Elhanan Reiner (Tel Aviv University) and Yoram Bilu (Hebrew University) lead the group through various shrines in Meron, Safed, and Hazor.
Our successful inaugural summer school program took place in Israel this past July, where students explored the topic of "Mingled Identities" from a wide variety of angles. Twenty-four students (10 Israelis, 10 Americans, and 4 Europeans) were taught by a dynamic faculty which included the two directors: David Ruderman and Israel Yuval (Hebrew University), with Richard Cohen (Hebrew University), Ada Rappaport-Albert (University College London), Marina Rustow (Johns Hopkins University), and Isaiah Gafni (Hebrew University). The group met in Jerusalem and boarded a bus to the southern tip of the Kinneret where they spent five days in intense seminars, both formal and informal, supplemented by extensive trips through the Galilee. The program moved to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well, and included trips to The Israel Museum, the Mount of Olives, and the Supreme Court. David Ruderman reflects, "for me and for the participants (based on their written evaluations), this was a truly special occasion for all involved. The faculty spent almost all their time with the students and we learned from each other both formally and informally. The students were extraordinarily bright, inquisitive, and appreciative of all we could offer. Most of all we were shaping a new community of scholars and establishing personal relationships and global networks that we hope will last them throughout their careers."
The 2013 summer school (July 16–25, 2013) will be based in Philadelphia at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic studies at the University of Pennsylvania. The 2013 program 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? 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. The scholars gathered will engage these questions through the examination of specific texts and contexts in seminars as well through visits and conversations with leading Jewish educators.
The faculty will include the two codirectors: David B. Ruderman (University of Pennsylvania; early modern Jewish history and thought) and Israel J. Yuval (Hebrew University; medieval Jewish history), as well as Orit Baskin (The University of Chicago; modern middle eastern history), Talya Fishman (University of Pennsylvania; medieval and early modern Jewish history), David N. Myers (UCLA; modern Jewish intellectual and cultural history),and Elchanan Reiner (Tel Aviv University/Shalom Hartman Institute; medieval and early modern Jewish history).
This year's fellowship program brings together scholars of Jewish, Christian, and Islamic social and intellectual history with the aim of developing a more integrated account of Europe and the Mediterranean basin in the thirteenth century. Major attention is paid to the way that material and social changes contributed to the creation of new kinds of political and religious institutions and also to the formation of new intellectual horizons and religious concepts. Our fellows consider the era's intellectual ferment and criticism of established norms, both within the framework of traditional religious boundaries and beyond. Diverse phenomena such as the appearance of Kabbalah and the institutionalization of Sufi brotherhoods, the creation of new philosophically-oriented scientific cultures, the rise of universities, the establishment of mendicant orders, the evolution of Halakhah, and the creation of the Inquisition are considered, not only as isolated phenomena but in their mutual interrelations.
Scholars working in a wide variety of disciplines have long identified the late fifteenth through the late eighteenth century as a historical period called “Early Modern.” Among scholars interested in the place of Jews and Jewish culture within this period, however, there has been little attempt to think broadly about early modernity as a whole or to connect the insights of discrete studies in any coherent and meaningful way. This research group will create a conversation that connects these smaller units and so examines those changes in the Jewish world which characterized the Early Modern. We will focus on the issue of borders and boundaries, understood as not only geographical, but also social, cultural, legal, political, and economic. Some divided and connected the Jewish and the non-Jewish, while others functioned within Jewish society, creating internal divisions and conjunctures. Considering, among other things, the breakdown of old social and cultural boundaries and the construction of new ones, the boundary as both a dividing line and a place of meeting and mixing between different groups (Jewish and non-Jewish), and the ambiguities inherent in situations where elites envisioned strong boundaries while others ignored them (and vice versa), will encourage a wide ranging discussion on the very nature of both Jewish Early Modernity and the early modern period in general.
