April 9 will mark one year since the untimely passing of one of UNC’s distinguished professors, Jonathan Hess, a professor of Jewish history and culture and chairperson of the Department of German and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the time of his passing.
To commemorate the life and legacy of Hess, a collective from the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies as well as other UNC faculty and scholars are hosting a three-day conference from April 13 to 15 in his honor.
Current Director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies Ruth von Bernuth, who is a professor in the Department of German and Slavic Languages, shared her memories of professor Hess and the reasoning behind the conference.
“(Professor Hess) was my mentor, he was chair of the Jewish committee (Carolina Center for Jewish Studies) when I applied; he ran the entire process,” von Bernuth said. “I would say he mentored me during my entire career at Carolina, and he suggested me and directed me towards becoming the second director.”
Eric Downing, distinguished professor of German, English and comparative literature at UNC said Hess has left an “incalculable” impact at UNC and he had a “magical sense of humor.” Von Bernuth said Hess left an incredible impact at UNC, and almost everyone would say he was the best teacher in the department.