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.”

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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.”