An associate professor of Yiddish at Columbia University, Jeremy Dauber, has been named acting director of the university's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.
Previously, Mr. Dauber, a member of the department of Germanic Languages, served as associate director of the institute, which was created in 2005 as a successor to the school's Center of Israel and Jewish Studies. The institute, along with an endowed chair in Israel studies, was established in part as a response to allegations of anti-Israel sentiment in the school's Middle Eastern studies department.
With Joel Berkowitz, Mr. Dauber edited a 2006 collection, "Landmark Yiddish Plays." As acting director of the institute, he aims to increase collaboration between faculty and students, the Columbia Spectator reported.
The endowed chair of Israel studies was backed by $3 million from four university trustees, Mark Kingdon, Philip Milstein, Richard Witten, and David Stern. Recently, the university filled the professorship, which is named after a prominent Israeli historian and the longtime director of the school's previous Center of Israel and Jewish studies, Yosef Yerushalmi. Last month, a visiting professor of sociology from Tel Aviv University, Yinon Cohen, was appointed the Yosef Hayim Yerushalmi Chair in Israel and Jewish Studies.
The selection process for that chair, which was followed closely by pro-Israel alumni, students, and faculty members, has been criticized by those who faulted the search committee for including two professors, Rashid Khalidi and Lila Abu-Lughod, thought to harbor anti-Israel views. The school has maintained that members of the search committee were chosen on the basis of their interest in Middle Eastern scholarship. Some faculty members, who withheld judgment on Mr. Cohen's appointment, said they disagreed with a letter he signed in 2002 that refers to Israel as an occupying force and oppressor. The letter, signed by more than 300 Israeli university professors, expressed support for Israeli soldiers who refused to serve in the West Bank and Gaza.