Message from the Chair

Sergey Dolgopolski.

Dear students of all walks of life:

Welcome to the Department of Jewish Thought!

No matter your background, you might have asked—or were even afraid to ask—one of the most fundamental questions about oneself: "Who am I?" Your parents, perhaps your religious community, or your group of peers are naturally suggesting your answers to the other question, "Where are you coming from?" These two questions are very different; and in answering the latter you cannot answer the former. In fact, answering a question with an answer to a different question is a well-known fallacy*.

Many groups, tribes and nations suggest their members answer the "Who am I?" question by either identifying with or differentiating from the Biblical Israel. This holds true for religions such as Christianity and Islam, and for modern nations such as the French, Afghan, Irish or German, to name just a few. And you can come to your own answer to that question by studying how individuals and/or groups answered it and/or failed to.

Understanding centrality of the figure of the Biblical Israel for the "Who am I?" question for self-understanding of so many different groups, the Department of Jewish Thought provides students of all backgrounds and walks of life with a safe, stimulating and nurturing intellectual environment for a genuine (and therefore risky, challenging and exciting) exploration of this and similar crucial questions about their own humanity.

Engaging in research and study with the Department of Jewish Thought professors will help you learn how to approach the "Who am I?" question, as well as other core questions of human existence and experience, such as: "What can I know?" "What do I have to do?" or "What can I hope for?"   

Please explore this website to learn more about our professors and their research, the BA and Minor programs, and the courses we offer. I invite you to follow up by contacting a professor to begin your new journey toward the most exciting discoveries one may pursue in life—the discovery of oneself and of the role others truly play in one's life. 

–Sergey Dolgopolski, Chair

*Another fallacy that is often at work is in attempting to answer the "Who am I?” question with scientific data, for example with DNA analysis. Scientific data of that nature can at best help answer "Where are you from?" or "How does the body work?" No scientific answers can correctly respond to moral and ethical questions.