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.  

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 care-givers.

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 2021-2022 academic year, they will be exploring Jewish law — how it has been understood, observed, overthrown, and how Jewish law continues to matter, or not, in the lives of the contemporary communities which rabbis serve.

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. She earned her doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania and taught at Penn, Brown, Swarthmore College, and Bryn Mawr College before coming to the Katz Center.



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. 

Weitzman received his Ph.D. from Harvard University after completing his B.A. at UC Berkeley and spent several years teaching in the Department of Religious Studies at Indiana University where he served as director of its Jewish Studies program for six years. He comes to Penn from Stanford University, where he was Daniel E. Koshland Professor of Jewish Culture and Religion and the director of the Taube Center for Jewish Studies.

Sample Topics:

Understanding Israel Through Israeli Music

History of American Cantorial Tradition and Culture

Life Behind Holocaust Songs and Their “New Life” on the Contemporary Stage

Let Jasmine Rain Down: Song and Remembrance Among Syrian Jews

The Undesirable in Box 14: Jews and the Metropolitan Opera House, 1880-1940