image of Ed wearing a grey suit with a window and bookcase in the background

The Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, housed in the College of Liberal Art's History Department, announces the establishment of a new research award. Endowed by longtime Feinstein Center supporter Ed Brown, the fellowship will continue a three-decade-long tradition of funding the most significant scholarship in the field of American Jewish history. 

An innovator in real estate development, Brown was among the founders of the Feinstein Center in the early 1990s. The brainchild of Murray Friedman, a visionary community leader and scholar, the Feinstein Center has remained dedicated to fostering the study of American Jewish life. A centerpiece of the Feinstein Center's work has been its annual summer fellowship, which funds the work of emerging scholars from the United States and beyond. Many of the awardees have gone on to become leading experts in the field. 

As the fellowship program enters its third decade, Brown's gift ensures its enduring prominence in the field of American Jewish studies. His investment in the future of the program will allow the Feinstein Center to maintain its reputation for supporting the most cutting-edge scholarship in the field. 

Notably, Brown insisted on naming the award not for himself but for his immediate family members as well as the family of Lazar and Hilda Brown, his "uncle and aunt." As he explains, "I see the work we support as adding richness to our understanding of Jewish culture, by seeing how our forefathers not so long ago integrated their Jewish faith with the American secular society they lived in. The result was and is amazing. It's our children and grandchildren and beyond who will benefit not only from the research funded by us, but also through a sense of connection to meaningful programs and institutions." 

Although a member of a synagogue near his home in Chester County, he describes his connection to Judaism as more linked to the people and the cultural vibrancy than to the religion. "The beauty I see in Judaism," Brown observes, "is the inclusive culture of Judaism, and its openness and understanding of the world as it has changed over the generations." 

Brown recalls that the Feinstein Center's founder Murray Friedman was never content to tell just one story about Judaism or the Jewish people, but rather pursued unique questions to highlight the varieties of Jewish experiences. It is this legacy that continues to inspire Brown to support the Feinstein Center.

The Brown Family Research Award will showcase the fullness of Jewish traditions by funding wide-ranging research into American Jewish life. The Jewish people have never been just one thing, Brown notes, and new avenues of research can reveal the multiple ways that Jewish people have approached the world. 

Lila Corwin Berman, the director of the Feinstein Center and the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History, reflects, "Brown's commitment to asking questions, probing for answers, and paying attention to what is meaningful is obvious to anyone who has spent time with him. He is genuinely curious and drawn to the complexities—or, as he says, 'the grey areas'—of the past and present." 

Temple University and the Feinstein Center are honored to steward the Brown Family Research Award and to advance a vision of diverse and engaged scholarship about Judaism and American Jews. Thanks to this commitment, future scholars will have resources to pursue significant research projects that, over time, may help us all create more meaningful connections to improve ourselves, our families, and our world.