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A History in the Making

Over the last few decades, Stanford has come to play an important role in the work of understanding the Jewish people and its culture, a project that requires drawing on many branches of learning in the Humanities and Social Sciences. The Taube Center for Jewish Studies is now considered a preeminent center for academic research in Jewish Studies, education, intellectual innovation and bridge- building between academia and the community, and Jewish Studies in America, Israel, Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Reaching this point has required vision, leadership, generosity, collaboration, and tremendous commitment and effort. Less than a lifetime ago, in the 1950s, Jewish Studies at Stanford consisted of courses in the Bible offered by a single faculty member, Professor E.M. Good. Today, our affiliated faculty members teach courses on the full expanse of Jewish history, literature, language, religion, education and politics to hundreds of undergraduates while training graduate students to become the next generation of scholars. The Taube Center is host to 5 annual endowed lectures or series; organizes scores of symposia, colloquia, conferences, and other special events; is proud home to one of the leading journals of the field -- Jewish Social Studies: History, Culture, and Society -- and its faculty are responsible for one of the leading book series in the field, Stanford Studies in Jewish History and Culture, published by Stanford University Press. This remarkable transformation is owed to the efforts of many people--faculty, alumni, community leaders, university administration, donors, Jewish communal organizations, foundations, librarians, editors, staff and our students.

We hope sometime soon to be able to tell the history of how the center came to be, a fascinating and important chapter in the history of Stanford, the Bay Area Jewish community, and the field of Jewish Studies, but it will take some effort to relate this history properly. In the meantime, we have posted some sources that give glimpses of this history--an archive of past newsletters (now transitioning to an online format), and selected interviews with some of the people who were instrumental in creating the program. If you have information or documents that bear on the history of Jewish Studies at Stanford, please share them with us.