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Major in Jewish Studies

Students at UWM will have a new option for undergraduate study: Jewish Studies. The Center for Jewish Studies offers the major which will consist of two tracts: Hebrew Studies and Modern Jewish Studies.

Modern Jewish Studies is an interdisciplinary major with particular emphasis on modern Jewish history and culture. "We are creating an attractive, exciting slate of courses," said Chava Frankfort-Nachmias, Ph.D., director of UWM's Center for Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Sociology. "As with any field, there are always new thinkers and new ideas emerging, and creating this major is an opportunity to bring some of the best to Milwaukee." This 30 credit major includes required and elective courses such as "Jewish Culture in America: History, Literature and Film" and "Jewish and Ethnic Narratives and Identities in Media." Additional courses are being developed by new faculty recently hired to develop the major. Students can meet their language prerequisites in one of a variety languages, including Spanish, German, French, or Hebrew.

For more information on the Modern Jewish Studies track, call us at 414.229.6121 or email us at

For more information on the Hebrew Studies track, visit

Professor Rachel Baum receives fellowship from the Holocaust Educational Foundation

Professor Baum received one of two $5000 research fellowships given by the Holocaust Educational Foundation to finish her book, Hard Feelings: Emotions, Ethics, and Holocaust Remembrance.

Her book looks at the emotions of Holocaust study and the emotional and ethical lessons of Holocaust texts. Academically, when emotions of Holocaust study are discussed, it has tended to be through the language of trauma. Baum says, "My project brings in other emotions, such as anger, trust, forgiveness, humiliation, and shame."

Professor Baum wins recognition as a dynamic, well-respected lecturer in the Hebrew Studies department and now, deservedly, is honored for her scholarly contributions to the field of Jewish Studies.

Bader Foundation grant will help UWM create Jewish Studies Major

from the Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle, Wednesday, June 29, 2005 / 22 Sivan 5765 Staff report

The biggest and "most important" grant that the Helen Bader Foundation made in its most recent cycle for its Jewish Life and Learning area is $338,229 to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee to create a Jewish studies major there.

This will upgrade and expand the certificate in Jewish studies program it presently offers.

The university will match this grant "dollar-for-dollar" over its five-year period; and when that is completed, UWM will take full responsibility for the program, said Tobey Libber, program officer at the foundation for its Jewish Life and Learning area.

However, the process of creating this program "will take awhile," Libber said. It requires the hiring of new faculty and advising staff, creating of marketing materials and creation of new courses, he said.

Yet the benefits for the community will be great, Libber said. For one, the number of Jewish students going to UWM is expected to grow because of increasingly selective admissions to UW-Madison, improved academic quality at UWM and a parental preference that their children attend state schools.

Many of these Jewish students, Libber said, will take Jewish studies courses even if they don't want to major in the field in order to satisfy various distribution requirements.

That, said Libber, "is an opportunity to reach young Jewish adults at a time when they are making decisions about the rest of their lives," including "what kind of Jewish lifestyle they might have in the future." Therefore, "to be able to connect with them Jewishly on campus is crucial," he said.

In addition, "there's a great demand in Milwaukee for high level adult Jewish learning," which an expanded Jewish studies program at UWM can also meet, said Libber.

Grant awarded by the Bader Foundation

The Center was awarded a grant by the Bader Foundation to support a four year strategic plan. Employing a comprehensive process involving UWM students and faculty, alumni and the larger community, the strategic plan will culminate in the identification of concrete changes that will strengthen the center and enhance UWM's visibility in the community.

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