Susannah Heschel

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Susannah Heschel is Dartmouth College's Eli Black professor of Jewish Studies, an award-winning author, and the daughter of Abraham Joshua Heschel.[1] She had previously served seven years as Abba Hillel Silver professor of Jewish Studies at Case Western Reserve University, from 1991-98, and as assistant professor of Religion at Southern Methodist University, 1989-91.

Her monograph Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press) won Germany's Geiger Prize and a National Jewish Book Award.[2] She has also written The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press),[3] and the foreword to Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism, and has edited Moral Grandeur and Spiritual Audacity: Essays of Abraham Joshua Heschel, Betrayal: German Churches and the Holocaust (with Robert P. Ericksen), Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism (with David Biale and Michael Galchinsky), and On Being a Jewish Feminist.[1][2][4]

She has received an honorary doctorate in Humane Letters from Colorado College, an honorary doctorate of sacred letters from the University of St. Michael's College, an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, an honorary doctorate from the Augustana Theologische Hochschule, the John M. Manley Huntington award from Dartmouth, and the Jacobus Family Fellowship from Dartmouth, and she was elected an honorary member of Phi Beta Kappa.[5] She was a Rockefeller Fellow at the National Humanities Center in 1997-98, and received a Carnegie Foundation Fellowship in Islamic Studies in 2008. She received a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2013. She is married to James Louis Aronson, professor emeritus of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College, and the mother of two daughters, Gittel Esther Devorah Heschel-Aronson and Avigael Natania Mira Heschel-Aronson.

In 1972 she asked the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York to consider her application to its rabbinical school, though she knew it did not ordain women at that time.[6]

In the early 1980s, she began the custom of including an orange on the Seder plate. This custom is often falsely explained as having arisen in response to a man who confronted a Jewish feminist who was giving a speech and opposed the right of women to become rabbis, supposedly declaring that women had as much place on the bimah as an orange had on the seder plate.[7] However, Susannah Heschel has explained it as a symbol of the fruitfulness of all Jews, including women and gay people.[8] After hearing that some college students were placing crusts of bread on their seder plates as a protest against the exclusion of homosexuals from Judaism, Heschel substituted the fruit (originally a tangerine) on the plate instead.[9] Today, there are seder plates made with seven spots, an extra for the orange on the seder plate, such as Michael Aram's Pomegranate Seder Plate.[10]

In 2006, Heschel served on the Green Zionist Alliance slate to the World Zionist Congress.[11][12]


  1. ^ a b "Jewish Women and the Feminist Revolution (Jewish Women's Archive)". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  2. ^ a b "Religion and the Quest to Contain Violence | Brandeis University". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  3. ^ "Voices on Antisemtisim interview with Susannah Heschel". United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. 2007-11-22. 
  4. ^ "Yentl's Revenge: The Next Wave of Jewish Feminism: Susannah Heschel, Danya Ruttenberg: 9781580050579: Books". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  5. ^ "Susannah Heschel". 2012-01-10. Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  6. ^ "An Ordination First, and What Followed –". Retrieved 2013-08-02. 
  7. ^ Alpert, Rebecca T. (1998). Like Bread on the Seder Plate: Jewish Lesbians and the Transformation of Tradition. Columbia University Press. pp. 2–3. ISBN 978-0-231-09661-4.  Excerpt available at Google Books.
  8. ^ Tamara Cohen. "An Orange on the Seder Plate". Retrieved 28 Mar 2010. 
  9. ^ Aleza Goldsmith. "Orange-on-seder-plate tale is flawed, feminist says". Retrieved 30 Mar 2010. 
  10. ^ ModernTribe. "Michael Aram Pomegranate Seder Plate -- A Place For An Orange". Retrieved 9 April 2011. 
  11. ^ Kessler, E.J. (Nov 25, 2005). "Zionist Election Has High Stakes, Strange Pairings". The Forward. 
  12. ^ Mobius (Jan 14, 2006). "". JewSchool.