Hillel J. Kieval, the Gloria M. Goldstein Professor of Jewish History and Thought, has won the Silver Medal of the Faculty of Arts at Charles University in Prague. The award recognizes Kieval’s contributions to the history of the Jews in the Central European region and his continuing support of Jewish studies in the Czech Republic. Charles University awards the medal to scholars who have made significant contributions to the intellectual life of the university.
Kieval first visited Charles University in 1977, when he came to Prague to learn Czech. He has since earned a reputation as an international authority on Jewish history in central Europe. Two of his books have been translated into Czech: The Making of Czech Jewry: National Conflict and Jewish Society in Bohemia, 1870-1918 and Prague and Beyond: Jews in the Bohemian Lands.
In spring 2022, Hillel was a senior visiting fellow at Charles University’s Prague Centre for Jewish Studies, where he taught a course on the history of blood libel trials in central Europe. These trials are the subject of his most recent book, Blood Inscriptions: Science, Modernity, and Ritual Murder at Europe’s Fin de Siècle.
“I was truly surprised to have been presented with this award by the Dean of the Faculty of Arts, as my Czech colleagues happily kept me in the dark about what was being planned,” Kieval said. “As I look back, I realize that I first stepped foot in the main humanities building of Charles University forty-five years ago, when I was a young graduate student taking an intensive summer course in the Czech language (and when the bust looking down on students climbing the main stairs was that of Lenin and not Masaryk, as it is now). I guess one could say that the subsequent years have comprised the arc of my career as historian, teacher, and scholar. I feel most gratified to have had my work in the field of Czech Jewish history and my engagements with Czech institutions recognized in this way.”