McAnulty School to launch Jewish studies minor

Brandon Addeo | News Editor

Duquesne’s McAnulty School of Liberal Arts is debuting a new Jewish Studies minor next semester.

The 15-credit minor will be comprised of five courses, which cover topics like Jewish history, theology, anti-Semitism and current events in Israel. The minor also features a course currently taught by Duquesne Psychology Chair Leswin Laubscher — titled “Science, Psychology and the Holocaust” — which takes a Spring Break Away trip to Sigmund Freud’s former home in Vienna, Austria, and to the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland.

Duquesne Associate Psychology Professor Daniel Burston, who was born in Israel, led efforts to create the new minor, which he said was originally proposed four years ago and only approved recently by the Provost’s office.

Burston said there are common misconceptions about Jewish history.

“A lot of people have this mistaken impression that the Holocaust was just this weird aberration that sort of came out of nowhere,” he said. “It’s the end result of many centuries of Semitic persecution.”

Marie Baird, an associate professor of theology and director of the Jewish Studies minor, said they created the minor to make sure “the historical record is set straight” on Jewish history.

“There’s a lot of untruth out there, there’s a lot of lies out circulating out there,” Baird said, citing Holocaust deniers as one example.

She described anti-Semitism as the “oldest hatred” in human history.

“You think [anti-Semitism] wanes, and it comes back up again,” Baird said. “I want our students to be sensitive to that.”

Burston said that many young people brought up in Christian households are not aware of the impacts of anti-Semitism on Jewish people and hopes the new minor will “fill in some of those blanks,” along with identifying “similarities and differences” between Christianity, Judaism and Islam.

“They’re all kindred faiths,” he said.

She said the minor will be a collaboration between Duquesne’s theology, psychology, sociology and modern languages departments, and faculty from those four departments will teach courses that are a part of the minor.

Two current theology courses — Theology 212: Intro to Sacred Scriptures and Theology 283: Judaism, Christianity and Islam — will be crosslisted with the new Jewish Studies minor as JWST 212 and JWST 283.