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
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.
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.
Join us for some exciting upcoming events:
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
Please join us and bring friends and family!
TUESDAY, Feb. 28, 2012:
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.
Spring 2011 (remaining events):
March 29, Yiddish Cultural Expressions Series: Professor Samuel Kassow, “Jewish Cultural Expression under Nazi Occupation – The Case of the Warsaw Ghetto,” CFA Hall, 7pm
March 31, The Ring Family Israeli Film Festival: a screening of two Israeli TV shows: Serugim (the dating saga of young Religious Israelis) and Arab Labor (An Arab journalist’s hilarious attempts to fit into Israeli society). Speaker: Isaac Zablozki, director of Film Programs at the JCC Manhattan. 8 pm, Goldsmith Family Cinema
April 5, Yiddish Cultural Expressions Series: Professor Olga Litvak, “Getting Tevye Wrong – Sholem-Aleichem’s Astonishing Farce of Misperception,” CFA Hall, 7pm
April 7, The Ring Family Israeli Film Festival: Wrist cutters: A Love Story. This is an adaptation of the internationally renowned writer, Etgar Keret’s novella Kneller’s Happy Campers (interesting translation….). Featured guest speaker, Etgar Keret. 8 pm, Goldsmith Family Cinema
April 13, Professor Shalom Sabar “The Sabbath in Jewish Art and Folklore,” Russell House, 8pm
April 28, The Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture: Director Andrzej Krakowski will present his 2002 documentary “Farewell to My Country” about Jews forced to leave Poland in 1968, Goldsmith Family Cinema, Film Studies, 8 pm
May 3, Jewish and Israel Studies Student Achievements Showcase, Allbritton 103 at 4:30 PM
The Spring semester has started and it will be busy not only with classes but also with events. Two thematic series: The Ring Family Israel Film Festival and a series of talks and concerts on East European Jewish Culture.
The event that will inaugurate the semester will be the annual Frankel Memorial Lecture. February 1 Director Andrzej Krakowski will present his film Farewell My Country about the 1968 exodus of Jews from Poland. Powell Family Cinema at the Film Studies, 8pm.
The Frankel Lecture will also inaugurate a series on the East European Jewish Culture.
Ring Family Israeli Film Festival at Wesleyan at the Goldstein Family Cinema:
February 10: Five Hours From Paris: the story of a dream, an obstacle and unique friendships between an Israeli taxi driver and a Russian music teacher. Speaker: Haim Tabakman, a film director and Jewish and Israel Visiting scholar in Residence.
February 17, Eyes Wide Open: a forbidden love story between a married Orthodox man and a mysterious young man. Speaker Haim Tabakman, director of the film and Jewish and Israel Visiting scholar in Residence.
February 24, Ajami: Israel Academy Award Nominee for Best Foreign Language Film combines five stories which take place in Ajami, a religious and ethnically diverse neighborhood of Jaffa. Speaker: Laura Blum, film critic.
March 3, The Beetle. A man’s obsession with his Beetle car brings him to Jordan in a desperate attempt to fix it. Speaker: Anne Peters, Wesleyan Assistant Professor in the Government Department.
March 31, a screening of two Israeli TV shows: Serugim (the dating saga of young Religious Israelis) and Arab Labor (An Arab journalist’s hilarious attempts to fit into Israeli society). Speaker: Isaac Zablozki, director of Film Programs at the JCC Manhattan.
April 7, Wrist cutters: A Love Story. This is an adaptation of the internationally renowned writer, Etgar Keret’s novella Kneller’s Happy Campers (interesting translation….). Featured guest speaker, Etgar Keret.
This film festival is sponsored by the Ring family and the Jewish and Israel Studies.
Eastern European Jewish Culture Series:
February 15, Hankus Netsky will speak on American klezmer, CFA Hall, 7pm
February 22, Michael Winograd’s klezmer performance, CFA Hall, 7pm
March 29, Sam Kassow will speak on Yiddish poetry in the Holocaust era, CFA Hall, 7pm
April 5, Olga Litvak will speak on Sholem Aleichem, CFA Hall, 7pm
And a special event, related to our Service-Learning Class:
April 13, Professor Shalom Sabar from Hebrew University will give a talk “The Sabbath in Jewish Art and Folklore.”
More events will be announced, including our annual showcase of students’ research in Jewish and Israel Studies. Please check back for updates, and become a friend of Wesleyan’s Jewish and Israel Studies Program on Facebook, where you can get the latest updates about the Program: www.facebook.com/WesleyanJIS
The fall semester is well behind us, grades have been submitted and now we are preparing for the Spring semester.
