Judaic studies aims to venture into new frontiers as the next generation of Jewish scholars hopes to expand the scope of the field with the University’s new addition to the Frankel Center.

Jess Cox
Mary Sue Coleman speaks at the opening of the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies, held at Rackham Auditorium yesterday.

Yesterday afternoon, University President Mary Sue Coleman gathered with the directors of the Frankel Center and members of the Frankel family, as well as various Jewish community members, to celebrate the inauguration of the University’s new Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies.

“This institute will provide a staging ground for Judaic studies and become a crossroads, a point of intersection for different fields,” said Deborah Dash Moore, director of the University’s Frankel Center.

Made possible by a $20 million grant from the Samuel and Jean Frankel Foundation, the new institute is located on the third floor of the Frieze Building and will invite 14 visiting scholars of Jewish culture each year.

Moore said the institute will host a third generation of Jewish scholars in America that is now broadening scholarly conversations between disciplines within Judaic studies. She explained that the second generation did much to enlarge areas of scholarship in American Jewish history, and now the third generation of Jewish scholars is broadening Jewish studies to include more fields.

Moore said she believes Jewish studies are cutting across borders and expanding in new direction. As she discovered on a recent trip to China, “Jewish scholarship is seen as enlightening to people other than Jews.”

“Judaic studies belongs to all who are interested and willing to learn,” Moore added.

The center hopes to create an interchange of ideas between members within the institute and the general University community.

“The way this center is going to educate the academic community and itself is as important as the academic output,” said University Hebrew lecturer Doron Lamm.

History and German Prof. Scott Spector said he believes the new institute will have a positive affect on people who have not been involved directly in Judaic studies and has the power to open up Judaic studies to people in other fields. “This is a very significant event, and the center is already one of the most important centers in the world,” said Spector, “I hope the people will see how this benefits the general community.”

Yesterday’s inaugural event also served as a welcome to the new director of the institute, Anita Norich. Norich is an English professor at the University, as well as a Yiddish literature scholar.


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