Why is European Jewry important in both Europe and the world at large?
Often Jews throughout the world are given a one-sided perspective about Jewish life in Europe, usually focused on anti-Semitism, unsustainable numbers, or the ideas that the communities will die out. The realities are vastly different throughout the continent, varying from country to country. Often Jews in America and Israel are unaware that the new Jewish Europe is filled with energies that have been channeled into a Renaissance that should not be ignored.
Jared Gimbel is the founder of “Present Presence,” an initiative devoted to fostering positive images of communities throughout the Jewish Diaspora to North American and Israeli Audiences. He is currently a Masters’ Degree Candidate at Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg, and has been a Jewish community activist while living in the United States, Israel, Poland, Sweden and Germany. Jared has served as a tour guide, editor and translator at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Cracow, and was also a fellow at the Paideia Institute for Jewish Studies in Sweden. In 2011 he wrote his COL thesis on non-human species in European mythologies, and his upcoming Masters’ Thesis focuses on perspectives and portrayals of Jewish Life in Finland and in Greece. When he’s not working, he enjoys collecting pop music from many different countries, and is always in the process of learning a new language.
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 3, NOON, PAC 421. Vegan lunch will be available.
The Sixth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival, 2013
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 14, Off 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.
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
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)”
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.
Another summer is gone and a new academic year has begun. As always, it will be an exciting year, with classes, and events to look forward to.
First some news. Professor Dalit Katz has agreed to serve as the interim director of JIS this year, while Professor Magda Teter on sabbatical working on her next book.
Dalit Katz has been a vital member of the faculty in the Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate, devoting time and energy to the JIS Certificate and the University. She has single-handedly created a highly respected Israeli Film Festival, which is now a mainstay on CT cultural calendar, making Wesleyan a go-to-place for Israeli culture, attracting audiences far beyond Wesleyan, and students to Wesleyan. The Program is thus in excellent hands this year!
We are also excited to welcome to Wesleyan Professor Elisha Russ-Fishbane, who is joining us from Princeton. Professor Elisha Russ-Fishbane teaches courses in Judaism, Hebrew Bible, and Jewish Studies, focusing on questions of Jews in Islamic lands. In the Fall 2012, he will teach the gateway course for the JIS Certificate, RELI233: The People of the Book: Jewish Cultures and Jewish Canons, and and RELI227: The Jews of the Islamic World from Muhammad to Modernity. In the Spring, Professor Russ-Fishbane will teach RELI201: Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, and RELI294: Judaism and the Philosophic Path: An Introduction to Maimonides.
In the Spring 2013, Professor Vivian Mann will teach a course in the Art History Department “Jewish Art and Rituals in Context”. This course covers the history of Judaica. The goal of the course is to give students an understanding of the range of ceremonial art used in the practice of Judaism and how individual works were fashioned out of a creative tension between the minimal demands of Jewish law and models in the art of surrounding cultures.
The course will result in an exhibition of Judaica curated at the Congregation Adath Israel, deepening further our collaboration with Adath Israel and its outstanding collection.
Finally, a quick preview of events that we can look forward to:
October 30, Lawrence Baron, Jewish-non-Jewish Romances about Israel: From Ari to Zohan, 8 p.m Russell House
Also the week of December 3, André Aciman will speak at Wesleyan. Time, topic and venue TBA.
Our annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival will take place in February and March.
A series of talks and lectures on Jewish Music linked to Mark Slobin’s class, MUSC297: Yiddish Cultural Expression: Music, Theater, Literature, Film.
Steven Hochstadt from the University of Shanghai will speak on the Jewish Refugees in Shanghai, time and venue TBA. The lecture will be linked to Vera Schwarcz’s class, HIST308: The Jewish Experience in China: From Kaifeng in the Song Dynasty to Shanghai During the Holocaust.
Thursday, March 29: Last film of the Ring Family Film Festival “Je t’aime terminal/I love you terminal,” Goldsmith Family Cinema, 8pm
Je T’aime Terminal ( I Love You Terminal) is a romantic comedy about a young Israeli man on his way to join his American fiancé. During twenty four hour connection delay, he meets an eccentric and charming girl with whom he contemplates love, relationships and life.Speaker: Dani Menkin, the film director.
