Katz Center Special Events


  • 2014 Gruss Colloquium: Transformations of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe, April 29-May 1, 2014
  • The 2014 Penn Lectures in Judaic Studies were a great success. Visit this link to see the spring program: Moving into Modernity: The Shaping of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe
  • The Ruth Meltzer Seminars for this spring are now posted and viewable on our calendar.
  • Meet our 2013-2014 fellows, working on the year's theme Constructing Borders and Crossing Boundaries: Social, Cultural, and Religious Change in Early Modern Jewish History
  • Taking Note: 20 Years of Scholars and Scholarship at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 1993–2014, A Roundtable Discussion.  For a complete program click here

  • Taking Note: Scholars and Scholarship at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 1993-2014


    Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

    Thursday, May 1, 2014      10:00 AM - 12:00 PM

    Taking Note: 20 Years of Scholars and Scholarship at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 1993–2014, A Roundtable Discussion

    Please join us to celebrate and reflect on two decades of Jewish learning at the highest level as conducted at Penn's Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. We have convened a lively, interactive panel of thought provoking scholars to contemplate the impact and meaning of the academic enterprise of Jewish studies, its relevance to the Jewish world, the university, and beyond. What have we achieved? What are the stakes and import of the secular Torah of academic Jewish scholarship? And what is yet to be accomplished?

    Penn Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology, Widener Lecture Hall, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104.

    For more information click here

    Cristobal Mendes, alias Abraham Franco Silveira: The Puzzling Saga of a Seventeenth-Century Converso


    Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

    Christobal Mendes, alias Abraham Franco Silveria: The Puzzling Saga of a Seventeenth-Century Converso

    Yosef Kaplan, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

    With a response by Roger Chartier, University of Pennsylvania/College de France

    Wednesday, February 5, 2014, saw the Seventeenth Annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture in Judaic Studies. Yosef Kaplan, Professor Emeritus of History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focused on an episode in the life of a seventeenth-century Portuguese Converso, Cristobal Mendes, alias Abraham Franco Silveira, whose peregrinations and adventures placed him in contact with some of the most important centers of the Judeo-converso diaspora. Kaplan’s analysis of this colorful microhistory was itself a historiographical journey of the Western Sephardic Diaspora in the Early Modern Period.

    The lecture was followed by a response by Prof. Roger Chartier (University of Pennsylvania/Collège de France).

    The Katz Center in the News


    The chairman of our Board of Overseers, Thomas O. Katz, has been profiled in the Fall/Winter 2013 issue of Penn's Arts and Sciences Magazine. Click here to read the full article in which Tom talks about his relationship to the center and the importance of continuing the legacy of his father, Herbert D. Katz.


    Click here for Heather A. Davis's Penn Current profile of the Center: "Rare Finds at Katz Center" (April 18, 2013).


    David Ruderman was recently featured in two stories: Click here to link to see an extensive video/story on the European news channel Jewish News One (JN1), and you can click here to hear Prof. Ruderman talk about his time at the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp (UCSIA), where he was invited to lecture.


    We are thrilled to announce that three past fellows have just won the 2013 Israel Prize: Yosef Kaplan was honored in the category of the study of the history of Israel, Chava Turniansky of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem won the prize for the study of Jewish languages and literature, and Yoram Bilu was honored in the field of sociology and anthropology. In the ceremony on Independence day (April 16, 2013), Israel's Education Minister Shai Piron said: “Society is measured by the importance of its intellectuals and leaders.” We could not agree more. Mazal tov to all three!

    Recent acquisition by the Katz Center Library: A 19th-century Bulgarian Ketubah


    Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

    The Katz Center library is pleased to announce the acquisition in December of 2011 of a marriage contract (ketubah) from Ruse, Bulgaria  (1831).

    The ketubah in black ink and watercolor is written in Aramaic and Hebrew Sephardic semi-cursive script, on thick paper. It features an Italianate and Islamic-influenced double-arch design with colorful floral and geometric patterns in the supporting columns and vines along scalloping. The text has three paragraphs: standard ketubah text in the right arch, conditions and bride’s dowry in the left arch. Two verses from Proverbs (19:14, 18:22) are enclosed in the arches and cross beam.
        The wedding took place on Mon. 10 Marḥeshvan, 5592 [October 17, 1831] in the city of Oroniḳ, today the town of Ruse, on the River Ṭuna, known as the Danube River. The groom is Aharon beha-r. Mosheh ha-m. Mirḳado H.y.ṿ. ben ha-n. u-m. beha-r. Mosheh b. Efrayim H.y.ṿ. The bride is Biliya t.m. de-miḳre Bekhorah t.m. bat ha-manoaḥ Ḥayim Daniyel di Leʼon ha-m. Parisiʼado. Witness signatures are illegible.

    This piece was acquired for the Penn Libraries with assistance from the Elis & Ruth Douer Term Fund Elis and Ruth Douer Endowment for Sephardic Culture.