Vanessa Ochs headshot

Vanessa Ochs

Unit: College of Arts and Sciences
Department: Department of Religious Studies
Office location and address
Nau Hall, N-185
1540 Jefferson Park Ave
Charlottesville, Virginia 22903
BA, Tufts University
MPhil, Drew University
PhD, Drew University
Beit Cochman: Rabbinical Ordination
FORU 1510: Continuing the Forum
Credits: 1
This course follows the first-semester introductory forum class and keeps students engaged in the content of their forum. Students should enroll in the section associated with the forum to which they were accepted. (See for information on the forums.)
FORU 2500: Forum Capstone Experience
Credits: 3
This course is the capstone course for forum students. It is to be taken in the fourth semester by forum students only. Students should enroll in the section associated with the forum to which they were accepted. (See for information on the forums).
RELJ 3085: The Passover Haggadah: A Service Learning Course
Credits: 3
The Passover Haggadah cultivates sensitivity for the plight of the stranger, and we will study how it came about and how it has been used as a template for rituals of social activism on behalf of oppressed peoples, and in particular, of refugees. In volunteer placements in the community, UVA students will work with individuals who have have found refuge in Cville. Together, they will collaborate on designing haggadahs and community seders.
RELJ 3320: Judaism: Medicine and Healing
Credits: 3
Judaism: Medicine and Healing
RELG 3375: Spiritual Writing
Credits: 3
This course in spiritual writing chronicles quests for meaning, purpose and direction. The reading and writing assignments explore encounters with the sacred, and consider such written wrestlings within faith communities, and other sources of wisdom. Over the semester, students will study examples of contemporary spiritual writing in diaries, memoir, and fiction. They will also write about "matters of the spirit" in various genres.
RELJ 3390: Jewish Feminism
Credits: 3
Jewish Feminism
RELJ 3490: Jewish Weddings
Credits: 3
As we study the ritual of the Jewish wedding ceremony from antiquity to the present day, we will see how notions about marriage, gender relations, and the normative family are displayed and challenged. In particular, we will be investigating the establishment of innovations in the contemporary Jewish weddings (traditional, liberal, same-sex and interfaith) in America and Israel.
ENMC 3500: Studies in Modern and Contemporary Literature
Credits: 3
This course takes up topics in the study of literature in English in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. For more details on this class, please visit the department website at
RELJ 3559: New Course in Judaism
Credits: 1–4
This course provides the opportunity to offer a new topic in the subject of Judaism.
RELG 4500: Majors Seminar
Credits: 3
Introduces the study of religion as an interdisciplinary subject, utilizing methods in history of religions, theology, sociology, depth psychology, and literary criticism. The seminars are thematic and topics will vary according to the design of the instructor. Limited to twenty religious studies majors.
RELS 4995: Independent Research
Credits: 1–6
Systematic readings in a selected topic under detailed supervision. Prerequisite: Permission of departmental advisor and instructor.
RELG 5835: Ethnography and the Study of Religion
Credits: 3
This course familiarizes students with a range of ways of studying practice in religions as it is evidenced in sacred texts, religious artifacts, images and locations; as it is chronicled in historical documents; as it is reflected in literary and artistic creations; and as it revealed in contemporary practice.
RELJ 8736: Tutorial: Jewish Liturgy
Credits: 3
Students will read through a year of Jewish liturgy. Primary sources will include Jewish prayer books of different denominations and secondary sources will include the works of Larry Hoffman, Ruth Langer, Alan Mintz, Judith Plaskow, and Marcia Falk. The course will highlight the variations of Jewish liturgy across denominations and will end with contemporary feminist liturgy.
RELG 8741: Tutorial in Spiritual Writing
Credits: 3
Students will chronicle and document quests for meaning, purpose and direction by analyzing diverse, multi-cultural examples of contemporary spiritual writing in diaries, memoir, essays and fiction. They will deepen their study of spiritual experience by creating personal texts concerning "matters of the spirit" in genres of their choosing. Ideally, they will expand their pedagogic abilities by strengthening both analytical and creative skills.
RELJ 8750: Tutorial: Jewish Feminism (Abrahamic Context)
Credits: 3
This tutorial puts Jewish feminism in conversation with Muslim and Christian feminisms, in the particular contexts of sacred texts, prayer, ritual practice, law, sexuality, leadership, and community.
RELS 8998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's research, taken before a thesis director has been selected.
RELS 8999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For master's thesis, taken under the supervision of a thesis director.
RELS 9998: Non-Topical Research, Preparation for Doctoral Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral research, taken before a dissertation director has been selected.
RELS 9999: Non-Topical Research
Credits: 1–12
For doctoral dissertation, taken under the supervision of a dissertation director.