Lou H. Silberman, a leading scholar of Jewish studies, died June 6 in Tucson. He was 91.
Professor Silberman is credited with building the Jewish Studies department at Vanderbilt University, where he taught from 1952 to 1980. He launched the graduate and undergraduate departments of religion and built the Judaica collection at the university’s library.
Silberman was also outspoken on civil rights and encouraged dialogue between the Jewish and Christian communities. He was one of the professors of Vanderbilt who offered his resignation when James Lawson, a student of the Divinity School, was expelled in 1960 for organizing sit-ins protesting the exclusion of African Americans from lunch counters.
Silberman published widely on the Dead Sea Scrolls and on Judaism and Christianity during the Roman Period. Even after his retirement from Vanderbilt, Silberman continued to teach at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Arizona.
Professor Silberman is survived by his daughter Syrl, granddaughter Amanda, a nephew and a niece.