Fellow classmate says UW student killed by Hamas was one of the 'rising stars' in the Jewish studies world

A student who studied alongside Hayim Katsman at the University of Washington is sharing more about their time together in Seattle.  

Sam Gordon says the two were both in the Jewish Studies program. He says the two met back in the 2017/2018 academic year when they were taking classes and seminars together.  

(Tzivya Katsman)

Gordon says Katsman was in the top of his class and his death is a great loss to the academic community. 

"Hayim was really one of the rising stars within the Israel and the Jewish studies world," said Gordon. "We were Israel studies fellows together."

Gordon, currently works at Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in Security.   

He was working towards a master's degree in Middle East studies at the Jackson School of International Studies while Katsman was working on his Ph.D., focusing on the study of Israel, religions, cultures and civilization.   

"Hayim was really one of the smartest people in all of our classes, he would always challenge the assumptions of teachers, the professors," said Gordon. 

Gordon said Katsman also liked to discuss and study the impact of religious Zionism.   


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"He did a lot of research on which figures emerged and how the peace process was injured along the way through this religious Zionism scope," said Gordon. 

Katsman was also known as a peace activist.  

"That’s what is one of the great ironies of his loss, he was so pro-peace, and he always just wanted the Israelis and Palestinians to cooperate and build a society together. The fact that he died in such a violent attack is something that I struggle with," said Gordon. 

Gordon says the attacks caused him to reflect on his own studies, which included the 1990s and the Oslo Accords.  

"There was a lot of optimism that peace was possible and peace was right around the corner in the 90s. Hamas is actually the one that undermined this, through a series of suicide bombings across Israel, and that really injured the psyche of the Israeli people," said Gordon. 

He says when Katsman died, the world lost a brilliant scholar with unlimited potential.   

"His loss is a great loss for UW a great loss for the Jewish people and a great loss for humanity," said Gordon.  

(Tzivya Katsman)