Historian Elliott Horowitz, expert in Jewish violence, dies at 64

Marcy Oster

(JTA) — Elliott Horowitz, the author of “Reckless Rites: Purim and the Legacy of Jewish Violence” — considered the most wide-ranging book on Jewish violence — has died.

Horowitz, who taught early modern Jewish history at two Israeli universities, died suddenly on Saturday of a heart attack. He was 64.

“Reckless Rites” is the first book to fully acknowledge and address the actual anti-Christian practices that became part of the playful, theatrical violence of the Jewish festival of Purim, according to the Princeton University Press.

Horowitz, a cultural-social historian of early modern Europe, served as co-editor of the Jewish Quarterly Review, a peer-reviewed journal of the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, which he and co-editor David Myers are credited with revitalizing in the past decade.

“He embodied the scholarly ideals of wide-ranging curiosity, cutting observation, and generous friendship, and he wrote with grace, erudition, and, often, mischief,” the Katz Center said in a post on its Facebook page. “His absence from our halls and from the collegial networks of Judaic studies will be dearly felt.”

Horowitz was educated at Princeton and Yale universities before moving to Israel in 1982, where he taught early modern Jewish history at Ben-Gurion and Bar-Ilan universities.

He also is known for his article on “Coffee, Coffee Houses, and the Nocturnal Rituals of Early Modern Jewry.”