NYU President Linda G. Mills today announced the appointment of Professor Avinoam Patt as the inaugural director of NYU’s Center for Study of Antisemitism and the Maurice Greenberg Professor of Holocaust Studies in NYU’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Patt—a scholar of the Holocaust and Israel whose work at the University of Connecticut included a one-credit course titled Why the Jews? Confronting Antisemitism that reached over 1,600 students in its first semester—is an alumnus of NYU’s Graduate School of Arts and Science.
The naming of Professor Patt as the Center’s director comes as the Center received a $1 million anonymous gift, its second seven-figure gift since the announcement of its establishment in November 2023.
President Mills said, “Now is an essential time to begin a scholarly effort around antisemitism; the increase in antisemitic incidents globally over the last few years, and particularly since October 7, has been shocking. Avinoam Patt is an excellent choice to lead the Center. A respected and prolific scholar, a nuanced thinker about antisemitism—historic and present day—and Jewish culture, and a gifted convener of those with important ideas in this space, he will bring to the Center a commitment to rigorous research, an understanding of the value of public programming on timely and important issues, an openness to collaborating with other units in the University to help translate scholarship into practice, a familiarity with NYU, and a keen moral compass.
“I am so glad to welcome Avinoam Patt back to the NYU community, not only as a faculty member focused on the Holocaust, but also as the Inaugural Director of this vital interdisciplinary center, focused on the essential study of antisemitism.
Professor Patt said, “I am grateful for the opportunity and humbled by the trust President Mills and NYU have placed in me to serve as inaugural director. I look forward to working with colleagues at NYU and beyond to begin this vital project in order to expand the impact that we can make locally, nationally, and indeed, globally. We are at a critical moment in history where serious scholarship and education can make a difference in confronting antisemitism, while creating a public forum for rigorous study of one of our most persistent and pernicious social problems.”
The Center for the Study of Antisemitism is expected to be a setting of robust scholarship and research on ancient and modern expressions of hatred of Jews; a home for vibrant, timely public programming; and a collaborator with NYU units—as well as external entities, such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the Center for Jewish History—in confronting the rising tide of antisemitism and other forms of hate. Its programming is expected to begin as soon as March 2024, when it is anticipated that it will hold its kick-off event.
The ad hoc advisory committee that has helped to guide the initial development of the Center will be expanded over the course of the next year as areas of research focus are developed. The faculty advisory committee includes Mor Armony (Steinhardt), Elisha Russ Fishbane (Arts & Science), Yehuda Sarna (Bronfman Center; Wagner), Lawrence Schiffman (Arts & Science), Lihi Ben Shitrit (Arts & Science), and Batia Wiesenfeld (Stern).
Professor Patt is an award-winning, widely-published author of books, articles, chapters, as well as consultant to films on the topic of antisemitism and the Holocaust. His work includes Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (2009), which was a winner of a Cahnman Publication Grant; co-editing a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany (2010); and contributing to several projects at the USHMM including Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1938-1940 (2011). He recently completed a new book on the early postwar memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising (The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Revolt, 2021) that was a finalist for the Yad Vashem International Book Prize. Together with David Slucki and Gabriel Finder, he is co-editor of Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust (2020) and, with Laura Hilton, Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust (2020). His newest book, Israel and the Holocaust, will be published by Bloomsbury Press as part of its Perspectives on the Holocaust series in 2024.
Avinoam Patt comes to NYU from the University of Connecticut, where he was the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and the director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. From 2007-2019 he was the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Hartford, where he served as director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization. He was previously the Miles Lerman Applied Research Scholar for Jewish Life and Culture at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
Professor Patt earned his BA in religion (with a Judaic studies concentration) from Emory University in 1997. He received his PhD—a joint doctorate in Hebrew and Judaic Studies and modern European history—from NYU in 2005.