The University of Pennsylvania Libraries is pleased to announce that Emily Esten has been named the inaugural Arnold and Deanne Kaplan Collection of Early American Judaica Curator of Digital Humanities.
Katz Center Fellow Alanna E. Cooper on Unraveling Jewish Communities, Synagogue Dissolution, and the Afterlife of Material Culture
Steven P. Weitzman (SPW): Your research began far afield from this year's current focus on America's Jewish Questions. You did anthropological fieldwork in Uzbekistan and produced an excellent monograph on Bukharan Jews—you could have fit well into a recent Katz Center year focused on Jewish life in modern Islamic contexts. How then did you move from that focus and part of the world to your current project on American synagogues?
Katz Center Fellow Dr. Elazar Ben-Lulu on Reform Lifecycle Rituals, LGBTQ Culture in Judaism, and Religious Observance During COVID-19
Steven P. Weitzman (SPW): Elazar, can you tell us a little about how you came to your intellectual interests, and what you are hoping to accomplish as a Katz Center fellow this year?
The year 2020 has been a transformative one for American society, but what is America becoming? And what role do Jews play in the changes underway?
Even as the country struggles with a pandemic and massive unemployment, many Americans have at the same time been newly awakened to racial injustice and economic inequality. Much of the change now underway has been tragic; some of it is hopeful; and the combination may yet produce a very different America.
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.”
It is my pleasure to announce the Katz Center fellowship cohort for the 2020–21 academic year, tackling the theme of “America's Jewish Questions.”