This fall Jordan Rosenblum (Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism and Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies) begins his first term as CJS Director, as Tony Michels (George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History) has just completed a second term in the role.
Professor Rosenblum holds a joint appointment in Jewish Studies and Religious Studies. A member of CJS since his arrival at UW–Madison fifteen years ago, he brings a wealth of experience in teaching, research, and administrative leadership. Here, he reflects on his path to CJS and his commitment to its mission.
Fifteen years ago, I arrived at UW–Madison with a newly minted PhD and far too many boxes of books. I remember attending my first faculty meeting at the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) and feeling like a complete imposter. Sitting around the table kibbitzing were scholars like Michael Fox, David Sorkin, and Steve Nadler, whom previously I had only known from reverent footnotes in many of the books and articles I had read during my undergraduate and graduate training. To say I was intimidated would be an understatement.
Fifteen years later, I am preparing to walk to the front of that table and lead my first faculty meeting as Director of CJS.
Before I formally introduce myself, I would like to thank outgoing Director Tony Michels. Tony directed CJS for the past six years. It goes without saying that, during that time, Tony experienced challenges, from the local (various administrative matters) to the global (COVID-19). Tony will be a tough act to follow.
Now, a word or two about myself. For those who do not know me, I am a scholar of rabbinic Judaism. In particular, my research focuses on the development and evolution of the kosher laws (kashrut). I have just completed a book, Jews and the Pig: A History, which will appear in 2024. Previously, I have authored three other books (most recently, Rabbinic Drinking: What Beverages Teach Us about Rabbinic Literature) and co-edited four books (including Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food and Animals and the Law in Antiquity). At UW–Madison, I teach a CJS gateway course every fall entitled “Jewish Law, Business, and Ethics.” I also teach courses on rabbinic literature; ancient Mediterranean religions; Religious studies theory and method; and our new Jewish studies seminar “What Is Jewish Studies?”
While this is my first time directing CJS, I have previous administrative experience, serving as Director of Religious Studies (2016-2019) and Chair of the Department of Art History (2019-2022), among other committee assignments at the departmental and university level. In all of these assignments, I have found that my training in Talmud is quite helpful in parsing university rules and regulations and in crafting policies.
After fifteen years in Madison, I am even more committed to the value and opportunity that a top-notch public education affords to our students and our community at the UW-Madison. CJS plays an integral role in this value and opportunity. I look forward to working with all Badgers, near and far, to continue to grow and strengthen the Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies.
Jordan D. Rosenblum
Director, Mosse/ Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies
Belzer Professor of Classical Judaism
Max and Frieda Weinstein-Bascom Professor of Jewish Studies