Professor Ethan Katz has been appointed as Director for the Center for Jewish Studies

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August 2, 2023

The Division of Arts & Humanities at UC Berkeley is pleased to announce Professor Ethan Katz as the new Director for the Center for Jewish Studies, effective July 1, 2023. 

Katz is Associate Professor in the Department of History and is a historian of modern Europe and the Mediterranean, with specialties in modern Jewish history and the history of modern France and its empire. To date, his scholarship has focused in four principal areas: the history of Jewish-Muslim relations and the nature of belonging and exclusion in modern France and the Francophone world; the history of Jews in colonial societies; Holocaust Studies; and the relationship between the secular and religion in modern Jewish life. 

In all of his work, transnational and comparative perspectives are fundamental to the approach, and he frequently draws insights from various disciplines outside of History. His major publications include The Burdens of Brotherhood: Jews and Muslims from North Africa to France (Harvard, 2015) (winner of a number of honors including the National Jewish Book Award); Secularism in Question: Jews and Judaism in Modern Times, co-edited with Ari Joskowicz (UPenn, 2015); and Colonialism and the Jews (Indiana, 2017), co-edited with Lisa Moses Leff and Maud S. Mandel. 

He teaches courses at both the undergraduate and graduate level on Jewish history, late modern Europe, the Mediterranean, Jews and Muslims, the Holocaust, religion in the modern world, modern France and its empire, and methodological approaches of Jewish studies and history. He holds a Ph.D. and M.A. in History from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a B.A. in History and French from Amherst College.

The Center for Jewish Studies facilitates research and debate across the wide scholarly landscape of Jewish Studies. The Center for Jewish Studies is committed to educating students and the larger community about the richness, depth, and diversity of Jewish history and culture while also gathering faculty, students, and visiting academics around its mission. 

Situated within the Division of Arts & Humanities, the Center prioritizes interdisciplinary undergraduate and graduate education while also hosting an annual series of Endowed Lectures and post-doctoral visiting scholars and visiting faculty who augment both course offerings and public lectures. The Center also engages in collaboration with several affiliated institutions to enhance programming through co-sponsorship and outreach to public audiences throughout the Bay Area. 

Since 2021, Katz has served as the Chair of the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Jewish Student Life and Campus Climate. In the spring of 2019, he co-founded the Antisemitism Education Initiative (AEI), for which he has served during the past 4 years as co-director. Katz has built the AEI into a major presence in campus, local, and national conversations about how to assess and combat antisemitism in universities today. 

Ethan succeeds John Efron, Koret Professor of Jewish History at Berkeley, as Faculty Director for the Center for Jewish Studies.