LEAP (Leverage, Expand, And Popularize)

is a highly selective fellowship program run in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies; the initiative was founded and continues to be directed by Clal’s President, Rabbi Brad Hirschfield.

This unique program integrates world-class academics and equally world-class rabbis in an unprecedented living laboratory which leverages two often segregated domains which serve and build American Jewish life — the rabbinate and the academy — as a way to deepen and enrich the quality of conversation and leadership across the wider community.

LEAP was founded to unlock one of the great resources and success stories of the last half-century and more on university campuses around the world — the vast expansion of academic Jewish studies — and in recognition of the pivotal role played by rabbis to leverage, expand and popularize that work through their roles as teachers, leaders, and pastoral caregivers.

LEAP rabbinic fellows, joined by a group of Katz Center academic fellows, explore some of the most pressing debates and vital questions that have shaped Jewish life for 3,000 years and continue to do so today.

Working with the Center’s chosen theme for the 2022-2023 academic year, Jews and Modern Legal Culture, LEAP fellows will explore the study of law between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries, an era of transition from a world of empires to the modern age of the nation-state and international law.


Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies/University of Pennsylvania.

Anne Albert is the Katz Center’s Klatt Family Director for Public Programs and managing editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review. Previously, she was a fellow in the year 2010–11 (Conversion) and 2013–14 (Early Modernity). Her research is in the area of early modern Jewish cultural history and political thought, and she recently completed a book manuscript on the Spanish and Portuguese Jews of Amsterdam in the seventeenth century.

Steven Weitzman, Ella Darivoff Director at the University of Pennsylvania, specializes in the Hebrew Bible and the origins of Jewish culture. Recent publications include Surviving Sacrilege: Cultural Persistence in Jewish Antiquity (Harvard University Press, 2005); Religion and the Self in Antiquity (Indiana University Press, 2005); The Jews: A History (Prentice Hall, 2009); and a biography of King Solomon, part of the new “Jewish Lives” series, published by Yale University Press in 2011.

Sample Topics:

  • What is Jewish Law?
  • Modern Changes to Laws of Tsni’ut
  • New Scholarship on Legal Belonging