Program History

Jewish Studies at KU

2002, Fall

A minor in Jewish Studies is available to students for the first time, offered within Religious Studies.

2003, Sept

The Robert M. Beren Foundation of Wichita gave $500,000 to the Kansas University Endowment Association to create the Beren Professorship; a matching $500,000 gift was provided from the Hall Family Foundation of Kansas City, Mo. Beren is owner and chairman of Berexco Inc., an oil and gas exploration company based in Kansas and is chairman of Beren Corp., an oil and gas production and securities investment company. His foundation provides grants in higher education, human services and Jewish organizations, among others.

2005, Fall

Jonathan Boyarin becomes the Robert M. Beren Distinguished Professor in Modern Jewish Studies, Religious Studies.

Sari Havis hired to supervise Hebrew Language Program.

2007, Fall

Jonathan Boyarin leaves to take a position at UNC


Sergei Dolgopolski is hired by Religious Studies to teach Jewish texts, traditions and thought


Cheryl Lester, Chair of American Studies, is acting director

2008, Fall

Molly Zahn becomes Lecturer in Religious Studies

2008, Fall to Fall 2010

Lynn Davidman is appointed as the Robert M. Beren Distinguished Professor in Modern Jewish Studies (joint appointment, Religious Studies and Sociology) and Director of Jewish Studies; she was a professor of Judaic Studies at Brown

Renee Perelmutter is hired with Posen grant money to teach Yiddish (appointment is in Slavic Languages & Literatures)

2010, April 3-4 (Su-Mo)

Conference on “Narratives of Jewish Life and Jewish Studies” at the Hall Center, six speakers and a keynote address, “Freud, Jewishness and the Development of Psychoanalysis” by Eliza Slavet, University of California, San Diego.

2010, August 1

Sari Havis leaves - Shelley Rissien hired as her replacement

Sergei Dolgopolski takes a position at SUNY Buffalo

2010, October to June 2011

Henry Bial, interim director

2010, Fall

Molly Zahn appointed to tenure track in Religious Studies

2011 Fall

Lynn Davidman, Director of Jewish Studies

2012, Spring to Fall

no director of Jewish Studies

2012, Fall

Program shifted to the Center for Global & International Studies (CGIS)

2013, Jan 1

John Younger, Professor of Classics, becomes Associate Director of CGIS for Jewish Studies

2013, Fall

Study Abroad programs to Israel for KU students approved

Paul Nahme hired by Religious Studies

2014, Fall

Paul Nahme takes a position at Brown University

Sam Brody hired by Religious Studies

2015, Fall

A major in Jewish Studies is approved

Younger becomes Director of Jewish Studies and Jewish Studies becomes an independent unit

Eric Welch is a hired as Visiting Assistant Professor in Jewish Studies

JS hosts the 27th annual conference of the Midwestern Jewish Studies Association (Oct 18-19)

2016, Spring

Renee Perelmutter, Associate Professor of Slavic Language & Literature, moves .25 of her teaching line to Jewish Studies

2017, Fall

JS hosts a one-day symposium on "Jews in the Midwest" (Nov 12, Su, 9:00 am to 5:30 pm)



Upcoming Program Events
Kudos to our faculty!

Dr. Renee Perelmutter, Associate Professor of Slavic and Jewish Studies, writes fantasy fiction and poetry under the name Rose Lemberg. Her book Marginalia to Stone Bird is the first book of poetry to be shortlisted for a Crawford Award, and is also up for an Elgin Award. Marginalia has been reviewed by Publisher’s Weekly and Strange Horizons. Available at Aqueduct Press and Amazon.

Kudos to our students!

March 16, 2017: JS students Mackenzie Haun, Sarah Herman and Ariel Silverman were elected to join Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most prestigious national academic academy. Phi Beta Kappa “celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences. Its campus chapters invite for induction the most outstanding arts and sciences students at America’s leading colleges and universities.”

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