Welcome and Exciting News from the Center for Jewish Studies

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

Filmaker David Fisher is Silverberg Scholar in Residence at the CJS

(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.”

Faculty book receives Honorable Mention

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.

The Center for Jewish Studies

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.

JIS Events in the Spring Semester 2013

The Sixth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival, 2013

“My Australia” by Ami Drozd will open the Ring Family Wesleyan Israeli Film Festival on Thursday, January 31

The first film, to be screened on January 31, is  My Australia, directed by Ami Drozd. It takes place in Poland in the 1950’s. The film tells the story of a ten year old Tadek and his older brother who are part of an antisemitic gang. Following the arrest of the boys by the local police, their mother, who had been concealing her Jewish identity, tells her younger son that they are about to sail to Australia, the land of his dreams, when in reality they are to sail to Israel. The film is based on the filmmaker’s own experience.
Speaker: Professor Magda Teter, Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, Wesleyan University.

February 7, The Fifth Heaven directed by Dina Zvi Riklis. The Fifth Heaven takes place in British controlled Palestine in 1944. Maya, deserted by her parents, is brought to an orphanage for Jewish girls. The appearance of Maya evokes within the director of the orphanage his past love affair with her mother, while Maya develops affection for one of the anti-British resistance fighters who is a fiancé of anther orphanage worker. The personal dramas occur at the time that the other girls and workers in the orphanage are awaiting a personal and national liberation. The film is based on a novel by Rachel Eytan, a winner of the prestigious Brenner Prize.
Speaker: Professor Sami Berdugo, Schusterman Visiting Professor, Wesleyan University

February 14Off White Lies directed by Maya Kenig. The film comes hot off its US release–it was just screened at the Lincoln Plaza Cinema in New York. Libby who has been living with her mother in the States for years is sent to live with her dad in Israel. She arrives when the second Lebanon war starts. Libby discovers that her lively and eccentric dad is a homeless man who has devised a plan to pose as a refugee from the bombarded Northern region in order to find a home within a wealthy family in Jerusalem. Now Libby has to deal with her false identity as well as her relation with her father.
Speaker: Marc Longenecker, Visiting Instructor in Film Studies.

February 21, a special screening of Yair Kedar’s The Five Houses of Lea Goldberg .“This is the story of the loves, poems and fears of the woman who chose Hebrew and Hebrew chose her.” The movie uses five acts of animation, interviews and footage as well as original music to tell the story of the beloved and yet very much enigmatic life of the poet, Lea Goldberg.
Speaker: Professor Sami Berdugo, Schusterman Visiting Professor, Wesleyan University

February 28, 2011 academy nominated film, Footnote, written and directed by Joseph Cedar. Set within the academic setting of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the film follows the complicated relation between Eliezer and Uriel, a father and son, who are also rival professors in Talmudic Studies. The relation between them reaches to a new peak when they find out that Eliezer will be lauded for his work.
Speaker: Elisha Russ-Fishbane, Assistant Professor of Religion, Wesleyan University.

March 7, the last screening of the festival: the movie Mabul (Flood) directed by Guy Nativ. The film follows the complicated life of Yoni, a smart but underdeveloped boy, who is preparing for his Bar Mitzvah. Yoni has to deal with bullying in school, uncommunicative parents and an older autistic brother who comes home right before the ceremony. Yony is left to deal on his own with a brother he has not seen in ten years and who has become obsessed with Yoni’s Torah excerpt about Noah.
Speaker: Laura Blum, Film Critic.

 

Other Events:

“Jellyfish” (Meduzot) by Etgar Keret (2007) will be screen at the “Back by Popular Demand” series co-sponsored by Jewish and Israel Studies and Film Studies Department on April 23. Etgar Keret will introduce the film

 

This year the Jewish and Israel Studies with the co- sponsorship of the Film Department is introducing a new event Back by Popular Demand. On April 23, the internationally acclaimed writer and film maker, Etgar Keret will introduce and comment upon his film Jellyfish, winner at the Cannes Film Festival.

Gallim Dance, co-sponsored by the Center For the Arts and the Rosenberg Fund for Jewish Life, Friday, February 8 & Saturday, February 9, at 8pm, CFA Theater, 271 Washington Terrace.
New England Premiere of Mama Call.

 

Yiddish Cultural Expression in Europe and America

A series of events co-sponsored by Jewish and Israel Studies and the Music Department, Tuesdays, February 12-April 2, 2013

Tuesday, February 12 at 7 pm, “Mameh Mia: Contemporary Yiddish Culture in the Hasidic World.”
Speaker: Asya Vaisman, Yiddish Book Center.

Tuesday, February 26 at 7 pm, “The Philadelphia Klezmer Story.” Speaker: Hankus Netsky, New England Conservatory.

Tuesday, April 2 at 7 pm, “Jewish Cultural Expression under Nazi Occupation: The Case of the Warsaw Ghetto.” Speaker: Samuel Kassow, Trinity College.

 

The Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture

Joe Amar, album cover of “An Evening With Jo Amar In Old Jerusalem”, Judaica Sound Archives, Florida Atlantic University

 

 

Wednesday, April 17 at 8 pm at Usdan Room 108.
Professor Edwin Seroussi will speak on “Israeli Musical Paradoxes: The Case of Joe Amar (1930-2009)”

Israeli Film Festival

We had our Sixth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival on January 31. My Australia captured the audience’s attention with the complicated issues it raised concerning post war anti – semitism in Poland, neo – Nazism and cultural identity. Professor Magda Teter commented upon those issues and put them in their historical context. Please join us next Thursday, February 7 at 8 pm at the Goldsmith Cinema for the screening of the movie The Fifth Heaven.

Greetings

Greetings and Beruchim Habaim  to friends of Jewish and Israel studies. I am delighted to serve as the interim chair this year. This is going to be an exciting and rich year full of cultural and intellectual events. Please mark your calendar for Thursday October 25 at noon at 108 Usdan Student Center. The Jewish and Israel studies will hold an open house. Lunch and information will be provided. During this event you will get the chance to meet and socialize with our faculty and students, learn about our exciting cultural series including our annual Israeli Film Festival and the Contemporary Israelis Voices Series, be introduced to new courses taught by our distinguished visitors and more. Please join us and bring friends with you. The next event will take place on October 30. Please check our event calendar for more details.