Jews and Judaism in Central Europe - OBZO18
Title: Jews and Judaism in Central Europe
Guaranteed by: Děkanát (41-DEKAN)
Faculty: Faculty of Education
Actual: from 2011
Semester: both
E-Credits: 4
Hours per week, examination: 2/2, Ex [HT]
Capacity: winter:unknown / unknown (unknown)
summer:unknown / unknown (unknown)
Min. number of students: unlimited
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: not taught
Language: English
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
priority enrollment if the course is part of the study plan
you can enroll for the course in winter and in summer semester
Guarantor: doc. RNDr. Miroslava Černochová, CSc.
Class: Volitelné předměty pro PS
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Today, most Jews living in the U.S. (the largest Jewish community in the world) trace their descent to Central or Eastern Europe. The course explores Jewish presence primarily in the history of Central Europe and the ambiguous character of Jewish experience fated not only by prejudice, contempt, and suffering, which culminated in Holocaust but also rich in the undeniable contribution of Jews to the life and culture of the countries. The course pursues the following objectives. First, the students acquaint themselves with the variety of the Jewish Diaspora identities, and then proceed to study the religious and cultural heritage accumulated by generations of Jews living in Germany, Austria, Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, and above all in Bohemia and Moravia. We dwell in the history of the Ashkenazi Jews from the Medieval to Modern Times, and study their social organization and position in medieval Christian society. We pay particular attention to Enlightenment and the impact it exerted on Central European Jews at the close of 18th century and thus launched significant social and culture transformation that culminated in the emancipation of Jews and their integration into the modern society. The course also analyzes various factors that led to Holocaust, among them anti-Semitism and nationalism, sustained by the 19th century philosophy of Romanticism. Students benefit from an excursion to the Jewish cemeteries of Prague and a three day trip to Cracow, once one of the most vibrant centers of Jewish life in Central Europe.
Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)
Aim of the course

y the end of the course the student will be able to find her or his way through Jewish history in Central Europe from Middle Ages until the postwar era; investigate and come to understand the Jewish experience in Bohemia and Prague, the most important centers of Jewish life throughout centuries; explore coexistence of Jewish population with nations of Central Europe nations; and appreciate Jewish existence before Auschwitz in the way the Jewish people used to live before the Holocaust.

Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)

Encyclopedia Judaica, 26 volumes, MacMillan, 2006.

R. Chazan, Medieval Stereotypes and Modern Antisemitism, University of California Press, 1997.

A. Elon, The Pity of it All: A Portrait of the German-Jewish Epoch 1743-1933, Picador 2002.

P. Johnson, A History of Jews, Weiden & Nicolson, 1988.

M.A. Kaplan, Between Dignity and Despair: Jewish Life in Nazi Germany, Oxford University Press 1999.

H. J. Kieval, Languages of Community: The Jewish Experience in the Czech Lands, University of California Press, 2000.

K. Seeskin, The Cambridge Companion to Maimonides, Cambridge University Press, 2005.

Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)
Requirements to the exam


1. Attendance, class preparation and active participation are mandatory

(Please note that every absence will be reflected in the final grade. Since the course is conducted on an individual basis its objective is to encourage the student to enter into a creative discussion with the teacher. The student is required to come prepared for the sessions and, show basic acquaintance with discussed themes.)

2. Midterm and final exams, occasional class quizzes 30%

3. Portfolio 30%

4. Integrative project presented as power or poster, and a research paper 40%

Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)

Course Schedule:

Week 1

Introduction and team-building: students` personal experience with Jewish life in the U.S.A. American Jews: the largest Jewish community in the world - its history and present.

Week 2

Historical variety of the Jewish Diaspora: Oriental, Sephardi, Ashkenazi Jews, and other minor Jewish communities; the variety of Jewish identities and its impact on the social and cultural environment in the present day State of Israel.

Introduction to the history and culture of Central European countries; the Holy Roman Empire; the primary role of German language and culture in Central Europe to 1945; the beginnings of Ashkenazi settlement in Rhineland and its movement eastwards; Yiddish: the vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews; Yiddish literature and Yiddish authors in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Week 3

Beyond the Diaspora diversity: the origins of the Jewish nation in Ancient Palestine; the Hebrew Bible as a foundational text of Jewish religion.

Beyond the Diaspora diversity: the rise of Rabbinic Judaism after 70CE; the Talmud: another foundational text of Jewish religion.

Week 4

The Jews of Andalusia - a vanished world of Muslim Spain.

Maimonides a prominent Jewish philosopher of the Muslim world.

Week 5

Jews in medieval Christian Europe: social and economic contexts.

Christian medieval anti-Judaism: its social and religious basis.

Week 6

Jewish communities in Bohemia and Moravia up to the 19th century.

FILM - House of Life: The Old Jewish Cemetery in Prague .

Week 7

EXCURSION - the Jewish cemeteries of Prague.

Czechs and Jews at the turn of the 20th century.

Week 8

MIDTERM EXAM; planning integrative projects.

Spring break

Week 9

The Jews of Poland: the Jewish past of Cracow.

FILM: Schindler`s List.

Week 10

Chassidism: a religious and social revolution of East European Jewry.

Jewish Enlightenment: between the general Enlightenment philosophy and Jewish accents; Moses Mendelssohn: his life and philosophy.

Week 11

Emancipation of Jews in the Austrian Empire and Prussia; the French revolution and Jews.

Jewish assimilationist tendencies in the 19th century; Heinrich Heine, Karl Marx, and Sigmund Freud: their relation to Judaism.

Week 12

Zionism: From Theodor Herzl to the rise of the State of Israel.

Legal and social persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany between 1933 and 1941.

Week 13

EXCURSION: Franz Kafka Museum

Week 14

The Wannsee conference and the "Final solution of the Jewish question".

Week 15

Contemporary right extremist scene in the Czech Republic: FILM: The Beclouded Democracy.

Can Central Europe be a habitable place for Jews?: a discussion about matters of religious tolerance, racism, democracy and totalitarian regime.

Week 16

Presenting students` integrative projects and FINAL EXAM.

Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)
Registration requirements

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Last update: CERNOCHO/PEDF.CUNI.CZ (11.02.2011)