We are deeply saddened to share the news of the sudden death of Dr. Hayim Katsman, who was reportedly killed in his home during the attacks in Israel on Saturday, October 7, 2023. Hayim graduated in June 2021 from the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington with a Ph.D. in International Studies. His focus was on religions, cultures, and civilization.
“This is devastating news for all of us in the Jackson School,” said Danny Hoffman, director of the Jackson School of International Studies. “Dr. Katsman was a talented and committed young scholar and, for many of our faculty, staff and students, a close friend.”
During his time as a student at the University of Washington, Katsman received considerable academic recognition for his research, such as:
- Israel Studies Graduate Grant, University of Washington, 2019
- Maurice and Louis Schwartz Endowment Fellowship, Department of Near and Middle-Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Washington, 2019
- Stroum Center for Jewish Studies Opportunity Grant, University of Washington, 2019
- Stroum Center for Jewish Studies Graduate fellowship, University of Washington, 2018-2019
- Israel Studies Benaroya doctoral fellowship, University of Washington, 2017-2018
“He was an amazing teacher. I was able to see him in the classroom as he interacted with my students. His understanding of religion and the study of it was profound. He knew how to communicate difficult issues and complex terms,” said Jim Wellman, chair of the Jackson School’s Comparative Religion program, who served as Hayim’s thesis adviser.
Hayim “was a brilliant bright light in the field of Israel Studies, a citizen of a conflict-ridden region who pursued solidarity and peace, a lover of music, and a great friend,” said Mika Ahuvia, director of the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies. “We are heartbroken that such a beautiful, kind soul was so violently snuffed out of this world.”
Hayim would want to be remembered for his academic accomplishments, she added. “For such a young scholar, he published a lot, and quite recently. May his memory be for a blessing and for learning and wisdom.”
Learn more about Hayim’s scholarly work
Liora Halperin, a professor of Jewish Studies and History who served on Hayim’s doctoral committee, noted that in addition to his work as a teaching assistant at the UW, he taught his own courses on Israeli politics, and society, and JSIS 202 Cultural Interactions in an Interdependent World. He has also taught in recent years at Hadassah Academic College in Jerusalem, including a course on Western Culture.
“He dedicated his UW dissertation to ‘all life forms that exist between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.’ I and many of his friends and colleagues hope we can help his dedication, that dedication, live on,” said Halperin. “Hayim made friends and gained admirers from around the world at the University of Washington, in the Seattle Jewish community, and in his fields of study. He was a DJ, a gardener, and a car mechanic. He was generous and self-effacing.”
“Hayim loved taking care of his kibbutz’s fruit gardens. He loved his community and created a hangout where he’d invited friends from literally all over the world to jam – he played drums – drink their homemade beer, and talk and talk. He was a dear, dear friend to me and to many. I will miss him terribly,” Wellman said.