New SCW and SSSB Jewish Studies Requirements Announced

By: Mili Chizhik  |  April 22, 2021

By Mili Chizhik, News Editor

The SCW Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies announced this week that there will be new Jewish studies requirements for Stern College for Women and Beren Sy Syms School of Business students. Registration for the Fall 2021 semester will be May 5 for seniors, May 6 for juniors, May 7 for sophomores, and May 11 for freshmen.

Previously, students were required to complete 6 semesters (without gap year or transfer exemptions) of the Core program, the current mandatory Jewish studies course program. Students were required to take 8-9 credits of Jewish courses which were then reduced to 6 credits on the transcript with the composite grade of the three courses taken. Further, students were required to take an additional 14 credits of Jewish studies as well as taking at least one Jewish studies course every semester as a full time student upon completing Core requirements. 

Starting to be implemented in Fall 2021, the new requirements for Beren Campus students mandate a total of 22 classes, up to 10 of which can be taken in the gap year/seminary, and each student must take at least 2 Jewish studies courses each semester. The Core program will no longer be implemented and the “Jewish studies courses will no longer be bundled under HEST/Core,” as described in the Jewish studies program information session on the night of April 21. All past grades of Core semesters will remain under HEST on the academic transcript, however, starting in Fall 2021, each class will appear on the transcript. At the information session, the administration expressed hope to have all Jewish courses in-person, assuming the COVID-19 regulations allow it.

Three of the following twice a week courses in Fall 2021 will meet in-person in-person once a week for a Beit Midrash component: Rabbi Ephraim Kanarfogel’s “Tosafist” class, Rebbetzin Penina Bernstein’s Navi class, and Rabbi Jacob Bernstein’s “Rav Soloveitchik on the Holidays.” Other students are encouraged to learn in the Beit Midrash at that time as well.

The present Jewish studies major credit requirements will remain the same. However, courses taken to fulfill the General Education Jewish courses requirement will count toward the major to allow for the same number of courses taken to complete the major.

The new Jewish studies distribution of requirements is 2 Bible courses, 2 Judaic studies courses, 1 Jewish history course, 1 Jewish philosophy course, and the number of Hebrew language courses based on student placement: 1 course for those placed in HEBR 1211 or 1221, 2 courses for those in HEBR 1201, and 3 courses for those placed in HEBR 1001 or 1011. The remaining courses needed to fulfill the 22-course requirement could be taken in any of the following categories: Bible, Judaic studies, Jewish history, Jewish philosophy, and Hebrew language. 

All Jewish studies department courses that count towards the distribution must be taken on the Beren Campus, and every course will count towards the total 22 required courses. However, not every course will count towards distribution requirements. Courses that count towards the Jewish studies distribution requirements will have a label of “Fundamentals” when looking at the course attributes in the course catalog. 

Fall 2021 juniors and seniors have the option to follow the new model or stick with the old one, however they will no longer be having semesters of Core. Incoming freshmen and sophomores will follow the new model of Jewish studies courses. 

Those in joint programs, those transferring from the Katz Associate Degree program, or those transferring from other universities and schools may have exemptions from the total number of courses required.

Current rising juniors who spent a year in Israel or seminary are required to register for the following number of courses per semester: 2 classes in Fall 2021, 2 classes in Spring 2022, and 1 class in both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters. 

Current rising juniors who did not attend a seminary or Israel program will be required to take the following: 3 courses in Fall 2021, 3 courses in Spring 2022, and 2 courses in both Fall 2022 and Spring 2023 semesters. 

Seniors who went to seminary or Israel for a year will be required to take the 1 class in both the Fall 2021 and Spring 2022 semester, with the assumption that their past 6 Core semesters were completed and only have two-three credit courses remaining in the previously required 14 Jewish studies elective credits. 

However, seniors who did not go to seminary and completed all Core semesters and only have the 14 Jewish studies elective credits remaining will be required to take two classes each of their last semesters in Fall 2021 and Spring 2022.

Sophomores who did not complete a year in Israel or attend seminary and have completed two semesters of Core would be required to take the following number of courses in the corresponding semesters: 3 classes in Fall 2021, 3 classes in Spring 2022, 3 classes in Fall 2022, 3 classes in Spring 2023, 2 classes in Fall 2023, and 2 classes in Spring 2023. 

Dr. Karen Bacon, Mordechai D. Katz and Dr. Monique C. Katz Dean of Undergraduate Faculty of Art and Sciences, said that “I was so pleased that a large group of students attended and asked on target questions, some of which we now need to research. So the meeting was helpful for us as well as, I hope, for the students. Going forward I believe that new students will benefit enormously from a more uniform distribution of courses over their years on campus and from the reimaged courses in Bible, Jewish Studies, Jewish History and Jewish Philosophy that will be designated specifically to meet the new distribution requirements.”

SCW senior Sarah Brill shared with the YU Observer, “This new Judaics requirement will alleviate stress off of the already stressful dual curriculum that Yeshiva University offers. I am extremely glad the Judaics department has made this change so that future YU students can excel without the weight of added Judaics classes.”

Those with questions regarding these new changes should contact the Jewish Studies advisor, Miriam Levy-Haim via email or through making an appointment.

*This article has been correct to make clear that Jewish courses that count towards the distribution requirement must be taken on the Beren Campus.