Call for Papers: 2018 Best Student Paper in Jewish Studies Award

The Center for Jewish Studies is inviting applications for the  2018 Best Student Paper in Jewish Studies award. Did you write a good paper on the architecture of synagogues? Remember that work you did on Jewish hip-hop? Or that A-paper on Kafka that you wrote last year? From urban planning to philosophy, from music to religion, from literature to anthropology, students at Wesleyan are working on various Jewish topics using diverse methodologies. This new award is meant to showcase the excellent work being done by students in all fields of Jewish Studies broadly understood. Regardless of your major or minor, the participation is open to all students.

A committee of faculty members will select the best essay.

Submission guidelines:

  1. The paper should be on a Jewish topic (pretty obvious, right?)
  2. The paper has been awarded a grade of B+ or higher.
  3. For the 2018 Award, we accept submissions of papers from the years 2016-2017.
  4. Yes, you are welcome to revise your paper based on your professor’s comments, but please keep it to the standard final paper length.

Deadline: the deadline for submission is March 9, 2018. Results will be notified in April.

Question? Feel free to contact Prof. Yaniv Feller (

Please email your paper to Sheri Dursin at, indicating “Jewish Studies Award Submission” in the subject line.

Good luck!

Dalit Katz, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies

Center for Jewish Studies Welcomes Nitzan Gilady

As the director of the Center for Jewish Studies, it is my pleasure to welcome Nitzan Gilady, 2018 Silverberg Distinguished Scholar in Residence. Nitzan’s beautiful film Wedding Doll, inaugurated last year’s 10th Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival and was introduced by Professor Jeanine Basinger, Corwin-Fuller Professor of Film Studies.  Professor Gilady will teach an exciting new course CJST 248: Designing Reality in Israeli Documentary which will count towards the Certificate in Jewish and Israel Studies as well as the minor in the Film Department. In addition, he will introduce the recent Israeli Film Scaffolding, the fifth film in this year’s Israeli Film Festival. Please check our website for more information about the Film Festival at Professor Gilady will meet with students of the Center for Jewish Studies as well as students in Hebrew classes. He plans to deliver a WESeminar during graduation weekend. The cold weather has not dampened our Israeli visitor’s enthusiasm towards Wesleyan and he looks forwards to meeting our students. Baruch Haba (welcome)!

Middletown Appeared in Eshkol Nevo’s Recent Novel Three Floors Up

On October 27, The Center for Jewish Studies at Wesleyan University hosted best-selling Israeli writer, Eshkol Nevo, as part of the 15th Annual Series Contemporary Israeli Voices, 2017. During his presentation Three Floors Up: A Tel Aviv Story, Eshkol Nevo read to the audience excerpts from his most recent novel Three Floors Up. The novel was just translated into English and Wesleyan University was the first stop in Nevo’s tour. The audience was surprised to find out that Middletown and one of his fictitious  characters, a university professor, was part of the story. All copies were sold and signed by the author. Audience members inquired regarding the author’s successful creative writing workshops in Israel and abroad. The following day, Eshkol Nevo visited Hebrew classes and answered creatively students’ creative questions. The successful visit, the second one (the first one was in 2011), left the audience waiting impatiently to his next visit.

Ruth Nisse Promoted to Professor of English

Ruth NisseMazal Tov to Ruth Nisse, a faculty member in the Center for Jewish Studies, who was promoted to Professor of English. Professor Nisse is a scholar of medieval literature. Her recent book, Jacob’s Shipwreck: Diaspora and Translation in Jewish-Christian Relations in Medieval England (Cornell University Press, 2017), introduces a new approach to ideas of Jewish Diaspora in medieval Western Europe based on an examination of the transmission and reception of Hebrew and Latin post-biblical literature.

Congratulations Zachary, Isabel and Jared

The Center for Jewish Studies congratulates its students for their academic excellence. Zachary Mauer is the recipient of the Needler Prize for excellence in Judaic Studies and Hebrew.  Zach will be graduating this year with the Certificate for Jewish and Israel Studies. He has completed numerous courses in Jewish Studies taught by Wesleyan faculty as well as scholars in residence. In addition, Zachary has completed the Hebrew program and took the additional Advanced Hebrew Tutorial.

Two other seniors have won the Scott Prize for excellence in Hebrew: Isabel Fattal and Jared Fineberg. Both Isabel and Jared have successfully completed the Hebrew program.

On behalf of the Center for Jewish Studies and the Hebrew program, I would like to wish our graduating seniors BEHATZLACHA, good luck, in  their new path in life. We will miss their enthusiasm, creativity and commitment but know that they will be as successful in their new chapter in life as much as they were successful in their academic life.

Wildman ’88 Speaks on ‘Paper Love’ for Annual Frankel Lecture

Frankel WildmanSarah Wildman ’88, an award-winning writer and regular contributor to the New York Times, presented the 36th Annual Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture on April 5, in the Daniel Family Common at Usdan University Center. The event was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies and organized by Dalit Katz, director of the center.

Wildman spoke on what she’d learned about the Holocaust in writing Paper Love: Searching for the Girl my Grandfather Left Behind (Riverhead Penguin, 2014).

Read more.

Fabulous Event with Etgar Keret at Wesleyan University on September 20

Seven Good Years

On September 20, the Center for Jewish Studies at Wesleyan University will host an evening with the internationally renowned writer Etgar Keret, a past Visiting Distinguished Professor and a frequent guest of Wesleyan University. The event will take place at the Goldsmith Family Cinema at Wesleyan University (301 Washington Terrace, Middletown, CT) at  8 P.M. The evening will start with a screening of the movie Etgar Keret: What Kind of Animal Are You. The movie will be introduced by Etgar Keret. In addition, Etgar Keret will read from his latest memoir The Seven Good Years. Audience will have the opportunity to engage in conversation with Etgar Keret during the question/answer session. The event is free and open to the public and is part of the annual series Contemporary Israeli Voices organized by Professor Katz, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies.


Please check out Etgar Keret’s interview with Terry Gross regarding The Seven Good Years on Fresh air:




WIJS grant recipient student and Prof. Birney contributed to a ground breaking archeological discovery

Wesleyan University Israel and Jewish Studies grant recipient student, Joy Feinberg ’19, along with Jamie Marvin ’19 and Sarah McCully ’16  and  their professor Kate Birney, assistant professor of classical studies, archaeology and art history and CJST faculty member, contributed to  the groundbreaking discovery of the first Philistine cemetery during their excavation in Ashkelon in Israel. The Philistines are known as the archenemy of ancient Israel from the Hebrew Bible and the discovery of the first Philistine cemetery might support the claim that the Philistines were migrants who arrived to the shores of ancient Israel from to lands to the West around the 12th century BCE.

To learn more about this discovery, please check the following link:

Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg ’19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.
Assistant professor Kate Birney (pictured in foreground wearing a blue shirt and tan hat) and Joy Feinberg ’19 (pictured in back with a long-sleeve shirt) work to unearth skeletons and artifacts buried in a Philistine cemetery.


The Liberating Lens: Jewish American Photographers Picture the Modern World.

The Center for Jewish Studies invites you to the join us for the 2016 Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture. Deborah Dash Moore, Huetwell Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan and a leading scholar in American Jewish history, will talk about the “The Liberating Lens: Jewish American Photographers Picture the Modern World”. This presentation will take place on Wednesday, March 30th, 8 p.m., Daniel Family Commons, Usdan University Center. Admission is free and all are welcome.

Frankel 2016 Poster