For Annette Aronowicz, retiring this year as the Robert F. and Patricia G. Ross Weis Professor of Judaic Studies, her instruction and research at Franklin & Marshall College explored religious philosophy and literature.
In her teaching, what she found most memorable at F&M was “the fellowship with my colleagues, exhibited in many lively exchanges throughout my years here, and in the many conversations with students, both in and out of the classroom,” Aronowicz said. “In the hard work of teaching, those moments of fellowship nourish the spirit.”
Aronowicz, also an F&M professor of religious studies, arrived at the College in 1985 as an assistant professor, having earned her doctorate in history of religions at the University of California, Los Angeles, three years earlier and served as instructor in Stanford University’s western culture program.
Her enormous work of articles and other publications include three books, “Freedom from Ideology: Secrecy in Modern Expression” (1987); “Nine Talmudic Readings by Emmanuel Lévinas,” which she translated and wrote the introduction for (1990); and “Jews and Christians on Time and Eternity: Charles Péguy's Portrait of Bernard-Lazare” (1998).
Her last major work was about Haim Sloves, a Jewish communist and Yiddish playwright from Eastern Europe who wrote a number of plays following World War II. Aronowicz’ series of articles earned her a fellowship in 2009-2010 at the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.
The 1999 recipient of the Bradley R. Dewey Award for Outstanding Scholarship, Aronowicz speaks French fluently, and reads Russian, Hebrew, Yiddish, Polish and Spanish. With her multilingual skills, she translated various works including that of French philosophers Emmanuel Levinas and Charles Péguy. She used all those languages in her research.
The daughter of a pioneering actor in Europe’s Yiddish theatre from the 1920s through the 1940s, the Warsaw-born Aronowicz wrote about him in 2017. “Yaschar: My Father’s Life in Yiddish Theatre” was published in the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project.
Aronowicz, who was 8 years old at the time of his death, recalled the stories her mother, Rose Arnold who told her of “going to the theatre in Paris with my father, and of seeing him on stage, providing details I could not have gleaned from my father himself, since he died young.”
Aronowicz wrote in that profile, “I have always understood that to be an artist … is to participate in something enlivening and beautiful.”
Students and colleagues have said the same about her teaching and scholarship.