The fall was full of events and exciting courses. Jewish and Israel Studies Program offered eleven courses, enrolling a total of 192 students, 107 of whom were taught by our core faculty. In the Spring we will offer eight courses in History, Music, Art History, Religion, Film Studies, and of course Hebrew language and literature. JIS sponsored seven events, among them were two in our New Israeli Voices series, which brought to campus Joshua Sobol, the acclaimed Israel playwright and director, and Michal Govrin, a noted Israeli writer. The series is tightly integrated into our Hebrew curriculum. We also hosted JJ. Goldberg from the Forward who spoke on “The Next American Judaism: Israel, Intermarriage and the Seinfeld Effect” and Professor Susan Einbinder who spoke on “Medieval Jewish Martyrdom, Poetry, and Hysterical Blindness.” These events were also linked to our curriculum, the American Jewish History class, Medieval Jewish History class, and a class on Medieval Literature.
In November, Professor Magda Teter met with alumni and parents in San Francisco to talk about Jewish and Israel Studies at Wesleyan and brainstorm about what we can do for those who are not on campus. We had some terrific ideas that we plan to work on! Stay tuned.
Spring looks like an exciting semester. Jewish an Israel Studies Program will offer eight courses, including for the first time, a small cluster of courses on East European Jewish History and Culture. Professor Mark Slobin will teach a course a course “Yiddish Cultural Expression: Music, Theater, Literature, Film.” The course “will ground modern Yiddish expressive culture in its 19th-century Eastern European homeland, then follow its dispersion to North America, through the present.” Professor Magda Teter will teach a course on East European Jewish History, from the beginning of Jewish settlement in medieval Poland through the modern day efforts to create vibrant, if small, Jewish communities in Cracow and Warsaw. This is also our first service learning course. Students will work with the Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown and study its Judaica collection. Aside from learning about Jewish history in Eastern Europe, students will be engaged in learning through material culture and curating a small exhibition. Finally, in our small cluster, Professor Annalise Glauz-Todrank will teach a course on “Hasidism: European Origins and American Identities.”
Among other highlights is our Mervin and Gittel Silverberg Distinguished Visiting Scholar. This year the position will be held by the Israeli director and producer, Haim Tabakman, whose most recent film “Eyes Wide Open” has received wide acclaim. Haim Tabakman will teach a course on “Revival of the Israeli Cinema” and he will also play an active role in our Ring Family Israeli Film Festival organized by Professor Dalit Katz.
Our cultural programming also looks exciting–a more detailed schedule will be announced shortly, so here is just a taste:
On February 1, 2011, as our annual Frankel Lecture Series, Director Andrzej Krakowski will screen his film “Farewell to My Country” about the 1968 exodus of Jews from Poland.
Our Ring Family Israeli Film Festival will include six films screened on Thursdays, beginning on February 10, 2011.
There will be a series of events related to our East European Cluster–talks, concerts, and performances.
On April 13, 2011, Professor Shalom Sabar from Hebrew University will give a talk “The Sabbath in Jewish Art and Folklore.”
There is much to look forward to in the Spring 2011 and we hope you will join us.
For a number of years thanks to a gift from the Ring Family, contemporary Israeli film (cinema, television, documentaries) has been shown in our biannual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival. The Ring Family’s continuous support and the most recent gift will bring the successful Israeli Film Festival to Wesleyan every year, starting spring 2011.
The support from the Ring Family allows for free admission to the movies for the Wesleyan University community as well as the local public. The mission of the Ring Family Wesleyan University Film Festival has been to explore the richness, diversity, and creativity of Israeli culture as witnessed through the flourishing of contemporary Israeli film.
Thanks to the tireless efforts of Dalit Katz, the Ring Family Israeli Film festival brings to Wesleyan not only fascinating Israeli films but also prominent speakers, among them film critics, directors, screenplay writers, producers, and actors.
The film festival enriches not only the broader Wesleyan community but is tightly integrated into the Hebrew curriculum at Wesleyan University, as students have the opportunity to watch films and discuss them in their classes.
This year’s Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival will begin on January 28 with a 2006 film Souvenirs (please see the schedule below). The festival will continue every Thursday through March 4.
All movies will be screened at the Center for Film Studies, the Goldsmith Family Cinema at 8pm.
Free Admission .
(January 28) Souvenirs, 2006
Directors: Shahar Cohen & Halil Efrat
Winner of San Francisco International 2007, Winner of DocAviv 2006, Israeli Academy Award for Best Documentary 2006, Second Audience Choice Award of IDFA 2006.
