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

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!

The semester is starting. New students have arrived and the rest of the students will return in a couple of days.

Jewish and Israel Studies welcomes all of the students and offers an exciting line-up of courses and events.

Fall 2013 Courses in Jewish and Israel Studies at Wesleyan:

Gateway courses:

HIST247 Jewish History: From Biblical Israel to Diaspora Jews by  Magda Teter

RELI201 Introduction to the Hebrew Bible by Elisha Russ-Fishbane

RELI233 The People of the Book: Jewish Cultures and Jewish Canons by Elisha Russ-Fishbane

Hebrew Language and Literature:

HEBR101: Elementary Hebrew I  by Dalit Katz

HEBR201: Intermediate Hebrew I Dalit Katz

HEBR211: Hebrew Literature by Dalit Katz

Elective Courses:

ENGL351 Jews and Christians in Medieval England: Debate, Dialogue, and Destruction by Ruth Nisse

GOVT270 Comparative Politics of the Middle East by  Marcie Patton

GOVT344 Religion and Politics by Nancy Schwartz

HIST263 Inside Nazi Germany, 1933-1945 by Erik Grimmer-Solem

 

Events in the Fall to look forward to:

September 24, Lawrence Baron, Jewish-non-Jewish Romances about Israel: From Ari to Zohan, 8 p.m Russell House

October 1, Maya Arad, A View From Abroad: Writing Hebrew literature in California,

8 pm, Russell House

October 13, Dror Burstein Why Aren’t There Any Dinosaurs in Israeli Literature?

                  8 pm at Russell House.

November 7, Ron Leshem, Israel as number One Exporter of TV Shows to Hollywood, 8 pm, Russell House.

 

SPECIAL EVENT: Conference:  “Exercising Judgment in Ethics, Politics, and the Law: Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Fifty Years Later” September 26-28, 2013  http://arendt.conference.wesleyan.edu/

 

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.

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.

 

New Semester, New Courses

Everyone is back on campus. Most students settling into their classes. Jewish and Israel Studies is offering seven courses, five of which are taught by our core faculty: from Hebrew taught by Professor Dalit Katz, to a course on Jews in China, to a course on Middle Eastern Politics, to Israeli Films, and the capstone seminar.  Here are some highlights of the courses–for events check back here in a few days:

HEST 239 “Israel on the Road” with Dani Menkin: In this class, students will engage in analyzing in depth the making of Israeli filmmaker Dani Menkin’s award winning films. There will be behind-the-scenes discussions on the “journey of the filmmaker” versus the “journey of the characters”; discussions of other international award winning road trip films; reading and reviewing Dani’s script-in-progress co-written with best selling other and writer, Eshkol Nevo.

HIST 308 “The Jewish Experience in China” with Professor Vera Schwarcz: A historical and analytical overview of the Jewish presence in China from the silk road trade through the Holocaust, as well as the rebirth of Jewish identity among the Chinese Jews in Kaifeng today. Students will be encouraged to do comparative readings on Jewish survival and assimilation in different cultural contexts ranging from India to Europe.

RELI 204 “Judaisms” with Professor Annalise Glauz-Todrank: This course will examine varieties of Jewishness in its contemporary and historical forms. We will focus on topics and texts that provide a focal point from which to discuss significant religious, historical, and cultural components of Jewish traditions. The course texts draw on several types of literature, including philosophical and theological writing about God, Yiddish short stories, American graphic novels, ethnographic studies of Jewish communities, personal narratives, and critical histories. This wide array of texts is intended to introduce students to Jewish history, thought, practice, stories, and identities from different gendered, geographical, and cultural perspectives.

RELI 396 “Performing Jewish Studies,” the JIS capstone seminar, with Professor Magda Teter: Jewish studies is broad in terms of disciplinary approaches and diverse in the ways it conceives its subject matter. This course will focus on the historical roots of the field of Jewish studies, models that advance theories and methods of Jewish studies, and on how such studies are being differently forged and performed in different disciplines, including Jewish history, Jewish literary studies, anthropology, sociology, and religious studies. For each of these areas of study, the seminar will examine a classical seminal work as well as outstanding recent ones that are on the frontiers of knowledge.

Jewish and Israel Studies WESeminars during Commencement Weekend

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.

Location: Kerr Lecture Hall(Shanklin 107).

Ayelet Waldman ’86, novelist and author of Bad Mother: A Chronicle of Maternal Crimes, Minor Calamities and Occasional Moments of Grace, will discuss the perilous imbalance of contemporary motherhood, with a particular emphasis on the pleasures and challenges of being a Nerf-spined, guilt-ridden Jewish Mother in an iron-willed, Tiger Mother world.

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.

 

A New Partnership between Wesleyan’s Special Collections and Archives and the Congregation Adath Israel in Middletown

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.

A printer's mark of Gershom Bak of Prague. A book "Sefer ha-magid" published later in the printshop in Prague in 1675 is one of the books to be transferred to Special Collections and Archives
A Printer’s Mark of Gershom Bak, a Jewish printer from 16th-century Prague

 

The event will also be an opportunity to share the results of student research based on objects from Adath Israel’s Museum.

Location: May 11, 6:30 pm, Congregation Adath Israel, 8 Broad St., Middletown CT,

Sponsor: Olin Library and Congregation Adath Israel
Contact Information: Suzy Taraba (staraba@wesleyan.edu, x3375) or Magda Teter (mteter@wesleyan.edu, x5356)

Light refreshments will be served.

Showcase of Student Projects in Jewish and Israel Studies

The semester–nay the year–is almost over.  Just one more week of classes is left.  It is a crunch time, but also a time to celebrate students’ achievements.  Since 2010 we have showcased students’ projects in Jewish and Israel Studies.  Some students will indeed graduate with the Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate, but some of our students are engaged in research and creative projects contributing to Jewish and Israel Studies without the certificate.

On Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 4:30 pm I hope you will join me for a celebratory reception of our students’ achievements.

Rachel Tecott (GOVT) will share her findings on “Israeli Counterterrorism Decision-Making: The Causes and Costs of A-Strategic Incoherence.”  This presentation is based on Rachel’s honors thesis in Government, in which she demonstrates a fallacy of the two conventional wisdoms that Israeli counterterrorism is effective, and that Israeli counterterrorism is the product of rational, unitary action.  Her evidence includes interviews with key Israeli counterterrorism decision-makers (including several Major Generals, National Security Advisors, and senior-ranking Israeli Intelligence officers).

Daniel Hymanson (FILM) will present his short film “Slothman” – Daniel’s honors thesis project for the film studies department.  It tells the story of a boy named David and his encounters with sloths, the Chicago Bulls, a newt, and his mother. The film’s opening scene was shot at Adath Israel in Middletown.

A screen shot of "Judah" from Seth Alter's computer game "Divided Monarchy"
A screen shot of “Judah” from Seth Alter’s computer game “Divided Monarchy”

 

Seth Alter (HIST and JIS) will demonstrate his new educational video game “Divided Monarchy” that simulates ancient Israel in the Iron Age. The game comes with serious academic research historical and archaeological material. Every in-game component to “Divided Monarchy” has been included in accordance to modern scholars’ understanding of biblical society and culture.

 

All this on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm in Allbritton 103.

 

On Tuesday evening, our student Ross Shenker (THEA and JIS) will share his capstone project in a very special event Inside The Playwright’s Studio: An Evening With Donald Margulies

Donald Margulies
Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies

 

Join Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Donald Margulies and Ross Shenker ’11 for a look inside the playwright’s studio. Professor Margulies is the acclaimed author of the plays “Time Stands Still,” “Brooklyn Boy,” “Dinner With Friends,” Sight Unseen,” “Collected Stories,” and others. He has received a Lucille Lortel Award, an Outer Critics’ Circle Award, two American Dramatists’ Guild Hull-Warriner Awards, one Tony Award nomination, five Drama Desk Award nominations, two Pulitzer Prize nominations, and one Pultizer Prize. His works have been performed on and off Broadway and at major theaters across the United States, in Europe, and around the world.

Presented by the Jewish and Israel Studies Department. This event is in partial fulfillment of Ross Shenker’s Senior Project entitled “Embedding The Self In One’s Art: How Donald Margulies Draws Upon Contemporary Jewish-American Identity In His Playwriting.”

Usdan Center, Taylor Room, 8pm

Reception to follow next door in Andersen Meeting Room-110

 

Looking back and looking forward

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.