nl en

Jews and Judaism: A Cultural History



This course provides an brief overview of the cultural history of the Jews and Judaism, from the post-biblical period until the present. Wherever possible sources relating to the period under discussion will be introduced. A visit to the Jewish Historical Museum and Portugese synagogue will provide some insight into Dutch Jewish History.

Course objectives

The student will understand why it is perferable to speak about Jewish “cultures” rather than “culture”, as the history of the Jews and Judaism were transformed through the centuries so that a variety of cultures came into being, diachronically but also existing side by side.

The student will be able to indicate and explain the exchanges and influences that took place between Jews, Judaism and the surrounding cultures. How have historians made use of such terms as integration, assimilation and appropriation in this context and are these terms functional?


Timetable Religiewetenschappen
Timetable OCMW
Timetable MOS
Timetable Minor Religion in a changing world

Mode of instruction

Weekly lectures and an excursion to the Jewish Historical Museum in Amsterdam

Course Load

  • total of 140 hours

  • class: 26 hours (13 weeks, 2 hours per week)

  • Mandatory reading: 52 hours

  • short midterm paper related to the museum visit: 15 hours

  • end term paper based on a choice of two or three subjects: 47 hours

Assessment method

  • mid-term paper related to the excursion 30%

  • final paper based on a choice out of three possible topics 70%
    To pass the course the student must receive a grade of no less than 5.5 per paper and an average of no less than 6.

Both papers may be resubmitted if a grade less than 5.5 has been received in first instance. Rewrites must be resubmitted within 2 weeks.


The weekly schedule and readings will be posted on Blackboard.

Reading list

Michael Brenner, A Short History of the Jews (Princeton University Press 2010).
Edward van Voolen, Joods leven thuis en in de synagogue (Parthenon 2011)
Capita selecta from:
Seth Schwartz, The Ancient Jews from Alexander to Muhammed (Cambridge U. Press 2014)
Michael Satlow, Creating Judaism. History, Tradition, Practice (Columbia U. Press 2006) available online.

These books will be available on a reserved bookshelf in the University Library reading rooms. Brenner and Van Voolen should be purchased in advance.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Registration Studeren à la carte
Registration Contractonderwijs


All queries should be posed to Prof. Frishman via her university email address.


Participation in the excursion is mandatory.