What is Jewish Thought?

Students in the library

The Department of Jewish Thought is devoted to critically examining some of the central questions of human identity through the resources of the Jewish tradition. By putting Greek philosophy, Roman law and Biblical ethics in conversation with one another, we address the following questions: Where does ethics come from? What is God? What does a just society look like? What makes us human? Can science and religion be reconciled? What is the impact of the Holocaust? What is American Jewish identity? Students learn to combine the latest theoretical approaches with the millennia-long tradition of Jewish Thought in order to address challenges of modern society.

Do I need to be Jewish to study Jewish Thought?

No. Jewish Thought is relevant for all UB students! It critically examines some of the central questions of human identity through the resources of the Jewish tradition. Such questions include: Where does ethics come from? What is God? What does a just society look like? What makes us human? Can science and religion be reconciled? How does one explain the Holocaust? These are questions that are central to any liberal arts education and it is important to consider the answers of the Jewish tradition, history and culture.

Is Jewish Thought the same as Jewish Religion?

No. It is true that many people identify Judaism with their own personal identity, either culturally or religiously and Judaism can be defined as a religion, a history, a culture or a nationality. However, Jewish Thought is the attempt to uncover the meaning behind these different theses about the meaning of Judaism from an academic and critical standpoint without being committed to any of them. We consider multiple answers to what is “Judaism” and put them into conversation. The critical tools one utilizes in examining Judaism are useful for analyzing any political or rhetorical discourse.