Sit in Stevenson Café with a bagel and cream cheese, coffee and anything written by Jonathan Safran Foer and I guarantee that within about twenty minutes you’ll have one of the newly declared Jewish Studies majors dripping all over you with questions about identity or objectivity. Yes, theres’s a new major on campus and although it’s still small in numbers, it’s big in pride! Previously offered as a minor, Jewish Studies is now officially included among the sixty-three majors available to undergraduates at UCSC.
Co-chaired by English and Comparative Literature Professor Murray Baumgarten and Literature and History Professor Nathaniel Deutsch, the program has been under construction for over a decade. In order to create the major, Deutsch and Baumgarten assembled a proposal: a list of courses and faculty, a survey of resources on campus, statements about student interest and an intellectual justification for the major. According to Deutsch, the major is comprised of “people seeking support for things that have been organically driven,” and that the major exists thanks to a “labor of love on the part of the faculty, student and intellectual interest.” However, it is clear that generous support from foundations and donors among them, Anne Neufeld-Levin, the Helen Diller Family Endowment, the Koret Foundation, the David B. Gold Foundation, the Jewish Community Federation Endowment Fund, the Jim Joseph Foundation, and the Foundation for Jewish Culture has also played a significant role in the new major’s existence. This takes care of the proposal’s list of courses, faculty members, student interest and available resources, but what of intellectual justification?