Center for Jewish Studies Blog at Wesleyan University

September 9, 2015


Filed under: Uncategorized — dkatz01 @ 2:47 pm

I am pleased to announce three presentations in our annual Contemporary Israeli Voices 2015 series. This year the series opens with the Center for Jewish Studies Distinguished Scholar lecture, Shimon Adaf’s lecture, Adventures in the Unreal: On Judaism, Identity, and Writing, followed by a multimedia presentation by Yithak Goren about Cosmopolitan Alexandria: An Enchanting Ship of Fools and ends with Asaf’s Gavron’s Tel Aviv Magic: History, Literature and murder. All presentation are at 8 pm at Russell House, 350 High Street. On behalf of The Center for Jewish Studies, I would like to extend an invitation to you to attend. All are welcome and admission is free.

Thursday, September 17, 2015. Shimon Adaf, Center for Jewish Studies Visiting Professor and 2012 winner of Sapir Literary Prize, Adventures in the Unreal: On Judaism, Identity and Writing.
Adaf is the Chair of the creative writing program at Ben Gurion University in Israel. He has published three collections of poetry and seven novels, for which he won the Ministry of Education Award for Debut book (1996) and the Prime Minister`s Prize (2007). His third collection of poetry Aviva-No won the Yehuda Amichai Poetry Award in 2010, and his novel Mox Nox won the Sapir Prize (the Israeli equivalent of the Booker Prize) in 2013.

Monday, September 28, 2015. Yitzhak Gormezano Goren, Novelist, Playwright and Stage Director: Cosmopolitan Alexandria: An Enchanting Ship of Fools.
Multi -media presentation including short clips from the films The Year 66 Was Good for Tourism and the Prince of the Transit Camp as well as reading segments from Alexandrian Summer.

Thursday, November 12, 2015. Asaf Gavron, Writer and Translator, The Tel Aviv Magic: History, Literature, and Murder.
Gavron has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won numerous international awards such as the Prix Courrier International in France, Buch fur die Stadt in Germany, the DAAD artists in Berlin residency, and the Bernstein Prize in Israel. His fiction has been translated into ten languages, was adapted to the stage, and four of his books are optioned for movies.

I hope you came come to all the events, Dalit Katz

August 29, 2015

Welcome and Exciting News from the Center for Jewish Studies

Filed under: Uncategorized — dkatz01 @ 8:53 am

The Center for Jewish Studies welcomes back students and new faculty. This semester the Center will host Shimon Adaf as the Gittel and Marvin Silverberg Distinguished Scholar. Shimon Adaf published three collections of poetry and seven novels, for which he won the Ministry of Education Award for Debut book (1996) and the Prime Minister`s Prize (2007). His third collection of poetry Aviva-No won the Yehuda Amichai Poetry Award in 2010, and his novel Mox Nox won the Sapir Prize (the Israeli equivalent of the Booker Prize) in 2013. Shimon Adaf not only publishes poetry but also and a rock band as songwriter and acoustic guitar player.
This fall semester Shimon Adaf will teach an exciting workshop CJST 221: From Literature to Cinema and Back: What Happens When Literary Works are Adapted to Films. The workshop is offered on Tuesday and Thursday from 1:10 – 2:30 PM and has a night screening on Tuesday. The workshop dates are September 8 until October 8 and it carries 0.5 credit which can be counted towards the Certificate in Jewish and Israeli Studies.
Please join us for a lunch with Shimon Adaf on Wednesday, September 9 at 311 Allbritton. The topic of the lunch is Jewish not Israeli and Vice Versa. This is an informal lunch with plenty of opportunities to meet and converse. I hope that many students will be able to take this workshop and get the chance to meet this young and energetic scholar.
And, be sure to check out new courses offered by the Center for Jewish Studies such as RELI 1228: Jewish Graphic Novels and RELI 1204: Judaism(s); Religion, Power and Identity History taught by Jennifer Caplan as well as HIST 161: Sarnoff to Seinfeld, American Jews and the TV Age taught by Rachel Greenblatt.
Finally, check out our website for more information about our cultural events: the series Contemporary Israeli Voices in the fall and The Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival in the spring.
May you have a productive and enjoyable new year, Dalit Katz, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies

