SIMS / Herbert D. Katz Center Distinguished Fellowship in Jewish Manuscript Studies

The fellowship, funded in part by the David Ruderman Distinguished Scholar fund, pairs a prominent scholar in any field of Jewish studies with a manuscript in one of our collections. Our goal is to bring distinguished scholars to the Penn Libraries to research the university’s rich holdings in Judaic manuscript material. Fellows will share their discoveries and expertise at a public lecture sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program at Penn and by offering a mini-course through edX.org (PennX-Datz1.1.x).

Fellows:

2022-2023: Shalom Sabar, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Shalom Sabar is a professor of Jewish art and folklore at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He researches Jewish and folk material culture and ephemera, objects associated with the cycles of life and of the year, and ritual and custom in the Jewish communities in Europe and in Islamic Iands. For the fellowship, he will be studying materials in the the Benjamin Zucker Family Collection of Ketubot, or Jewish marriage contracts. Spanning the 17th to the 20th centuries, the collection presents intimate family heirlooms that are at the same time unique works of art and genealogical records. The range of dates spans from the 17th through the 20th centuries; the geographical expanse extends over three oceans and four continents.

Public lecture: Jewish Art in the Muslim Realm: The Efflorescence of Ketubbah Illustration in Iran and Afghanistan as Mirror to Jewish-Muslim Socio-Cultural Relationships. To be held September 20, 2022 – 5:15 pm to 7:00 pm @ Class of 1978 Orrery Pavilion, 6th floor, Van Pelt-Dietrich Library. For more information and to register, click here.


2019-2020: Fabrizio Lelli, University of Salento (Lecce, Italy)

Fabrizio Lelli is Associate Professor of Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of  Salento (Lecce, Italy). His research focuses mainly on the philosophical and mystical literature of late Medieval and Early Modern Italian Jewish authors and on the intellectual relations between Jewish and Christian scholars in the Italian Renaissance. For the fellowship, he will examine the fascinating manuscript of Abraham Abraham ben Mordecai Farissol’s 16th century geographical treatise, Iggeret orhot ʻolam (LJS 499; 1524) the first modern Hebrew work on geography with a special interest in the Jewish dispersion, and also the first Hebrew writing that mentions the New World.

Public Lecture: Changing Minds: Geographic Discoveries and New Worlds 
through the Eyes of a Renaissance Jewish Scholar. Held Tuesday, September 10, 2019, in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Recording available here.


2018-2019: Elisabeth Hollender, Goethe University Frankfurt

Elisabeth Hollender is professor of Jewish Studies at the Goethe Institute in Frankfurt, Germany. Her primary area of study is medieval Hebrew literature with a special emphasis on liturgical poetry, liturgy, and commentarial literature. For the fellowship, she will turn her attention to CAJS Rar MS 382, a thirteenth-century Mahzor, to reveal how this seemingly ordinary manuscript can shed new insight into the understanding of medieval Jewish liturgy.

Public Lecture: A Mahzor is a Mahzor is a Mahzor? Studying UPenn Rare MS 382. Held Tuesday, March 19, 2019, in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Recording available here.


2017-2018: Judith Olszowy-Schlanger, École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne)

Judith Olszowy-Schlanger is professor of medieval Hebrew palaeography at the École Pratique des Hautes Études (Sorbonne), Paris. Her main research interests include Hebrew manuscripts, the Cairo Geniza, Karaite studies, Hebrew grammatical traditions and legal traditions in the Middle Ages. She will examine the paleographic features of a selection of manuscripts in Penn Libraries.

Public Lecture: Genizah Scribes at Work, held Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Recording available here.

MOOC: Coming soon!


2016-2017: Alessandro Guetta Institut national des langues et civilisations orientales (INALCO)

Alessandro Guetta is a professor of Jewish intellectual history at INALCO in Paris. His publications include monographs on Niccol Machiavelli (Invito alla lettura di Machiavelli, 1991) and philosopher and Kabbalist Elijah Benamozegh (Philosophy and Kabbalah: Elijah Benamozegh and the Reconciliation of Western Thought and Jewish Esotericism, 2009). Professor Guetta will devote his study to Malkiel Aschkenazi’s Tavnith ha-mishkan and Hanukath ha-bayith (now CAJS Rar Ms 460), produced in Mantua in the early seventeenth century.

Public lecture: “No Longer Alien Residents”: Italian Jewish Texts in the Late Renaissance, Tuesday, February 27, 2018, in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Recording available here.

MOOC: The Tabernacle in Word & Image: An Italian Jewish Manuscript Revealed. Available here.


2015-2016:  Y. Tzvi Langermann, Professor of Arabic, Bar-Ilan University

Professor Langerman is an internationally recognized authority on Hebrew and Arabic medicine and the study of scientific manuscripts, will be in residence in the summer of 2015 to research and catalog a 15th-century Sicilian medical miscellany containing texts and notes written in Judeo-Arabic, Hebrew, and Arabic. The manuscript is a recent addition to the Penn Libraries’ extensive collection of medieval and early modern scientific manuscripts.

Public lecture: Tales of Three Texts: The Judaeo-Arabic and Hebrew Medical Texts in UPenn MS Codex 1649. Held Thursday, September 3, 2015, in the Class of 1978 Pavilion in the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. Recording available here.

MOOC: The History of Medieval Medicine Through Jewish Manuscripts. Available here.