Tag Archives: Jewish History

Professor Magda Teter Receives NEH Senior Scholar Fellowship at the Center for Jewish History

We are absolutely delighted to announce that Fordham historian Magda Teter is a recipient of the 2020-2021 NEH Senior Scholar Fellowship at the Center for Jewish History. 

Below is a description of her fascinating project.

Magda Teter

Project Title: “The Dissemination and Uses of the Jewish Past: The Role of The Present in The Production and Politics of History.”  

Project Description: As historian Michel-Rolph Trouillot noted in his groundbreaking book on the production of history, Silencing the Past, “history is always produced in a specific historical context.” Trouillot’s work distinguished between “what happened”—the historical events, and “what is said to have happened”—how historians, professional or not, recount historical events. Thus, not just the context of the historical events matters, but also the historical context of the time in which historians do their work. The overarching questions that loom over my project concern the impact of the present on the study of the past and the compounding effects on the shaping of the field—beyond the known connections with political emancipation, i.e., the acquisition of equal rights by Jews, religious reform, and nationalism that played an important role in shaping the works of Jewish history. When Jewish Studies emerged in the nineteenth century, the field and its scholars were excluded from the academy, but they formed scholarly societies and institutes, published scholarly books and journals. The topics that interested these early scholars were inflected by their own personal interests related to the social and political position of Jews in Europe. They were concerned with current events. Many journals related to Jewish Studies, in fact, devoted a separate section to contemporary events, and allowed for a more rapid response to the current events by publishing not only studies but also primary sources from the archives. These primary sources, in turn, influenced generations of scholars and scholarly projects. And yet, modern scholars have sometimes used these sources uncritically, neglecting to examine how these primary texts and images entered circulation, what might be missing, and of what conversation these sources were a part. My project will explore that.

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Professor Magda Teter’s New Book, “Blood Libel: On the Trail of An AntiSemetic Myth” (Harvard, 2020) is Now Out.

About the Book:

“A landmark history of the antisemitic blood libel myth—how it took root in Europe, spread with the invention of the printing press, and persists today. Accusations that Jews ritually killed Christian children emerged in the mid-twelfth century, following the death of twelve-year-old William of Norwich, England, in 1144. Later, continental Europeans added a destructive twist: Jews murdered Christian children to use their blood. While charges that Jews poisoned wells and desecrated the communion host waned over the years, the blood libel survived.

Initially blood libel stories were confined to monastic chronicles and local lore. But the development of the printing press in the mid-fifteenth century expanded the audience and crystallized the vocabulary, images, and “facts” of the blood libel, providing a lasting template for hate. Tales of Jews killing Christians—notably Simon of Trent, a toddler whose body was found under a Jewish house in 1475—were widely disseminated using the new technology. Following the paper trail across Europe, from England to Italy to Poland, Magda Teter shows how the blood libel was internalized and how Jews and Christians dealt with the repercussions. The pattern established in early modern Europe still plays out today. In 2014 the Anti-Defamation League appealed to Facebook to take down a page titled “Jewish Ritual Murder.” The following year white supremacists gathered in England to honor Little Hugh of Lincoln as a sacrificial victim of the Jews. Based on sources in eight countries and ten languages, Blood Libel captures the long shadow of a pernicious myth.”

Book Reviews:

“An intellectual tour de force. This authoritative study of the blood libel and its ramifications in early modern Europe will become a classic.”—Ronnie Po-Chia Hsia, author of Trent 1475: Stories of a Ritual Murder Trial

“A work of wide-ranging research, great insight, and remarkable erudition. This will be the definitive book on blood libel for a long time to come, equally important for readers of Jewish history and Christian history in early modern Europe.”—Larry Wolff, author of Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment

“In this deeply researched and meticulously argued book, Magda Teter offers the first comprehensive study of the origins and afterlife of one of the most virulent and harmful of all anti-Jewish accusations. But Blood Libel is far more than a narrative history. By highlighting the central role of printed books, broadsheets, and images in the dissemination of the libel, Teter illuminates the mechanisms by which hate can be generated, and offers a powerful and sobering lesson for our own time.”—Sara Lipton, author of Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Semitic Iconography

Magda Teter

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Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate

Prof. Magda Teter’s exhibit, “Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate,” has appeared on Fordham News. Below is Tom Stoelker’s commentary on the exhibition.

“From chat rooms fostering hate speech to racist memes, there has been a notable uptick in anti-Semitic bullying online. Just this past June, the Council on Foreign Relations concluded that online hate speech has led to real-world violence. Now, an exhibit at the Walsh Library reveals that while the technology may be new, the abuse of it is not. Titled, ‘Media Technology and the Dissemination of Hate,’ the exhibit notes that from the invention of the printing press to the early days of radio, technological advances have been harnessed to spread derogatory images and stereotypes. The exhibit, curated by the Jewish Studies program, runs through May 31, 2020.”

