Letter From Founding Director Robert Alter
The creation of the Center for Jewish Studies is the most exciting development I have witnessed in four decades of deep involvement in the program at Berkeley — and I am honored to serve as its founding director.
Our university has long been a national leader in Jewish Studies, especially notable for the innovative scholarship promoted in its graduate program. The Center for Jewish Studies will provide a strong new focus and a vivid presence ...read more
Contact:4401 Dwinelle Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost George Breslauer has just announced the inauguration of the Center for Jewish Studies on the Berkeley campus. He and the Chancellor expressed their commitment to the Center and all of its aspirations, and invites the campus community to a lecture by the Center's Founding Director, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature Robert Alter on Wednesday, October 30.
Today I am pleased to announce the inauguration of a new Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Berkeley.
The Center will coordinate both a new “Designated Emphasis in Jewish Studies” for graduate students from a wide range of academic disciplines, and a robust Jewish Studies undergraduate minor. More broadly, it will gather faculty, students and visiting academics for research and debate across the broad scholarly landscape of Jewish Studies, and will provide an extraordinary opportunity for fruitful exchanges with the Bay Area Jewish community.
I have asked Robert Alter, Emeritus Professor and world-renowned scholar and translator of Hebrew Literature and the Bible, to serve as the Center’s Founding Director; Professor of Architecture Jill Stoner will be the Center’s first chair and chair of Graduate Programs; and Law Professor Kenneth A. Bamberger will serve as its co-chair, and chair of undergraduate Jewish Studies.
The Center builds upon Berkeley’s long tradition of leadership in the study of Jewish literature, history, and rabbinics, providing institutional capacity to deepen these strengths programmatically and to expand our offerings. It offers a model for national leadership in Jewish Studies through its disciplinary breadth; the faculty of the Center comprises professors from departments and schools that include comparative literature, Near Eastern Studies, history, sociology, music, German, journalism, architecture, law and theater, dance and performance studies.
In addition to coordinating its academic programs, the Center will sponsor an annual series of endowed lectures, and host visiting scholars and faculty who will teach both undergraduate and graduate courses in Jewish Studies. In the context of these programs, students can take advantage of a wealth of resources from across campus, including the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israeli Law; Economy and Society’s constituent programs in Israel Studies and in Jewish law and thought; the vast Jewish cultural resources of the University’s Magnes Collection for Jewish Art and Life; and the campus library’s renowned Jewish Studies, Yiddish, and Hebrew-language holdings. The Center will also serve as an important locus for and convener of programs and collaborations with other institutions and with the community.
Chancellor Dirks and I share in the belief that the Center will enhance and augment the already strong tradition of Jewish Studies scholarship at Berkeley. We have committed funding to administer the Center through its first three years, and look forward to collaborating with the Bay Area Jewish community as the Center and the vision for its future take shape.
Please join us in celebrating this exciting addition to our campus. The first such opportunity comes already in 2 weeks. Founding Director Robert Alter will give an inaugural lecture for the Center on October 30th on the subject of "The Untranslatable Poetry of Yehuda Amichai.” The lecture will be at 6:00 pm at the Graduate School of Journalism, Northgate Hall. We hope to see many of you there.
George W. Breslauer
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost
Information about the October 30 event may be found in the Calendar section of the Center's web site: http://jewishstudies.berkeley.edu