UMass Amherst
Judaic and Near Eastern Studies


Ralph Melnick, lecturer
[email | (413) 545-4697 | fax: (413) 545-5876 ]

Ralph Melnick was born in New York City as a first year post-war baby boomer and was educated at New York University in the 1960s where he received his bachelor’s degree in religion.  He went on to study at two rabbinical schools (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Jewish Theological Seminary) before completing both a master’s degree in library service and a doctorate in religion from Columbia University, the latter a joint program with Union Theological Seminary.  Plying both trades of librarian and teacher, he has served as a professor at two universities, as an archivist and librarian at two research institutions, and as a library director at one college and at three college preparatory schools, during which time he was awarded research grants and fellowships from NEH, NHPRC, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, The American Philosophical Society, and state humanities commissions among other agencies, and has successfully written both state and federally funded project grants.   In addition to numerous articles in scholarly and professionals journals, his dozen books as author, co-author, or editor in the areas of Jewish Studies, African American Studies, and American Studies include FROM POLEMICS TO APOLOGETICS: JEWISH-CHRISTIAN RAPPROCHMENT IN 17TH CENTURY AMSETRDAM (Van Gorcum, 1981), THE STOLEN LEGACY OF ANNE FRANK: LILLIAN HELLMAN, MEYER LEVIN, AND THE STAGING OF THE DIARY (Yale University Press, 1998), a two volume biography of Ludwig Lewisohn  (A TOUCH OF WILDNESS and THIS DARK AND DESPERATE AGE, Wayne State, 1998), SENDA BERENSON: THE UNLIKELY FOUNDER OF WOMEN’S BASKETBALL (University of Massachusetts, 2008), and JUSTICE BETRAYED: A DOUBLE KILLING IN OLD SANTA FE (New Mexico, 2002), which is currently being adapted as a feature film.    JUSTICE BETRAYED and STOLEN LEGACY are under consideration for feature film production.  Current book projects include a reassessment of the writings of Anne Frank, a biography of the actor and political activist Sam Jaffe, the life story of American Jewish radical and English language propagandist for the 1926 Chinese revolution Rayna De Costa Simons Raphaelson Prohme, a study of anti-refugee activity in a small Massachusetts town during World War II, the editing of a 1930s feminist novel for first-time publication, and an examination of the life and work of the sculptor of New Mexico Pueblo Indians, George Winslow Blodgett.  In addition to teaching courses in Jewish Studies, he has also taught classes on America in the 1960s, religious cults and communities past and present, the work of Woody Allen, and  Catholicism in America, among others.

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