Pandemic and Plague: Echoes from the Jewish Past

In our own attempt to make sense of the radically altered world we now inhabit and to provide intellectual stimulation to our readers, the editors of JQR asked four prominent scholars to reflect on what historical and literary resonances the COVID-19 pandemic prompted in them. The forum below offers concise responses that move in time from the Black Death in the fourteenth century to Israel in the twentieth.

Jewish Studies and the Arts of Resilience in the Coronavirus Era

In fifteen years serving as an academic director, I have never experienced such a cascade of painful decisions as I have faced in the last few weeks, scuttling programs and plans that were years in the making, disappointing people, calling a halt to scholarly work that it is my responsibility to help advance. Of course, the disruption that the Katz Center faces is nothing compared to what so many are going through at Penn, in Philadelphia, and around the world right now.

A Personal Message from President Gutmann

This is a generation-defining moment. And like every such moment that has gone before, it is not only the crisis itself but also how we respond that matters most. 

The Penn community has responded heroically. Everyone has had truly difficult decisions to make. That we have done so together will contribute directly to the health and lives of members of our community and countless others. We will continue to do this guided by the best understanding and evidence for what will protect and save lives. 

Beyond the Politics of Anti-Semitism

During the holiday of Hanukkah this year, when Jews were celebrating a moment of triumph over those who would eliminate them, there was an alarming rash of anti-Semitic attacks in the New York area, and it is hard not to situate such episodes within a larger surge of anti-Semitic attacks and harassment observed nationally and internationally in recent years.

Katz Center Scholars Respond to Christchurch

Following the horrific events in the mosques of Christchurch which occurred on March 15th, the current Katz Center fellows have released the following statement of support:

As scholars of Jews in the Islamic world and related subjects, we are stricken by the attacks on the mosques in New Zealand. We protest the bigotry and hatred that fueled the terrorism. We extend sympathy to the victims, their family, friends, and community. Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiʽun.