Political scientist Miguel Vatter has written a compelling new book on the philosophy of Jewish political theology, and he’s done so from outside the field of Jewish studies.
A few weeks ago, the Katz Center presented the 23rd annual Joseph and Rebecca Meyerhoff Lecture at Penn, featuring a conversation between Carlo Ginzburg and Francesca Trivellato on the topic of microhistory and global history.
Last week saw the final meeting of a yearlong program that brought fellows together with rabbis from across the United States, to extend the reach of Jewish studies scholarship and use it to think about issues facing the American Jewish communities today. This was the sixth year of the program, called LEAP, which the Katz Center has offered through a partnership with Clal, engaging a new cohort of rabbis and scholars annually, with this year taking place remotely for the first time.
Thinking about the Atlantic world as its own arena, instead of approaching its various shores as disparate locales, has facilitated various kinds of recentering. Among other things, it has taught us to see early America as one part of a deeply interconnected world with enduring ties not only with the old country but also with the Americas (plural) and Africa. Focusing on networks spanning the Atlantic Ocean allows us to think differently about states, empires, and colonies—moving away from landed territorial notions to highlighting dynamic interaction and shared spaces.
The idea that “America is different”—that American Jewish experience has been marked by success and progress in a way that was unprecedented, unexpected, and wildly impactful—is well entrenched. This year at the Katz Center, a diverse cohort of visiting research fellows is looking again at the American Jewish story, not necessarily to overturn a narrative but to reframe the question; in fact, to frame a new set of “America’s Jewish questions.”
This week, design-minded types around Philadelphia are celebrating and exploring the city’s architecture, fashion, interior design, graphic arts, digital innovation, and more in the Design Philadelphia festival. Although the Katz Center is not officially participating, we are watching closely, since design plays a prominent role in our theme of “the Jewish home” this year.