Program Description and History

The Judaic Studies Program promotes the study of Jewish civilization, of Jewish religious expressions and traditions, and of Jewish cultural, social, and political formations and movements in all their variety. It supports teaching and research on Jewish life and Judaism from the Biblical period to the twenty-first century, in all parts of the world where Jews have lived. Judaic Studies approaches these subjects from all disciplinary angles and scholarly perspectives, and equally welcomes Jewish and non-Jewish scholars and students. 

In 1950, the University of Manitoba pioneered the establishment of Jewish studies at Canadian universities and founded a Department of Judaic Studies. Among the early faculty members was Rabbi Dr. Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, known today as a seminal influence in contemporary Jewish religious thought, who directed the program from 1964 to 1975. Dr. Arthur Chiel, Dr. Judah Stampfer, the late Dr. Moshe Stern, and Dr. Neal Rose (chair from 1975-1979), among others, also contributed their scholarship and leadership to Judaic Studies. In 1989, however, the program was reduced in scope and most degree options were dropped. Dr. Moshe Nahir, who served as chair since 1979, ably coordinated the reduced program until 2009, ensuring the survival of the language component by offering classes in Hebrew at all levels.

In the meantime, Jewish Studies has become a vibrant, growing academic field, offered at an increasing number of universities in North America and worldwide.  Thus in 2009 the Faculty of Arts resolved to revive Judaic Studies.  It is hoped that, with support from students and the public, the program will continue to grow and will soon again offer a Major.