Hertz, Deborah 1949-
Hertz, Deborah 1949-
Born February 9, 1949, in St. Paul, MN; daughter of Marcus (in transport business) and Lorraine (an educator) Hertz; married Martin Bunzl (an educator), July 19, 1986; children: Noah and Zola. Education: Studied at New York University and Hebrew University; University of Minnesota, B.A. (summa cum laude), 1971, M.A., 1974, Ph.D., 1979. Religion: Jewish.
Academician and historian. Pittsburgh State University, Pittsburgh, KS, assistant professor of history, 1978-79; State University of New York, Binghamton, assistant professor, 1980-88, associate professor of history, 1988-96, director of Women's Studies and the Sojourner Center for Research in Women's Studies, 1989-90; Sarah Lawrence College, Bronxville, NY, professor of history, 1996-2004; University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, Herman Wouk Chair in Modern Jewish Studies, 2004—. Andrew W. Mellon faculty fellow in the humanities at Harvard University, 1984-85; Fulbright Professor at Hebrew University, 1987-88; visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School, Tel-Aviv University, and University of Haifa.
(Editor) Varnhagen, Rahel, Briefe an eine freundin: Rahel Varnhagen an Rebecca Friedländer, Kiepenheuer & Witsch (Cologne, Germany), 1988.
Deborah Hertz is an American academician and historian. Born and educated in Minnesota, Hertz remained in academia after completing her studies. She taught at the State University of New York, Binghamton, in history and women's studies from 1980 until 1996, when she continued at Sarah Lawrence College. In 2004 she took the Herman Wouk Chair in Modern Jewish Studies at the University of California, San Diego.
Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin was first published in 1988 and rereleased in 2005. Hertz introduces readers to the Jewish-run salons in Berlin during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as well as patterns of intermarriage among Jews of that time. At a time when Jews were seeking equality in Berlin, the salon turned into a venue for this to play out among the intellectuals. Hertz focuses on the Jewish hostess and the role of women in promoting civil rights during this time. A contributor to Tikkun noted that Hertz's "landmark study of German Jewry … does not disappoint," going on to call the story "compelling." Jason Peck, writing on H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online, commented that "Hertz's book remains an exemplary work on salon culture. Thoroughly researched and convincingly argued, it has thankfully been reprinted for the next generation of scholars working on what has been termed the Rahelzeit." Peck added that "aside from the obvious contribution Hertz's book adds to an understanding of salon culture, her additional work, in the penultimate chapter of the book, on the conversion and intermarriage of ‘emancipated’ Jewish women, is equally important." Peck pointed out, however, that "the weakest section of Hertz's book is the concluding chapter, in which she argues that a precipitous decline (and the eventual demise) of salon culture in Berlin began after 1806," noting that anti-Semitic pamphlets and publications had been a fixture of Berlin's salon culture even earlier. Peck concluded that "despite this shortcoming, Deborah Hertz's book remains the best introduction in English to this rather remarkable period of German-Jewish history." A contributor to the Midwest Book Review found the account "smoothly written and highly readable to historians" and the average reader as well.
In 2007 Hertz published How Jews Became Germans: The History of Conversion and Assimilation in Berlin. Hertz examines the Jewish Diaspora in Germany and Prussia from the 1600s to the Nazi takeover in the 1930s and explains how many Jews, faced with anti-Semitism, attempted to convert to Christianity in order to better blend into the local society. Hertz wrote the book after finding accounts of conversions among wealthy Jews of that era in an attempt to put a human perspective to the events. Joel A. and Arlene S. Moskowitz, in an article in the San Diego Jewish World, remarked: "Clearly Professor Hertz is a sensitive, knowledgeable historian who doubtlessly is an artful writer."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Historical Review, December, 1989, Peter Paret, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin, p. 1414.
Germanic Review, spring, 1992, Liliane Weissberg, review of Briefe an eine freundin: Rahel Varnhagen an Rebecca Friedländer; spring, 1992, Liliane Weissberg, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
Historian, August, 1989, Marilyn Shevin Coetzee, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin, p. 667.
Journal of Modern History, June, 1990, Lloyd P. Gartner, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin, p. 425.
Judaism: A Quarterly Journal of Jewish Life and Thought, spring, 1989, Ruth B. Waxman, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
Library Journal, December, 2007, review of How Jews Became Germans: The History of Conversion and Assimilation in Berlin.
Midwest Book Review, March, 2006, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
New York Review of Books, May 12, 1988, Gordon A. Craig, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin, p. 41.
Reference & Research Book News, November, 2005, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
Tikkun, January 1, 2006, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin, p. 81.
Deborah Hertz Home Page,http://www.deborahhertz.com (December 11, 2007), author biography.
H-Net: Humanities and Social Sciences Online,http://www.h-net.org/ (July, 2006), Jason Peck, review of Jewish High Society in Old Regime Berlin.
San Diego Jewish World,http://www.jewishsightseeing.com/ (July 11, 2006), Joel A. Moskowitz and Arlene S. Moskowitz, review of How Jews Became Germans.
University of California, San Diego Web site,http://www.ucsd.edu/ (December 11, 2007), author profile.