The steering committee for UCIÕs Center for Jewish Studies comprises (in front, from left) Matthias Lehmann, Teller Family Chair in Jewish History; Julia Lupton, associate dean for humanities research and professor of English; and Simcha Gross, assistant professor of history, and (in back, from left) Liron Mor, assistant professor of comparative literature and Jeffrey Kopstein, professor and chair of political science. Steve Zylius / UCI

Irvine, Calif., Oct. 16, 2017 – A new Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California, Irvine will bring together faculty, students, visiting scholars and members of the public interested in exploring Judaism.

Led by Matthias Lehmann, UCI’s Teller Family Chair in Jewish History – along with a steering committee of cross-disciplinary faculty and an advisory board of community members – the center builds on the strengths of the campus’s Jewish studies program, which encompasses an undergraduate minor and public events, and leverages faculty expertise in Jewish studies and culture. Lehmann is a former Fulbright Scholar whose research centers on early modern and modern Jewish history and Sephardic studies.

“I am thrilled to work with my colleagues to build an energetic and ambitious community around Jewish studies,” Lehmann said. “The center will serve as a hub for scholarship on Jewish history, literature and religion; Israel; the Shoah; and anti-Semitism. It is designed to advance research in those areas by faculty and students and is committed to promoting public engagement and outreach to the wider Orange County community.”

The steering committee comprises Lehmann; Simcha Gross, a new assistant professor of history; Julia Lupton, associate dean for humanities research and professor of English; Jeffrey Kopstein, professor and chair of political science; and Liron Mor, assistant professor of comparative literature. The center draws on more than a dozen affiliated faculty from the School of Humanities and School of Social Sciences.

“At UCI, we already teach hundreds of students each year in a wide range of classes on Jewish history and culture,” said Georges Van Den Abbeele, dean of the School of Humanities. “A center allows us to more fully leverage and publicize the university’s faculty expertise in the wealth of Jewish studies scholarship, connect more students to the resources we have now and will continue to build, and invite further interschool and interdisciplinary partnership both on campus and internationally.”

“As an alumna of the UCI School of Humanities, a member of the center’s new advisory board and an active member of the Orange County Jewish community, I couldn’t be happier or more excited that UCI is supporting a center for Jewish studies,” said Dana Susson ’76. “To have our premier academic institution in Orange County providing classes, enrichment and programs in Jewish studies is much needed and should be embraced by our entire Jewish community.”

The center kicks off with an inaugural lecture by Lehmann and Gross and music from the Yuval Ron Ensemble at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 18, in Humanities Gateway 1030. Its second lecture event, featuring University of Toronto professor Anna Shternshis and singer-songwriter Psoy Korolenko, will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 20.

About the University of California, Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is the youngest member of the prestigious Association of American Universities. The campus has produced three Nobel laureates and is known for its academic achievement, premier research, innovation and anteater mascot. Led by Chancellor Howard Gillman, UCI has more than 30,000 students and offers 192 degree programs. It’s located in one of the world’s safest and most economically vibrant communities and is Orange County’s second-largest employer, contributing $5 billion annually to the local economy. For more on UCI, visit

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