David B. Ruderman

Early Modern and Modern Jewish history, Early Modern Europe, Intellectual
Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History
College Hall 306B
Office Hours: 
T 12:30-1:30; R 3-4:30
Teaching Schedule: 
TR 1:30-3; T 3-6
ruderman@sas.upenn.edu
215 898.3793

David B. Ruderman is the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History.  He was also the Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania for twenty years from 1994 to 2014.

He is the author of The World of a Renaissance Jew: The Life and Thought of Abraham b. Mordecai Farissol (Cincinnati, Ohio, Hebrew Union College Press, 1981), for which he received the National Jewish Book Award in history in l982; Kabbalah, Magic, and Science: The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (Cambridge, Mass., Harvard University Press, 1988); and A Valley of Vision: The Heavenly Journey of Abraham Ben Hananiah Yagel (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 1990 and also published in Hebrew in 1997). He is co-author, with William W. Hallo and Michael Stanislawski, of the two volume Heritage: Civilization and the Jews Study Guide and Source Reader (New York, Praeger, 1984), prepared in conjunction with the showing of the Public Television series of the same name. He has edited Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (New York, New York University Press, 1992), Preachers of the Italian Ghetto (Los Angeles and Berkeley, University of California Press, 1992), The Jewish Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians [with David Myers] (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1998), Cultural Intermediaries: Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy [with Giuseppe Veltri] (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004) and [with Shmuel Feiner] Early Modern Culture and the Haskalah: Reconsidering the Borderlines of Modern Jewish History [Simon Dubnov Institute Yearbook, 6 (2007): 17-266]. He has also published Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe (New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1995; revised paperback, Detroit, 2001) which has also appeared in Italian, Russian, and Hebrew versions. His book Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought published by Princeton University Press in 2000 won the Koret Award for the best book in Jewish History in 2001. His more recent books are Connecting the Covenants: Judaism and the Search for Christian Identity in Eighteenth-Century England (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007) and Early Modern Jewry: A New Cultural History (Princeton, 2010; Istanbul, 2013) which also received the National Jewish Book Award in History in 2011. His latest book is A Best-Selling Hebrew Book of the Modern Era: The Book of the Covenant of PinḼas Hurwitz and its Remarkable Legacy (Seattle and London, University of Washington Press, 2014). He has produced two courses on Jewish history for the Great Courses/ Teaching Company on both medieval and modern Jewish history.

Professor Ruderman was educated at the City College of New York, the Teacher's Institute of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and Columbia University. He received his rabbinical degree from the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York in 1971, and his Ph.D. in Jewish History from the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, in 1975. Prior to coming to Penn, he held the Frederick P. Rose Chair of Jewish History at Yale University (1983-94) and the Louis L. Kaplan Chair of Jewish Historical Studies at the University of Maryland, College Park (1974-83), where he was instrumental in establishing both institutions' Judaic studies programs. At the University of Maryland he also won the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award in 1982-83 and, at the University of Pennsylvania, the Charles Ludwig Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008.

Professor Ruderman has served on the board and as vice-president of the Association of Jewish Studies, and on the boards of the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the Journal of Reform Judaism, the Renaissance Society of America, and the World Union of Jewish Studies. He also chaired the task force on continuing rabbinic education for the Central Conference of American Rabbis and HUC-JIR (1989-92) and the Publications Committee of the Yale Judaic Series, published by Yale University Press (1984-94). He was the director of the Victor Rothschild Memorial Symposium in Jewish studies, a seminar for doctoral and post-doctoral students held each summer at the Institute for Advanced Studies, Hebrew University, in Jerusalem. He was also a member of the academic advisory board of the Mandel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the Hebrew University. He served as president of the American Academy for Jewish Research between 2000 and 2004. He edited the Katz Center's series in Judaic studies called "Jewish Culture and Contexts," published by the Universiy of Pennsylvania Press from 1997 to 2016. He has been a visiting professor at many institutions in the USA, Israel and Europe, and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University, the American Academy in Berlin, and the Institute for Advanced Study of Central European University, Budapest. In 2001, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history, and in 2014, thirty-one of his colleagues and former students presented him with Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe: Essays in Honor of David B. Ruderman, eds. Richard Cohen, Natalie Dohrmann, Adam Shear, and Elhanan Reiner (Pittsburgh, Pa., University of Pittsburgh/Hebrew Union College Press, 2014). He was recently awarded the Alexander von Humboldt Research Award which allows him to pursue research and teaching in Frankfort, Germany for several months of each year (2016-20).

CV (file): 
Courses Taught: 
  • HIST 140 History of Jewish Civilization II (From Late Antiquity to the Seventeenth Century)
  • HIST 380 Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History
  • HIST 449 Jewish Historical Writing
  • HIST 550 Topics in Jewish History
  • HIST 550 The Transformation of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe