Jeremy Zwelling, Associate Professor of Religion, Emeritus, died on May 8 at the age of 81.
Zwelling holds bachelor’s degrees from Columbia University and the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, as well as master’s and doctoral degrees from Brandeis University. He came to Wesleyan in 1967, where he taught for 43 years until his retirement in 2010. He was instrumental in establishing Jewish studies at Wesleyan, and he created and directed an Israel Studies program in Jerusalem. Zwelling was named the first Silverberg-Shapiro Professor of Jewish Studies in 2003, and when he retired in 2010, that chair was renamed the Jeremy Zwelling Professorship of Jewish Studies in his honor.
“It’s rare that an entire academic center can be attributed to one person, but Jewish Studies in Wesleyan is simply unthinkable without Jeremy Zwelling,” said Jeremy Zwelling, Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Yaniv Feller. “He built the program from scratch and ran it for many years. Even after his retirement, he continued to attend events and conferences and contribute his wisdom and guidance. Every time we met, I learned something new from him. Jeremy was a gifted teacher and scholar who shaped generations of students. His generosity and kindness left a lasting impression on all who met him. It was a real mensch we will miss it very much. »
“The space does not allow for a full reflection on Jeremy’s life as a teacher, scholar, colleague and community builder,” said religion teacher Peter Gottschalk. “So I’ll mention the singular quality that underlies them all: his humanity… Jeremy exemplifies a scholar’s ability to learn and inspire others to learn; reflect and inspire others to reflect; to engage and inspire others to engage, all under the impetus of understanding others not as others but as human beings whose desires, anxieties, aspirations, visions and paradigms do not differ categorically from ours.
Dalit Katz, professor of religious practice and director of the Center for Jewish Studies, said that “among the Wesleyan community, Jeremy Zwelling is a legend, a mensch, a good person whose presence is felt physically and spiritually in the Wesleyan community: whether through a tree planted to honor his name or through the annual Jeremy Zwelling Lecture. However, for me, Jeremy is a person who believed in me, gave me the chance to develop my many ideas, mentored me and discovered my creative abilities. His immense kindness, optimism and sense of humor will always guide us and light our way.
Zwelling is survived by his wife of 55 years, Virginia Perlman Zwelling, his sister and brother-in-law Sharon and Henry Cohen, his brother and sister-in-law Shomer Zwelling and Judy Zwerdling Zwelling, his sister-in-law Emily Fryer, his children Daniel Zwelling (wife Marissa Zwelling) and Elana Zwelling Hunter (partner Jack Karcher), and four grandchildren.
The family will hold a service at 11 a.m. Tuesday, May 10 at Adath Israel Temple in Middletown, followed by a procession to Beth Alom Cemetery in New Britain. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Temple Adath Israel or Doctors Without Borders.
Attend the service via Zoom at https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87305935679?pwd=d21QQjJqa0Z1ekw3ZnJYaWhyTTR6dz09 or visit zoom.us, meeting ID: 873 0593 5679, passcode 181538.