The Katz Center is a hive of activity this semester as fellows and colleagues engage questions about Jewish politics that are timely and perennial, age-old and urgent. Read on for all the news about recent happenings, upcoming events, and achievements of Katz Center staff, fellows, and alumni. 


Check our website for the full calendar of academic and public programs.

This year's theme of Jewish politics continues to stimulate research and programming. A number of new fellows have joined the cohort this semester, and weekly seminars are underway. Topics include the philosophy of Leo Strauss; women's activism in Jerusalem's sacred spaces; civil marriage in Enlightenment-era Italy; and political economy in Jewish thought, among others. (Pictured: Lihi ben Shitrit and the spring semester fellows)

Find out more about current fellows and their projects here

Save the date for the 23rd Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies:

Expanding Jewish Political Thought:
Beneath, Between, Before, and Beyond the State
April 23-24, 2017
University of Pennsylvania

The Ruth Meltzer Seminar Series is the core of the fellowship program and a hallowed ritual among Katz Center fellows. Here are some scenes from this year's Wednesday meetings.
Professor Bonnie Honig of Brown University delivered the 20th Annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture on November 3. Honig's talk, titled "Is Man a 'Sabbatical Animal'? Giorgio Agamben, Franz Rosenzweig, and A. J. Heschel," connected Agamben’s claims about sabbath with the Judaic perspectives on it explored by Franz Rosenzweig and A. J. Heschel.
Fellows and invited guests explored Jewish Political Thought beyond Borders at a successful day-long workshop in Decemb er.
Resisting the temptation to revert to debates over borders, the program focused on finding, interrogating, and fostering Jewish political thought where it crosses boundaries—whether spatial, temporal, or disciplinary. It sought to highlight new resources and modes in political thought that escape, erode, and challenge established confines and impasses. Pictured here: Irene Tucker, David Myers, and Liliane Weissberg

The Meyerhoff Lecture ten years ago: Haggai Ben-Shammai, "Defining the Karaites: Between Self Perception and Scholarly Evaluation"

...and twenty years ago: S aul Friedlander, " Writing the History of the Holocaust: Some Old/New Dilemmas "

The winter 2017 issue of JQR (107.1) has just appeared, featuring articles by Daniel J. Frim,  Jonatan M. Benarroch, Kobi Cohen-Hattab & Ayelet Kohn, and Jonathan Gribetz.

Jeremy Cohen's note on medieval Jews' use of Christian wet-nurses is available for free download.

See all of 107.1 via Project Muse or subscribe through Penn Press

The fall 2016 issue (106.4) was the first ever to feature color images, including the one at right. They appear in Pawel Maciejko’s piece unraveling the story behind an 18th-century portrait of a kabbalist in the circle of Casanova.

The issue also contains a forum marking the 50th anniversary of Gerson Cohen's famous essay on assimilation as a “blessing.” We have made Arnold Eisen’s contribution, "The Case for 'Assimilation' and Diaspora," available for free.

Follow the Katz Center's blog for posts relating to each issue of JQR, including the latest from Jonathan Gribetz on "The PLO's Rabbi" and David Myers on assimilation in the Trump era.
Portrait of Count Joseph Carl Emmanuel von Waldstein. DH 8830 in the collection of the National Heritage Institute, the Regional Heritage Administration, Prague
The Penn Libraries recently announced that the Rabbi Michael Strassfeld papers collection  has been fully processed and is now available for research. 
Credit for the feat of cataloguing goes to archivist John Anderies of the Kislak Center, who has also written a blog post describing some highlights of the collection.  You can also go directly to the finding aid for more details.
Katz Center fellows, alumni, and staff are a prolific bunch. A number of new books have appeared since the last newsletter, including Entangled Histories: Knowledge, Authority, and Jewish Culture in the Thirteenth Century. Edited by Elisheva Baumgarten, Ruth Mazo Karras, and Katelyn Mesler, this collection of essays emerged from the 2012 - 2013 fellowship theme on thirteenth-century Judaism and features many of the year's fellows as contributors.

Other recently published books include a collection of essays on the FBI and religion coedited by Katz Center Director Steven Weitzman; a special double issue of the Journal of Levantine Studies on converso politics edited by current (and past) fellow Claude Stuczynski; and first books by alumnae Ellie Schainker, Eva Mroczek, Rachel Werczberger, and Keren Friedman-Peleg. Click here for information about these and other exciting new additions to the Center's bookshelf.

