Yeshiva University News » Ephraim Kanarfogel

Kanarfogel Named E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law; Wins Goldstein-Goren Book Award

Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, of Teaneck, NJ, has been appointed a University Professor at Yeshiva University, the sixth faculty member in the entire University to be granted this prestigious distinction. His new title, bestowed upon him by YU President Richard M. Joel, designates him as the E. Billi Ivry University Professor of Jewish History, Literature and Law.

Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel

Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel

The title of university professor is reserved for those who have achieved outstanding goals in teaching, publications and research.

“It is a great honor, well deserved,” said Dr. Lawrence H. Schiffman, vice provost for undergraduate education. “Dr. Kanarfogel’s overall contribution to Yeshiva University and his prodigious scholarship and publications make him a fitting holder of a university professorship. His extensive use of unpublished manuscripts and his methodological sophistication have made possible pioneering, original scholarship.” Read the rest of this entry…


Mordechai Cohen and Ephraim Kanarfogel Participate in Advanced Judaic Studies Research Group

Dr. Mordechai Cohen, associate dean and professor of bible at Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and at Stern College for Women, and Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History at Revel and Stern College, are participating, as adjunct fellows, in a research group at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania that spans the 2012-13 academic year.

Cohen and Kanarfogel join a group of approximately two dozen leading scholars of Jewish, Christian and Islamic social and intellectual history from universities around the world to conduct research on this year’s theme, “Institutionalization, Innovation and Conflict in 13th Century Judaism,” and develop a more fully-integrated account of Europe and the Mediterranean basin in the 13th century. Read the rest of this entry…


Revel, Bar-Ilan Co-Host International Conference on Scholarship of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik

Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and Bar-Ilan University hosted the second conference of a two-part international lecture series to mark the 20th anniversary of the passing of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik, the leading rabbi, Talmudist and philosopher known as “the Rav.” Titled “Reflections on the Thought and Scholarship of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik,” the conference brought more than 70 people from around the world together to share new perspectives on Rabbi Soloveitchik’s writings, talk about possible influences in his work and discuss new directions for future scholarship on the Rav.

Dov Schwartz, Bar-Ilan's Natali and Isidor Friedman Chair on Teaching the Writings of Joseph Dov Soloveitchik.

Dov Schwartz, chair of the philosophy department and graduate program for the study of contemporary Judaism at Bar-Ilan and its Natali and Isidor Friedman Chair on Teaching the Writings of Joseph Dov Soloveitchik, envisioned the conference as a means to connect the two centers of the most relevance to the study of Rabbi Soloveitchik: YU, where much of his work was done, and Bar-Ilan, the center of scholarship about him in Israel. “I wanted us to share the innovative research that has been done over the past few years,” said Schwartz. Read the rest of this entry…


From “Jews and American National Holidays” to the “History of Jews in New York,” Stern College Presents Exciting New Lecture Series

Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women will host a series of cutting-edge lectures in Jewish studies on the Beren Campus, delivered by leading academics.

Dr. Beth Wenger, professor of history and director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, will deliver the inaugural lecture on May 1 at 7 p.m. in Room 1015, 245 Lexington Ave, New York City. Titled “Civics Lessons: Jews and the American Holidays,” the talk will highlight the opportunities celebrations such as Thanksgiving and Independence Day afforded early American Jews to declare their allegiance to the United States and write themselves into the narratives of American history, thereby making themselves and their culture pivotal actors in the creation of the nation.

Wenger is the author of History Lessons: The Creation of American Jewish Heritage (Princeton University Press, 2010), The Jewish Americans: Three Centuries of Jewish Voices in America (Doubleday, 2007) and New York Jews and the Great Depression: Uncertain Promise, (Yale University Press, 1996), among others.

The series is sponsored by a generous grant from the Robert and Susan Weiss Family Foundation. In Fall 2012, Dr. Sid Z. Leiman, professor of Jewish history and literature at Brooklyn College, will teach a course on 18th-century Jewish European intellectual history at Stern College.

Stern College will also host an evening symposium on the history of the Jews in New York City during the 19th and 20th centuries, led by a group of distinguished scholars who are completing a three-volume work on the subject, as part of the series.

More lectures, symposia and course offerings for coming semesters are in the works, according to Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, chair of Stern’s Rebecca Ivry Department of Jewish Studies and E. Billi Ivry Chair and Professor of Jewish History.

“Professor Wenger and Professor Leiman are distinguished and outstanding scholars in their fields and are both well-known for their stimulating and challenging lectures and analyses,” said Kanarfogel. “We are deeply grateful to the Weiss Family Foundation for funding and supporting these exciting initiatives which will undoubtedly contribute a great deal to the intellectual richness throughout the field of Jewish Studies that our students can experience on campus.”