The application deadline is November 10, 2012. Fellowship recipients will be notified by February 1, 2013
A vibrant international group of historians, literary critics, film scholars, and anthropologists gathered last year at the Katz Center to study the idea and practice of travel in Jewish history and literature. The fellows worked on themes that ranged from third-century traveling rabbis to tourism in twenty-first-century Israel, and their geographic focus stretched from the US to India, and from Europe to Africa. The fellows shared their work during the Ruth Melzer Seminars, the winter workshop "Intersections: Jews and Travel," and at the year's finale, the Gruss Colloquium "Jews and Journeys." In addition to doing their own research, the fellows studied with board members and graduate students, and offered public lectures throughout greater Philadelphia. Orit Bashkin (University of Chicago), Adam Beaver (Princeton University), and Joshua Levinson (Hebrew University) have been appointed the editors of a volume which will bear witness to the groundbreaking work accomplished through the course of the fellowship year.
The Eighteenth Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies was made possible through the generous support of Martin D. Gruss(W'64).
Throughout the eighteenth century, an ever-sharper distinction emerged between Jews of the old order and those who were self-consciously of a new world. As aspirations for liberation clashed with adherence to tradition, as national, ethnic, cultural, and other alternatives emerged and a long, circuitous search for identity began, it was no longer evident that the definition of Jewishness would be based on the beliefs and practices surrounding the study of the Torah. In The Origins of Jewish Secularization in Eighteenth-Century Europe, Feiner reconstructs this evolution by listening to the voices of those who participated in the process and by deciphering its cultural codes and meanings. On the one hand, a great majority of observant Jews still accepted the authority of the Talmud and the leadership of the rabbis; on the other, there was a gradually more conspicuous minority of "Epicureans" and "freethinkers." As the ground shifted, each individual was marked according to his or her place on the path between faith and heresy, between devoutness and permissiveness or indifference.
The medieval Islamic world comprised a wide variety of religions. While individuals and communities in this world identified themselves with particular faiths, boundaries between these groups were vague and in some cases nonexistent. Rather than simply borrowing or lending customs, goods, and notions to one another, the peoples of the Mediterranean region interacted within a common culture. Beyond Religious Borders presents sophisticated and often revolutionary studies of the ways Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers drew ideas and inspiration from outside the bounds of their own religious communities. Each essay in this collection covers a key aspect of interreligious relationships in Mediterranean lands during the first six centuries of Islam. These studies focus on the cultural context of exchange, the impact of exchange, and the factors motivating exchange between adherents of different religions. Essays address the influence of the shared Arabic language on the transfer of knowledge, reconsider the restrictions imposed by Muslim rulers on Christian and Jewish subjects, and demonstrate the need to consider both Jewish and Muslim works in the study of Andalusian philosophy.
Presenting new research by an international group of scholars, this book represents a step toward a fuller understanding of Jewish book history. Individual essays focus on a range of issues related to the production and dissemination of Hebrew books as well as their audiences. Topics include the activities of scribes and printers, the creation of new types of literature and the transformation of canonical works in the era of print, the external and internal censorship of Hebrew books, and the reading interests of Jews. An introduction summarizes the state of scholarship in the field and offers an overview of the transition from manuscript to print in this period.
This is the first thorough account of a trial of Jews by the papal inquisition, under whose jurisdiction Jews did not normally fall. This is also the first work to attempt an overview of the phenomenon of Jewish conversion to Christianity in medieval Spain prior to the watershed of 1391. The book lays bare the intensity of the mutual hostility between Christians and Jews in medieval Spain. It reveals that the majority of Jewish converts of the period turned to baptism in order to escape personal difficulties, such as poverty, conflict with other Jews, or unhappy marriages. They often met with a chilly reception from their new Christian brethren, making it difficult to integrate into Christian society. Tartakoff explores Jewish antagonism toward Christians and Christianity by examining the aims and techniques of Jews who sought to re-Judaize apostates as well as the Jewish responses to inquisitorial prosecution during an actual investigation. Prosecutions such as the 1341 trial were understood by papal inquisitors to be in defense of Christianity against perceived Jewish attacks, although Tartakoff shows that Christian fears about Jewish hostility were often exaggerated. Drawing together the accounts of Jews, Jewish converts, and inquisitors, this cultural history offers a broad study of interfaith relations in medieval Iberia.
