Welcome to the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies website. In 1993, an Endowment was established in the Department of Religious Studies to support a scholar of Judaism. This first step resulted in the creation of a Judaic Studies Program just two years later, named for Manfred and Fern Steinfeld, major donors to the program and to the University of Tennessee. The Judaic Studies Program offers an interdisciplinary major concentration as well as a minor.
The program also offers the Judaic Studies Lecture Series supported by funding from various sources, the Karen and Pace Robinson Lecture Series on Modern Israel, and a Distinguished lecture series endowed by Dr. Alan Solomon, the Abraham and Rebecca Solomon and Ida Schwartz Distinguished Lecture Series in Judaic Studies. We produce an annual newsletter, and organize additional major programming, such as Holocaust conferences, Israel semesters, film festivals, and exhibitions, often in collaboration with other university units and outside organizations.
What is Judaic Studies?
Judaism is an ancient civilization, with a nearly four-thousand-year-old history, culture, and religion. The Jewish people began with Abraham and Sarah, and the Jewish religion with the Exodus and Moses. From Egypt to Israel, from Babylonia to the Maghreb, from China to Spain, Jews have nurtured their religion and their culture, often in the face of serious persecution. The academic study of Judaism is an interdisciplinary enterprise, encompassing the study of Biblical Hebrew and the Modern Hebrew language; ancient biblical literature, Jewish literature and poetry from a variety of diaspora communities as well as Modern Israel; Jewish visual art and music; the religious framework of Judaism in all its diversity, from holidays to life-cycle events, as well as the history of the Jewish people and the politics of the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. To the student who is inquisitive, the study of Judaism will surely open a colorful world of familiar and new phenomena to engage in dialogue.