The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life was established in 1979 with the support of philanthropists Doris and Simon Konover. In 2013, Professor Jeffrey Shoulson succeeded the Center’s founding Director, Arnold Dashefsky, as Director and Konover Chair of Judaic Studies, a position made possible through the generous $1.5-million endowment from the Konover Foundation. In 2017, Professor Sebastian Wogenstein became Interim Director of the Center.
Our mission is to foster research and scholarship in Judaic Studies, enrich undergraduate and graduate education in Judaic Studies as part of a general liberal arts education, and provide resources for continuing education and community service. Our program objective is the pursuit of empirical, historical, literary, philosophical, and theoretical approaches to the field of Judaic Studies through creative scholarship, undergraduate and graduate courses, scholarly lectures, and community events.
The Center seeks to promote the academic and scholarly study of Jewish history, culture, and civilization in recognition of the need to bring that study to a general audience. Center activities are open to all persons, regardless of religious or ethnic background.
The Center actively works with many departments, centers, programs, and institutes across the university on instructional, research, and programming initiatives in areas of shared interest. Faculty affiliated with the Center also have formal working relationships with several institutions of higher learning in Israel, including the University of Haifa, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the University of Tel Aviv.
In keeping with the mission of community outreach, the Center has recently developed its Judaic Studies Road Show which offers lectures from UConn’s world-class faculty on a wide variety of topics in Judaic Studies to synagogues, JCCs, high schools, libraries, and other community institutions across the state of Connecticut.
In addition, the Center has forged a partnership with Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford to collaborate on cultural and educational events. This relationship extends the Center’s capacity to support, sustain, and foster Jewish culture and the arts beyond the campus.
The Center actively supports both graduate and undergraduate study. UConn’s Storrs campus, the flagship academic institution of the state, offers both a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts in Judaic Studies, as well as a minor in Judaic Studies. The Hebrew and Judaic Studies (HEJS) section in the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages serves as the focal point of undergraduate and graduate instruction in Judaic Studies, but courses are also taught out of many other departments in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Courses cover a broad range of periods, disciplinary approaches, and regions; many of these courses satisfy General Education requirements.
The Center for Judaic Studies also offers support to facilitate the publication of the American Jewish Year Book, a reference work published yearly since 1899 that serves as the annual record of the North American Jewish Communities. The Year Book is edited by Professor Arnold Dashefsky, the Center’s founding director, and Professor Ira M. Sheskin of the University of Miami.
The Center is located in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut. The Dodd Research Center is also home to the Nuremberg War Crimes Papers of Connecticut Senator Thomas J. Dodd who was a prosecutor at the trials, the University Libraries Archives and Special Collections, the UNESCO Chair and Institute of Comparative Human Rights, and the Human Rights Institute.
Dr. Sebastian Wogenstein
Dr. Jeffrey Shoulson
Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies
Dr. Stuart Miller
Hebrew and Judaic Studies Section Chair
Editorial Assistant, American Jewish Year Book