April 14, 2015

Filmaker David Fisher is Silverberg Scholar in Residence at the CJS

Filed under: Uncategorized — dkatz01 @ 9:38 am

(Story by Lily Baggott ’15)

Last spring, filmmaker David Fisher presented his film, Six Million and One, at the Wesleyan Israeli Film festival. After viewing Fisher’s film and presentation, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies Dalit Katz subsequently invited the filmmaker to teach a course as a scholar in residence this spring. Currently the Silverberg Scholar in Residence at the Center for Jewish Studies, Fisher teaches When Private Meets Public, a course focusing on Israeli documentaries.
“[In this course,] I’m trying to decipher with my students the development and consequently the success of the Israeli documentary films worldwide,” Fisher noted. “They learn how to interpret documentary genres and place them in their proper cinematic, artistic and political contexts.”
Fisher’s own work provides discussion material for his students.
“I use my own documentaries to help shed light on hidden corners of the Israeli society, such as cattle ranchers in the Golan Heights,” he said. “My critically acclaimed family trilogy, however, I use to discuss the universality of very personal films and how both private stories and autobiographical essays meet the public.”
Fisher’s films have won various awards and include Mostar Round-Trip and Love Inventory, which form a triology together with Six Million and One. He is currently working on two films, a National Endowment for the Humanities-sponsored documentary on the revival of Yiddish and another film focusing on the leadership of David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister. The filmmaker served as Director General of the New Israeli Foundation for Cinema and TV and has served on various international film festival juries. Before coming to Wesleyan, he also taught courses at various institutions in America and Israel.

“Truthfully, I have always been more interested in the creation of documentaries than teaching about them,” Fisher noted. “…That being said, teaching at Wesleyan was [a] unique experience for me because, for the first time, I didn’t teach film majors but merely interested students. …The students are coming from a variety of different fields (astronomy being one of them) and enrich the discussion to unprecedented levels. …In the case of screening some of my own films, it is interesting for me—as both a filmmaker and as a scholar—to face questions I’ve never been asked before.”

April 8, 2015

Two Events on April 13

Filed under: Events — mteter @ 6:21 pm

Join us for two Jewish Studies and History related events on Monday, April 13:

Lunch Series — History MattersMarianne Szegedy-Maszak: Turning Families into Memoirs: History, Journalism, and Memory:
This talk will offer students a window into the creative process of combining historical documentation with personal letters and larger family stories. How does one approach personal stories with journalistic detachment? How does one use the historians arsenal of archives, documents, and other historical tools to expand the range of sources and create a richer and more authoritative narrative? How does one interview subjects for stories that are often very personal? What are some strategies for organizing material that can occasionally be overwhelming? We will discuss the skills that journalists and historians share, but also where they differ and examine the process of creating personal, literary nonfiction. NOON, PAC 002

And an evening talk: Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, “Charmed Lives: History, Family and Fate During Hungary’s Holocaust” – The Hungarian Holocaust differed in some fundamental ways from the Holocaust in the rest of Europe. In her book, “I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls, and Wars in Hungary” Marianne Szegedy-Maszak examines Hungary’s World War II history and the country’s troubled relationship with its Jewish population, through the lives of her extraordinary family. Szegedy-Maszak’s lecture will examine the paradoxes and the tragedies of the Holocaust in Hungary, the history of anti-Semitism in Hungary, and the story of two families that embodied many of the forces that both created and destroyed the country. PAC 001, 8pm



November 21, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — dkatz01 @ 3:22 pm

Magda Teter’s  book, Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation (Harvard University Press) has received an Honorable Mention in the Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History category of the 2014 Jordan Schnitzer Book Awards.  The Schnitzer Book Award was established in 2007 to recognize and promote outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and to honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: innovative research, excellent writing, and sophisticated methodology.  In recognizing Teter’s book Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation (Harvard University Press), the Prize Committee wrote: In this beautifully written and richly documented work, Magda Teter traces and convincingly demonstrates the interdependence of economic, religious and political motives that animated Polish anti-Semitism in the early modern period.  This book also identifies and elucidates significant factors in the history of their formations in East Central Europe, and in the history of the host-desecration charge in early modern Europe. Magda Teter is Professor of History, and the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies. She currently serves as the Chair of the History Department.

October 28, 2014

The Center for Jewish Studies

Filed under: News — dkatz01 @ 10:26 am

We have exciting news regarding the latest developments in Jewish Studies at Wesleyan. Just a couple of weeks ago the Administration approved our proposal to create a Center for Jewish Studies at Wesleyan.  The Center will administer the current Certificate for Jewish and Israel Studies. It will also be the official home to and sponsor of all the programming we do, including the Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival and the Contemporary Israeli Voices series as well as other lectures. We are delighted with this new chapter of Jewish Studies at Wesleyan and the fact that we have an institutional home. Dalit Katz will be the Center’s first Director, and will be coordinating the transition and keeping the public informed.

April 22, 2014

The Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture

Filed under: Events,News — mteter @ 8:30 am

Samuel Kassow, the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, will deliver this year’s Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture.  Professor Kassow will speak on “Time Capsules in the Rubble: The Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto.”

April 28, 8PM RUSSELL HOUSERingelblum archive

Within months of the start of World War II, the historian Emmanuel Ringelblum established a secret archive called Oneg Shabbat, “the Sabbath pleasure.” Over the years, Ringelblum and his associates would document the life and death in the Warsaw ghetto. It was, as Professor Samuel Kassow argues, “the biggest example of cultural resistance during WWII.” Between 1940 and 1943, members of Oneg Shabbat group buried thousands of documents in milk cans and tin boxes. Only some were recovered.

Professor Kassow is the author of many books including, most recently, Who will Write our History: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Oyneg Shabes Archive.  In 2010, he was elected a member of the American Academy of Jewish Research.

March 31, 2014

Spring Semester Events

Filed under: Events — mteter @ 9:02 pm

Spring semester means the Ring Family Israeli Film Festival, which always happens before the Spring Break and as always was fantastic thanks to Professor Dalit Katz’s curatorship. The festival featured: Fill the Void by Rama Burshstein (2012), Zaytoun bywhereverEran Riklis (2012), By Summer’s End by Noa Haroni, a documentary Six Million and One by David Fisher, and two shorts Wherever You Go by by Rony Sasson Angel and Welcome and Our Condolences by Leon Prudovsky.

Since director Haim Tabakman is this year’s Silverberg Distinguished Visiting Scholar, his film Eyes Wide Open was also screened

In the second half of the semester, Jewish and Israel Studies hosts several talks:

Tuesday, April 8, 4:30, 41 Wyllys Room 112: Rabbi Adam Mintz, Ph.D., will speak on “Rabbis and Young Mothers: The Challenges of Adapting Jewish Law to Social Realia.”  Mintz

Jewish law finds its roots in the Bible and has slowly evolved and adapted to social, cultural and technological realities. The laws of the Sabbath are a wonderful example of this evolution. How have the laws of the Sabbath developed? This lecture will focus on the question how the laws of the Sabbath have adapted to the changing role of women in the last third of the twentieth century. As women gain a greater voice in society, do their concerns impact the evolution of Jewish law?

Monday, April 28, 2014, 8 pm, Russell House: SAMUEL & DOROTHY FRANKEL MEMORIAL LECTUREProfessor Samuel Kassow will  deliver the annual Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture on “Time Capsules in the Rubble: the Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto.”

Samuel Kassow is the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College and a visiting professor of history at Wesleyan University. He is the author of numerous books and publications on east European Jewish history. Most recently he published the award winning “Who Will Write Our History” Rediscovering a Hidden Archive From the Warsaw Ghetto” (2007).

Monday, May 05, 2014, Noon, Allbritton 311: We will venture into the world of science.  Dr. Orna Levran P ’09 ’15, the Rockefeller University in New York, will speak on “Race, ethnicity, and ancestry: a medical genetic perspective”

genetic geneticsInteractions between genetic, environmental, and social factors have been proposed to explain the observed differences in disease prevalence and severity among different populations. Populations vary in terms of history (expansion, migration, and natural selection), allele frequencies, and other properties that affect the importance of genetic risk variants. In this talk we will discuss current methods to infer fine personal global ancestry and admixture with examples from several distinctive populations (including Ashkenazi and non-Ashkenazi Jewish cohort) obtained for the study of the genetics of drug addiction. We will also discuss examples of targeting specific groups for prevention and treatment efforts, as well as the reevaluation of the relevance of racial/ethnic labels in the genomic era of personalized medicine.

October 17, 2013

Events in November

Filed under: Events — mteter @ 2:29 pm

The short fall break brings a little relief for everyone exhausted by midterms and papers.  Soon we will be back and JIS will present three events:

Thursday, November 7, 8 pm: Ron Leshem will talk about  “Israel as Number One Exporter of TV Shows”

Ron Leshem, is an award-winning writer and acclaimed novelist. With only two television networks – hardly 20 years old, barely profitable – faraway, isolated and war-weary, the Israeli industry has become a premier exporter of TV formats, from drama series to game shows and docu-reality. The production cost of a drama episode in Israel is parallel to the refreshments’ budget on a set of an American production. Yet Showtime’s “Homeland”, and HBO’s “In Treatment”, both adaptations of original Israeli shows, have expanded the influence of the young industry across the world.  The lecture will be at the Russell House.

Friday, November  8: A Symposium on “Archaeology and Politics” 1:30-5pm in Allbritton 311


  • Michael Blakey, National Endowment for the Humanities Professor of Anthropology, College of William and Mary: Epistemology and Ethics of an Activist Science at the African Burial Ground
  • Anne E. Killebrew, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, Jewish Studies, and Anthropology, The Pennsylvania State University: The Role of Archaeology and Community: The Shared Past of Israelis and Palestinians in the Present
  • Dorothy Lippert, Repatriation Office, Smithsonian Museum: The Politics of Naming and Knowing: Repatriation and Indigenous Identity
  • Carla M. Sinopoli, Professor of Anthropology, Curator of Asian Archaeology in the Museum of Anthropology, and Director of Museum Studies, University of Michigan: The Politics of Protection (and Destruction) of Archaeological Sites in Contemporary India

The program will include a coffee break, brief responses from two discussants, and time for general questions and discussion.

Wednesday, November 13, 8 pm:  Bernard Avishai Avishai“Is the Two-State Solution Really Dead?”

A Guggenheim fellow, Professor Bernard Avishai is the author of The Tragedy of Zionism, A New Israel, and The Hebrew Republic, as well as dozens of articles on politics, business, and the Middle East conflict, and blogs at The Daily Beast and He is a former editor of Harvard Business Review and international director of Intellectual Capital at KPMG. His new book, Promiscuous: Portnoy’s Complaint and Our Doomed Pursuit of Happiness, was just published. 

 The lecture will take place in PAC 002

October 7, 2013

Contemporary Israeli Voices Series Presents Dror Burstein

Filed under: Events — mteter @ 12:24 pm

Please join us for the third event in the series Contemporary Israeli Voices 2013 on Monday, October 14, at Russell House at 8 pm. Dror Burstein, an award winning writer, will speak on  Why Aren’t There any Dinosaurs in Israeli literature?

Dror Burstein-Kin

Dror Burstein’s book “Kin”


Dror Burstein is the recipient of several major Israeli prizes. In 1997, he was awarded the Jerusalem Prize for Poetry and in 2002 the Ministry of Science and Culture Prize. His first novel, Avner Brenner (2003), was awarded the Bernstein Prize in 2005, and was followed by a short prose book, Twin Cities (2004). His second novel Murderers was published in 2006 and a year later he published a documentary book Without a Single Case of Death about the Ghetto Fighter’s Kibbutz. This book was translated into English in 2007. His latest books Kin and Netanya were also translated into English as well as other language. Since 2011 he  has been editor of the poetry journal Helikon.


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