Ruderman, David B.

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RUDERMAN, DAVID B. (1944– ), U.S. Reform rabbi, academician. Ruderman was born in New York City and received his B.A. from City College (1966) and his M.A. from Columbia University in 1968. He was ordained at *Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1971 and earned a Ph.D. in Jewish history from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1975. huc-jir awarded him an honorary D.D. in 1996. While studying for the rabbinate, he taught Jewish history and thought at huc-jir's School of Education in New York; and while pursuing graduate work in Israel, he taught the same subjects to American students studying in Jerusalem. Although ordained as a rabbi, Ruderman chose a career in academia – beginning at the University of Maryland in College Park, Maryland, where he held the Louis L. Kaplan Chair of Jewish Historical Studies (1974–83). As chairman of the Judaic Studies Committee, he was instrumental in establishing the Judaic Studies program at the University of Maryland, where he also won the Distinguished Scholar-Teacher Award in 1982.

In 1983, he was appointed professor of Religious Studies at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and subsequently to the university's Frederick P. Rose Chair of Jewish History (1983–94). As chairman of the Advisory Committee on Judaic Studies (1990, 1993), he played a major role in organizing Yale's Program in Judaic Studies. During his tenure at Yale, he was also a visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary (1986) and a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Studies at Hebrew University (1987). In addition, he began an association as visiting professor (1991–98) at the annual Summer School in Jewish Studies at Hebrew University's Institute for Advanced Studies, where he became director of the annual Victor Rothschild Symposium in Jewish Studies, also held every summer (1998–2002). In 1994, Ruderman was appointed Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History and director of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (formerly, Annenberg Research Institute) at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, becoming Ella Darivoff Director of the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies in 2004.

Ruderman was the author of numerous articles on the history of Jewish intellectual thought and wrote several books in the field, including: The World of a Renaissance Jew: The Life and Thought of Abraham B. Mordecai Farissol (1981); Heritage: Civilization and the Jews, Study Guide and Source Reader (with William W. Hallo and Michael Stanislawski, 1984); Kabbalah, Magic, and Science: The Cultural Universe of a Sixteenth-Century Jewish Physician (1988); Jewish Thought and Scientific Discovery in Early Modern Europe (1995, rev. 2001; trans. Italian, 1999; trans. Hebrew, 2002); and Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key: Anglo-Jewry's Construction of Modern Jewish Thought (2000). Three out of his five books were singled out for awards: The World of a Renaissance Jew won the Jewish Welfare Board National Jewish Book Award for Jewish History in 1982; Kabbalah, Magic, and Science was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Scholarship in 1988; and Jewish Enlightenment in an English Key won the Koret Book Award in Jewish History in 2001, as well as being a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award that same year. In addition, Ruderman is the co-author of several more books: A Valley of Vision: The Heavenly Journey of Abraham ben Hananiah Yagel (1990), which he translated from the Hebrew and for which he wrote the introduction and commentary; Essential Papers on Jewish Culture in Renaissance and Baroque Italy (1992), editor and author of introduction and two chapters; and Preachers of the Italian Ghetto (1992), editor and author of introduction and one chapter; The Jewish Past Revisited: Reflections on Modern Jewish Historians (1998), co-editor and contributor; and Cultural Intermediaries: Jewish Intellectuals in Early Modern Italy (2004), co-editor and author of the introduction.

In addition to his teaching and writing, Ruderman also served as a member of the board of directors of the *Central Conference of American Rabbis (1987–89), as well as chairman of the ccar's task force for Continuing Rabbinic Education (1989–92); president of the Association for Jewish Studies (1980–83); president of the American Academy for Jewish Research (2000–4); a member of the Academy Advisory Committee of Hebrew University's Mandel Center of Judaic Studies (2002–6); and a member of the editorial boards of many scholarly journals. In 2001, the National Foundation for Jewish Culture honored him with its lifetime achievement award for his work in Jewish history; in 2002, he was named one of the Top 100 teaching professors in the United States by the Teaching Company, which offers his audiotaped and videotaped courses for sale to the general public.

[Bezalel Gordon (2nd ed.)]