Course Syllabus


RLG5618: Modern Judaism

Instructor Information Table
professor photo
Dr. Oren Baruch Stier

Instructor Information

  • Email: use Canvas Inbox
  • Online Live synchronous class meetings via zoom on Fridays, 11:00am-12:15pm
  • Virtual Office Hours: By Appointment

Course Time Zone | Eastern Standard Time (EST). Course due dates are according to this time zone.

Course Description and Purpose

The Holocaust, the Nazi assault on European Jewry from 1933-1945, was an unprecedented historical upheaval that impacted and continues to impact Judaism and Jewish life and culture immeasurably. But the enormity of the Holocaust challenges us to grasp its wide-ranging influence. One way to distill that influence into something more manageable is through focusing on the work of Elie Wiesel. Before his death in 2016, Wiesel was surely the most well-known survivor of the Holocaust. The voice of the survivor generation, he is the author most closely associated with the Nazi assault on European Jewry. What is less known is that Wiesel published over 50 books on a wide range of subjects, including biographies of famous rabbis, essays on Biblical and Talmudic personalities, impassioned pleas on behalf of Soviet Jewry, narratives about the nascent State of Israel and the lost world of European Jewry, and more. Even after his death his voice rings out as a clarion call against injustice and inhumanity worldwide. His corpus includes novels, of course, but also plays, memoirs, liturgies, essays, and speeches. While many see him either as solely a Holocaust author or some sort of contemporary theologian, in actuality he is a multifaceted witness to the many contours of the modern Jewish experience before, during, and after the Shoah. This course utilizes a selection of Wiesel’s wide-ranging published works as a stepping-stone to analyze and discuss the varieties of post-Holocaust Judaism and Jewish experience they refract and reflect; in turn, these focused explorations will allow us to explore together broader issues in the post-Holocaust Jewish world. Throughout the course, we will have the opportunity to reflect on the themes of witnessing, ethics, testimony, theology, justice, outrage, and silence, among others.

As in all of my graduate courses, student research projects will constitute a significant portion of the course grade and coursework. Weekly synchronous graduate class meetings will be devoted to discussing the significance and implications of the asynchronous materials prepared in advance, including readings specifically targeting the wider implications of Wiesel's writings, and to designing, implementing, and presenting on graduate research projects.  The professor welcomes research proposals on a wide range of topics related to or suggested by the subject of post-Holocaust Judaism, Elie Wiesel's writings, and other related issues, including but not limited to antisemitism, religion and xenophobia, industrialized mass murder, propaganda, testimony, narrative and visual representations of genocide, theological reflections, religious reconciliation, ethics, etc.  Graduate students are encouraged to design research projects that are relevant to the course themes but also satisfy their own research agendas and trajectories.

Course Goals

By the end of this course,

  • Students will be familiar with and appreciate the diversity of Jewish expression after the Holocaust.
  • Students will have learned about the wide impact and influence of Elie Wiesel and his writings.
  • Students will have designed, implemented, executed, and presented on a relevant research project of their choosing.  
  • Students will have become more empathetic.

Course Objectives

At the conclusion of the course, students will be able to…

CO 1. Recognize a range of sources relating to the modern Jewish experience.
CO 2. Compare first-person accounts of the Holocaust.
CO 3. Identify and distinguish a range of trends in post-Holocaust Jewish life.
CO 4. Differentiate prospects and problems facing Jews in the post-Holocaust era as reflected in selected readings.
CO 5. Design a research project of relevance.
CO 6. Support and defend a research project in an oral presentation and relate it to course theme(s).


Before starting this course, please review the following pages:

COVID-19 Considerations

As cases and hospitalizations due to the Delta variant continue to increase in our community, we must unite and take necessary steps to prevent further spread.

  1. Given the Online Live modality of this class, guidelines regarding in-person class attendance are less relevant.  At the same time, if COVID-19 impacts your ability to attend class via zoom or to complete coursework according to the deadlines provided, you must notify the COVID Response Team at 305-348-1919 and contact me by email as soon as you can.  I will work with you to ensure you have ample time to complete your coursework before the end of the semester, or we will arrange an Incomplete if necessary.
  2. Please take every precaution to keep yourself and others healthy. Per CDC guidelines, you are encouraged to get vaccinated and strongly advised to wear a mask indoors and in public including all FIU facilities.
  3. Be advised that missing excessive class meetings, especially if you have not informed me of any COVID-related issues, may seriously impact your course grade.
  4. For me to assist you in achieving your goals, it is important for you to contact me as soon as you experience any events that might disrupt your course participation. For up-to-date information about COVID-19, please see the FAQs.
  5. Please be advised that class content may be subject to streaming or course capture for future access by students in this course. Your attendance/participation in this course constitutes consent to such recording.

Course Prerequisites

There are no prerequisites for this course.

Textbook and Course Materials

Textbook Table
Night Trilogy book cover

The Night Trilogy (Required)

Elie Wiesel
New York: Hill and Wang, 2008
ISBN-13: 978-0809073641 ($11.99 list)
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.
A Beggar in Jerusalem book cover

A Beggar in Jerusalem (Required)

Elie Wiesel, Trans. Lily Edelman
New York: Schocken, reprint, 1997
ISBN-13: 978-0805210521 ($15.00 list)
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.
The Jews of Silence book cover

The Jews of Silence; a Personal Report on Soviet Jewry (Required)

Elie Wiesel, Trans. Neal Kozodoy
New York: Schocken paperback ed., 2011
ISBN-13: 978-0805208269 ($14.00 list)
You may purchase your textbook online at the FIU Bookstore.

