Dr. David B. Ruderman, Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and Darivoff Director, Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, received the Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, at HUC-JIR’s Graduation Ceremonies in New York. The convocation took place at Congregation Emanu-el in the City of New York on Thursday, April 29, 2010 at 4 pm.
“As a renowned academician, Dr. David Ruderman’s understanding, intellectual stature, and administrative skill have placed him as a leader in Jewish academic life,” stated Rabbi David Ellenson, HUC-JIR President. “His expertise in medieval and early modern Jewish history has influenced the international academy, the rabbinate, and the Jewish community in America. His prolific publications and dynamic leadership represent the epitome of the academic ideal.”
Dr. Ruderman is the author of The World of a Renaissance Jew: The Life and Thought of Abraham b. Mordecai Farissol (Cincinnati, Ohio, Hebrew Union College Press, 1981), for which he received the JWB National Book Award in Jewish History in l982; Kabbalah, Magic, and Science: The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1988); and A Valley of Vision: The Heavenly Journey of Abraham Ben Hananiah Yagel (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990 and also published in Hebrew in 1997). He is co-author, with William W. Hallo and Michael Stanislawski, of the two volume Heritage: Civilization and the Jews Study Guide and Source Reader (New York, Praeger, 1984), prepared in conjunction with the showing of the Public Television series of the same name. He has edited Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (New York, New York University Press, 1992), Preachers of the Italian Ghetto (Los Angeles and Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992), [with David Myers] The Jewish Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1998), and Cultural Intermediaries: Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy [with Giuseppe Veltri] (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). He has also published Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995; revised paperback, Detroit, 2001) which has also appeared in Italian and Hebrew versions. His book Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought published by Princeton University Press in 2000 won the Koret Award for the best book in Jewish History in 2001. His most recent books are called Connecting the Covenants: Judaism and the Search for Christian Identity in Eighteenth-Century England (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007) andEarly Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History (Princeton, 2010). . He has also produced two courses on Jewish history for the Teaching Company on both medieval and modern Jewish history.
Professor Ruderman was educated at the City College of New York, the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Columbia University. He received his rabbinical degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in 1975. Prior to coming to Penn, he held the Frederick P. Rose Chair of Jewish History at Yale University (1983-94) and the Louis L. Kaplan Chair of Jewish Historical Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park (1974-83), where he was instrumental in establishing both institutions' Judaic studies programs. At the University of Maryland he also won the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award in 1982-83.
Professor Ruderman is the author of numerous articles and reviews. He has served on the board and as vice-president of the Association of Jewish Studies, and on the boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Journal of Reform Judaism, the Renaissance Society of America, and the World Union of Jewish Studies. He also chaired the task force on continuing rabbinic education for the Central Conference of American Rabbis and HUC-JIR (1989-92) and the Publications Committee of the Yale Judaic Series, published by Yale University Press (1984-94). He served for five years as director of the Victor Rothschild Memorial Symposium in Jewish studies, a seminar for doctoral and post-doctoral students held each summer by the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University, in Jerusalem. He presently serves as a member of the academic advisory board of the Mandel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the Hebrew University. He was also the president of the American Academy for Jewish Research between 2000-2004. He is the editor of the Center's series in Judaic studies called "Jewish culture and contexts." He has taught in the Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University. He was born in New York in 1944 and is married with two children. In June, 2001, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history.