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Judaic and Israel Studies


In order to comply with recent public health statements from our Provost, in consultation with OUHSC and the Centers for Disease Control, our departmental offices are closed, and we are not meeting one-on-one with students. Please contact us via: email: for assistance. We appreciate your respect of these rules instituted to keep us all safe and virus-free

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Dr. Rhona Seidelman was approached by JQR to reflect on historical and literary resonances prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic:

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Welcome to the Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies

What are Judaic and Israel Studies?

Faculty Group Picture

The Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies at OU offers an exceptionally wide variety of courses, including Jewish history in all periods and places, Hebrew Language and Literature at all levels, the Bible and Its Interpretation, Israel Studies, the Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish Literature in translation, as well as anthropological, sociological, and political perspectives on the Jewish experience. With five core tenured/tenure-track faculty, two core faculty in Hebrew and fifteen affiliated faculty (whose main area of research lies elsewhere, but offer courses with Judaic content) the University of Oklahoma fields the most comprehensive faculty/set of classes in the region (not state, region).

Judaic Studies explores the history and culture of the Jewish people over a period of four millennia in the Land of Israel and in the Diaspora (Dispersion) through the tools of the humanities and the social sciences. The field began as an academic discipline in Europe during the nineteenth century and developed within universities and research centers the world over during the twentieth and twenty-first. Israel Studies is a much more recent field dedicated to interpreting the culture, politics and society of the modern State of Israel.

Five Common Misconceptions About Judaic & Israel Studies

Judaic/Israel Studies is only for Jews. Our biggest stumbling-block! Not only are most of our students not Jewish, many of our faculty are not either. Our field is an academic one: if the subject interests you, that’s good enough. (Jewish life at OU happens to be warm & friendly and there’s an active Hillel for all who wish to get involved).

Judaic//Israel Studies requires Hebrew. We encourage students to take Hebrew, but the overwhelming majority of our students do not. No language requirements, unless you want to Major/Minor

Judaic/Israel Studies is too old. Yes, Jewry is an ancient civilization. But the computer chips that you use in your cellphone were developed in today’s Israel and quite a few of the movies you like (especially the comedies) were made by American Jewish writers or directors.

Judaic/Israel Studies is too narrow. Every Schusterman Center student scholarship is open to every OU student. Go on an archaeological dig, learn fashion design, study music composition, explore security studies, take university classes in mysticism. We’ve funded all these interests and more. 

Judaic/ Israel Studies classes sound hard. Like any good Humanities or Social Science unit, we are rigorous. After all, you want a degree that prepares you for the working world by cultivating your reading, speaking and writing skills. But our teachers are committed and caring, our classes are small, usually capped at 40, and you will get to know us – and we’ll get to know you too.