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New Fellow, Awards, and Lectures in Jewish Studies

Fordham University is excited to welcome Dr. Marc Herman as the first joint Rabin-Shvidler Post-doctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Fordham and Columbia. Dr. Herman received his PhD in 2016 from the University of Pennsylvania, where he wrote his dissertation on rabbinic jurisprudence in the medieval Islamic world. His presence will add new dimensions to the teaching of the medieval period in Jewish history, to comparative legal studies, and the intersection of Jewish life and Islamic jurisprudence. At Fordham he teaches the courses “Ancient and Medieval Jewish History” and “Islam and Judaism: Law and Religion.”
The fellowship and awards are made possible by the Stanley A. and Barbara 
B. Rabin Postdoctoral Fellowship Fund at Columbia University and the Eugene Shvidler Gift Fund at Fordham University. Continue reading

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For Passover and Easter: Teter Organizes Events and Exhibits Related to Christian-Jewish Relations

The St. Louis Bible from the Leach Collection. To learn more about this collection read about it on here on the Medieval Studies blog

The St. Louis Bible from the Leach Collection. To learn more about this collection read about it here on the Medieval Studies blog


“Passover and Easter: A Polemical Encounter” is an exhibit currently open at Walsh Library in the O’Hare Special Collection room, mounted by Dr. Magda Teter Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History. This exhibit explores the history of Easter and Passover through manuscripts, books, and ephemera, with a particular emphasis on the biblical texts related to the holidays and several Haggadot, the sacred text read during the Passover Seder.  Among the items on display are engravings from two editions of the famous 15th century world chronicle that portray the bleeding of a child, with images of Jews as grotesque characters, the Easter issue of an Italian magazine, La difesa della razza (The Defense of Race), from 1940 that once again return to the theme of blood libel; German currency from 1922 that celebrates burning Jews, and an 1884 parody of the Haggadah by German artist Carl Maria Seyppel.  Tom Stoelker wrote an in depth article about the exhibit which can be read by following this link to the Center of Medieval Studies Venerable Blog. 




Dr. Magda Teter

Dr. Magda Teter

A Dramatic Reading of  Burning Words: A History Play by Peter Wortsman 

Dr. Magda Teter will be involved in Burning Words: A History Play, offering scholarly commentary during the multimedia reading. The play is about about zealotry, censorship, and religious tolerance, and recounts the moment in history when  “Johannes Reuchlin, a humanist Christian jurist, clashed with Johannes Pfefferkorn, a Jewish butcher converted to Christianity and a willing tool of the Dominican Order in their quest to burn Jewish books. ” Dr. Teter recently gave a lecture entitled “From Friendship to Hatred: The Catholic Church and the Jews” at the University of New Mexico as part of  the AJS Distinguished Lecture Series.

The play will take place on April 3, 2016 at 2:30 pm at The Center for Jewish History (15 West 16th Street New York, New York 10011)

Ticket Info: $15 general; $10 Leo Baeck Institute / Center for Jewish History members

We encourage members of the Fordham community to attend and support Dr. Teter  during this exciting innovative performance. More information about The Center for Jewish History and the play can be found on the center’s website. 

 Both of these events are excellent opportunities for students studying Christian-Jewish relations, like those currently taking Dr. Alex Novikoff’s Medieval Interfaith Relations graduate seminar.


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Magda Teter: History’s New Professor of Jewish Studies Marks an Anniversary in Interfaith Relations

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The newest addition to the Fordham History Department and the first holder of the Shvidler Chair in Jewish Studies, Dr. Magda Teter, is making a name for herself and Fordham at home and abroad. On October 27, Dr. Teter presented at a conference on the Declaration Nostra Aetate in Lublin, Poland. Her presentation, “The Theological and Historical Jew in Jewish-Catholic Relations,” opened the conference and was a keynote address. The two other speakers were Riccardo di Segni, the Chief Rabbi of Rome, and Archbishop Henryk Muszyński, the Primate of Poland. The three addresses were followed by a discussion panel, which also featured prominent Jewish and Catholic participants, including the Chief Rabbi of Poland. Throughout the discussion. the panel continuously referred back to Dr. Teter’s talk, both a testament to her and the significance of history in the current discourse about Catholic-Jewish relations.

This conversation continued at the Fordham Annual Fall McGinley Lecture,  “Rejecting Hatred: Fifty Years of Catholic Dialogue with Jews and Muslins since Nostra Aetate on November 10-11. The lecture, which was given by Fordham’s own Professor Patrick J. Ryan, SJ, was followed by responses from Dr. Teter and Dr. Hussein Rashid from Hofstra University.

The History Department looks forward to the Shvidler Chair installation on Monday, November 16  in the Corrigan Center on the 12th floor of Lowenstein at 5:30PM. Dr.Teter will present a lecture entitled  “Alienation to Integration: Rethinking Jewish History”.

Welcome to the History Department, Magda Teter!

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by | November 13, 2015 · 9:00 am

What do Historians do in the Summertime? Postcards from the History Faculty

Vintage postcards first batch_0001

Many people unfamiliar with the world of scholarship assume that the summer break between the Spring and Fall semesters is a time for holidays and relaxation. But for historians, the respite from teaching and classes means that summer is often the time when research, writing conference going, and travel to archives, kicks into high gear. Here are some postcards from members of the Fordham faculty with news of their summer adventures. Continue reading

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