Dr. Jacob Meskin, a distinguished scholar of Jewish Studies, has been named the inaugural holder of the Ruderman Professorship of Jewish Studies for the 2009–2010 academic year. Testament to their commitment to the Jewish community and the study of its history and culture, alumnus Morton Ruderman, COE, ’59, and his wife Marcia made the chair possible through a generous donation.
“Mort Ruderman is an outstanding leader for our university,” said Northeastern President Joseph Aoun. “With this gift, he is bringing together two of his passions: his alma mater and the advancement of Jewish studies. We are grateful to Mort and his family for helping to elevate our academic profile and for accelerating our momentum.”
Meskin is academic director of the Me’ah Program and assistant professor of Jewish Thought and Education at Hebrew College. In his role at Northeastern, he will work with Jewish communal service organizations to broaden the range of experiential learning opportunities and launch a broad range of cultural events on campus. Meskin will guest lecture in Jewish Studies classes and present a seminar on pedagogy. In the spring, he will teach “The Kabbalah: Jewish Mysticism from the Zohar to Madonna” and a course in Philosophy and Religion.
“The Ruderman Family Foundation is excited that Professor Meskin has been chosen as the inaugural holder of the Ruderman Jewish Studies Professorship,” said Jay Ruderman, President of the Ruderman Family Foundation. “We believe that his leadership and passion for Jewish learning will greatly benefit the program, the university and the greater Boston Jewish community.”
“This is a great honor. I’ve spent a lot of time and energy in my academic career making Jewish Studies a real, living part of student and campus life,” said Meskin. “Jewish Studies may be an academic discipline, but once you see what it’s really about, the human questions —both big and personal —that are at stake, you realize that it’s a terribly passionate, engaging, and sometimes transformative discipline.”
The mission of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies Program is three-fold: to develop future leaders, to nourish Jewish identity in the modern world, and to represent Judaism in the public sphere.
“Northeastern already has an impressive group of scholars involved in Jewish Studies,” added Meskin. “So in addition to working with my colleagues and teaching my courses, I hope this year to connect Jewish Studies in even richer ways with Jewish life on campus, with the co-op program, and with the broader university community.”
Meskin has taught at Princeton University, Rutgers University, Williams College, Yeshiva University’s Revel Graduate School, Lehigh University and Rollins College. He received his master’s and PhD degrees from Princeton. He published in Modern Judaism, The Journal of Religion, CrossCurrents, Judaism, Soundings, and Levinas Studies, as well as in several edited volumes, and is currently working on a manuscript on the role of Jewish tradition in the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas.