Against the Odds, U.S. Jewish Studies Thrive

History is filled with surprises, and sometimes the surprises are quite pleasant; the Association for Jewish Studies is exactly such a surprise.

Seriously, how much do you know about sea narratives by Hasidim and their opponents? Were you not listening that day? Surreptitiously texting? Did you perhaps grow up in Syracuse, which is not near the sea and which has had more than 70 inches of snow already this season? That, dear friend, is no excuse: Just down the block, at Syracuse University, you will find Ken Frieden, who just happens to be the B. G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies at Syracuse and, I dare say, the world’s leading expert on sea narratives by Hasidim and their opponents.

I love it. I love that amidst all the hurly-burly of our times — while Sarah Palin does her shtick, and Michele Bachmann is oxymoronically appointed to the Intelligence Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, and Goldman Sachs sacks the rest of us — people like Frieden, a magna cum laude graduate of Yale, think about things such as the role of Hebrew and Yiddish narratives in Jewish literary history.

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Rabbi, yarmulke AP
A Rabbi holds a volume of the Talmud. AP