To learn more, email Estee Brick


Renowned Scholars Gather for Conference on “Israel and the Nations” Hosted by Revel Graduate School

From Jerusalem to Wyoming, dozens of leading scholars gathered for an academic conference on Yeshiva University’s Wilf Campus to share research on a broad array of topics within Jewish studies. The international conference on “Israel and the Nations: Visions and Reality,” was hosted by YU’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and took place July 5-7.

Dean David Berger

Dean David Berger addresses the crowd.

“This conference, precisely because of its breadth and high quality of participants, and its international scope, reflects the enhanced role that the Bernard Revel Graduate School has assumed on the global stage of Jewish studies,” said Dr. David Berger, dean and Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History at Revel.

Berger pointed out that the school’s faculty, doctoral students and course offerings have increased significantly in size over the past several years. “In order to add to the extremely impressive research by our veteran faculty, we have recruited younger scholars who have bolstered our research in Bible, modern Jewish history and Jewish philosophy,” said Berger.


Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel

Berger served on the conference’s steering committee along with Professors Avinoam Cohen, Hanah Kasher, Yeshayahu Maori and Yosef Rivlin. Support for the conference was provided by the Mordecai D. and Dr. Monique C. Katz Fund.

Over 40 scholars lectured in both Hebrew and English during the three-day conference, including Yeshiva’s Berger; Shalom Carmy, assistant professor of bible; Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History at YU; Jess Olsen, assistant professor of Jewish history; Jacob J. Schacter, University Professor of Jewish History and Jewish Thought and senior scholar at the Center for the Jewish Future, and Vice Provost Lawrence Schiffman.

The expansive fields of study included presentations by scholars of ancient, medieval and modern Jewish history, bible, Jewish ethics, Jewish law, literature and Zionism. Kanarfogel led off the first session, demonstrating the influence that the Tosafists had on Sephardic “conversion” process for repentant apostates.

The opening day of lectures was highlighted by Berger’s keynote address. He charted the development of Jewish-Christian encounters from the rise of Christianity to present time. Berger concluded that modern thinkers like Rabbis Samson Raphael Hirsch, David Zvi Hoffman, Yechiel Yaakov Weinberg, Yosef Eliyahu Henkin and Ahron Soloveichik supported medieval scholar Menachem Meiri’s favorable attitude toward adherents of Christianity. In turn, Berger pointed out the “revolutionary” work of the Second Vatican Council during the 20th century to create a more positive outlook of Jews.

In his concluding remarks, Berger shared his concern that there exists a high degree of ignorance in the world today concerning Jewish-Christian relations and called for scholars and educators to help rectify this situation in order to promote further progress.

The second day of presenters commenced with a lecture by Cohen, who earned his doctorate in Talmud at Revel in 1980 under the guidance of Dr. Mayer Simcha Feldblum. His presentation argued that it is possible to detect early anti-Christian polemic in Talmudic literature. Cohen concluded his lecture by drawing distinctions between different polemical devises found in the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds.

“Bringing together American and Israeli scholars provides each group with the opportunity to interact and learn from different methods of research,” said Cohen. “Many Israeli and American scholars read different journals and lean toward different interests. It is therefore important that we take time to pause and consider how both groups can improve their research.”

Revel Conference - JJ Schacter

Rabbi Dr. Jacob J. Schacter

While participating at the conference, Cohen was heartened by Yeshiva’s commitment to producing a community of Orthodox scholars who are also committed to the study of traditional Torah study.

Dr. Seth Ward of the University of Wyoming presented on attitudes of 20th century writers toward Gentiles, touching upon religious leaders like Rabbis Joseph B. Soloveitchik and Abraham Joshua Heschel. “As a visiting scholar, it was a particularly welcome opportunity to spend time with academics who share both my commitment to Modern Orthodoxy and Judaic scholarship,” said Ward.


Yeshiva University Presents Annual Jewish Studies Day of Learning on March 6

Join Yeshiva University faculty and administration for a day of learning at the annual Jewish Studies Yom Iyun on March 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m, in Furst Hall, Room 501, 500 West 185th Street, New York City. This year’s Day of Learning will focus on the topic of Purim in Tanach, Talmud and Jewish History. There is a $10 admission fee to the Yom Iyun with online registration or $15 at the door. Admission is free to YU students with valid IDs.  Light refreshments will be served and courtesy parking is available.

Speakers include Rabbi Kenneth Brander, David Mitzner Dean of the Center for the Jewish Future; Dr. Steven Fine, professor of Jewish history and director of YU’s Center for Israel Studies; Rabbi Dr. Ephraim Kanarfogel, E. Billi Ivry Professor of Jewish History; Dr. Jill Katz, professor of anthropology and archeology; and Dr. Lawrence Schiffman, vice provost, Yeshiva University.

To view a full list of speakers and lecture topics, to pre-register or for more information visit YU Torah.