Jewish Studies

University of California, Berkeley

About the Program


The Jewish Studies minor is open to all UC Berkeley students and is designed to give students an overview of some of the major themes in Jewish Studies.   Students may choose offerings from a large number of disciplines including arts and humanities, social sciences, and law. After completing an introductory survey course, participants in the minor may take classes, seminars, and language courses (Hebrew in the Near Eastern Studies Department, and Yiddish in the German Department), engage in hands-on experiential learning through the Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life, and take relevant courses offered in various departments including Jewish Studies, Comparative Literature, History, Music, Near Eastern Studies, Political Science, and Sociology. The program allows students to work closely with members of the faculty, to be mentored by graduate students, and to participate in the intellectual life of the broader Jewish Studies community on campus. Application instructions for the minor.

Declaring the Minor

For information on declaring the minor, please contact the Center for Jewish Studies here

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Minor Requirements

Students who have a strong interest in an area of study outside their major often decide to complete a minor program. These programs have set requirements and are noted officially on the transcript in the memoranda section, as well as on diplomas.

General Guidelines

  1. Five relevant upper division courses (including JEWISH 100 core course), minimum 3 units each, are required to complete the undergraduate minor.
  2. All courses taken to fulfill minor requirements below must be taken for graded credit.
  3. A minimum of three of the upper division courses taken to fulfill the minor requirements must be completed at UC Berkeley.
  4. A minimum grade point average (GPA) of 2.0 is required for courses used to fulfill the minor requirements.
  5. Courses used to fulfill the minor requirements may be applied toward the Seven-Course Breadth requirement, for Letters & Science students.
  6. No more than one upper division course may be used to simultaneously fulfill requirements for a student's major and minor programs.
  7. All minor requirements must be completed prior to the last day of finals during the semester in which you plan to graduate. If you cannot finish all courses required for the minor by that time, please see a College of Letters & Science adviser.
  8. All minor requirements must be completed within the unit ceiling. (For further information regarding the unit ceiling, please see the College Requirements tab.)

The study of Modern Hebrew, Biblical Hebrew, or Yiddish is encouraged and is essential for some but not all of the courses. However, there is no language requirement for the Jewish Studies minor and only advanced language courses are applicable to the minor.


JEWISH 100Introduction to Jewish Religion, Culture, and People3
Select four upper division elective courses (consult academic adviser)

To Declare Jewish Studies Minor

Students must meet with the JS minor adviser to declare the minor. Bring your complete application to meeting. This includes:

  • A completed Jewish Studies Minor Application Form (Word document).
  • A current copy of your UCB transcript printed from your student portal with your name printed on the document. Please highlight all courses that apply to the minor, including courses in progress and transferable credits from other institutions (community colleges, study abroad). Also, indicate which course (if any) will overlap between the JS minor and your major.
  • Copies of transcripts from colleges other than UC Berkeley if course work is to be counted towards the minor. Transcripts may be unofficial. We do not have access to transcripts in the Registrar's Office. Students must request copies themselves and submit them with their applications. Please highlight all courses to be applied to the minor.

Once admitted, minors are required to contact the JS minor adviser at least once each semester to get approval for any changes to their program.

To Complete Jewish Studies Minor

Fill out the following two forms: "Completion of L&S Minor" and "Major-Minor Overlap Check form" and submit both forms to JS Minor adviser no later than the fifth week of classes of your final semester before graduation. Forms can be found here: The College of Letters & Science will be notified of minor completion approximately four weeks after the final minor course has been completed for inclusion in student's diploma.


Jewish Studies

Faculty and Instructors


Kenneth A. Bamberger, Professor.

Karen Barkey, Professor.

Benjamin Brinner, Professor. Indonesia, Java, Bali, Israel, musical memory, situated musical cognition, musical interaction, improvisation, gamelan, music and oral narrative.
Research Profile

John M. Efron, Professor. Cultural and social history of German Jewry.
Research Profile

Ronald Hendel, Professor. Textual criticism, Hebrew bible, ancient Near Eastern religion and mythology, Northwest Semitic linguistics.
Research Profile

Ethan Katz, Associate Professor.

Chana Kronfeld, Professor. Comparative literature, modernism, Hebrew, Yiddish, modern poetry, minor literatures, politics of literary history, feminist stylistics, intertextuality, translation studies.
Research Profile

Francesco Spagnolo, Adjunct Associate Professor.


Rutie Adler, Lecturer.

Yael Chaver, Lecturer.

Visiting Faculty

Tomer Persico, Visiting Assistant Professor.

Emeritus Faculty

Robert B. Alter, Professor Emeritus. Comparative literature, Near Eastern studies, 19th-century European and American novel, modernism, literary aspects of the bible, modern and biblical Hebrew literature.
Research Profile

Joan Bieder, Senior Lecturer SOE Emeritus. History of Jewish communities in South East Asia.
Research Profile

Claude S. Fischer, Professor Emeritus. Social networks, American social history, technology, urban sociology, sociology.
Research Profile

Ann Swidler, Professor Emeritus. Religion, culture, Africa, AIDS, political sociology, theory, development, NGOs.
Research Profile

Contact Information

Center for Jewish Studies

4401 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-4154

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Faculty Director, Center for Jewish Studies

Benjamin Brinner, PhD (Department of Music)

4401 Dwinelle Hall

Undergraduate Program Chair

Joan Bieder (School of Journalism)

4401 Dwinelle Hall

Executive Director

Etta Heber

4401 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-4154

Program Coordinator

Shawna Vesco

4401 Dwinelle Hall

Phone: 510-664-4138

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