Past fellows are invited to apply for summer research support at the Katz Center. The research should be conducted over the course of two weeks or more between May 15, 2013 and August 15, 2013. While this research opportunity does not include a stipend, recipients will be an office, use of a computer, and full access to the Penn Libraries. Additionally, the Katz Center will provide a modest research fund to cover office services including photocopying, phone usage, and mailings. To apply, please email Yechiel Schur (firstname.lastname@example.org) the title of your research project and indicate briefly how your visit to the Katz Center will enhance your research. Applications should be received by April 1, 2013; successful applicants will be notified by April 15, 2013.
New and Recent at JQR
It is hard to believe that we are about to begin work on our tenth volume as editors of JQR. Time flies. Volume 102 (2012) is filled with a wide range of materials and some of the most exciting work being done across the disciplines that make up Jewish studies—as evidenced by the summer and fall issues. We are, as always, grateful to our authors, and also to the less visible, but critical work of the peerless peer reviewers, those good citizens who keep us and the scholarship of their own fields, honest, original, and serious.
The fellowship program on thirteenth-century Judaism presents an opportunity to explore the historical origins of important contemporary modern issues such as the Jewish curriculum, the tension between Jewish thought and practice, and anti-Semitism. We are currently running a mini-series that explores the ways that gender can help us better understand the world of our ancestors as well as our own world. In the spring, our lecture series will reflect the range and richness of our fellows' intellectual interests. Lectures will touch on topics ranging from blood libels to Kabbalah, from philosophy to the everyday lives of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who often shared the same urban space. For more information, please contact Etty Lassman at 215-238-1290, email@example.com.
Hot off the presses is the news that the Penn Libraries have acquired—thanks to the philanthropic vision and exceptional generosity of Lawrence J. Schoenberg and Barbara Brizdle—the only privately held contemporary manuscript copy of Abraham Farissol's Iggeret Orhot Olam (epistle of the ways of the world). The manuscript was auctioned by Sotheby's London on July 10, 2012 (lot 28) and now holds pride of place at Penn by the call no. LJS (Lawrence J. Schoenberg) 499. This treatise contains the first explicit mention in Hebrew letters of the discoveries of the New World. It was composed in Ferrara in 1524 by the Avignon-born scholar and scribe Abraham Farissol. Significantly, our manuscript (LJS499) also contains a hand-drawn sketch with otherwise unknown explanatory notations beside it, reportedly in the hand of Farissol himself, pointing out that these stars and meandering lines depict the sky over the dry lands across the ocean. The acquisition of this contemporary manuscript—as copied for distribution by Joseph ben Abraham Finzi Delayano, perhaps working in a workshop headed by Farissol—is of particular significance for the production of a critical edition. It bears witness to the moment in which Farissol produced and disseminated by hand a work which would not appear in print for over sixty years (Iggeret Orhot Olam was first published in Venice, 1586). Farissol, it should be noted, has been the subject of David Ruderman's first book, World of a Renaissance Jew: The Life and Thought of Abraham ben Mordechai Farissol (Cincinnati, 1981). Fortuitously, a few months earlier in the spring of 2012 the Schoenbergs delivered to the Penn Libraries a sixteenth-century manuscript copy of an astronomical work (LJS42) called Beit Elohim (House of God) written by Moses ben Baruch Almosnino, a Sephardic rabbi in Salonika. In this unpublished manuscript, copied no later than 1551, appears for the first time the term "'Amirikah" to describe the land of the "new India(s)" (ha-indias ha-hadashot). Also explicitly mentioned in this passage, in transliterated Hebrew letters, is the name "Ameriko Vespusio" (Amerigo Vespucci, 1454–1512) who is described as "ha-motse" (the discoverer) of this land and after whom it is named. Thanks to Limor Mintz-Manor (Katz Center Fellow 2011–2012), both LJS42 and LJS499 are featured and discussed in this year's Katz-Library web exhibition on the subject of travel entitled Jews & Journeys: Travel & the Performance of Jewish Identity.
