Professor Emeritus Gene Moshe Schramm, age 93, passed away June 28, 2023.
Born and raised in the Bronx, NY, Schramm graduated from the Bronx High School of Science before moving to California with his family, where he received his B.A. in French and his M.A. in Near Eastern Languages from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1956, he received his Ph.D. from the Dropsie College of Hebrew and Cognate Learning in Philadelphia, PA, with a dissertation on “Judeo-Baghdadi, a Description of the Colloquial Dialect of the Jews of Baghdad.”
Drafted into the Armed Forces during the Korean Conflict, Schramm taught Arabic (and occasionally Hebrew) for the Armed Forces Security Agency (precursor to the National Security Agency) for seven years during and after his doctoral work, creating working grammars for Arabic and Amharic. He went AWOL each week to work on his degree.
He began his academic career at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, in 1957, where he taught for one year, before receiving an appointment at the University of California at Berkeley, as Assistant Professor in 1959. Schramm worked in the areas of comparative Semitic phonology, Hebrew and Arabic verbal syntax and semantics, and dialect geography.
Gene M. Schramm became an associate professor of Semitics and Linguistics in the Department of Near Eastern Languages at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor in 1965, becoming full professor in 1971 and Professor Emeritus of Semitics and Linguistic Studies in 2001. At Michigan, Schramm introduced the teaching of Mishnaic, medieval and modern Hebrew, as well as offering courses in comparative Semitic linguistics.
A leading Semiticist and linguistic theorist, Schramm made striking discoveries in comparative Semitic phonology, Hebrew and Arabic verbal syntax and semantics, dialect geography and linguistic-literary analysis of Hebrew. He was especially noted for his work in comparative historical linguistics and transformational theory.
He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship for 1964-65 and served as treasurer of the American Oriental Society from 1989-1991. Schramm’s memberships also included the Linguistic Society of America and the Society for Biblical Literature. At the University of Michigan, he served on numerous departmental and university committees, including the Radcliff/Russel Fellowship Committee at Rackham.
A devoted and popular teacher, Schramm taught Jewish Civilizations, Intermediate Hebrew, Medieval Hebrew Literature, Tannaitic Literature, Comparative Semitic Linguistics and Structure of Hebrew. His most noted publications include The Graphemes of Tiberian Hebrew and The Semitic Languages: An Overview.
Gene Moshe Schramm leaves behind his wife, Dr. Mintzi Schramm, three daughters: Dr. Deena (Larry) Rabinovich, Debbie (Yanky) Werther and Rivky (Yoni) Kristt, 14 grandchildren and 15 great-grandchildren.