Shahar, an unemployed film maker, starts a filmed journey in search of his father’s, an 82 years old Yemenite, “souvenirs”, left with local girls during his service in the Jewish Brigade while stationed in Amsterdam during the second War World. During this charming and funny journey, which starts in Israel and continues through Italy, Germany and ending in Holland with an unexpected discovery, some myths of bravery are questioned with compassion and without the heart break.
Laura Blum, film critic, will talk about Military Affairs: Souvenirs and the Romance of the Jewish Brigade
(February 4) A Matter of Size, 2009
Directors: Sharon Maymon and Erez Tadmor
Israel entry in 2009 Tribeca Film Festival
A comedy about a “coming out” of overweight people who learn to accept themselves. When Herzl loses his job as a cook and starts working as a dishwasher in a Japanese restaurant, he discovers the world of Sumo wrestling where large people are honored and appreciated. The film is set in the blue-collar Israeli city Ramle.
(February 11) Screening of Two Episodes of the Israeli TV Show Touch Away, 2007
Director: Ron Ninio
An engaging Israeli series which exposes the cultural and religious barriers which Rochele, an orthodox Israeli girl, and Zurik, a Russian secular immigrant, have to face. The cleverly scripted and well cast series has won 7 Israeli Academy Awards for 2007 and has captured the imagination of its audience.
Professor Olga Gershenson will talk about Aliya to the movies: Russian-Israelis on and off screens.
(February 18) My Father, My Lord, 2008
Winner of Tribeca Film Festival 2007 Top Award, Winner of Taormina Film Festival 2007 Best Director.
“God doesn’t watch over those who don’t observe the Torah”, declares Abraham Edelman, an ultra-Orthodox rabbi to his Yeshiva students. Who does God watches over become a test for the Rabbi and his wife during a summer vacation at the Dead Sea with their only son.
Michael Fox, a film critic, will talk about “Can I Get a Minyan?” Israeli Cinema Finally Gives Religious Jews Their Close Up.
(February 25), Eli and Ben 2009
Director: Ori Ravid
“ A coming of age drama with a social message, brilliantly made”, Mathan Shiram, Globes daily newspaper
The life of the Yassif family turns upside down when the father, Ben, who is the city architect of Herzelya, is charged with taking bribes. At stake is also the relationship between the father, Ben, and his son Eli who adores his father. The film examines their chaotic relations in light of those stormy days.
Laura Blum will talk about The End of Innocence: Unmasking Identities in Eli & Ben .
(March 4), Noodle, 2007
Director: Ayelet Menahemi
Montreal World Film Festival Grand Prize of Jury, 10 Nominations for the Israeli Film Academy Award.
The life of Miri, a flight attendant, is totally changed by an abandoned Chinese boy whose migrant-worker mother has been deported from Israel.
Speaker: Isaac Zablocki
Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate Program will sponsor a series of events in the Spring Semester, lectures, films, and readings.
The Israeli Film Festival will screen new Israeli films on five consecutive Thursdays between January 28 and February 25. Among films shown will be: A Matter of Sizel; Touch Away (TV series); My Father, My Lord; Eli and Ben. All films will be screened at 8pm, Goldsmith Family Cinema.
We are delighted to announce several upcoming lectures:
On February 2, Moshe Rosman will speak on “What’s New in the Study of Hasidism”
Moshe Rosman is the author of a number of groundbreaking books, including Lords’ Jews: Magnate-Jewish Relations in the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth during the 18th Century (Harvard, 1990); The Founder of Hasidism (California UP, 1996); and most recently How Jewish is Jewish History? (Littman, 2007).
On March 4, Elisheva Carlebach will speak on “Jewish Time/Christian Time: Calendar and Polemic in Early Modern Europe”
Elisheva Carlebach is the Salo Baron Professor of Jewish history at Columbia University. She is the author of an award-winning book The Pursuit of Heresy :Rabbi Moses Hagiz and the Sabbatian Controversies (Columbia University Press, 1990; 1994) and Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Germany, 1500-1750 (Yale University Press, 2001) which was the finalist for the 2001-02 National Jewish Book Award; please check for time and place.
On April 12, Hilit Surowitz will speak on “Blood and Identity: Picart’s La Circoncision des Juifs Portugais,” time and place will be announced.
April 22, Frankel Memorial Lecture.
Other speakers will include Israeli writers and film-makers. Please check back for details.