Bonnie Blankenship Retires after Nearly 5 Decades of Service
Bonnie, who made the Jewish Quarterly Review run smoothly since 1984, stepped down in December.
With Bonnie Blankenship’s retirement on December 31, 2022, the Jewish Quarterly Review loses a sustaining pillar, and the Center says farewell to the person with the longest memory of this institution, as she moves on to a life of art, books, and leisure.
Bonnie Blankenship is well known to almost everyone in the field of Jewish studies, seeing as since 1984 (some 39 years!) she has been the person who engages with authors as they work their manuscripts through the system, who invites, cajoles, and sweetly threatens peer reviewers—the brilliant, the irascible, and the forgetful. Each one of the several hundred scholars who have had anything to do with JQR in the past three-plus decades has dealt somehow with Bonnie, and that encounter, I am confident, has always been pleasant. She remembered if your mother had been sick or your child was getting married, she recalled that you were nervous about getting tenure or had a thing for old movies, even as she efficiently moved your essay through peer review and, hopefully, publication. Bonnie brought a warm humanity to her job, and her work was informed always by her investment in scholarship and her pride in the work of the journal. When in 2004 I, with no experience at all, became the journal’s executive editor, I was saved countless times by Bonnie’s seasoned hand. She in turn grew with the journal, jumping with both feet into the digital age. Bonnie has been an invaluable teammate since 2004 with me and editors David Myers and Elliott Horowitz, then since 2007 with me and David Myers as editors and Anne Albert as executive editor.
Bonnie came to the Katz Center by way of our precursor institutions. She began working as a receptionist at the Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning in 1977 and eventually became the college’s registrar (a responsibility she continued to hold until December 2022). In 1984 she took on a role in the production of JQR under the editorship of David Goldenberg. In 1986, Dropsie became, briefly, the Annenberg Research Institute, which was then in turn absorbed and transformed by Penn—becoming, eventually, the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Bonnie was there for it all. (Pictured: Bonnie in the Dropsie days)
While the Jewish Quarterly Review was her main task, she was a contributor to many other aspects of the Center over the years, ranging from conference organizing to the Center’s archiving. During that time, Bonnie, as a single mom, raised a terrific daughter and kvelled over her accomplishments and those of her two grandsons. Bonnie is broadly curious with deep interests in a host of things, from first-edition children’s literature to classic films to, of course, her deep love of dolls and doll houses. She is also an accomplished and trained artist, as attested by her paintings and photography. (Pictured: one of Bonnie’s watercolors)
The journal will miss her, the Center will miss her, and many of our colleagues, I venture, will miss seeing her name in their inboxes. Things will simply not be the same!
We wish her every satisfaction in her next chapter.