Davis, Moshe

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DAVIS, MOSHE (1916–1996), historian and educator. Born in Brooklyn, New York, Davis was ordained a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary in 1942, and was the first American to receive a doctoral degree from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (1945). During 1946–50 he was dean of the Seminary's Teachers' Institute, then provost of the Seminary. One of the founders of Camp Massad, Davis also established the Leaders Training Fellowship and the Camp Ramah movement of the Teachers' Institute. He was the first program editor of the Seminary's radio program Eternal Light and the television program Frontiers of Faith. In 1959 Davis was founder and subsequently chairman in Israel of the Committee on Manpower Opportunities. An authority on contemporary Jewish life, especially American Jewry, Davis taught American Jewish history at the Jewish Theological Seminary, co-directed the Seminary's American Jewish History Center, and taught American Jewish history and institutions at the Hebrew University (from 1965). Having immigrated to Israel in 1959, he became the founder and head of the university's Institute of Contemporary Jewry, the first of its kind in the world. In that capacity, he supervised studies, publications, and conferences dealing with centers of world Jewry. Within the institute he also founded the America–Holy Land Project, which became an academic sub-specialty of both American and Jewish history. Davis was the Stephen S. Wise Professor Emeritus of American Jewish History and Institutions at the Hebrew University. In 1974 he founded the International Center for the Academic Teaching of Jewish Civilization, under the sponsorship of the president of Israel.

Among his many honors, Davis garnered the Rothberg Prize in Jewish Education of the Hebrew University; the Speaker of the Knesset Quality of Life Award; and an honorary Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. His publications include Jewish Religious Life and Institutions in America (1950); Yahadut Amerikah be-Hitpatteḥutah (1951); Emergence of Conservative Judaism (1963); Journeys of the Children of Israel: A Guide to the Study of the Bible (with I. Levy, 1966); Beit Yisrael be-Amerikah ("From Dependence to Mutuality: The American Jewish Community and World Jewry," 1970); I Am a Jew (1978); Teaching Jewish Civilization: A Global Approach to Higher Education (1995); and America and the Holy Land (1995). He was a consulting editor for the first edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica (1971).

[Gladys Rosen /

Ruth Beloff (2nd ed.)]

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Davis, Moshe

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