Winter 2016 Newsletter



With spring break behind us, the 2015-2016 fellowship year is in its final stretch. Short-term and spring-semester fellows have joined the full-year cohort with only a month of regular seminars remaining.


This semester's Ruth Meltzer Seminars have been rich and diverse, on subjects ranging from PTSD in Israel (Keren Friedman-Peleg) to the photography of Eugen Fischer (Amos Morris-Reich) and the philosophy of Emil Fackenheim (Martin Kavka)—a truly interdisciplinary exploration of emotional, psychological, and irrational elements of Jewish thought and experience.


More information about this year's theme, "Jews Beyond Reason," and its cohort of fellows


22nd Annual Gruss Colloquium in Judaic Studies

April 17-18, 2016
Reason and Its Discontents: Exploring Affect and the Imagination in Jewish Culture and Beyond

Fellows will share the fruits of their collective labors with the wider academic community, and open new avenues of research in conversation with invited external papers. Panels confront the paradoxes and provocations of the irrational through a range of discursive evidentiary and disciplinary fields: religion; philosophy and theory; art and affect; and politics. Full schedule here


Looking Back

Fall fellows organized a workshop called Moving In: Jewish Interiors and Interiorities. Addressing the complexity of interiority across a range of materials and disciplines, the workshop included both fellows and outside presenters such as Leora Auslander (University of Chicago) and Naomi Seidman (Graduate Theological Union). Topics included pain and other sensations in literature and philosophy, and the expression of doubled selves in interior design, meant to be displayed but enclosed in the private sphere, with the theme of the permeability of the self threaded throughout.


Lectures, films, and discussions are shining a spotlight on Jews’ inner lives: comedy, tragedy, and heroism; genius, art, and literature; spirituality and belief; sex, family, and the psyche are all on display. Highlights include a screening and discussion of “The Muses of Bashevis Singer,” a conversation about the history and resurgence of mussar, and a lecture on Jewish humor. 

Coming up: a two-part series at the Gershman Y including Hannah Pollin-Galay on the place of family in first-hand accounts of Holocaust survival and Yael Feldman on the akedah in Jewish and Christian art.



Jewish Culture and Contexts

Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times has appeared from Penn Press. Edited by Ari Joskowicz and Ethan Katz, the volume is the product of the 2009-2010 fellowship year on secularism. 
Contributors: Michal Ben-Horin, Aryeh Edrei, Jonathan Mark Gribetz, Eva Lezzi, Vivian Liska, Rachel Manekin, David Myers, Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin, Andrea Schatz, Christophe Schulte, Daniel B. Schwartz, Galili Shahar, Scott Ury

The Jewish Quarterly Review

Recent and upcoming issues highlight the potential of short-form scholarship. Dealing with topics ranging from Solomon Schechter to relics to the state of the field of Irano-Talmudica, essay forums, notes, and review essays complement the usual full-length scholarly pieces. Details

The latest issue (106.1, TOC here) includes Michael Miller on Rabbi David Oppenheim in Counter-Reformation Prague, Brad Sabin Hill on U.S. Hebraica libraries, and much more.


Marina Rustow won a 2015 MacArthur fellowship.

Ethan B. Katz received a 2015 National Jewish Book Award (Jewish Book Council) and a 2016 David H. Pinkney Prize (the Society for French Historical Studies) for his  The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Harvard University Press). 

Adam Mendelssohn has been short-listed for the 2016 Sami Rohr Prize, and Julia Phillips Cohen and Ari Joskowicz were both honored in the 2015 AJS Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards.


The Penn Libraries are delighted to announce the online presentation of the Holy Land Collections, featuring a wide range of special and general collections related to the Holy Land. Read more and browse the Holy Land Collections

Other exciting new acquisitions include two rare early modern Hebrew manuscripts and the Rabbi Michael Strassfeld Collection. 


The Jewish Quarterly Review and the Katz Center are deeply saddened by the loss of Geoffrey Hartman. In 2013 Geoffrey published a beautiful essay in our pages called "Theology and the Imagination" which anchors a forum in his honor (JQR 103.2). Hartman's writings and his life bridged the ethical and the aesthetic, the literary and the spiritual--all run through with a deep and genuine generosity.  He will be greatly missed.