The Katz Center and Hebrew University of Jerusalem 2013 Summer School for Graduate Students: Jewish Learning through the Ages


Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and the Katz Center are delighted to announce the 2013 summer school in Judaic studies for students pursuing doctorates in all fields of Judaic studies. The summer school is held alternately in Jerusalem and Philadelphia, and was launched in Israel at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem in 2012. The 2013 session will be based in Philadelphia (JULY 16-25, 2013) at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. It will meet in Philadelphia for six days before moving to New York City for three days and include intense learning in seminar settings, special programs and lectures, and visits to historical and cultural sites.


About the Summer School

This Summer's Theme: Jewish Learning through the Ages

Meet our Faculty

Meet our Graduate Students

Contact Us


About the Summer School in Judaic Studies

The objective of the school is to expand the academic horizons of the participants by exposing them to new approaches and areas of study. In small seminar settings focused on specific textual readings with senior faculty - and with some of the best and brightest students from North America, Europe, and Israel - we hope to create a sense of social and intellectual connection among all participants, and to expose students to fields beyond their specific areas of specialization. The summer school will take advantage of the rich scholarly resources of both Jerusalem and Philadelphia through a range of field trips and site visits. The school is jointly directed by Professor Israel Yuval of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Professor David Ruderman of the University of Pennsylvania who will be joined by a team of four additional faculty and other academic guests carefully chosen to enhance the school's unique intellectual environment.

This Summer’s Theme: Jewish Learning through the Ages

This summer the school will focus on the theme of Jewish learning throughout the ages. The faculty and students will examine the changing nature of the curriculum of Jewish studies in different times and in different cultural settings. It will raise the most fundamental questions regarding the place of Jewish education within Jewish cultures: Why are Jews mandated to study and what are they mandated to study? Was there a basic curriculum or canon common to all Jewish communities; a nation of one book or many books? Are specific pedagogic agendas the result of cultural and religious needs arising in particular cultural settings, whether communal or private? How are they affected by the transition from oral to written to printed cultures? What is the place of biblical and talmudic study in specific eras and places and what specific pedagogic approaches (e.g. mnemonics, pilpul, etc.) emerged in studying these traditional texts? How did different communities adjust the Jewish curriculum to incorporate subjects beyond the conventional boundaries of rabbinic law and lore, such as the study of philosophy in the Middle Ages, of rhetoric in the Renaissance, of the sciences and foreign languages and literatures in the period of the Enlightenment, or the exposure to art and music in the modern era? How did Christian or Muslim curricula of learning affect those of their Jewish minorities? How does instruction in a specific language, such as Hebrew, Yiddish, Aramaic, or German and English, affect the content of learning in any given period and culture?

There are also other important questions to be posed regarding the recipients of Jewish education: men and women, laypersons and rabbis. The question of the politics of knowledge is crucial: How did various leaderships use learning to promote their own hegemonies? Did the obligation to study Torah come at the cost of fostering the pursuit of other fields of learning? How did the value of "talmud torah" emerge alongside the concept of "bittul Torah" (wasting time from Torah study), thus shaping a particular perspective on leisure activities within Jewish culture?

Given the specific location of this year’s summer school, how has the curriculum of Jewish learning emerged in an American context? What are its unique features and challenges? We should not ignore, at the same time, contemporary issues of Jewish learning in the State of Israel: questions of the intervention of the state in Jewish education versus Haredi institutions, or the rise of Jewish institutions of learning for secular Jews. We hope to engage these questions through the examination of specific texts and contexts in seminars as well as through visits and conversations with leading Jewish educators.


For more information on the program please contact:

Yechiel Y. Schur, Ph.D.
The Klatt Family Director for Public Programs
Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania