Carolina students will have several new courses to choose from this academic year, led by the newest member of the Jewish Studies program, Evyatar Marienberg, the founding Sara and E.J. Evans Fellow in Jewish History and Culture. Marienberg, who joined UNC’s Department of Religious Studies, is a historian of religions with a particular focus on the study of the beliefs and practices of lay Jews and Christians from various periods.
This fall, he is teaching “Jewish Legal Literature” and “Introduction to Contemporary Catholicism” as well as an advanced independent study. In the spring, he’ll teach “Introduction to Rabbinic Literature” and “Medieval Jewish Bible Interpretation.”
Marienberg’s main fields of interest are Rabbinics, Social History of Jews and Christians in Medieval Europe, and Contemporary Catholicism. Most recently, he was assistant professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary and also was a Starr Fellow at Harvard in spring 2008.
“I am thrilled to be here, to be someplace where I can pursue my interests in both Rabbinics and Contemporary Catholicism. All my previous positions required me to focus on one or the other,” said Marienberg.
Born in Israel, Marienberg studied for several years at Yeshivat Ha-Kibbutz ha-Dati of Ein-Tzurim. Later, during a five-year stay in Paris, he studied Catholic theology at the Institut Catholique de Paris and religious studies at the Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes en Sorbonne. He was then appointed a visiting fellow at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University and, then became an assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University in Montreal. Before heading to the Jewish Theological Seminary, Marienberg spent four years at Paideia Institute in Stockholm and Tel Aviv University, as well as a year as a Carey postdoctoral fellow at the Erasmus Institute at the University of Notre Dame.
“I am happy to be at such a beautiful campus, with outstanding students and faculty colleagues. I hope to give students here some new learning opportunities and help this impressive program continue to grow,” added Marienberg. “I am also very thankful to the donors for establishing this faculty chair and giving me the opportunity to come to Carolina.”The endowed chair is named in honor of E.J. Evans, ’28, who was owner of the Evans United Department Stores and mayor of Durham for 12 years (1951-1963), and his wife, Sara, who was a leader in the Jewish community. Eli Evans, founding chair of the Center’s Advisory Board, is one of the couple’s two sons.
"Intro to Jewish Studies" Course
Undergraduates pursuing a minor in Jewish Studies are now benefitting from a new core course, “Introduction to Jewish Studies,” being offered this fall for the first time. Taught by Professor Jonathan Boyarin, the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Distinguished Professor of Modern Jewish Thought in the Department of Religious Studies, the course begins with an overview of Biblical Israel, up to and including the Rabbinic period. Students will consider how these formative periods shaped patterns of Jewish learning, worship and daily practice that continue today, and the ways that they have been transformed and even abandoned. The second part of the course will explore various subfields of Jewish studies. As part of this component, core faculty from the Center for Jewish Studies will be invited to present guest lectures, with the dual purpose of familiarizing students with the resources of the minor in Jewish studies, and exemplifying the various specialties within the field.
The new course is part of a revised Jewish Studies minor available to students starting this fall. The minor requires the core course and four other courses from at least two different academic departments. Click here for more information on the new core course. Click here for more information on the Jewish Studies minor.
From the Director's Desk:
New Board Leadership
The Carolina Center for Jewish Studies has had an exciting last few months. In May, just after we finished moving into our new quarters in Coates Hall, on Franklin Street, Eli N. Evans, ’58, the founding chair of the Center’s advisory board, received an honorary degree at commencement. Seeing the “poet laureate” of the Jewish South honored in this fashion was inspiring for all of us. We’re delighted that Eli will be continuing to serve on our board, supporting our new board chair, Hal Levinson, ’78, and our new vice chair Eric Sklut, ’80.
Our faculty continues to grow, and we’re pleased to be able to introduce you to our new professor, Evyatar Marienberg, the first Sara and E.J. Evans Fellow in Jewish History and Culture. We now have 13 faculty members teaching Jewish Studies in the College of Arts and Sciences and our course offerings are richer than even before. This fall, Carolina undergraduates are taking lecture courses on ancient Judaism, the Hebrew Bible and the Holocaust as well as seminars on Jewish-American women’s history, Israeli culture and society, Jewish legal literature, and the Jewish experience in the American South. We’ve also created a new course, “Introduction to Jewish Studies,” and we continue to offer a three-year sequence in Modern Hebrew and a two-year sequence in Biblical Hebrew to a diverse group of students.
Of course, the economic downturn has posed unique challenges for institutions of higher education throughout the U.S. Today, private support means more than ever. Throughout the last six years, private donations have enabled us to hire new faculty, increase our course offerings so that we reach more students and maintain a vibrant public events program. Gifts of all sizes make a tremendous difference in our ability to sustain the momentum we’ve developed over the last six years. Please consider renewing your support today, and please know how much we appreciate the generosity of our friends and alumni!
Jonathan M. Hess
Director, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies
Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished
Term Professor of Jewish History and Culture
Professor, Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures
A Closing Word:
Friends Make the Difference in Hard Times
Since the day my friend and colleague Chancellor Holden Thorp announced my appointment as dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, I have been both excited and humbled. I am enthralled by the extraordinary academic work taking place across the College’s 45 departments and curricula. Our faculty’s commitment to excellent teaching and scholarship is unsurpassed and our students are as curious and passionate as ever.
At the same time, I am mindful of the difficulties all of us face in the current economic climate. State budget cuts and declines in endowment values present challenges unlike any the University has experienced since Frank Porter Graham walked our storied campus.
Fortunately, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies has significant private funding. In the previous fiscal year, more than 390 donors made gifts totaling over $630,000 to support amazing academic opportunities and public programs. Moreover, in a year when the College had to suspend 30 faculty searches, we also successfully recruited Professor Evyatar Marienberg, a distinguished scholar of the rabbinical tradition. This would not have been possible without the Sara and E.J. Evans Distinguished Professorship of Jewish History and Culture, an endowment created through a generous gift from the Arie & Ida Crown Memorial in Chicago. Professor Marienberg arrived on campus this summer and joined 12 other faculty affiliated with the Center.
Private support from alumni and friends like you makes all the difference for the Center, especially in these hard times. Gifts at all levels will ensure the Center’s continued excellence. My colleagues and I remain grateful to you for your support.
If you have not yet made a gift this year, I invite you to do so, using the enclosed envelope or visiting us online at ccjs.unc.edu. If you have questions about the different ways of making a gift, please contact the Arts & Sciences Foundation at (919) 962-0108.
Karen M. Gil
Dean, College of Arts and Sciences