- Jewish Studies at UMD
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Dear Friends of the Meyerhoff Center:
As the Meyerhoff Program and Center of Jewish Studies begins its fifth decade of Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland, it continues to be recognized for its achievements. A 2013 external review panel of noted Jewish Studies scholars from across the US declared itself "extremely impressed" by the Jewish Studies program and found it "deserving of its high national reputation," due "in no small part to the quality of its faculty." That faculty now numbers eleven full-time professors who specialize primarily in areas of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies: Bible, rabbinics, history, philosophy, literature, and cultural studies. The Gildenhorn Institute of Israel Studies has grown within the short space of four years to be one of the leading centers of the study of Israel culture, society, and politics in the United States. We have added a new tenure-track position in the Jews of Islamic Lands/Mizrahi Jewry in Israel. And recently, we have managed to secure funding for a full-time Yiddish language and culture professor.
The focus of our program continues to be on undergraduate education. Unlike many students at a large state school like Maryland, our students -- major and minors -- do not get lost. On the contrary, they are nurtured by the permanent faculty, including senior scholars, in small classes and directed research. Again, the view of the external review panel is illustrative:
Having visited a class, reviewed enrollments, and met with JWST students, the committee feels that JWST students’ experience at Maryland was akin to that in smaller liberal arts colleges.
Under the tutelage of the faculty, our majors learn to write well and think clearly, skills that are vital for getting into professional schools and competing in the marketplace. Many of our students double-major in history, biology, business, engineering, government and politics -- you name. They go on to careers in law, business, medicine, communal work, as well as graduate school. We offer minors in Jewish Studies, Israel Studies, and Religious Studies.
Our graduate program attracts students who are interested in an MA in Jewish Studies for professional reasons, or lishmah, "for its own sake." That includes the MA with a focus on Hebrew pedagogy. We are one of a few programs in the United States that trains Hebrew teachers in pedagogy at a university level.
The Meyerhoff Center continues to sponsor conferences, lectures, and performances on the a variety of topics. In Fall 2014 we sponsored a conference celebrating the fortieth anniversary of Jewish Studies at the University of Maryland. In conjunction with the conference, the Meyerhoff Family Foundation and the Meyerhoff Center sponsored a study of UMD Jewish Studies alumni, the first of its kind. Among the results:
We are dedicated to researching the history and culture of the Jews, as well as to transmitting the fruits of our and others' research to generations of Maryland students.
We hope you will come learn with us.
Charles H. Manekin