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About Jay Berkovitz

Jay R. Berkovitz is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and directs the Center for Jewish Studies. He earned his Ph.D. at Brandeis University in 1983. Prior to joining the Amherst faculty, he taught at Spertus College in Chicago, and since then has served as a visiting professor at Bar Ilan University, Boston Hebrew College, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Touro College, Trinity College, and the University of Connecticut Storrs. He is also an adjunct member of both the History Department and the Department of French and Italian Studies.
Professor Berkovitz has published widely on Jewish social and intellectual history in modern Europe, with particular emphasis on communal governance, family, law and ritual, and rabbinic scholarship. His newest project, supported by a Faculty Research Grant, focuses on the adjudication of civil disputes in early modern rabbinic courts.
Professor Berkovitz is the author of The Shaping of Jewish Identity in Nineteenth-century France (Wayne State University Press, 1989); Rites and Passages: The Beginnings of Modern Jewish Culture in France, 1650-1860 (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004); and most recently, Tradition and Revolution: Jewish Culture in Early Modern France [Hebrew] (Mercaz Zalman Shazar, 2007). Articles and reviews have appeared in the Association for Jewish Studies Review, the Encyclopedia of European Social History, Historical Reflections/Réflexions historiques, the International History Review, Modern Judaism, Jewish History, and Zion. He is a member of the editorial board of Jewish History and of the academic advisory committee of the National Foundation for Jewish Culture. His broad interests are reflected in the wide range of courses he offers regularly: Antisemitism in Historical Perspective; Jewish Law and Society; Family and Sexuality in Judaism; the Making of Modern Jewry; Modern Israel: Society, History, and Culture; Major Issues in Contemporary Jewish Life; the Jews in Modern France; and Ritual and Belief in Judaism.
Awarded grants by the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and the Lady Davis Fellowship Trust, Professor Berkovitz has held research fellowships at Harvard University, the Hebrew University, and the Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem. He is also active as a public lecturer in the U.S. and Israel, and has served on the faculties of the Maayan Institute for Women and the Me’ah Program, co-sponsored by the Hebrew College and the CJP of Boston.


Present Adjunct Professor of History, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Present Chair of Department, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Present Director, Center for Jewish Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst
Present Professor, Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Honors and Awards

  • 2016 American Academy for Jewish Research Fellow

Contact Information

7th Floor Herter Hall
161 Presidents Drive
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Amherst, MA 01003
Tel: 413-545-5868
Fax: 208-694-6316


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