The Katz Center's Jewish Culture and Contexts series, published with Penn Press, has put out several new volumes in recent months. In addition to Entangled Histories, Jeremy Cohen's A Historian in Exile: Solomon ibn Verga, "Shevet Yehudah," and the Jewish-Christian Encounter and Ismar Schorsch's Leopold Zunz: Creativity in Adversity both appeared in late 2016. Look for more releases in the coming months.
Alumni, we want to hear from you! Send us news of your publications and other achievements so that we can feature them here.

Every semester the Katz Center presents a number of programs for the public, in which fellows and colleagues discuss issues in Judaic studies connected to our annual theme. Hundreds of local attendees enjoy these programs in person, at community venues around the Philadelphia area.

We are delighted to announce that we are now able to share these programs with wider audiences online. Find a full listing of these videos with more information about each event on our website.
The first two programs of the current series are available now for streaming: the opening panel discussion, The State of Jewish Politics, and Julie Cooper's lecture, Jewish Political Thought in a Changing World

We are grateful to the Josephine Cohen Foundation for its generous support of this effort. Stay tuned for more programs to be posted as the series continues.

The Katz Center organized a panel at the National Constitution Center on the question of whether the U.S. Constitution can be said to be "Judeo-Christian." Featuring Katz Center-affiliated scholars Menachem Lorberbaum and Suzanne Last Stone as well as Michael Moreland of Villanova University, the discussion addressed the meaning and appropriateness of this term, the religious background of the framing of the Constitution, and crosscurrents in the issue today. Watch the program here.

We also continued a long tradition of co-presenting a lecture with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations at St. Joseph's University. This year, Joshua Teplitsky spoke about a remarkable example of neighborly exchange in the face of catastrophe, in the early modern Prague Ghetto. Watch here.

The Katz Center presents two exciting panel discussions on the Penn campus in March, free and open to the public.

Anthea Butler,  Julie E. Cooper,  Sarah Barringer Gordon,  Fariha Khan, and Anne Norton
Introduction from Steven Weitzman
Tuesday, March 14, 5:00 PM
Claudia Cohen Hall Room 402
249 South 36th Street

From Exile to Fugitivity:
What We Talk about When We Talk about Refugees
Michael Hanchard, Assaf Tamari, Heather Sharkey, Paulina Ochoa-Espejo, and Vincent Lloyd
Thursday, March 30, 5:00 PM
More information TBA, check our website

And on March 16, check out the second part of our series on Jewish Europe between the World Wars in partnership with the Gershman Y.  In this informal lunchtime conversation, current fellow Philipp von Wussow will address the role of Jews and Judaism in the "culture wars" of Weimar Germany.

Alumni of the fellowship program are continually recognized in the academic community for their stellar work, often directly supported by their time at the Katz Center. The most recent spate of award recipients includes Sylvie-Anne Goldberg (2003 – 2004 fellowship year: Prescriptive Traditions and Lived Experience), Eva Mroczek (2015 - 2016: Beyond Reason), Natalia Aleksiun (2014 - 2015: Origins of the Academic Study of Judaism), and Andrew Berns (2014 - 2015: Origins of the Academic Study of Judaism).  Please join us in congratulating them and read more about their achievements on our website .

Elizabeth Martin began in September 2016 as the Assistant to the Director and Fellowship Coordinator. Her past experience includes working at the Penn Libraries as a human resources coordinator and as a cataloging assistant for the Library Company of Philadelphia. She received her M.S. in Organizational Dynamics from the University of Pennsylvania, for which her capstone project focused on mentoring in the workplace. Elizabeth earned her B.A. in English at Bryn Mawr College. A New York City native, Elizabeth is now happy to call West Philadelphia home, and outside of work she keeps busy caring for her 9-month-old son, Robbie. She also enjoys volunteering when she can. Recent efforts include leading interview skills workshops for Philadelphia high school students and fundraising along with her husband, Julian, for Haitians affected by the 2010 earthquake.

Interested in what we do?

Meet our current fellows and read more about the "Political Ramifications" theme here.

Support the Katz Center and its public programming by making a dedicated donation through the University of Pennsylvania, or contact us to discuss your gift.

Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies | University of Pennsylvania
(215) 238-1290 |

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