Additional Documents of Colonial Jewish History in the Atlantic World
Serendipitously, we are thrilled to announce that Arnold Kaplan and the Deanne and Arnold Kaplan Foundation have made possible the purchase of other precious, formative documents of colonial Jewish history in the Atlantic world during the 16th-18th centuries. These new acquisitions are part of the growing “Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica” at the Penn Libraries. For example, we have acquired two exceptional rare manuscript witnesses to 16th century crypto-Jewish life in documents written by the offices of the Mexican Inquisition. The first manuscript, dated 1597, contains the extensive proceedings (processo) of the trial of Goncalo Perez Ferro. As one former Katz Fellow and expert Prof. Javier Castano has reported to us: “(T)he file is in itself a quite valuable item … it has never been seen by a researcher.” The second Mexican Inquisition item was successfully bid upon at the Kestenbaum and Company Auction (Thursday, February 24, 2011). It is an arrest warrant, signed on December 19, 1598 by the Inquisitor Fray Alonso de Peralta, for the accused Portuguese New Christian Lorenzo Machado, along with instructions to confiscate his property and consign him to the secret cells ("las carceles secretas”) of the Inquisition. Other colonial Atlantic Jewish acquisitions made by possible thanks to the profound generosity of the Kaplan Foundation include a Jewish business ledger kept in Montreal, Quebec, whose handwritten logs, recorded between June 6, 1774 and February 8, 1776 date from the years immediately preceding the American Revolution. The ledger belonged to David Salisbury Franks, formerly of Philadelphia, and the records detail his extensive trade relationships as well as expenses relating to his imprisonment for supporting the Revolution. It was purchased from Carmen D. Valentine of American Historical Manuscripts in Philadelphia.
And thanks yet again to the Kaplan Foundation, we purchased from Michael Buehler at Boston Rare Maps, two of the earliest maps in colonial North America which mark the presence of Jewish synagogues. The first, a fold-out engraved map of the “Plan of New-York, is found in John Hinton, The Universal Magazine of Knowledge and Pleasure, vols. 58 and 59 (January-December 1776), plus supplements and indices. The second is a detailed map of Newport, Rhode Island, surveyed by Charles Blaskowitz and printed in London on September 1, 1777 by William Faden. On the map’s legend appears Newport’s Touro synagogue as well as the Lopez Wharf, named for the prominent Jewish merchant Aaron Lopez. The Lopez wharf be the earliest designation on a map of a Jewish commercial enterprise in colonial America.
Etty Lassman, Administrative Assistant to the Fellows, is undoubtedly one of the most vibrant and uplifting spirits at the Katz Center. To fellows she is known for her warm demeanor and imaginative help with their presentations in seminars and public lectures; to board members and others she is known for her welcoming smile and willingness to help with any matter, small or big. The following is an interview between Etty Lassman and Yechiel Schur (Klatt Family Director for Public Programs, Katz Center):
YS: When and how did you come to work at the Center?
EL: Shortly after I moved to the United States, I started looking for a job. A person I met rather coincidently in August 1989 told me that the Annenberg Research Institute [the research center for Jewish studies that grew out of Dropsie College, before the merger with Penn took place in 1993, YS] is looking for someone to provide fellows assistance with Hebrew texts. My job interview was on Friday; I started working on the following Monday and I have been working at the Center since then.
YS: How would you compare your original tasks at the Center with your current responsibilities?
EL: In my early days at the Center, the technological support was fairly limited since there was no internet and only basic word processing programs were available. I was able to keep up with the technological advancement and taught myself how to use PowerPoint, Photoshop, and other extremely useful programs that help me design and format files quickly and efficiently.
YS: What does the Katz Center mean to you?
EL: As an immigrant with almost no relatives living nearby, the Center became very soon like an extended family. The many souvenirs and books that are displayed on the shelves in my office are the tokens of appreciation and that attest to the warm relations that I maintain with past and current fellows. After my father passed away, my mother came to live with me and volunteered at the library for a year, sorting through old documents written in different languages. The Center for me is not just a work place; it really is my family and part of who I am.
YS: Would you like to share with the readers some memorable moments from your work at the Center?
EL: I cherish many memorable moments but let me share one incident with the readers. Working recently with a fellow on the slides for her seminar, we integrated some striking images that another fellow who worked on a similar topic used years ago. This demonstrates not only the importance of archiving files meticulously but also the significance of making connections (or intellectual “shidukhim” [matchmaking] as we call it here) between the many wonderful scholars who come to the Katz Center year after year.