Event Marks 4 Decades of Emory Jewish Studies

Event Marks 4 Decades of Emory Jewish Studies

The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies at Emory University is celebrating 40 years of Jewish studies at the university with a Community of Scholars Showcase on Sunday, Dec. 4, during which some of Emory’s leading professors will share insights from their teaching, writing and research.

The showcase, to be held in the Cox Hall Ballroom on the Emory campus, will include three professors — Deborah Lipstadt, Ellie Schainker and Miriam Udel — discussing their recent books.

The public is invited to attend the showcase, which starts at 2 p.m. and culminates in a dinner.

David Blumenthal, speaking at a tribute to Herbert Karp on Oct. 16, talks about being hired from Brown in 1976 to start Emory’s Jewish studies program.
David Blumenthal, speaking at a tribute to Herbert Karp on Oct. 16, talks about being hired from Brown in 1976 to start Emory’s Jewish studies program.

Jewish studies received formal recognition as part of the Emory curriculum in 1976 with the inauguration of the Jay and Leslie Cohen chair in Judaic studies, established by the university with the assistance of the Atlanta Jewish Welfare Federation (now the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta).

Since its inception, the chair has been occupied by David Blumenthal, a specialist in Jewish thought and theology who was hired from Brown University.

Early on, the Jewish studies program was augmented by the arrival of Kenneth Stein, an expert on the history of Israel and the Middle East, and Oded Borowski, a biblical archaeologist who helped lay the basis for Emory’s Hebrew language program.

Paralleling the growth of Emory and its research profile during the last quarter of the 20th century, Jewish studies at Emory expanded with the addition of faculty members in history, literature, anthropology and Holocaust studies, including the appointment of Deborah Lipstadt as the Dorot professor of modern Jewish history and Holocaust studies in 1992.

In 1999 the Institute for Jewish Studies was created as an interdisciplinary program bringing together faculty from various disciplines to explore Jewish life and culture, and in 2000 a gift from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation endowed the program, naming it the Rabbi Donald A. Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.

The Tam Institute is a leading center for research and teaching in Jewish studies. Its 19 core faculty members, working in Emory College, the Candler School of Theology and the Emory Law School, specialize in such fields as biblical studies and archaeology, Jewish law and ethics, contemporary Jewish theology, European and American Jewish history, the Holocaust, Jews in Islamic lands, modern Hebrew and Yiddish literature and culture, and the history and politics of modern Israel.

The institute offers an undergraduate major and minor and helps train doctoral students in many disciplines related to Jewish studies. Students working with the institute receive donor-supported aid each year through graduate fellowships, such as the Brickman-Levin Fellowship, and through grants that facilitate study abroad, research and language training for students at all levels.

The Tam Institute also sponsors several public events each year, most notably the Tenenbaum Family Lecture Series in Judaic Studies and the Rabbi Jacob M. Rothschild Memorial Lecture, which bring distinguished scholars to Emory.

The Jewish studies program at Emory also includes the Holocaust Denial on Trial website (hdot.org), which provides access to the documentation involved in Lipstadt’s victorious libel trial against Holocaust denier David Irving, and the Stein-led Institute for the Study of Modern Israel.


Day of Learning

The schedule for the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies’ afternoon of learning in the Cox Hall Ballroom on campus Sunday, Dec. 4:

  • 2 p.m., welcome.
  • 2:15, two sessions of faculty panels featuring Ken Stein, Eric Goldstein, Oded Borowski, Gordon Newby, David Blumenthal, Don Seeman, Jonathan Crane, Jacob Wright, Michael Berger, Peter Hoyng, Catherine Dana and Hazel Gold.
  • 4:30, presentations on recent books by Deborah Lipstadt, Ellie Schainker and Miriam Udel.
  • 5:30, book signing and cocktail reception.
  • 6, dinner.

Tickets are $65 for the general public and $25 for students; www.js.emory.edu/40thAnniversaryInvitation.htm.

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