UC Santa Barbara is known for its interdisciplinary landscape and its dynamic programs in the arts and humanities, including its Department of Religious Studies, which offers an interdisciplinary Minor in Jewish Studies. The campus has a strong record in teaching and research in Jewish Studies, with particular strengths in the study of the religion of the Jews, including 20th-century Jewish intellectual thought and Holocaust Studies. Courses in Biblical and modern Hebrew are offered.
The Department of Religious Studies includes faculty whose research and teaching within Jewish Studies range from the Bible and Biblical Hebrew to Rabbinic literature and Jewish mysticism to the sociology of contemporary Jerusalem. Twenty-five faculty in more than ten departments teach courses on history, literature, art, architecture, and film on such subjects as German Judaism, American Jewish novelists, anti-Semitism in Western and Eastern European countries, Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora, the politics of the Middle East, Jewish communities of medieval Spain, the architectural history of modern Israel, and the Holocaust in literature and film. The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Symposia in Jewish Studies at the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center hosts lectures, performances, and residencies of eminent scholars, writers, artists, and policy makers.
Elliot R. Wolfson is the Marsha and Jay Glazer Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. Professor Wolfson previously was the Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Wolfson's main area of scholarly research is the history of Jewish mysticism, but he has brought to bear on that field training in philosophy, literary criticism, feminist theory, postmodern hermeneutics, and the phenomenology of religion.