Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies

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Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (CAJS or the Katz Center[1]) at the University of Pennsylvania is the world's first and only institution exclusively dedicated to post-doctoral research on Jewish Civilization. It hosts one of the country's most noted interdisciplinary post-doctoral fellowship programs. The center is located at 420 Walnut Street between S. 4th and S. 5th Streets in the Old City, Philadelphia neighborhood of Philadelphia. The center is directed by Professor Steven Weitzman.


The predecessor of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies was Dropsie College for Hebrew and Cognate Learning. Formed in 1907, Dropsie College ceased to grant degrees in 1986, when it briefly became the Annenberg Research Institute (1986-1993).[2]

In 1993, it ceased to be an independent organization, and became part of the University of Pennsylvania as the Center for Judaic Studies. In 1998, it was renamed the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.[3] In 2008, following an endowment from the Katz family, it became the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.[4][5][6]

The Center continues to publish the Jewish Quarterly Review, the oldest continuously published Judaic studies journal in English.[6]


CAJS supports approximately 24 fellows each year who conduct their research at the University of Pennsylvania. Each fellow is given their own downtown Philadelphia office and meets with the others at weekly seminars. The papers they produce are published by the University of Pennsylvania Press at the conclusion of their term in the program.

Each year has a specific theme; scholars apply if their current research fits the annual theme. For example, for the 2005-2006 academic year, the theme was "The Jewish Book: Materials Texts and Comparative Contexts." For 2006-2007, fellows studied "Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Life under Caliphs and Sultans."


The Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies is part of the University of Pennsylvania's library system, housing its Judaica Collections. It contains the institutional records of Dropsie College as part of its collections. The combination of the collections of Dropsie College and its successor, the Annenberg Research Institute, with the University of Pennsylvania resulted in a 350,000-volume collection on Judaica, including more than 8,000 rare books and an assortment of cuneiform tablets. Texts are available to scholars in Hebrew, English, German, Yiddish, Ladino, Arabic, and Latin.[7]

There are also 451 codices in eleven alphabets and 24 languages and dialects. Some of the languages and dialects represented, in addition to those already listed, include Judeo-Arabic, Armenian, Telugu, and Syriac. Fragments from the Cairo Genizah and others written in Coptic and Demotic on papyrus round out the collection.[7]

The library also holds the personal letters of more than 50 Jewish-American leaders from the 1800s and 1900s, including Isaac Leeser, Sabato Morais, & Abraham Neuman (three ministers of Congregation Mikveh Israel), Cyrus Adler (president: Dropsie College, Mikveh Israel, American Jewish Committee, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, librarian: Smithsonian Institution), Charles Cohen (president: Mikveh Israel, Fairmount Park Commission), his journalist sister Mary M. Cohen, Yiddish journalist Ben-Zion Goldberg, and the benefactor of Dropsie College, Moses Aaron Dropsie.[7]


  1. ^ Freidenreich, David M.; Goldstein, Miriam, eds. (2011). Beyond Religious Borders: Interaction and Intellectual Exchange in the Medieval Islamic World. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 223. ISBN 9780812206913.
  2. ^ Lewis, Bernard; Goldenberg, David M. (1986). "Annenberg Research Institute for Judaic and Near Eastern Studies: Statement of Purpose". The Jewish Quarterly Review. 77 (1): 1–4. JSTOR 1454442.
  3. ^ "History of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania". University of Pennsylvania. Penn Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  4. ^ Marks, Jon (October 11, 2016). "$2M Eleanor Meyerhoff Katz Endowment Established to Promote Jewish Innovation". The Jewish Exponent. Retrieved 2019-10-01.
  5. ^ "Gift to Name the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies". University of Pennsylvania Almanac. 54 (25). March 18, 2008. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  6. ^ a b "About Us". Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Kiron, Arthur (2000). "The Professionalization of Wisdom: The Legacy of Dropsie College and Its Library" (PDF). University of Pennsylvania. p. 20.

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