David B. Ruderman

Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History, Emeritus

(215) 898-3793, (215) 238-1290

306B College Hall



David B. Ruderman is the Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and the Ella Darivoff Director of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

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), and Cultural Intermediaries: Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy [with Giuseppe Veltri] (Philadelphia, Pa., University of Pennsylvania Press, 2004). 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 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 most 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) which also received the National Jewish Book Award in history in 2011. He has produced two courses on Jewish history for the 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 he was awarded the Charles Ludwig Distinguished Teaching Award in 2008.

Professor Ruderman is the author of numerous articles and reviews. He 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 served for five years as 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 has served as a member of the academic advisory board of the Mandel Center for Advanced Judaic Studies of the Hebrew University. He was also the president of the American Academy for Jewish Research between 2000 and 2004. He is the editor of the Katz Center's series in Judaic studies called "Jewish culture and contexts." He has taught in the Graduate School of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in New York, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and was a fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at the Hebrew University and at the American Academy in Berlin. In June, 2001, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history.

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
CV (file)
ruderman.pdf143.83 KB