New minor broadens knowledge in Jewish religion, culture

The Jewish Studies minor promises to broaden Elon’s goals of fostering respect for human differences and developing global citizens.


The new Jewish Studies minor approved by the university earlier this year promises to expose students to a community with rich and diverse religious, cultural, philosophical and linguistic traditions.

Assistant Professor and Lori and Eric Sklut Emerging Scholar in Jewish Studies Geoffrey Claussen, who coordinates the program, says students in the minor will be able to learn about some of the diverse ways Jews have expressed themselves throughout history and been regarded and treated by other communities. They will also be able to identify the common experiences and ideas that have connected Jewish communities throughout history and throughout the world.

“Many students take Jewish Studies courses in order to understand a culture that is very different from their own,” Claussen says. “These courses also interest students seeking a global perspective, as Jewish Studies courses focus on a civilization that has historically been spread around the world.”

He says the program seeks to bring together classes from different departments including religious studies, foreign languages, philosophy, history and geography, sociology and anthropology, and English. In addition, the minor requirements overlap with classical studies, women’s/gender studies, American studies and non-violence minors, making it broadly appealing.

Moreover, he adds, the minor will encourage religious diversity on campus and interreligious understanding, contributing to the rich dialogue and interfaith respect called for by the Elon Commitment Plan.

“Elon introduced the study of Modern Hebrew to our curriculum this year, and it’s been particularly exciting to see strong student interest,” Claussen says. “We look forward to the development of an expanded Hebrew language program over the coming years.”