Or Missing Pieces? The Abraham Accords and the Future of the Middle East

Virtual event: THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 18, 2021, 2-3 PM MST

Abraham Accords Event

In 2020, the Trump administration announced the "Abraham Accords," agreements signed between Israel and the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco. The Abraham Accords claim they will provide opportunities for peace and stability in the Middle East and will hasten an end to radicalization by promoting tolerance between peoples of different races, faiths, and ethnicities.

These goals sound lofty, but are they sincere? Attainable? Fair?

In a panel discussion, experts from DU's Joseph Korbel School of International Studies and the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences gave their perspectives on the Abraham Accords:

  • Dr. Micheline Ishay, University of Denver Distinguished Scholar, and Professor of International Studies and Human Rights
  • Dr. Nader Hashemi, Associate Professor & Director of the Center for Middle East Studies
  • Moderated by Dr. Maha Foster, Professor of Arabic


This program was sponsored by the Arabic program, the Center for Judaic Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Denver.


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

Click to view past CJS Spotlights


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)


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!


past EVENTS                       

Click here for past CJS events!


Sagi Bornstein, Adam Rovner, and Udi Nir

GOLDA Directors Sagi Bornstein (l) and Udi Nir (l) with CJS Director Adam Rovner after the screening of their film at the Vinnik Evening of Jewish Culture in February 2020.