Emory Report

Feb. 15, 1999

 Volume 51, No. 20

Institute for Jewish studies launched, Lipstadt to direct

Emory has established an interdisciplinary Institute for Jewish Studies (IJS) to coordinate, monitor, guide and promote the future growth of Jewish studies and the enhancement of Jewish life at the school. Deborah Lipstadt, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies, has been named director of the institute.

Housed in Emory College, the IJS will encompass both the existing graduate program in Jewish studies and a projected undergraduate program with a major and minor. It also will bring together under one umbrella Emory's Jewish studies faculty, who currently represent at least a dozen departments or schools throughout the institution.

"The mission of the institute will be to support the many elements related to Jewish studies and to bolster the appreciation for the complexity of Jewish civilization," said Emory College Dean Steven Sanderson. "Further, it will provide greater opportunity for dialogue with other cultures and civilizations within a community of students and faculty of all backgrounds."

"Creation of an interdisciplinary Institute for Jewish Studies is a natural step for Emory, especially since the subject encompasses so many issues that cross academic departments and fields," said Provost Rebecca Chopp. "An interdisciplinary structure for faculty and students is the best way for us to build on the University's existing strengths and at the same time add to them."

Lipstadt pointed out that Emory faculty already demonstrate particular strengths within the emerging field of Jewish studies, including contemporary Jewish studies, modern Israel, contemporary theology, Holocaust studies, and Hebrew language, linguistics and literature. She expects the increased interaction of these faculty from different disciplines to benefit both teaching and research, because it will force them to be "truly interdisciplinary in both word and deed."

"By encouraging research and the teaching of a wide array of courses, the institute will raise questions that relate not just to Jews and Judaism but to many of the issues facing society at large," said Lipstadt.

Emory is not alone in its commitment to the growth of Jewish studies. The field is experiencing a nationwide boom, both in classroom enrollments and faculty appointments. The most recent report (September 1998) of the Association for Jewish Studies lists 19 faculty openings in various specialties.

Among the institutions currently seeking scholars for newly created positions in Jewish studies are Rice, Princeton, Smith, Wellesley and the University of Washington.

--Elaine Justice

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