The study of Jewish law has deep roots in Jewish history. With due respect to philosophers and mystics, halakhists assumed a position of millennial dominance in Jewish intellectual culture from the destruction of the Second Temple to the Paris Sanhedrin in 1808. The study of Jewish law did not disappear but became a subsidiary field of the larger project of modern Jewish studies—from the Wissenschaft scholars Zecharias Frankel, I. H. Weiss, and D. Z.
Steve Weitzman (SW): Emmanuel, it has been great to have you as a fellow. Your research has opened my eyes to how halakhah, Jewish law, is developing is the twenty-first century. First of all, is "Jewish law" the right translation for halakhah? How would you explain what halakhah is for those who do not study it?
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.
JQR 112.4 is now available, online* and in print.
In this issue:
The major New York Times article from Sunday, September 11 on Hasidic education in New York has elicited a huge outpouring of responses on social media from many different quarters—critics of the school system, supporters, and, quite noticeably, many within the Hasidic community itself. It is hard to recall a story in which the Haredi community in the United States has been the focus of such wide national visibility and scrutiny.
The Katz Center is thrilled to announce the cohort for the 2022–23 academic year, engaging the theme of Jews and Modern Legal Culture. The fellows will join us from Israel, France, Germany, Canada, and the United States, and represent a range of methodological, disciplinary, and historical specializations.
Katz Center Fellow Marc Herman on Medieval Judaism, Islamic Legal Theory, and a New Genre of Jewish Thought
Becky S. Friedman (BSF): Marc, congratulations on the recent publication of Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism, which you co-edited with Jeremy P. Brown! Let me begin with a big question.
The Katz Center announces the 2021–2022 fellows, on the theme Rethinking Premodern Jewish Legal Cultures
It is with tremendous excitement that we announce the incoming fellows for the 2021–2022 academic year, focusing on the theme of Rethinking Premodern Jewish Legal Cultures. These scholars bring expertise in law, drawing on a range of methodologies and evidence bases, and covering space and time from ancient Mesopotamia though medieval Sefarad and early modern Germany. Chosen from a particularly competitive pool of applicants, the incoming fellows hail from Israel, Western Europe, Brazil, Canada, and the US.
Katz Center Fellow Britt Tevis on “Mythical Jewish Arsonists” and Anti-Jewish Discrimination in U.S. History
Steven P. Weitzman (SPW): You are one of the few Katz Center fellows in my time as director who combines training in history and the law (although we will have several next year in a year focused on Jews and the law). Can you tell us a bit about what led you to the study of legal history, intellectually and/or personally?