Temple University recently expanded its academic spectrum to include American Jewish History. After many fundraisers, the Murray Friedman Professorship in that department has been endowed.
The award was named after Murray Friedman, director of Temple’s Feinstein Center in American Jewish History. “Murray Friedman is one of America’s most distinguished scholars, teachers, and authors,” President Peter J. Liacouras said when he announced the professorship earlier this semester. The endowed professorship is the first for Temple’s newly reorganized College of Liberal Arts (CLA).
Friedman, who said the study of American Jewish History is fairly new, realizes that he is a frontiersman in the field of Jewish Studies. He emphasized that the program, even though it has been in the making since 1991, is still in the building stages and is being perfected.
“We are trying to find holes [in the program] and then find historians to fill those holes,” Friedman said.
The program does not include any students yet, but Friedman is shooting for American Jewish History to become available as a major by 2004.
“Right now the program’s goal is to train scholars who can write and teach on the subject,” Friedman said. “We are looking to create a class of American Jewish historians.”
Under the direction of Friedman and others, the Feinstein Center created several books and articles that brought American Jewish History to the attention of Temple University. As a result of the program, Temple granted a professorship to the area of study and raised money in Friedman’s name.
Friedman said Temple is broadening its commitment to the program. He praised Temple for its support and for promoting and encouraging the program.
“I feel particularly close to Temple University,” Friedman said.
Friedman highlighted other key factors to the program, including CLA acting dean Morris Vogel’s helping the program develop.
Vogel said a lot of individual donations went to the Feinstein Center. Even though fundraising began almost 10 years ago, Vogel said the drive for the professorship started last summer. Vogel pointed out that in just a short time, the fellowship has supported 12 people’s academic growth for the program.
“This is a fitting way to mark [Friedman’s] 40th anniversary as the director of American Jewish Committee in the Philadelphia Office,” Vogel said.
He praised Friedman for his efforts and stressed Friedman’s involvement as key to the success of the program at Temple. “He has brought conferences and books, and through his work Temple has gotten a lot of recognition,” Vogel. said.
Books produced by Friedman include Philadelphia Jewish Life, 1940-1985 and When Philadelphia Was the Capital of Jewish. Friedman also tackled other issues in articles on politics, minority group problems and urban affairs.