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July 7, 2004

Menahem Schmelzer Named Senior Distinguished Scholar at the John W. Kluge Center Beginning in September

Librarian of Congress James H. Billington has named Menahem Schmelzer, professor of medieval Hebrew literature and Jewish bibliography at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as Senior Distinguished Scholar in the John W. Kluge Center at the Library of Congress, effective in September. Schmelzer will be researching the interrelationship between Jewish and non-Jewish printers and publishers in 18th century Germany.

"Dr. Schmelzer's research is certain to shed light on our understanding of the mutual perceptions of Jewish and Christian printers on the eve of the emancipation of German Jewry," said Michael Grunberger, head of the Library's Hebraic Section. "Especially interesting is his intention to study the Hebrew book as an agent of German-Jewish culture, which will help deepen our understanding of the emergence and development of one of Europe's leading Jewish communities."

Born in Hungary, Schmelzer was a victim of both Nazi and Communist oppression in his homeland. He began his studies in Semitic languages at the University of Budapest and later studied at the Jewish Theological Seminary in Budapest. With a master's degree in Jewish Studies from Copenhagen University and a diploma from the State Library School, Schmelzer emigrated to the United States and began a long association with the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. There he earned a doctor of Hebrew literature degree and worked in the seminary library until 1987. At the same time, he also served as assistant professor of medieval Hebrew literature, a post to which he was appointed in 1969. He was appointed full professor in 1980 and professor emeritus in 2003.

Schmelzer has published books, articles and reviews in the fields of medieval Hebrew literature and Jewish bibliography and was the editor of Aron Freimann's "Union Catalog of Hebrew Manuscripts and Their Location" (1974), Alexander Marx's "Bibliographical Studies and Notes on Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Library of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America" ( 1977) and the poems of Isaac ben Abraham Ibn Ezra (1980).

Through a generous endowment from John W. Kluge, the Library of Congress established the Kluge Center in 2000 to bring together the world's best thinkers to stimulate, energize and distill wisdom from the Library's rich resources and to interact with policymakers in Washington. The Kluge Center houses five senior Kluge Chairs (American Law and Governance, Countries and Cultures of the North, Countries and Cultures of the South, Technology and Society, and Modern Culture); other senior-level chairs (Henry A. Kissinger Chair in Foreign Policy and International Relations, Cary and Ann Maguire Chair in American History and Ethics and the Harissios Papamarkou Chair in Education and Technology); and nearly 25 postdoctoral fellows. The Kluge Center also sponsors a number of scholarly programs, which are open to the public.

For more information about any of the fellowships, grants or programs offered by the John W. Kluge Center, contact the Office of Scholarly Programs, Library of Congress, 101 Independence Avenue S.E., Washington, DC 20540-4860; telephone (202) 707-3302, fax (202) 707-3595, or visit the Web at www.loc.gov/kluge.

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PR 04-123
07/07/04
ISSN 0731-3527

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