The Center for Jewish Studies fosters the academic study of Jewish culture, society and religion for all students at the University of Florida. Students are encouraged to develop as critical thinkers, aware of the diversity and complexity of the field Jewish Studies. The Center promotes a broad and comprehensive approach including the arts, politics and religion. The curriculum emphasizes historical transformations and comparative frameworks among various Jewish communities and with other groups and religions. Courses draw upon a variety of theoretical approaches to the study of class, ethnicity, gender, race and sexuality with methodologies that are both textual and performance oriented.
The Center maintains an active outreach program with the general community both within Gainesville and throughout the State of Florida. Individual lecture and lecture series are offered in various synagogues and community centers. The Center promotes Holocaust education among school teachers through an annual summer institute. The Center intends to play a significant role in coordinating Jewish Studies among various universities throughout the state.
The Center’s endowments are used, in part, to promote original research in the field of Jewish Studies. Endowments, grants and gifts are also used to organize annual conferences with related publications and to support the publication of research by UF faculty.
About the Center for Jewish Studies
The Center for Jewish Studies provides an undergraduate, interdepartmental curriculum which serves as a basis for understanding the broad spectrum of Jewish culture, religion, and civilization.
Through course work in various departments, students may acquaint themselves with areas such as Biblical Studies, Rabbinic Studies, Jewish History, Holocaust Studies, Early Judaism and Christianity, Gender and Judaism, Israeli Politics, Jewish Mysticism, Hasidism, Modern and Biblical Hebrew, contemporary Judaism, and Modern Hebrew Literature.
The Center offers both a major and minor through the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. These may serve as preparation for graduate work in Jewish Studies and the rabbinate, as background for a career in Jewish education or community service, or as an area of special interest which enriches the undergraduate experience. It is also possible to participate in Study Abroad programs.
Through the years, the Center has been involved in numerous cosponsoring events. Free and open to the public, the events include the Gary R. Gerson Annual Lecture Series, varied film series, and interdepartmental colloquia on music, fine arts, anthropology, gender, and religion. Scores of invited scholars from around the States and abroad have taught, visited, and lectured here. In addition, the Center plays a major role in the support of its faculty research, travel, conferences and publications. Our annual newsletter, haTanin (“The Alligator”), is distributed to friends, donors, universities, and libraries throughout the nation and overseas.
The Center for Jewish Studies was established in 1973 by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and approved to offer degrees by the Board of Regents of the State of Florida in 1987. Since then, Jewish Studies has graduated more than one hundred alumni, many of whom have taken positions in Jewish communal institutions. In the last decade, fifteen students, male and female, have enrolled in and graduated from rabbinic seminaries.
The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica at the University of Florida, with over 110,000 volumes and more than 180,000 pages online is among the top-twenty Judaica research collections in the United States. The Library’s substantial resources in social, political, and community history, Hebrew and Yiddish literature and linguistics, Land of Israel studies, Zionism, Hebrew Scriptures, Judaism and rabbinics, reference tools and serials support all aspects of undergraduate education, as well as graduate training and faculty research. Today, the Price Library is expanding its collections to include historic Jewish newspapers from the US and Latin America, as well as other special collections from Florida, Latin American and the Caribbean. Books may be borrowed from the Judaica Library through the interlibrary loan system in public and academic libraries and online. For more information about using and visiting our collections, please refer to our Facts and Services webpage.