Thursday, April 5, Professor Joseph Siry will deliver a talk about the Beth Sholom Synagogue near Philadelphia, “Frank Lloyd Wright’s Steel Cathedral Project and Beth Sholom Synagogue” PAC 004, 4:30 pm
In a suburb just north of Philadelphia stands Beth Sholom Synagogue, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only synagogue and among his finest religious buildings. Designated a National Historic Landmark in 2007, Beth Sholom was one of Wright’s last completed projects, and for years it has been considered one of his greatest masterpieces. The talk is based on Professor Siry’s recently published book “The Beth Sholom Synagogue: Frank Lloyd Wright and Modern Religious Architecture.”
Thursday, April 19, Professor Elisha Russ-Fishbane will give a talk “Judaism and Islam: Between History and Polemics” in PAC 004 at 4:30 pm
Jewish and Israel Studies and the Mansfield Freeman Center invite you to a Tuesday lecture “Reshaping Collective Consciousness: Hebrew and Chinese Narrative on the Holocaust and Nanking Massacre (1960-1980)” by Zhong Zhiqing, PhD., Professor, Oriental Literary Studies, Institute of Foreign Literature, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
This presentation will survey how memories of historical trauma such as the Holocaust and Nanking Massacre were transferred into Hebrew and Chinese national literatures during the post-Holocaust and post-Nanking Massacre period. The focus will be upon how literature functions in reconstructing the national past and in the reshaping of collective consciousness. In both the Hebrew and Chinese contexts, the heroic myths created during the formative years of the statehood were eventually broken; in the 1960s in Israel and in the 1970s in China respectively. Historical landmarks during this period such as the Eichmann Trial, the Six Days War, the Yom Kippur War and Lebanon War in Israel and the Cultural Revolution in China will be shown to have brought about a dramatic change in narratives of collective memory of historical trauma. Tuesday, February 28, 4:30 pm, at the Mansfield Freeman Center
Wesleyan University, Middletown, CT 06459
THURSDAY, March 1, 8 pm:
The Ring Family Israeli Film Festival: “Intimate Grammar” — a film adaptation by director Nir Bergman, based upon the renowned author David Grossman’s book, will be the fifth film screened in The Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival on Thursday, March 1 at the Goldsmith Family Cinema at 8 p.m. This film explores the metaphoric and emotional field of grammar through a 12 year old boy, Aharon, who refuses to grow up. Film critic Laura Blum will deliver a talk entitled The Boy Who Would Not Grow Up as well as conduct a question/answer session after the screening.
The film is 110 minutes and has English subtitles. Admission is free.
JIS co-sponsored event:
THURSDAY, March 1, 7 p.m. Center for African American Studies
Jennifer Knust, “A Biblical Sex Scandal? Noah, Ham, and the Curse of Canaan”
The story of Ham’s encounter with Noah’s nakedness, and the curse that followed, offers a particularly notorious example of what today we might call a “sex scandal.” Though the specifics of Ham’s infraction are far from clear, the shame that was then affixed to whomever was designated as one of his descendants is not. Adapting the insights of affect theory and addressing larger biblical notions of sexual morality and kinship, Jennifer Knust will consider the way that the Canaanites became disgusting objects, and the effect this interpretation has had on understandings of sex, race, and gender.
In a special event on the eve of Homecoming/Family Weekend, the internationally lauded novelist and journalist Amos Oz will give a public lecture on campus. The talk, titled “Israel Through Its Literature, is scheduled for Thursday, November 3, at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.
Amos Oz, Israel’s best known writer, is the author of novels, novellas, short stories, children’s books, literary and political essay collections, and the moving memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. Oz’s most widely acclaimed novel, My Michael (1968), was an immediate artistic and political sensation. It has been published in over 30 countries and in 1975 was made into a popular film. Among many other titles received with admiring reviews and heavy sales are The Hill of Evil Counsel (3 novellas), In the Land of Israel (essays on the Lebanon War), and novels such as To Know a Woman and The Same Sea.
One of the founders of the Peace Now movement, Oz has written extensively about Arab-Israeli relations and for over forty years has championed dialogue and campaigned for mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian state. He is a long-time teacher and currently Professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.
Amos Oz is the recipient of numerous awards for literary and humanitarian activity, including the Prix Femina (1998) and Knight of the Legion of Honor (1997) in France; the German Friedenspreis (1992), Goethe Prize (2005), and Heine Prize (2008); and the Israeli Prize for Literature (1998).
Arrangements for this appearance were made through the B’nai B’rith Lecture Bureau. The event’s sponsors are the Rosenberg Family Fund for Jewish Student Life, Wesleyan Writing Programs and the Annie Sonnenblick Fund, the Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture Fund, Jewish and Israel Studies, the Wesleyan Jewish Community, and the College of Letters.
