VCU Campus VCU Judaic Studies

The VCU Center for Judaic Studies was established for the interdisciplinary study of Judaism. It encourages understanding of the Judaic component of of religious and philosophical thought, history and the arts in Western civilization.

P.O. Box 842021
Richmond, Virginia 23284


Photo of Jack D. Spiro

Jack D. Spiro holds the Harry Lyons Distinguished Chair in Judaic Culture at Virginia Commonwealth University; directs the university’s Center for Judaic Studies and edits its international online publication, “Menorah Review.”

He is the author, co-author or editor of more than 30 books and numerous articles. He was editor-in-chief of Religious Education, journal of the Religious Education Association of North America; founding editor of Compass, national education magazine of Reform Judaism; editorial director of The Torah: A Modern Commentary; and executive editor of the national magazine Reform Judaism. He served as national director of the Commission on Jewish Education for Reform Congregations and is rabbi emeritus of Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond.

Spiro has two earned doctorates, one from the Hebrew Union College and one from the University of Virginia. He has received honorary doctorates from the Hebrew Union College and the University of Richmond. He is a member of the Phi Alpha Theta National Honorary History Fraternity and honorary lifetime member of the National Association of Temple Educators. He served in the U.S. Air Force European Command with the rank of captain. Spiro also served as chair of the Richmond Human Relations Commission, president of the Virginia League for Planned Parenthood and chair of the United Way Appropriations Committee. He is a graduate of the FBI Citizens Academy.

Among other honors, he received a citation from the Liberal and Progressive Synagogues of Great Britain for “outstanding service,” VCU’s Distinguished Adjunct Faculty Award, the Humanitarian Award of the Virginia Center for Inclusive Communities, a Mayoral Proclamation for contributions to the City of Richmond and the Liberty Bell Award from the Richmond Bar Association. He was recognized by Style Weekly as one of the most influential Richmonders of the 20th century. He can be reached by the e-mail



Introduction to Judaism
A general survey of the dynamics and characteristic patterns of Jewish civilization encompassing history, practices, and beliefs.

A survey of the Hebrew Bible from its beginning through the post-exilic period.

Biblical Hebrew
Vocabulary and basic grammar while reading biblical texts, pronunciation skills and appreciation of the development of the language.

Hebrew Prophets
A survey of the literature and history of Israel as seen through the work of the prophets.

Jerusalem: History and Faith
An exploration of Jerusalem as a multi-faceted city, concept and story.

History of the Jewish People
(2 semesters)
A study of the Jewish people from the time of Abraham to the present.
First semester: Biblical period to the Spanish Expulsion of 1492.
Second semester: Sephardic migrations to the Israel-Palestinian peace process.

The Holocaust
An examination of the events leading to and culminating in the extermination of six million Jews.

The American Jewish Experience
The religious, social and cultural structure of American Jewry from the colonial era to the present.

Modern Jewish Thought
A study of the writings of the leading Jewish thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries. Special reference is made to the issues arising from the encounter of Judaism with the modern world.


Menorah Review
An international publication featuring review essays of contemporary books, original articles on Jewish themes, poetry and annotated "briefings" about books and journal articles.

Annual Brown-Lyons Spring Lecture
Sponsored by the VCU Libraries, the VCU Center for Judaic Studies, the Richmond Jewish Foundation and the Weinstein Jewish Community Center. Call (804) 828-1105 for more information.

Minor in Judaic Studies
The minor in Judaic Studies is open to students in all programs and consists of 18 credits earned in relevant courseworking courses.

Certificate in Judaic Studies
Awarded to students who complete four courses in Judaic studies to give recognition of learning achievement on the university level in the field of Judaism. See applicable courses in the Minor program.

Academic Award
The Judaic Studies Award is given to students who have taken three or more courses in Judaism and/or Hebrew and have demonstrated evidence of exceptional academic achievement.

The Virginia Holocaust Museum
The Center and the Museum have formed a partnership for the development of research and programs.

Virginia Commonwealth University  |  College of Humanities and Science  |  School of World Studies
Center for Judaic Studies
312 North Shafer Street  |  P.O. Box 842021  |  Richmond, Virginia 23284-2021
Phone: (804) 827-1111
Updated: 01/08/2014