Jay Berkovitz wins highest honor from Association for Jewish Studies
Monday, November 21, 2016
Monday, November 21, 2016
Jay Berkovitz—chair and professor in the department for Jewish and Near Eastern studies—has been named the recipient of the 2016 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award from the Association for Jewish Studies for The Protocols of Justice: The Pinkas of the Metz Rabbinical Court, 1771-1789 (Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 2014).
Founded in 2008 by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, the Jordan Schnitzer book award honors scholars “whose work embodies the best in the field: rigorous research, the theoretical sophistication, innovative methodology, and excellent writing.” It is the highest honor bestowed on scholarship by the Association for Jewish Studies.
The selection committee had this to say about Professor Berkovitz’s book:
In Protocols of Justice, Jay Berkovitz has made an extraordinary contribution to the history of Jews in eighteenth-century Europe, utterly revising our understanding of the nature of traditional Jewish life on the eve of emancipation in France. According to the standard view, Jews, and especially the rabbinic elite and rabbinic courts, lived within the world of traditional Judaism, virtually unaffected by the larger world around them. In his meticulous study of the records of the rabbinic court for civil matters in the eastern French city of Metz in the two decades prior to the Revolution, Berkovitz reveals the enormous extent to which even rabbis who probably knew no French were completely cognizant of French legal norms, French legal concepts, and French civil procedure. Not only did the rabbis refer to French law in their jurisprudence, they also took for granted and even approved instances of Jewish adjudication in the French courts for certain cases. Thus wholly traditional Jews were much more integrated into the world in which they lived than scholars have assumed. Berkovitz reveals enormous erudition in these volumes, especially in the intricacies of Jewish law and French law. He also does a superb job analyzing the role of women in traditional Jewish society on the eve of the Revolution, not just in their participation in the economy, but also their utilization of Jewish and French legal systems.
"Winning a book award such as this is especially meaningful and encouraging because the selection was made by one's peers—scholars whose judgment I respect so highly," said Professor Berkovitz.
The award will be presented at a reception on December 18 in San Diego, Calif.