About Jewish Studies Department
The seeds for a flourishing interdisciplinary program in Jewish Studies at Fordham were planted in the 1980s when Professors Edward Bristow (History) and Ann Golomb Hoffman (English) first offered classes on the Holocaust and modern Hebrew literature. Since then, Fordham’s renowned faculty has offered a wide variety of courses in Jewish Studies, including classes on the Hebrew Bible, Hebrew literature, and modern Jewish history. In 2013, Eugene Shvidler, GBA ’92, made a gift that established the Shvidler Chair of Jewish Studies, making a more ambitious program possible.
Currently twelve faculty in History, Theology, Sociology, Anthropology, Art History, English, Gender and Women’s Studies, and Fordham Law teach courses in ancient, medieval, early modern, and modern Jewish history, culture, law, literature, and contemporary society, providing students with a nuanced understanding of the living and historical traditions of Judaism, the Jewish people, and on the modern State of Israel. Jewish Studies at Fordham seeks especially to understand Jewish history and culture within the larger framework of Jews’ interaction with other groups, and particularly Jewish-Christian relations.
As a program at a Catholic and Jesuit university, Fordham’s Jewish Studies Program also seeks to further dialogue and reconciliation between Jews and Catholics, as called for 50 years ago in the Vatican Declaration “Nostra Aetate,” a process that was to be grounded in “mutual knowledge… encouraged at every level.” Fordham’s commitment to interreligious dialogue—and in particular to Jewish-Catholic dialogue—has a decades—long history. In the early 1990s, Fordham Professors Edward Bristow and Anne Golomb Hoffman, along with a group of other Jewish and Catholic intellectuals, spearheaded a series of lectures, “The Nostra Aetate Dialogues.” Beginning with the first dialogue in 1993 the series has addressed compelling, and sometimes controversial, topics at the core of Jewish-Catholic dialogue, from the Jewishness and death of Jesus, to the social activism of Abraham Joshua Heschel, to the future of Catholic-Jewish interfaith dialogue. As the series Nostra Aetate Dialogues exemplifies, Fordham’s Jewish Studies is committed to public outreach and organizes events for both public and scholarly audiences.