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Mission & History

A strongly interdisciplinary field, Jewish studies crosses into history, music, literature, political science, international affairs, sociology, women’s studies, religion, philosophy, and modern languages. The Jewish Studies Program offers exciting classes in both Israel studies and the history, art, music, and literature of Diaspora Jewish communities around the world.

Students can choose from a number of different tracks through which to explore Jewish studies:  a Jewish studies minor, a combined major in Jewish studies and religion, or other combined majors with Jewish studies.

Experiential education in the Jewish Studies Program includes study abroad options in Israel and internships and co-ops both abroad and in the United States at a variety of organizations, such as the Jewish Community Relations Council, Facing History and Ourselves, the Jewish Women’s Archives, and the Israeli Consulate.

Jewish studies also offers scholarships to outstanding students and sponsors frequent public lectures, performances, and exhibitions both on campus and in the Greater Boston area. One of the lectures is The Morton E. Ruderman Memorial Lecture, an annual series that brings internationally renowned speakers to campus for a public lecture and a master class offered to select undergraduate and graduate students. Ruderman lectures have been delivered by cartoonist Art Spiegelman, author of the celebrated Maus books; novelist and short story writer Nathan Englander, whose books include The Ministry of Special Cases and What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank; and former Jerusalem Bureau Chief for the New York Times Jodi Rudoren.  The series honors the legacy of alumnus Morton Ruderman and is funded by the Ruderman Family Foundation.

Why Jewish Studies?

Northeastern has a longstanding history of providing opportunity to Jewish students.  In the 1920s and 1930s, an estimated 20% of the student body was comprised of Jewish students, often the children of working-class or immigrant families who relied upon co-ops and scholarship support to afford the cost of a higher education. Northeastern was, for many years, the most popular college and graduate school for Boston-area Jewish students, many of whom grew up in the surrounding neighborhoods of Roxbury, Mattapan and Dorchester. Northeastern was unofficially known in Greater Boston as “the Jewish school.”  After several decades of decline, there has recently been a resurgence of Jewish enrollments. Today, approximately 8% of the Northeastern undergraduate student body self-identifies as Jewish.

The Jewish Studies minor at Northeastern University was created in 1994-95 as an interdisciplinary program using existing courses in the departments of History, English, Sociology, Music, and Philosophy and Religion.  Over the past several years, the program has expanded considerably, thanks in no small part to the generosity of the Ruderman Family Foundation, established by Mort Ruderman ’59 and his wife Marcia.  From a small program offering only a minor, it has become an established program offering a minor, a Combined Major in Jewish Studies and Religion, a partnership with the Human Services Program, and an integrated BA/MA or MJEd program with Hebrew College.  Faculty has expanded significantly, too, culminating in the hiring of Ruderman Professor and Director of Jewish Studies Lori Lefkovitz.

If you have any questions about the program or would like to request further information, please contact Director Lori Lefkovitz, at l.lefkovitz@northeastern.edu .