Jacob Katz

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Jacob Katz (Hebrew: יעקב כ"ץ) (born 15 November 1904 in Magyargencs, Hungary, died 20 May 1998 in Israel) was a Jewish historian and educator. He established the history curriculum used in Israel's High Schools.

Katz described "traditional society" and deployed sociological methods in his study of Jewish communities, with special attention to changes in halakhah (Jewish law) and Orthodoxy. He pioneered the modern study of Orthodoxy and its formation in reaction to Reform Judaism.

Years 1945-1950[edit]

In the year 1945 Jacob Katz presented to a conference of historians his article "Marriage and Sexual Relations at the close of the Middle Ages" which was published that year in the periodical Zion. Katz, who lived at that time in Tel Aviv and worked as a lecturer at College of Education, had already been credited with a few articles in the fields of education, psychology, and pedagogy, and their publication had given him a good reputation in the field. However, this reputation alone did not make him happy; he even suspected that it might distance him from what he craved most of all: to get back to engagement in history research. It was Ben-Zion Dinur who encouraged Katz not to give up on his research even in the absence of an academic post. Indeed, despite the difficulty of setting aside time for research, Katz succeeded in completing the article mentioned. Its publication in the pages of Zion gave rise to favourable responses, and even won Katz an invitation to the first International Congress of Jewish studies in Jerusalem in 1947. With hindsight it is possible to claim that Katz's article on "Marriage and Sexual Relations" in Zion paved the way for his joining the faculty of Hebrew University. At the approach of the academic year 1949-1950, the University invited Katz to serve as an adjunct instructor, offering him 25% of a full-time post.[1]

Katz became a specialist in Jewish-gentile relations, the Jewish Enlightenment, or Haskalah, anti-Semitism, and the Holocaust. His works in Hebrew provide much of the basis for scholarly analyses of anti-Semitism.[2]


  • In 1980, Katz was awarded the Israel Prize, for "history of the Jewish people.[3]

Published works[edit]

  • Tradition and Crisis: Jewish Society at the End of the Middle Ages
  • From Prejudice to Destruction: Anti-Semitism, 1700-1933
  • Exclusiveness and Tolerance: Studies in Jewish-Gentile Relations in Medieval and Modern Times
  • The Darker Side of Genius
  • Out of the Ghetto: The Social Background of Jewish Emancipation, 1770-1870
  • The "Shabbes Goy"
  • Divine Law in Human Hands
  • A House Divided: Orthodoxy and Schism in Nineteenth-Century Central European Jewry

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Emmanuel Etkes
  2. ^ Yisrael Gutman and Otto Dov Kulka
  3. ^ "Israel Prize Official Site - Recipients in 1980 (in Hebrew)". Archived from the original on 2011-07-16.

External links[edit]