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English Building at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign

The English Building at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, home of the Program in Jewish Culture and Society


The Program in Jewish Culture and Society at the University of Illinois is among the most exciting and unique programs in the country. Along with the religious aspects of Judaism, it places special emphasis on the social and cultural dimensions of Jewish life, from the difficult existence in early modern Europe to the literary glories of the early 20th century and from the history of Jewish immigration to the United States to everyday life in Israel today. In addition to scholarship in the field of religion, it thus draws on a wide range of disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. This interdisciplinary approach allows students to explore anthropology, history, political science, economics, as well as languages and literatures within a Jewish Studies context.

The Program is committed to supporting all undergraduate and graduate students desiring to study Jewish culture and society in the spirit of free and open inquiry appropriate to a public, secular university. In addition to a broad range of courses, we offer a major and minor in Jewish Studies as well as many opportunities for graduate studies with a concentration in Jewish culture and society.

Each semester, the program also awards scholarships, provides research support to faculty, and sponsors conferences, lectures, and workshops in the field of Jewish Studies.


A Statement on the Immigration Ban

January 31, 2017

As members of the Program in Jewish Culture & Society at the University of Illinois we write to express our deeply felt concern over President Trump’s executive order to halt indefinitely the acceptance of refugees into the United States and to pause immigration from several Muslim-majority countries.

The fact that the President chose International Holocaust Remembrance Day to announce this unethical ban broadcasts his insensitivity to the weight of history. Indeed, it is incongruent to commemorate the Holocaust and consider the ban favorably. Remembering the history of Jewish persecution has inspired many Jewish groups, including some synagogues, to welcome Syrian refugees precisely because so many Jewish refugees were not welcome here before or during World War II and perished as a consequence. Those congregations and groups recognize the urgent need to make a safe haven for refugees and not to repeat the mistakes of the U.S. government during the war that closed the border to Jews fleeing Nazi persecution.

As scholars of this history and as Jewish Studies scholars we are sensitive to exclusionary practices and laws and find the ban reprehensible. It is our responsibility to raise our voices in protest against President Trump's discriminatory refusal to admit Muslim refugees into this country. We demand an immediate rescission of this order. We demand that all those who have taken the necessary steps to be granted refugee status be allowed to enter the United States immediately. We demand the continued timely processing of refugee applications from around the world.

Eugene M. Avrutin,Associate Professor of modern European Jewish history and Tobor family scholar in the Program of Jewish Culture & Society

Dale Bauer, Professor of English

Eric Calderwood, Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature

Virginia Dominguez, Edward William and Jane Marr Gutgsell Professor (of Anthropology, Jewish Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, Global Studies, and Caribbean Studies)

Sara Feldman, Ph.D., Lecturer in Hebrew and Yiddish, Program in Jewish Culture & Society

Dara Goldman, Associate Professor of Spanish

Rachel Harris, Associate Professor of Comparative Literature

Brett Ashley Kaplan, Professor of Comparative Literature, Director, Program in Jewish Culture & Society

Harriet L. Murav, Professor, Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Professor, Comparative and World Literature

Dana Rabin, Associate Professor of History

Bruce Rosenstock, Associate Professor, Department of Religion

Dov Weiss, Assistant Professor, Department of Religion

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Yiddish and Hebrew Film Series-various dates

Vita Activa-The Spirit of Hannah Arendt, Monday, April 24 at 7:30 pm

Spaces of Remembering the Armenian GenocideFriday, April 28, 9-4

"Finding Oscar" screening, Thursday, May 4, 6:30 pm



Fall 2017 Courses