Our Mission

Courtesy of the Gross Family Collection

We are committed to demonstrating the crucial value of Jewish Studies to the university curriculum and to the intellectual life of the campus. Jewish Studies at Santa Cruz is an intellectually compelling, interdisciplinary program that offers students a broad range of courses in Jewish culture, especially its literature, art, and history, as well as its ethics, folk practices, and philosophy.

Our program focuses on the modern era, and explores the profound impact of modernization on traditional Jewish life and, concomitantly, the critical role played by Jews on the formation of modernity. The courses in our program encompass the range of modern Jewish Studies, including Eastern European Jewish life, modern Jewish thought, contemporary Israel, the Holocaust, American Jewish culture, as well as modern Hebrew and Yiddish language and literature.

In addition to our core curriculum in modern Jewish culture, we also offer students a strong foundation in ancient and medieval Judaism, including the Hebrew Bible, rabbinic texts, Jewish mysticism, and medieval Jewish history and literature. Our curriculum is enriched by conferences and lectures that bring the best Jewish studies scholars in the world to campus to share their work and participate in the intellectual life of the university.