Founded in 1972 as the Program in Judaic Studies, the Jean & Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan has since expanded to become one of the world’s leading centers of teaching and research in Judaica. Echoing the history of the Jewish people, this interdisciplinary center brings together faculty with expertise ranging from antiquity to the present, from Eastern Europe to the Americas, and throughout the Mediterranean. With its diverse curriculum, students can approach Judaic Studies from the perspective of law and religion, literature and culture, or history and the social sciences.
The Frankel Center—like the University of Michigan as a whole—is a robust and spirited place in service to the public. The idea of a learning community that serves the public has always been at the forefront of Jewish thought as well as American educational policy. Medieval rabbinical sages were expected not only to study, but also to serve their communities as judges, teachers, and leaders. “Al tifrosh min hatzibur" (Do not distance yourself from the community),commanded Hillel, the ancient Jewish sage.
By analyzing issues that matter to Americans—the Holocaust and genocide, Israel and the Middle East, religious faith, cultural pluralism, ethnic identity, and the Bible, to name but a few examples—the Frankel Center encourages students to wrestle with complex challenges, respond to ambiguous questions, and offer responsible and informed opinions. We recognize that intercultural outreach and exposure to diverse ideas help develop creativity, civic-mindedness, and innovative thinking. We help our students develop the skills they need to think clearly and act wisely, and to recognize that there is a time for reflection and a time for action. The Frankel Center embraces this model of "engaged learning."
With outstanding students, inspiring faculty, skillful staff, and dedicated alumni, the Frankel Center is an essential part of what makes the University of Michigan great.
Director, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies
Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies