Ruth Fredman Cernea

1934–March 31, 2009

by JWA Staff
Our work to expand the Encyclopedia is ongoing. We are providing this brief biography for Ruth Fredman Cernea until we are able to commission a full entry.

Dr. Ruth Fredman Cernea, cultural anthropologist.

While she spent her career studying Jewish communities from Washington, DC to Myanmar, Ruth Fredman Cernea may be best known for her part in creating the annual Latke Hamantash Debate at the University of Chicago. Cernea graduated from Temple University in 1956 and raised a family before earning her doctorate in anthropology from Temple in 1982. That year she published Cosmopolitans at Home: The Sephardic Jews of Washington DC. She then became director of research and publications for the Hillel Foundation from 1982–1996. In 1987, on her second honeymoon, she discovered a small Jewish community in Yangon, Myanmar (formerly Rangoon, Burma). After two decades of research, she published Almost Englishmen: Baghdadi Jews in British Burma. From 2001–2002 she served as president of the Washington Association of Professional Anthropologists. In 2006 she published the anthology The Great Latke Hamantash Debate, collecting mock scholarly arguments delivered at the annual event.


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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Ruth Fredman Cernea." (Viewed on April 20, 2024) <>.