A selection of PDF chapters, essays, speeches, and Op-Eds will be available on Canvas

Expectations of this Course

This is an online course, which means most (if not all) of the course work will be conducted online. Expectations for performance in an online course are the same for a traditional course. In fact, online courses require a degree of self-motivation, self-discipline, and technology skills which can make these courses more demanding for some students.

Students are expected to:

  • review the getting started page located in the course modules;
  • introduce yourself to the class during the first week by posting a self-introduction in the appropriate discussion;
  • interact online with instructor and peers;
  • review and follow the course calendar and weekly outlines;
  • log in to the course at least 3 times per week;
  • attend weekly synchronous class meetings
  • respond to messages within 2 days;
  • submit assignments by the corresponding deadline.

The instructor will:

  • log in to the course at least 3 times per week;
  • respond to messages within 2 days;
  • grade assignments within 7 days of the assignment deadline (excluding Sabbaths and Jewish holidays).

Course Communication

Communication in this course will take place via the Canvas Inbox. Check out the Canvas Guide to learn how to communicate with your instructor and peers using Announcements, Discussions, and the Inbox. I will respond to all correspondences within 2 days.

Sequence of Modules/Major Topics and Percentages of Final Grade:

  • Course Orientation: Tools and Techniques for Success (2% total)
  • Introductory Materials: Judaism between the World Wars: An Overview (4% total)
  • Elie Wiesel: Background and Biography (2% total)
  • Testimonies from Sighet (6% total)
  • From Sighet to the Shoah I (4% total)
  • From Sighet to the Shoah II (11% total)
  • Israel: Dawn of a New Era? (2% total)
  • Jerusalem and the “Miracle” of 1967 (3% total)
  • America: Living with the Presence of the Past (3% total)
  • Moral Witness and the Challenges of Memory I: The Soviet Union and the Jews of Silence (10% total)
  • Moral Witness and the Challenges of Memory II: Notable Speeches (3% total)
  • Beyond Night: Reflections on the Impact and Legacy of the Holocaust (1% total)
  • On Jews and Judaism: Religious and Theological Reflections (4% total)
  • Reflections: Elie Wiesel and Post-Holocaust Jewry (0% total)
  • Conclusions: Judaism in the 21st Century (35% total)


There are two general categories of assessments/assignments in this course; some are low-stakes, formative assessments for which points are generally awarded for completion of a task or series of tasks, and some are higher-stakes, summative assessments that are evaluated and graded according to a set of rubrics. This course includes four different types of assignments as follows, plus a research project (consisting of proposal, revised proposal, research conferences, paper draft, presentation, and final paper—details TBA):

PlayPosit Videos

  • PlayPosit Videos: These are interactive videos using the PlayPosit tool, which interjects informational pauses and quizzes into online video content; students must read through these informational panels and correctly answer all quiz questions in order to complete each video and attain one completion point per video. All 12 PlayPosit Videos are formative assessments; each one is worth 1% of your final grade.

Journal Entries

  • Journal Entries: These are text box entries that are read only by me, introduced by reflective prompts. There are 4 required Journal Entries; each one is worth 2% of your final grade (graded according to a rubric), and all four are summative assessments.


  • Discussions: There are written and video-recorded Discussion posts in the course encompassing both categories of assessment: The first video Discussion is formative and requires students to introduce themselves, and students will receive 1 completion point for it. Throughout the course, there are 3 written Discussions: in each case, students will respond to a prompt with a post and will reply to others’ posts; these will be graded according to a rubric and are summative; they are each worth 3% of the final grade. 


  • Essays: There are two required Essays in the course, each worth 10% of the final grade: the first is a summary of a Holocaust testimony selected from a list provided of Wiesel's peers, and the second is an evaluation of Jews of Silence, one of the assigned course books by Wiesel. All Essays will be graded according to a rubric and are summative.

In addition, all students will attend virtual synchronous class meetings faithfully: 10% of the final course grade will be assessed based on class attendance and participation.  

Late Policy

It is expected that students will complete most of the asynchronous work for the week's module—including course readings, PlayPosit videos, and Journal Entries—by 11:59pm Thursdays, prior to virtual class meetings on Fridays. All remaining written assignments can be completed by Thursdays to help facilitate class meeting discussions but are officially due in Canvas by 11:59pm on Saturdays at the conclusion of each module unless otherwise indicated. As a courtesy, these written assignments will stay open for 24 hours, one day past the posted due date, to allow for late submissions with no late penalty. This grace period will not be extended. Students who are unable to submit assignments by the conclusion of the grace period, for any reason, must contact the instructor prior to the deadline; late assignments will be accepted on a case-by-case basis, with a penalty, at the discretion of the instructor.

Zoom Video Conference

Zoom is a video conference tool that you can use to interact with your professor and fellow students by sharing screens, chatting, broadcasting live video/audio, and taking part in other interactive online activities. We will meet weekly via Zoom (use this link).

Zoom Test Meeting Room
Use this link to access the Zoom Test Meeting Room. This meeting room is available to test out the software before joining an actual session.

Reference the provided links to access Zoom student tutorials to learn about the tool, how to access your meeting room, and share your screen.


Course Grades Distribution Table

Course Requirements

Number of Items

Percentage for Each

Total Weight

PlayPosit Videos

12 1 12%

Journal Entries

4 2 8%

Discussion: Video Introduction

1 2 1%

Discussion: Written Discussions

3 3 9%


2 10 20%

Research Proposal

1 5 5%

Research Paper

1 30 30%

Research Presentation

1 5 5%

Class Attendance and Participation

1 10 10%




Letter Grade Distribution Table







A 93 or above B 83 - 87 C 70 - 76
A- 90 - 92 B- 80 - 82 D 60 - 69
B+ 88 - 89 C+ 77 - 79 F 59 or less


Course Summary:

Date Details Due