Tina Levitan

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Tina Levitan
Born(1922-12-19)December 19, 1922
Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedJune 9, 2014(2014-06-09) (aged 91)
New York, New York, U.S.
Occupation Writer
Language English, Hebrew
Alma mater Hunter College, Herzliah Hebrew Teachers Seminary
Subject Jewish history
Years active1952–1996
Notable awardsJane Fischel Memorial Prize for the Best Essay on the "Philosophy of Traditional Judaism"

Tina Nellie Levitan (December 19, 1922 [1] – June 9, 2014) was an American writer, who wrote mainly about topics related to Jewish history.


Early life

Levitan was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and attended the Boston Hebrew College Prozdor (High School). At age 17, she moved to Brooklyn, New York. with her parents. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Hunter College of the City University of New York in 1944, winning the Jane Fischel Memorial Prize for the Best Essay on the "Philosophy of Traditional Judaism". She also received a Bachelor of Education degree from the Herzliah Hebrew Teachers Seminary in New York. [2] [3]

Writer and columnist

Levitan’s books consistently explored the intersection of some aspect of history, usually American history, with Judaism.

In 1967, when preparing The Laureates: Jewish Winners of the Nobel Prize, Levitan wrote to Richard Feynman, who had been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1965, requesting a biographical sketch and a black and white photograph, as he was listed as a Jewish Nobel Prize winner. Feynman wrote back saying that his inclusion in the book would be inappropriate because at the age of 13, he had converted to non-religious views. When she wrote a follow-up letter saying that she intended to include not only professing Jews but also those of Jewish origins because “they usually have inherited their valuable heredity elements and talents from their people,” he replied that “it is evil and dangerous to maintain… that there is a true Jewish race or specific Jewish hereditary character… to select for approbation the peculiar elements that come from some supposedly Jewish heredity is to open the door to all kinds of nonsense on racial theory… such theoretical views were used by Hitler.” Feynman was not included in the book. [4]

Levitan also lectured frequently, and had over 450 articles and reviews on American Jewish history and Jewish life published in both scholarly and popular Jewish journals, [2] including a weekly column on Jewish history in The Jewish Press from 1974 to 1977.

She was elected to the Hunter College Hall of Fame in 1979. [5]

Levitan died in New York City, New York, on June 9, 2014.


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  1. Department of Public Health, Registry of Vital Records and Statistics. Massachusetts Vital Records Index to Births, volume 109, page 212, accessed via Ancestry.com July 8, 2017.
  2. 1 2 Levitan, Tina (1996). First Facts in American Jewish History: From 1492 to the Present. Northvale, N.J.: Jason Aronson. p. inner flap. ISBN   978-1568218953 . Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  3. "Hunter College of the City of New York – Commencement Exercises Program, 1944" (PDF). June 21, 1944. pp. 9, 12. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  4. Feynman, Michelle, ed. (2005). Perfectly Reasonable Deviations from the Beaten Track: The Letters of Richard P. Feynman. Basic Books. pp. 234–237. ISBN   978-0-7382-0636-3 . Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  5. Levitan, Tina (Summer 1980). "Hebrew Literature in America". Judaism. 29 (3): 310. Retrieved July 8, 2017.
  6. Cantor, G.N.; Swetlitz, Marc (2006). Jewish Tradition and the Challenge of Darwinism. University of Chicago Press. p. 199. ISBN   9780226092768 . Retrieved July 8, 2017.