Katz Center News


A New MOOC Celebrates Jewish Manuscripts


The Katz Center and the Schoenberg Institute for Manuscript Studies (SIMS) announce the June 5 launch of a video mini-course exploring a fascinating 17th-century manuscript. It is taught by the 2017–18 SIMS-Katz Distinguished Fellow in Jewish Manuscript Studies, Alessandro Guetta (Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales, Paris), and is called:

The Tabernacle in Word & Image: An Italian Jewish Manuscript Revealed

In it Professor Guetta introduces Malkiel Ashkenazi’s Tavnit ha-mishkan and Hanukat ha-bayit (CAJS Rar Ms 460), a detailed commentary on the construction and implements of the biblical Tabernacle...


Read more on the CAJS Blog.

Announcing 2018–2019 Fellows // CAJS Blog


Read about the incoming group of visiting scholars focused on the study of Jews in modern Islamic contexts.

Selected from a large and highly competitive pool of applicants, the fellows come from throughout the world—from Europe, Israel, Turkey, and North America—and represent a range of different disciplines, including history, literary studies, anthropology, and ethnomusicology. Their research encompasses North Africa, the Levant, the Arabian Peninsula, Anatolia, and Central and South Asia, and addresses both religious and secular dimensions of Jewish culture as it has developed in these areas. 






Science and Transformation in Jewish Culture: April 22–23, 2018


24th Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies

During this two-day colloquium, scholars from around the world joined our fellows to explore the ways that science and Judaism have long been mutual catalysts of change, exploration, and self-reflection. 


  • In a recent blog post, the fellows of the Colloquium Planning Committee explain how the event enabled us to see the diversity of ways in which Jews interacted with the natural world. 
  • In another post, Colloquium panelist Annette Yoshiko Reed reviews the "richly eclectic discussion" that resulted.
  • Matt Goldish, a past fellow, writes about a related topic on science and transformation in Jewish culture in a different recent post on the Katz Center blog
  • To check out the full event program, click here.


Interviews with Fellows


In a pair of interviews, director Steve Weitzman chats with fellows Agata Paluch and Julia Watts Belser, learning what compels their scholarship, how their time at the Center has affected their work, and what they see on the horizon. Click here to read Watts Belser's interview about the Talmud, disability studies, and environmental humanities, and click here to read Paluch's interview about the literature of early modern practical kabbalah of East-Central Europe. 


Read more on the CAJS Blog.

New Library Acquisitions


Rabbi Michael Strassfeld Collection

The Penn Libraries and its Judaica collections are honored to accept the landmark donation of Rabbi Michael Strassfeld's personal papers and Jewish sound recording collection. Taken together, the collection comprises forty-five linear feet of primary source materials for studying American Judaism and Jewish culture since the 1960s. Rabbi Strassfeld, now Rabbi Emeritus of the Society for the Advancement of Judaism, and formerly rabbi of Congregation Ansche Chesed in New York City, was one of the leaders of the Jewish Counter-Culture movement which over the last half-century has pioneered dynamic new forms of Jewish life beyond the denominational structures of American Judaism. Rabbi Strassfeld was one of the key leaders of the Havurah movement, co-author of the Jewish Catalog - what has been called the “Bible” of Jewish Counter Culture, editor of the original version of the "Passover Haggadah: The Feast of Freedom," and author of several other works, including Shabbat Haggadah for Celebration and Study (1980), The Jewish Holidays: A Guide and Commentary (1985), A Night of Questions, a Passover Haggadah with Rabbi Joy Levitt (2000), and a A Book of Life: Embracing Judaism as a Spiritual Practice (2002).