The Drs. Kenneth Chelst, Bertram Schreiber and Fred Zwas Book Grant is designed to foster scholarship among the faculty of Yeshiva College by facilitating the publication of scholarly books and enabling faculty to pursue research, engage in collaborative consultations and seek support for editing and publishing their manuscripts.
One of this year’s recipients was Dr. Joshua Karlip, who is associate professor of Jewish history and Herbert S. and Naomi Denenberg Chair of Jewish Studies at Yeshiva University, where he has taught in the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, Yeshiva College and Stern College for Women.
“I am honored to have received the Drs. Kenneth Chelst, Bertram Schreiber and Fred Zwas Book Grant for the 2020-2021 academic year, and I will use it to further my research on my book in progress, Rabbis in the Land of Atheism: The Struggle to Save Judaism in the Soviet Union.”
In this work Dr. Karlip aims to deepen our understanding of Jewish religious life in the interwar Soviet Union by studying a vital, but, until now, overlooked source: rabbinic writing. “My analysis of rabbinic responsa, sermons, public addresses and letters will seek to discover how rabbis sought to make halacha [Jewish law] and Jewish belief relevant to Jews living within the atheistic Soviet system.”
He plans to use the grant for three main purposes. Since primary sources regarding these rabbis are scattered throughout the former Soviet Union, “I plan to hire a research assistant, hopefully a Russian-fluent YU student, to help me locate these archives.” Second, “I will hire a tutor to help further sharpen my linguistic skills in Russian, a language in which I already have reading proficiency. These strengthened skills will allow me to more easily read difficult (and sometimes handwritten) Russian archival and printed material.” Third, if the pandemic subsides in time, “I will use the remaining funds to travel to Israel, where rare library and archival materials on this topic can be found.”