Letter from the Director

Dear Friends,

I hope this note finds you and yours well.  As the new academic year gets underway, we are excited to share news from the Center for Jewish Studies.

On July 1, Professor Ben Brinner completed his tenure as the CJS director, and I picked up the baton.  Ben’s term at the helm was a period of tremendous growth and accomplishment for the Center for Jewish Studies.  We at the CJS are deeply grateful for all that Ben has done and continues to do for the Jewish Studies community at UC Berkeley.

As the new director of the Center for Jewish Studies, I bring my years of experience as a professor of Jewish History and faculty affiliate of the Center, as well as my passion and commitment to working with all of you to insure a vibrant, rigorous, and robust Jewish Studies program on the Berkeley campus.

In spite of the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 virus, Jewish Studies continues to expand, reaching across many departments at Berkeley, including History, Comparative Literature, Near Eastern Studies, Sociology, German, Linguistics, and Slavic.  This Fall we will welcome five new graduate students into the Jewish Studies Designated Emphasis (DE) degree program, and together with our 15 current graduates, we will have the largest cohort of graduates to date.  Moreover, an increasingly high and diverse number of undergraduate students continue to take our courses, a feature of our program about which we are very proud.

CJS graduates continue to contribute to the field of Jewish Studies on local, national, and international levels. Four of our recent graduates have secured teaching positions at four major universities in the U.S., Canada, and Israel.  This is an exceptionally successful student placement record considering the very limited number of university positions available nationally and internationally. We are very proud of them and wish them all the best as they embark on what we know will be stellar careers.

In the year ahead, we have many exciting Zoom talks scheduled so please watch for our emails and check our website regularly for upcoming programs.

CJS Executive Director, Etta Heber, and I look forward to working with you in the new academic year.  Thank you for supporting the meaningful and ever important work of the Center for Jewish Studies.

Very truly yours,

John Efron

CJS Faculty Director                                                                                            

Koret Professor of Jewish History