The Katz Center Turns 30!

The academic year 2023–24 marked the 30th birthday of the Katz Center as a part of Penn.

Since our focus this year was on Jewish music, we thought it fitting to celebrate it with a concert featuring the music of former Katz Center fellow Anna Shternshis and current fellow Galeet Dardashti. 

Reflecting on the Past Semester at Penn

As I think readers of this blog are likely to know, the horrifying attack of October 7 and the war that followed have loomed over the entire semester at Penn. The events in the Middle East have brought shock, grief, and trauma to the university as well as outbursts of prejudice and hatred, suspicion, misunderstanding, feelings of isolation and marginalization, and—as the world knows—institutional turmoil.

A Hebrew Schoolteacher’s Notebook and Other Rare Manuscripts

A number of fascinating manuscripts have been cataloged recently in Penn Libraries’ rare Judaica holdings, ranging from legal documents to a personal notebook. Here are some highlights.

Two of the recently cataloged manuscripts come from the former collection of Yosef Goldman (1942–2015). Goldman was a Hungarian scholar of American Judaica, a Judaica collector, and coauthor with Ari Kinsberg of Hebrew Printing in America, 1735–1926, A History and Annotated Bibliography (Brooklyn, 2006).

Penn Alumni Gift of Historic Jewish Marriage Contracts to Penn’s Judaica Collections

On December 21, 2022, Penn’s Judaica collections received a magnificent gift of twenty-seven historic ketubot (Jewish marriage contracts) from Penn alumni Joseph T. Moldovan, C’76 and Susan Alkalay Moldovan, C’76.  The donation features twenty-five handwritten and two printed ketubot, dating from 1678 to 1946, originating in Persia, Gibraltar, Italy, Morocco, Ottoman Palestine, Holland, Tsarist Russia, the U.S., the Kingdom of Poland, Yemen, and British Mandate Palestine. Accompanying the gift are detailed descriptions of each ketubah and high-resolution TIFF images.

Online Teaching Resources

In curating and presenting lectures in Jewish studies to audiences beyond academia, the Katz Center fulfills several aims. One crucial one is to showcase the vibrancy of current research and the inherent interest of the areas of culture and history in which Jewish studies scholars are expert. In an era of diminishing support for humanities scholarship, the warm reception our talks—accessible but not simplified—have received speaks to a real appetite outside of the university for knowledge and ideas at a high level.