Jewish 07

Jeremy Zwelling

May 21, 1940 ~ May 8, 2022 (age 81)


Jeremy Zwelling, Associate Professor of Religion, Emeritus at Wesleyan University passed away peacefully on May 8, 2022, surrounded by his family. Zwelling taught in the Religion Department at Wesleyan for over four decades. He saw the classroom as a space not only for the students’ acquiring information and critically studying a subject to gain knowledge, but also as an opportunity to take the path of understanding that leads to wisdom. So many of Jeremy’s students have conveyed how he shaped their careers and their lives. Many remained lifelong colleagues and friends, including a number who became professors and at least ten others who became rabbis.

Zwelling was especially proud of having created a Jewish Studies Program, with colleagues in the Religion Department and joined by faculty in other departments. He also created and directed for over twenty-five years a semester program in Israel Studies in Jerusalem. 

When he retired in 2010, Jeremy was awarded The Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, “institutional recognition of outstanding faculty members.”  He was also honored when a chair was established at Wesleyan in his name as well as an annual lectureship.  Jeremy was pleased that he had accomplished a goal that he had set for himself before he retired from Wesleyan, with the Jewish Studies Program having been made a permanent part of the university’s courses of study. His colleague and friend Peter Gottschalk said of Zwelling at the time of his retirement, “Time does not allow a complete reflection on Jeremy’s life as a teacher, a scholar, a colleague, and a community builder, so I’ll make mention of the singular quality that undergirds them all: his humanity….Jeremy exemplifies a scholar’s ability to learn, and prompt others to learn; to think, and prompt others to think; to engage, and prompt others to engage, all under an impulse to understand others not as others but as fellow humans whose desires, anxieties, aspirations, visions, and paradigms do not differ categorically from our own.” Most pleasing an honor was a tree named for him by his colleagues in the Religion Department that grows near the entrance to Usdan Student Center. Around the corner grows a tree dedicated to his wife, who served for 28 years as Associate Director of the Career center.

As an outgrowth of his academic work, Zwelling trained and served as a volunteer at Elmcrest Mental Hospital in Portland and later practiced outpatient therapy. He served for many years on the ethics committee of Middlesex Hospital. After his retirement from Wesleyan, Jeremy found great meaning in his work as a volunteer on Middlesex Hospital’s hospice unit.

Jeremy was deeply dedicated to his family. He is survived by his wife of 55 years and companion in love of family, reading, film, biking, travel and food Virginia Perlman Zwelling, his sister and brother-in-law Sharon and Henry Cohen, his brother and sister-in-law Shomer Zwelling and Judy Zwerdling Zwelling, his sister-in-law Emily Fryer, his children Daniel Zwelling (spouse Marissa Zwelling) and Elana Zwelling Hunter (partner Jack Karcher), and beloved and loving grandchildren Naomi Zwelling, Hannah Zwelling, Skylar Goose Hunter and Mimi Hunter. To this closest family, and his broader community of family and friends, he will also be remembered for his keen interest in all of their doings (including their dream lives) and his irreverent (some would say outrageous) sense of humor.

The family was particularly touched by the words of one friend that Jeremy had “an indomitable spirit and gigantic heart in a human, mortal body.”

The funeral will be held at Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, 8 Broad Street, Middletown at 11:00am on Tuesday, May 10 followed immediately by a procession to Beth Alom Cemetery in New Britain. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations are made to Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue, P.O. Box 337, 8 Broad Street, Middletown, CT 06457 or Doctors without Borders.  To share memories or send condolences to the family, please visit



To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Jeremy Zwelling, please visit our floral store.


Funeral Service
May 10, 2022

11:00 AM
Congregation Adath Israel Synagogue
8 Broad Street
Middletown, CT 06457

© 2022 Doolittle Funeral Service, Inc.. All Rights Reserved. Funeral Home website by CFS & TA | Terms of Use | Privacy Policy | Accessibility