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Judaic Studies Hires Expert of Modern Israel and Jewish European History

New Assistant Professor Adi Gordon studies Jewish history to understand current times and human nature.

Date: 9/7/2010
By: Kim Burdett
Phone: (513) 556-8577
Photos By: Kim Burdett
After earning his BA in German Studies and European History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Adi Gordon left academia to work at Yad Vashem. As Israel’s official memorial to the Jewish victims of the Holocaust, Yad Vashem is also the home of the largest repository of interviews with Holocaust survivors created by the Steven Spielberg Foundation. While there Gordon spent much of his time working with scholars and historians about Jewish history.

That, he affirms, is when he was hit with the research bug.

Adi Gordon.
Adi Gordon is a new assistant professor in the Department of Judaic Studies.

“Asking them questions and getting to talk to them at eye level really intrigued me and pulled me into pursuing an academic career,” he says.

He went on to pursue his MA and PhD from Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of the leaders in Jewish Studies. This fall Gordon will begin at the University of Cincinnati as a tenure-track assistant professor in the Department of Judaic Studies.  
“I am truly excited that Professor Adi Gordon has come on board. He is an outstanding young scholar-teacher, who managed to publish already two pivotal books on modern Israel and an array of acclaimed scholarly articles in prestigious academic journals,” says Gila Safran Naveh, Judaic Studies department head and Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati chair. “I am looking forward to his participation in a variety of collaborative projects including a joint graduate program with the Hebrew Union College (HUC) and the American Jewish Archives.”

With HUC having one of the biggest and most comprehensive libraries of Jewish history in the world, Gordon is excited about starting his professorship in Cincinnati and collaborating with colleagues in the department, across the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, and in the city.

“I’m really taken with my colleagues. It’s such a vibrant research community with so many people doing exciting projects relevant to what I do. It’s made it easy to jump in and become a part of the crew.”
Gordon already has a prolific publishing record. What started as his master’s thesis became his first book, “In Palestine. In a Foreign Land,” exploring the story of dissident intellectuals who fled Hitler’s Germany to pre-state Israel. His second book dealt with Zionists who challenged the very aspiration for a Jewish nation state by hoping to create a bi-national state for Arabs and Jews alike. He is now working on an intellectual biography of Hans Kohn, the great scholar of nationalism.

While he is a trained historian, Gordon is happy to be in an interdisciplinary department such as Judaic Studies because it gives him the opportunity to teach students a variety of subjects through a hodgepodge of genres. This year he will be teaching Hebrew, modern Jewish history, Jewish nationalism, Israeli film, and a seminar on space and community in Jewish and Israeli histories.

“I think Jewish history offers an interesting window to human history in general,” he says. “Through it we can learn about the unique histories and experiences of minorities and Diasporas. Anti-Semitism, for example, is relevant to our broader understanding of xenophobia. The struggle for Jewish emancipation tells much about the dynamics of other civil rights movements, etcetera. This not only enriches our understanding of human history, but also our present.”

Read more about the Department of Judaic Studies:

A&S Unveils New Programs for Fall
Beginning fall quarter the McMicken College of Arts and Sciences will offer new programs in archaeology, environmental policy and analysis, liberal arts and more.

The 2010 newsletter by the Department of Judaic Studies.

Two A&S Professors Earn Fulbrights
Don Bogen of English and Steven Bowman of Judaic Studies will travel abroad in the flagship international educational exchange program.

The Kim and Gary Heiman Family Foundation Donates $1 Million to Judaic Studies
Gift supports establishment of new Center for Jewish Cultures and Ideas and extends University of Cincinnati's international reach.

UC Prof’s Book on Greek Jewry Optioned by Hollywood Filmmaker
Filmmaker Dimitri Vorris options Steven Bowman’s book depicting “one of the most heroic pages of humankind history.”

UC Judaic Studies Annual Lichter Lecture Series: 'Jews and Muslims: Co-Existence'
Three outstanding scholars presented the historical context of intergroup relations in the Middle East in decades-old UC lecture series.

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