Concentration focused on Judaic culture lacks enrollment

Michael Mazzuca
Staff Writer

Students often experience angst when declaring a major while some just know what their career is and follow the path. An undergraduate choosing what to study can look up the majors, minors and concentrations that the University offers.
The University offers more than 100 majors, minors and concentrations according to the school’s “Programs of Study” webpage. Theology is offered as both a major and minor and has a large enrollment on campus. Regardless of the number of students studying theology, no one has declared a Judaic Studies concentration.

Judaic Studies started five years ago because of students’ requests. Marc Shapiro, professor and Weinberg Chair of Judaic Studies, joined the University’s faculty in 1996. He has been involved with Judaic Studies since its inception. Currently, there is less interest in declaring the concentration than there once was.

“Usually, It’s only one or two [students],” Shapiro said. “Right now, at the moment, our last person graduated.”

The only required course for the program is a 300-level course titled The Jewish Way of Life. Some other classes pertain to Judaic literature, prophets, Judaism during the time of Jesus and the Holocaust.

David O. Friedrichs teaches students about the Holocaust. In the past, the class visited the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. However, the trip is not an annual event.

“I think we all felt that that was a very rich experience and hopefully enhanced what we brought to the class,” Friedrichs said.

Many students end up taking classes that are free electives for their major, but can be accredited to a Judaic Studies concentration if they so choose. Students majoring in theology usually do this a lot because of the overlap between Christian and Jewish origins. Other majors are represented as well in Shapiro’s classes. He recalled having an English major in his class, and the concentration includes a literature course: ENLT 360, Jewish literature. Though no one has declared the concentration, students are attracted to the individual classes.

“Here, there really aren’t Jewish students, and yet we consistently are able to run courses that get enrollment,” Shapiro said. “So it shows there is interest.”

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