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 http://iff.site.wesleyan.edu/. 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)!

Students of the Center for Jewish Studies Visit the Archaeological Collections at Wesleyan University

Jessie Cohen, Archaeological Collections Manager at Wesleyan University, hosted a visit by Professor Greenblatt’s History 247, Jewish History: From Biblical Israel to Diaspora Jews class. Students examined ancient Near Eastern coins related to places and times they have studied in class. The coins include, for example, one of Antiochus IV, villain of the Hanukkah story. Here are two pictures taken by Campus’ photographer, Olivia Drake.

Center for Jewish Studies              blog photo CJS

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.

Welcome back!

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.

Professor Dalit Katz
Dalit Katz will serve as the interim Director of JIS at Wesleyan

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

 December 3, Ronit Matalon, Reading Memory autobiography, 8 p.m , 108 Usdan.

 Also the week of December 3, André Aciman will speak at Wesleyan. Time, topic and venue TBA.

Spring Semester:

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.

 

Mogulesco-A Tale of the Yiddish Theater

After a very busy semester of Jewish and Israel Studies events, our almost last event is on Sunday, May 8: Mogulesco-A Tale of the Yiddish Theater, a production of Music 297 class, written by Mark Slobin, directed by Joshua Margolin ’11, music direction by Amanda Scherbenske.With student and faculty actors.

 

Location :    World Music Hall, 3 pm

Sponsor :    Music Department
Admission :    $5 general public; free admission for Wesleyan students
Event URL :    http://www.wesleyan.edu/cfa
For more information :    boxoffice@wesleyan.edu, 860-685-3355

 

Please join us for this student-faculty performance.

New Book by Professor Magda Teter

A new book by Professor Magda Teter has just been released by Harvard University Press: Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation.

Magda Teter, Sinners on Trial

From Harvard’s website:

“In post-Reformation Poland—the largest state in Europe and home to the largest Jewish population in the world—the Catholic Church suffered profound anxiety about its power after the Protestant threat. Magda Teter reveals how criminal law became a key tool in the manipulation of the meaning of the sacred and in the effort to legitimize Church authority. The mishandling of sacred symbols was transformed from a sin that could be absolved into a crime that resulted in harsh sentences of mutilation, hanging, decapitation, and, principally, burning at the stake.

Teter casts new light on the most infamous type of sacrilege, the accusation against Jews for desecrating the eucharistic wafer….Recounting dramatic stories of torture, trial, and punishment, this is the first book to consider the sacrilege accusations of the early modern period within the broader context of politics and common crime. Teter draws on previously unexamined trial records to bring out the real-life relationships among Catholics, Jews, and Protestants and challenges the commonly held view that following the Reformation, Poland was a “state without stakes”—uniquely a country without religious persecution.”

The book has been praised as “innovative,” “magnificent,” “with meticulous attention to new archival sources and graceful narrative style.”

Jeremy Zwelling Retires

After more than 40 years at Wesleyan.  Professor Jeremy Zwelling is retiring this year.  When Professor Zwelling arrived at Wesleyan in 1967, the University, like many others in the country, had no program in Jewish Studies.  The field as a whole was just beginning to develop.    The Association for Jewish Studies (the AJS) was not founded till two years later, 1969.   But Jeremy Zwelling had a vision: to bring to Wesleyan Jewish Studies at its best, focusing on highest quality scholarship and cultural progamming.  Over the decades, the field of Jewish studies has matured–the AJS now has over 1800 members– and so has the Program at Wesleyan.   We now have eight core faculty contributing to the program, and five additional faculty affiliated with the program.   We offer a wide range of courses in several departments.  JIS at Wesleyan is one of the most active programs contributing academic and cultural events to a broader Wesleyan and Middletown Communities.

Last year, there were seven public events organized by JIS in the fall alone, some within classes taught in JIS.  They included lectures and film showings.  One of the films was shown within the Middle Eastern Film Series, co-organized by Dalit Katz.   In the Spring, we had the Ring Family Israeli Film Festival, organized by Dalit Katz.  It included five new Israeli films, followed by a speaker.  The JIS also coordinated two speakers within the Middle Eastern Studies Speaker Series.  In April we had the annual Frankel Memorial Lecture.  All this in addition to four academic public lectures organized within the JIS curriculum. Please, check this blog for announcements of events and news about the Program.

To be sure, Jeremy Zwelling’s retirement marks a turning point, a beginning of a new era.  But Jewish and Israel Studies is strong and will continue to flourish.  Since December 2009, Magda Teter has been the Director of Jewish and Israel Studies at Wesleyan.  Jeremy Zwelling, though now retired, has promised to remain an active participant of the Wesleyan and Middletown community.

For a report on the event honoring Jeremy Zwelling on May 2, 2010, see Olivia Bartlett’s article in Wesleyan Connections.