In memory of Jonathan Hess: Jonathan M. Hess Career Development Term Assistant Professorship

We are so terribly sorry to let you know that our beloved colleague and friend, and former Director of the Center, Jonathan Hess, died April 9, 2018. More

Jonathan M. Hess led the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies for its first 10 years, transforming a tiny, months-old start-up into a thriving, national leader and surpassing all the program goals that initially seemed so audacious. He channeled his unwavering dedication and strong leadership into a powerful vision for what Jewish Studies at Carolina could, and should, become. For Jonathan, it represented an opportunity to envision an academic program that integrated Jewish Studies into the liberal arts. He defined Jewish studies as an interdisciplinary field that studied the history, culture, and religious traditions of Jews in their interactions with others from the ancient period to the present. A committed educator, Jonathan led efforts to create a new Jewish studies major for undergraduates and a certificate in Jewish studies for graduate students. He personally mentored students and young faculty alike, and his dry sense of humor and honest viewpoints made it easy for others to approach him for ideas and feedback. He was a successful fund raiser, helping build support for endowed faculty chairs, named lectureships and student support that, in turn, made Carolina the fastest growing Center for Jewish Studies in the nation. Jonathan’s connections across the campus and with alumni, friends and the general community, have created a lasting base of support that will sustain the Center in perpetuity. It is impossible for us, at this time, to imagine the Center’s future without Jonathan’s input, but we are committed to building on all that he achieved and to ensuring that this Center—that he cared about so deeply—continues to thrive and surpass all expectations.

—         The faculty and staff of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, April 11, 2018


Faculty Showcase Talk

Jonathan gave a short talk during our 15th Anniversary Faculty Showcase on March 25, 2018. We have posted a video of this talk on our Vimeo site.

Honoring His Memory

We’re so grateful for the many inquiries about participating in initiatives to honor Jonathan’s life, scholarship, and service. To honor Hess’s commitment to supporting junior scholars and cultivating future faculty leaders, memorial gifts may be made to the Jonathan M. Hess Career Development Term Assistant Professorship in the College. The fund will support a term professorship for a tenure-track assistant professor in the fine arts and humanities. Click here to make an online gift. Please direct your questions to Shontel Grumhaus at the Arts & Sciences Foundation:

Phone: 919.962.6182

Established in 2003, the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill unites the general public, students and faculty from various academic disciplines who share a common passion for a deeper understanding of Jewish history, culture and thought.



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The Center’s faculty members and graduate students are working in the diverse field of Jewish Studies

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Latest News

Hebrew 204 Cultural Activities

As part of cultural activities for the HEBR 204 class [Intermediate Modern Hebrew II with Hanna Sprintzik], the students worked on an Israeli song which they recorded in memory of Professor Jonathan Hess.    

Spring 2018 newsletter

The Spring 2018 newsletter is now online: JSNewsletterSpring2018_web Featuring news on our 15th anniversary events, a grad student with a passion for teaching, a campaign update, and news briefs.  

Capstone Course – Fall 2018

JWST 697: Jewish Studies Capstone Course has changed the meeting time to Friday, 11:15am-2:15pm. That said, if there are additional schedule conflicts, we will try to resolve them so everyone can take the course.

In memory of Jonathan Hess

We are so terribly sorry to let you know that our beloved colleague and friend, and former Director of the Center, Jonathan Hess, died suddenly on April 9, 2018.      Jonathan Hess, professor and chair of the department of … Continued

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Student News

Sam Kessler

Sam Kessler

“I have been offered a postdoctoral position in Judaic Studies at Virginia Tech. Since my new position is in Judaic Studies, and I received my doctorate from UNC’s Religious Studies program, there is little doubt that the Center’s Certificate in Jewish Studies gave the search committee added confidence in my ability to teach and conduct research in the field of Jewish Studies.”

Tesla Lee

Tesla Lee ’16

“I had the unique privilege of traveling to New York City last winter, after receiving a generous research grant from the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, to complete some archival research for my undergraduate senior honors thesis.”

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