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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - Week of April 3, 2005, Part I

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)>

Week of Sunday, April 3, 2005 (22 Adar II 5765), PART I



[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: This week’s Discussion List comes in two parts.  This is Part I.]


1. Death of Elka Klein (Sarna)

2. Memorializing Elka Klein (Ray)

3. Memorializing Elka Klein, Addendum (Roth)

4. Donations in memory of Elka Klein (Labovitz and Francus)

5.  Memorializing Elka Klein, Addendum II (Ben-Ur)


1.  Death of Elka Klein (Sarna)

Date: Tue, 29 Mar 2005 00:23:55 -0500

From: Automatic digest processor LISTSERV(at)H-NET.MSU.EDU

via: Jonathan D. Sarna" <saran(at)>

With very great sadness, I must report the untimely passing, from cancer, of Professor Elka Klein, University of Cincinnati -- a frequent correspondent to our list and a highly promising young scholar.   I have received the following announcement concerning her funeral:

Elka passed away this afternoon around 3:20PM US Eastern. Her funeral will

Take place at Weil Funeral Home in Cincinnati, OH at 2:30PM tomorrow afternoon

(Tuesday March 29th). The address is 8350 Cornell Rd. 513-469-9345. Shiva will take place at 2281 Royal Oak Ct through Monday morning. If you plan on coming to Cincinnati and need transportation or housing please call Jan Maltinsky at 513-731-0910 (home) or 513-260-1666 (cell)

Thank you to the so many people who kept Elka in their prayers and for all the calls and notes of support.

H-Judaic extends its deepest condolences to the family of Professor Klein.  May her memory be for a blessing.

Jonathan D. Sarna, Chair H-Judaic

Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History

Department of Near Eastern & Judaic Studies

Brandeis University

Waltham, MA 02454


2. Memorializing Elka Klein (Ray)

Date:   Wed, 30 Mar 2005 19:53:38 -0500

From: Jonathan Ray, via "Jonathan D. Sarna" sarna(at)

via:    Anna Urowitz-Freudenstein <hjmod(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

This past week our community lost a dear friend and colleague, and a very talented young scholar.

Elka Klein, z"l, received a B.A. from Yale in 1988, and a PhD from Harvard in 1996.  She was a Dorot post-doctoral Fellow at the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at NYU before becoming an assistant professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Cincinnati.

Dr. Klein was a regular and enthusiastic contributor to scholarly panels at the annual Association for Jewish Studies conference.  In her work, she drew upon her knowledge of rabbinic literature and Spanish archival materials to shed new light upon Jewish-Christian relations in medieval Iberia, stressing the influence of royal power on Jewish social history.  A fine archival scholar, Dr. Klein also translated royal charters and other sources for the study of medieval Sephardic history for a number of on-line sourcebooks.

In her recent book Hebrew Deeds of the Catalan Jews (1117-1316) (Barcelona, 2004), Dr. Klein edited 18 Shetarot that she discovered in the archives of Barcelona, and she was in the final stages of completing a study entitled Community and King: Jews and Christian Society in Medieval Barcelona, 1050-1300.  Dr. Klein also leaves behind a legacy in the field of Jewish Women's History, in which she had become an important and pioneering voice.  Her publications in this area include "The Widow's Portion: Law, Custom and Marital Property among Medieval Catalan Jews," (Viator 2000), "Splitting Heirs: Patterns of Inheritance among Barcelona's Jews" (Jewish History 2002), and

"Getting their Day in Court: the Jewish Community and Royal Justice in Thirteenth Century Catalunya" (forthcoming).

Dr. Klein is survived by her husband, Yossi Francus, and her two children, Dina and Shaul.  Our thoughts and prayers are with her family.

Jonathan Ray

Yale University


3. Memorializing Elka Klein, Addendum (Roth)

Date:             Mon, 4 Apr 2005 22:51:24 -0400

From:    Anna Urowitz-Freudenstein <hjmod(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

via: Norman Roth <ndroth(at)>

I was deeply saddened to learn of the untimely death of Dr. Klein.  In addition to the work mentioned in a previous communication, I would like to point out that she was the author of an excellent article, "Barcelona," in *Medieval Jewish Civilization. An Encyclopedia,* which I had the privilege of editing (N.Y., Routledge, 2003).

My condolences to her family, friends and students.

Norman Roth

Professor emeritus, Univ. of Wisconsin


4. Donations in memory of Elka Klein (Labovitz and Francus)

Date:  Mon, 4 Apr 2005 22:53:30 -0400

From:  Anna Urowitz-Freudenstein <hjmod(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

via: "Gail Labovitz" <glabovitz(at)>

Dear all -

Several people have asked about making donations in memory of Elka Klein.

The following is from her husband, Yossi Francus.  Also, for those of you who are members of the Association for Jewish Studies, several of us are considering putting together some sort of donation or grant in Elka's name, perhaps a travel grant for young scholars, perhaps something through the Women's Caucus.  You can send suggestions to me (Gail Labovitz) at glabovitz(at), and I will circulate plans as they develop.

May her memory be for a blessing.


Many people have asked where to send donations in Elka's memory. During her

fight against cancer Elka received support that she deeply appreciated at The Wellness Community in Cincinnati. If you wish to make a donation to The Wellness Community in her memory please follow the directions found at

You make ask that acknowledgments be sent to

Yoseff Francus

2281 Royal Oak Court

Cincinnati, OH 45237


5.  Memorializing Elka Klein, Addendum II (Ben-Ur)

From: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)>

Date: April 6, 2005

Expanding on Professor Ray’s communication above, Elka Klein’s activities towards the development of Sephardi/Mizrahi history, historiography, and pedagogy are worthy of highlighting here.  At the 2003 AJS she organized a very well attended inter-disciplinary roundtable discussion, “Integrating the Sephardi/Mizrahi Experience,” and her on-line contributions of translated medieval texts on Iberian Jewry and to the On-line Reference Book for Medieval Studies (the ORB) continue to enrich syllabi across the disciplines.  Details of these endeavors follow. 

To her family and friends:

Hashem yenachem etchem betoch sha’ar avilei Tsion veYerushalayim.

2003 AJS Panel, organized and moderated by Elka B. Klein


Integrating the Sephardi/ Mizrahi Experience: a Roundtable

Sponsored by The Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus

and presented through the generosity of the Maurice Amado Foundation

Chair: Elka B. Klein (University of Cincinnati)

Sephardic Studies in the Early Modern Jewish History Curriculum

Matt Goldish (Ohio State University)

Integration of Sephardic Studies into the Core Curriculum at HUC-JIR

Mark Kligman (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

Beyond Spain: The Study of Medieval Jewry in the Islamic Mediterranean and Middle East

Marina Rustow (Emory University)

Approaches to Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies

For Elka B. Klein’s internet contributions see:


Aviva Ben-Ur

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