Students and faculty are back on campus and a new and exciting year is upon us. Jewish and Israel Studies will offer an exciting array of courses and events. The events will be open to public and at the same time, as always, tightly linked to our courses. Here are some highlights:
September 19, Shimon Adaf, award winning Israeli poet and novelist, will present: “Behold the Present, If you Must: Questions Asked by Young Israeli Writers Nowadays”, 8pm, Usdan 108
November 1, Jewish and Israel Studies Open House, USDAN 108, Noon. Lunch will be served.
November 3, Amos Oz, internationally acclaimed, award-winning Israeli writer, novelist, and journalist, will speak on “Israel Through Its Literature,” 8 pm, Memorial Chapel
November 9 , Philip P. Hallie Memorial Lecture: (COL) Jan Gross, Professor Norman B. Tomlinson ’16 and ’48 Professor of War and Society at Princeton University, will speak on “On the Periphery of the Holocaust: Opportunistic Killings and Plunder of Jews by Their Neighbors.” 4:15 pm, COL Lounge, Butterfield C.
November, 10, Vivian Mann, Professor of Jewish Art and Material Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary, “Islamic Jewish Art”, 8pm, Russell House.
November 17, Jolanta Dylewska, internationally acclaimed director and filmmaker, will present her compelling documentary “Po-lin: Shreds of Memory,” 8 pm, the Goldsmith Family Cinema
November 30, Rachel Rubinstein, Associate Professor of American literature and Jewish Studies at Hampshire College, will give a JIS lecture. She is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination, published in 2010, 8 pm.
December 6, Eskol Nevo, an award-winning Israeli novelist will talk about his new book Homesick, 8 pm at Russell House.
We hope to see you at these and other events this semester!
Please join us for three Commencement Weekend WESeminars sponsored by Jewish and Israel Studies Program:
Friday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m: Objects Tell Stories: Community Partnership and Scholarship at Wesleyan
Location: 8 Broad Street, Nester Center of the Congregation Adath Israel
During the spring semester, students in Professor Magda Teter’s class on east European Jewish history have been exploring studying history through objects. This was possible thanks to a new partnership developed between Wesleyan and the local congregation Adath Israel. The congregation houses a small, but impressive, collection of Judaica. Students in this class examined, researched, and curated an exhibition using objects related to East European Jewish history. The seminar will showcase the students work by taking participants on the tour of the exhibition and will aim to highlight the exciting experience such collaboration with a local community can bring. Two students will share their stories.
Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 p.m: What Good Is A Red Tent If You Hate Camping? Reflections on 21st Century Jewish Motherhood.
Introduction: Dalit Katz, adjunct assistant professor of religion and of Jewish and Israel Studies. Presenter: Ayelet Waldman ’86 is the author of Red Hook Road, Love and Other Impossible Pursuits, Daughter’s Keeper and the Mommy-Track Mysteries
Saturday, May 21 at 3:30 p.m, Love and History: Screening and Interactive Discussion with Michele Ohayon, Award Winning Documentarian.
Location: Tishler Lecture Hall (Room 150), Exley Science Center
In this seminar, film director Michele Ohayon will present segments from her award-winning documentary Steal a Pencil for Me (2007), as well as segments from her college graduation film, Pressure, which won the Israeli Best Film Award in 1984. Both films are love stories, framed within specific historical contexts. The first film tells the story of Jack and Ina who fell in love while imprisoned in a Nazi concentration camp. Pressure is one of the first dramatic films on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and is based on a true a story.
Michele Ohayon will conduct a question/answer session with the audience, and walk through the process of depicting history in film.
Introduction: Dalit Katz, adjunct assistant professor of religion and of Jewish and Israel studies. Presenter: Michele Ohayon P’14, award-winning director and producer, whose feature length documentary Colors Straight Up won various awards, including the Golden Spire Award for the Arts at the San Francisco Film Festival, and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Join us to celebrate a new partnership between the Adath Israel Congregation and the Olin library at Wesleyan.
Over the last year, Wesleyan University’s Special Collection and Archives, Jewish and Israel Studies Program, and the Congregation Adath Israel have been working on developing a new partnership. As a result, rare books from Adath Israel will be loaned to Special Collections & Archives in Olin library for research by students and faculty, in particular in Prof. Magda Teter’s Jewish history classes. On May 11, we will officially sign the long-term loan agreement. Prof. Magda Teter, the Director of Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate Program at Wesleyan, and Suzy Taraba, the Head of Special Collections, will speak about the books and how they will be used and cared for in Special Collections & Archives.
The event will also be an opportunity to share the results of student research based on objects from Adath Israel’s Museum.