Director’s Message, 2011

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From the Director’s Desk, Fall 2011

Thanks for Making the Goal a Reality

From the beginning, we’ve harbored the grandest of ambitions for the Carolina Center for  Jewish Studies. Our goal was not only to create a Jewish Studies program but to make Carolina both a regional and national leader in the study of  Jewish history and culture. The announcement of our major in this issue of hess.vsmNews from the Center  is a historic milestone. Carolina is now the only  institution in the state of North Carolina where students can pursue a comprehensive undergraduate major in Jewish Studies—and one of just a handful of institutions in the southeast where students can make the study of Jewish history and culture the centerpiece of their undergraduate experience.

The administration of the university has consistently supported the development of Jewish Studies at all levels, and in less than a decade,  Jewish Studies has become an integral part of the College of Arts and Sciences. Carolina alumni and friends have also come out to support Jewish Studies in ways we never could have dreamed of 10 years ago. Indeed, without the generosity of  our donors, we would never have been able to build up the vibrant interdisciplinary program we can all call our own today. Endowment gifts to support new faculty positions, to sustain our  outreach program, and to support our teaching, outreach and research missions have all been  instrumental in enabling us to create the type of permanent foundation in Jewish Studies that made the major possible. Annual giving has been equally crucial in supporting our basic operations and in securing broad-based support for Jewish Studies among alumni and friends. Every gift has made a difference. Please know how much we appreciate your continued investment in the  future of Jewish Studies at Carolina!

With the major, we’ve clearly reached a landmark. But for us here in Chapel Hill, the major in Jewish Studies represents only the beginning, and we couldn’t be more excited about our ambitious plans for the future. Our new capstone course for majors represents an important opportunity to take undergraduate research in Jewish history and culture to the next level, inside and outside of the classroom. This course will rotate among Jewish Studies faculty, many of whom are already lining up to teach this seminar. As we continue to bring in new Jewish Studies faculty, we attract more and more graduate students interested in making Jewish Studies an integral part of their Ph.D. work. We look forward to the day when Carolina will be known across the country for both its distinguished undergraduate major and  its record of turning out the faculty members in Jewish Studies that colleges and universities  across the country recruit for new positions.  At the most basic level, our mission involves not  just training students who specialize but making Jewish Studies central to the undergraduate experience at Carolina more generally, and we  look forward to continuing to expand our course offerings and reaching more students every year— even those who might take just one course or two.

Our outreach program is thriving, and we are exploring the use of new media to share what goes on in Chapel Hill with the rest of the state and the world at large. We have wonderful community lectures planned for the fall. Adam Mendelsohn will be giving the Margolis lecture, on Jews and the Civil War, on September 19, and on November 14,  James Young will be giving the Eli Evans lecture exploring the commemoration of the Holocaust in Germany and the plans for the 9/11 memorial in New York. If you’re in town, please come join us and come celebrate all that we’ve accomplished and hope to accomplish. Without your support,  it would never have been possible!

Dr. Jonathan M. Hess
Director, Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, 2003-2013
Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and Culture
Professor, Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures