Who we are
The Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC) is an interdisciplinary teaching and research unit in the Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. The CJC specializes in subjects ranging from American Middle Eastern foreign policy as it pertains to Israel, to Holocaust and genocide studies, to Jewish-Catholic relations, to Jewish literature, music, culture, and religious expression. Judaism is examined as a religion and as a civilization in dynamic dialogue with other peoples and polities.
What we do
The Center is unique in the American academic context, not only because of the issues it studies, but because of its placement in a school of international affairs. This permits its many distinguished scholars and practitioners to focus on the role of religion in public life, as well as the geopolitical salience of Israel and Jews living in the Diaspora.
The interdisciplinary character of the CJC fosters a rich array of activities including scholarship, academic courses, conferences, lectures, cultural programs, and participation in campus and community dialogue. Deeply committed to classroom pedagogy and the Jesuit principle of “care of the whole person,” or cura personalis, the CJC offers an undergraduate minor in Jewish Civilization through the School of Foreign Service and a minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. Its courses and curriculum serve students of every religious and ethnic background.
In keeping with the Georgetown mission to promote a deeper understanding of the world’s religious communities and their role in global affairs, the Program for Jewish Civilization (PJC) was established in September 2003 by the School of Foreign Service under the leadership of Georgetown’s Jewish chaplain, Rabbi Harold White, and Georgetown professors Robert J. Lieber and Yossi Shain. From 2006 to 2020, the PJC–now the Center for Jewish Civilization (CJC)–was directed by Professor Jacques Berlinerblau. His predecessor, Professor Bruce Hoffman, served as director from July 2020 to July 2023. The CJC is now directed by Professor Jonathan Lincoln.
A successful undergraduate program is more than just a collection of excellent scholar-teachers. Skilled administrators are also required to help construct a vision and implement that vision for students and faculty. In this respect the CJC has been very lucky to have talented Assistant Directors like Melissa Weinberg Spence (2004-2014), Audrey Anderson (2014-2015), Anna Dubinsky (2015-2019), and Brittany Fried (2019-2023), and Marisa Morrison (2023-present). Marisa is currently joined by Program Manager Sammie Feldbaum (2023-present)
These administrators and others have worked with CJC faculty over the past decade and a half to create a curriculum that challenges, intrigues, and inspires Georgetown students. In 2007 the PJC launched its Certificate and Minor and 2 students immediately signed up. By 2010 there were 20 matriculated PJCers. By 2016 (when the PJC became the CJC) there were 50. A recent article in The Hoya reported that the CJC was poised to celebrate the milestone of 100 current Georgetown undergraduates who study with its 22 faculty members.
The CJC’s mission is to produce, advance, promote, and disseminate cutting-edge scholarship on Jewish Civilization. As we understand the term, “Jewish Civilization” encompasses contemporary music, literature, Middle Eastern politics, theology, history, the cultures of the Diaspora, the study of traditional and non-traditional Judaisms, interactions with non-Jewish civilizations, and so much more.
To do justice to these subjects we aim for intellectual heterogeneity, not ideological purity. This explains why we have hosted writers as distinct (and as preternaturally gifted) as Cynthia Ozick and A.B. Yehoshua. It accounts for why we have had orthodox rabbis teach for us, as well as Jewish atheists. It is our rationale for having conservative Evangelical pastors address our students, as well as those who research Queer Judaisms. Heads of state, ambassadors, congresspersons, journalists, and public intellectuals routinely come to the CJC, as do prominent religious figures, artists, and most importantly, legions of scholarly experts. Our goal is to put an intellectual product of the highest quality in front of students who will be the leaders of the next generation: that is how we define our mission.
Welcome to the site. Please explore these pages to learn about our public programs, including conferences, lectures, and cultural events (we average about 25 or so of these per school year, so please check frequently). In addition, you can access downloadable publications, videotaped lectures, updates on the scholarship of our faculty, and so much more. Peruse, enjoy, and we look forward to seeing you on the Hilltop.