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Jonathan Morris Hess, 52, of Chapel Hill, died suddenly on Monday, April 9, 2018. He is survived by his wife of 26 years, Beth Posner; his daughters Rebecca, Lily and Amelia; and his siblings Carl (Carol), Laura, and Roger (Cassandra). He is the son of the late Robert L. Hess and Frances Aaron Hess. Jonathan was the Moses M. and Hannah L. Malkin Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and Culture and Chair of the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He also was the Director for the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. He was educated at Yale, Johns Hopkins, and the University of Pennsylvania. His significant professional achievements are dwarfed by his accomplishments as a loving husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend. Jonathan's greatest pride, shared with his wife, was in the kindness, strength, and brilliance of each of his daughters, with whom he shared a love of music, academic curiosity, and laughter.

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Published in New York Times on Apr. 12, 2018.
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11 entries
October 15, 2018
I just found out today about the loss of Jonathan. We attended Midwood High School together and were friends. I am so saddened by this loss and remember his as a sweet, smart kind lovely person. Sending healing thoughts to his wife, children and extended family at this time of tremendous loss.
Nara Berson, Savannah GA (formerly of Brooklyn NY)
Nara Berson
August 9, 2018
This must be the same Jonathan Hess I knew in high school (at Tanglewood). I remember his uncommon musicianship and gentle personality. We were later at Yale together but crossed paths only now and then. How little I knew of what he was offering, and would later offer, to the world. I am so sorry to hear of his passing. My condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, and students.
Diana Senechal
May 9, 2018
Our sincerest sympathies to the Posner Family on the death of their wonderful son Jonathan. We are deeply shocked and saddened. With love and sympathy, Wendy and Paul
April 27, 2018
Professor Hess was such an inspiring presence during my graduate education. I learned a great deal from him, and he was a kind, understanding person in addition to his great intelligence. He was also an invaluable presence on my dissertation committee. He and I shared some funny experiences in Chapel Hill because, in the eyes of a lot of people, we sort of resembled each other. We joked about this all time time as people mistook one of us for the other. He was a terrific person and I'm so sorry to hear of his passing.
Michael Yonan
April 20, 2018
Margaret Schatkin
April 18, 2018
Although I only met Prof. Hess briefly during a conference at Duke, I am an avid reader of his scholarship. I am shocked and saddened at the loss of such an incisive and prolific scholar. Indeed, the field of German-Jewish studies has tragically lost one of its leading lights. Yehi zikhro barukh (May his memory be a blessing).
Tania Tulcin
April 13, 2018
It is never easy to say goodbye to someone we love so much. Knowing that so many were loved and touched by him helps. Even more so because he lives in their memories. May you have peace and comfort that you have hope in the promises from Almighty God of seeing your loved one again . My condolences.
April 12, 2018
I am so sorry for your loss. May our grand creator bring peace to your broken heart .
April 12, 2018
To his wife and daughters, my deepest condolence and our god of mercy bring you great comfort. Mattews 5:4
April 11, 2018
I took "German Culture and the Jewish Question" last semester with Professor Hess. I enjoyed Professor Hess's lectures and presence immensely. Johnathan Hess was one of the few professors who I have had who I felt genuinely cared deeply for all of his students and all around him. He was very passionate about his teaching and I learned a great deal with him last semester. Professor Hess challenged me to think deeply on new subject matter and he was very kind to me. I enjoyed talking with him after class and in his office hours, not just about classwork, but about life and the world in general. Thank you Professor Hess for what you contributed to my time at UNC. My deepest condolences to the family and to everyone who was impacted by the positive light Dr. Hess shared with others.
Nathaniel Phelan
April 11, 2018
Although I am not a student my son was last year. Prof Hess's class was his absolute favorite class in all of his Chapel Hill experience. He talked about it regularly especially with our Jewish friends. Nathaniel let us know just now of his unexpected passing. Please accept our very sincere condolences. Please know that as you grieve and mourn your family will be in our prayers.
Dawn Phelan
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