Skip Navigation
UT wordmark
College of Liberal Arts wordmark
germanic masthead germanic masthead
Kit Belgum, Chair 2505 University Avenue, Burdine Hall 336, Mailcode C3300, Austin TX 78712-1802 • 512-471-4123

Itzik N Gottesman

Senior Lecturer Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania

GSD 360 • Jewish Folklore

38425 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm BUR 116
(also listed as ANT 325L, J S 363 )
show description

Course Description

Dybbuks, golems, evil eye are just some of the more well known aspects of Jewish folklore, but this course will also examine the folk life of the Jews, their world view, their folk beliefs and fears. Call it folk religion if you will; many of these practices were dismissed by the “official” Jewish religion as un-Jewish, but the "folk" persisted and eventually the practice became Judaized and accepted.

Using literary sources, ethnographic memoirs, historical documents, films (among them The Dybbuk,1939), folklore collections and field trips (among them, to the oldest Austin Jewish cemetery), we will focus on what makes Jewish folklore Jewish. For example, the high literacy rate among Jews over the centuries and the people's close connection to the written word led to the development of specifically Jewish interpretations of internationally disseminated beliefs. Folklore genres—folktale, legend, folksong, folk music—custom, belief and, of course, Jewish humor will be included.

 Grading Policy

  • Attendance, homework and class participation: 30%
  • Four short papers 30%
  • Midterm and final paper: 60%

Reading List

  • Joshua Trachternberg, Jewish Magic and Superstition
  • Joachim Neugroschel, Great Tales of Jewish Fantasy and the Occult
  • Moses Gaster, Maaseh Book
  • I. B. Singer, The Satan in Goray
  • Elizabeth Herzog/Mark Zborowski, Life is With People

YID 604 • Accelerated First-Year Yiddish

38615 • Fall 2014
Meets MWF 100pm-300pm BUR 214
show description

Course Description

An introduction to spoken and written Yiddish with an emphasis on active communication, this course will cover basic grammar and vocabulary. By the end of the semester you should be able to read short texts with some ease and to carry on a conversation with a native speaker.  

The course will also introduce students to Yiddish culture, the background of most American Jews. We will view some classic Yiddish films, learn Yiddish songs and delve into the diverse history of YIddish in America including the Hasidic world, the Jewish labor movement, and Yiddish literature. 

Yiddish 604 is the first part of a two-semester accelerated course which satisfies the undergraduate language requirement in one year. The first semester covers the basics of Yiddish grammar and vocabulary. In the second semester the class will read short stories from Yiddish literature and by the end, students will be able to converse freely with native Yiddish speakers.

Grading Policy

Attendance and class participation: 25%

Weekly quizzes: 30%

Weekly homework: 20%

Mid-term and final: 25%


Der oynheyber,   Dovid Bridger

College Yiddish, Uriel Weinreich

Comprehensive Yiddish English Dictionary,  Beinfeld/Bochner

bottom border