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Messianism, Zionism and Jewish Religious Radicalism


Admission requirements

Ideally the student has taken either or both of the following courses: Introduction to Judaism or Culture of the Jews


This course will focus mainly on Orthodox movements in Judaism and their relationship to the State of Israel. We will study the justifications – based on traditional texts – for pro- or anti-Zionist positions, the relationship between Messianism and pro-activeness or even violence including West Bank settlement policy.

Course objectives

  • The student will become familiar with various branches of Orthodox Judaism.

  • The student will understand how traditional texts may be used to defend wholly opposite positions.

  • The student will learn why the various factions are important for the forming of government coalitions in Israel.

  • The student will learn how the various factions influence the Israeli government’s position on returning the settlements.

Timetable Timetable

Mode of instruction

  • Seminar

  • Class presentations

Course Load

A brief calculation of the course load, broken down by:

  • Total course load: 130 hours/260 hours for the BA and MA levels respectively

  • Time for attending lectures/seminar: 26 hours

  • Time for studying the compulsory literature 30/100 hours

  • Time for preparing presentation: 20/54 hours

  • Time for writing the final paper: 54/80 hours

Assessment method

Assessment and grading method (in percentages):.

  • class participation 10%

  • presentation 40%

  • final paper 50%

To complete the final mark, please take notice of the following:
The final grade for the course is established by determination of the weighted average. However, in order to pass, the three components must be evaluated with a grade of 5.5 or more and the final grade must be at least 6 or higher.


Blackboard will be used for posting all necessary course information including the weekly schedule, required reading list, assignments and announcements.

Reading list

Aviezer Ravitzky, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism (University of Chicago Press 1996)
Samuel Hellman and Menachem Friedman, Rebbe. The Life and Afterlife of Menachem Mendel Schnerson (Princeton University Press 2010)
Samuel Heilman, Defenders of the Faith. Inside Ultra-Orthodox Jewry (University of California Press 1992)
Israel Shahk and Norton Mezvinsky, Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (Pluto Press 2004)
Ian Lustik, For the Land and for the Lord. Jewish Fundamentalism in Israel (The Council on Foreign Relations 1988, available online at
Ehud Sprinzak, The Ascendance of Israel’s Radical Right (Oxford University Press 1991)
Books will bbe made available on the reserved book shelf of the University Library


Via uSis
In addition to the registration in uSis, students are also expected to self-enroll in Blackboard a few weeks before the course starts.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


This course is open to both BA and MA students. MA students will have a greater course load, including a comprehensive reading list. Students will be judged according to the level of the program in which they are enrolled.