Berkovitz Appointed Distinguished Professor
Monday, July 16, 2018
Monday, July 16, 2018
Jay Berkovitz, professor and chair of Judaic and Near Eastern studies, was appointed Distinguished Professors following approval by the Board of Trustees at its June 20 meeting.
The title Distinguished Professor is conferred on select, highly accomplished faculty who have already achieved the rank of professor and who meet a demanding set of qualifications.
In their letter of nomination, Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy and Provost John McCarthy wrote, “Professor Berkovitz is a scholar of Jewish history, with a particular focus on 18th and 19th century France. External reviewers describe him as ‘a world class scholar’ and ‘a scholar of quality and genuine stature,’ who enjoys ‘pre-eminence in his field of study’ and whose work is ‘profoundly interesting and of the highest scholarly quality.’
“Highly prolific, he has six monographs published or forthcoming, including the magisterial two-volume work ‘Protocols of Justice: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinic Court, 1771-1789.’ This study, which won the coveted Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in Modern Jewish History from the Association for Jewish Studies, is described by external reviewers as ‘extraordinary,’ ‘a monumental publication,’ ‘remarkable,’ and creating ‘an entirely new field of inquiry.’”
Berkovitz joined UMass Amherst in 1982 and has spent his entire academic career here. He received his bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate in Near Eastern and Judaic studies from Brandeis University.
Berkovitz has three books in press: “Courting Change: Jewish Law, Authority, and Community in Early Modern Metz”; Jewish Law in Early Modern Europe: Community, Religion, and the Dynamics of Social Change”; and the French translation of “Protocols of Justice.” Moreover, he is working on another monograph, a biography of Salomon Ulmann, who was elected chief rabbi of France in 1853.
“As for his teaching, Professor Berkovitz embodies the values of a public, land grant research university: as a scholar-teacher, he brings to UMass Amherst undergraduates his vast learning and his compassionate pedagogy,” Subbaswamy and McCarthy wrote.
Although Judaic and Near Eastern studies does not have a graduate program, he contributes to graduate education and advising in other departments, and “he is particularly notable for his mentoring of junior scholars in his field as a whole,” they wrote.
“He has been active in recruiting students from Jewish high schools, he interacts successfully with major donors, and he participates in Jewish adult education programs in greater Boston, where he makes his home. Particularly notable is his work as editor-in-chief of Jewish History since 2012.”
This text was originally published as part of the article "Berkovitz, Gao, McCallum Appointed Distinguished Professors" by News and Media Relations at http://www.umass.edu/newsoffice/article/berkovitz-gao-mccallum-appointed