Dr. David G. Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture and professor of Jewish Literature at The Jewish Theological Seminary, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on Saturday, October 6. He signed the book of membership on Sunday, October 7, thanks to the academy's accommodation of Shabbat, and was the only inductee among the 180 new members to have a private signing.
Dr. Roskies, a cultural historian of Eastern European Jewry, the cofounder of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History and an expert on the literature of the Holocaust, continues the legacy of JTS luminaries who were elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences a generation ago, including Louis Finkelstein, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Saul Lieberman, and Shalom Spiegel. Dr. Roskies was elected for his contributions to the field of literary criticism.
The election of Dr. Roskies to the 2012 class of members of the academy places him in the company of some of the world's most accomplished leaders from the sciences, the humanities, the arts, business, and public affairs. One of the nation's most prestigious honorary societies, founded by John Adams in 1780, the academy is also a leading center for independent policy research. Members contribute to academy publications and studies of science and technology policy, energy and global security, social policy and US institutions, the humanities and culture, and education.
"The Induction Weekend 2012 of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was a three-day joyous and intellectually stimulating affair," said Dr. Roskies. "It was, for all of us, a deeply moving experience." Dr. Roskies remarked upon the ceremony's evocation of the Civil War-the main events were held in Memorial Hall, the largest Civil War memorial; Daniel Day Lewis opened the Induction Ceremony with two speeches by Abraham Lincoln; and baritone Thomas Hampson ended the program by leading attendees in singing "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"-in parallel with the present divisiveness of US politics, which was addressed by several speakers. "It was as if we, the inductees, were now to assume responsibility for keeping the union together." This fittingly highlights the key role of academy members as leaders of their respective fields and in society.