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.

Upcoming JIS Events in November and December

The semester is half-way over, but Jewish and Israel Studies still plans to host a number of events:

November 4, Jewish and Israel Studies Open House, 4:30 pm Allbritton 103.

Please come to meet Jewish and Israel Studies students and faculty, and learn about our Program, our courses, and events.

November 4, Film: STEAL A PENCIL FOR ME (2007) by Oscar nominee Michele Ohayon (P’14). A Q&A session will follow the screening. Michele Ohayon recounts the touching story of Jack and Ina, whose love broke the bounds of matrimony and imprisonment. Jack: “I’m a very special Holocaust survivor. I was in the camps with my wife and my girlfriend; and believe me, it wasn’t easy.” For more about the film, see http://www.stealapencil.com/synopsis.php;
Film Studies 100 (Goldsmith Family Cinema), 8pm.

November 17, Hallie Lecture Series (COL): Professor Berel Lang, “Primo Levi, Writer (and Memoirist).” COL Lounge, Wesleyan University. COL Lounge, Butt C, 4:15 pm.

Berel Lang is the author of Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence (2009), Holocaust Representation: Art Within the Limits of History and Ethics (2000), Heidegger’s Silence (1996), Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide (1990) and many other works bridging philosophy, aesthetics, ethics and history.  Much honored for outstanding scholarship and teaching, he has held fellowships from the N.E.H., ACLS, American Philosophical Association, and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and is a member of the American Academy for Jewish Research.  This semester, he is Visiting Professor of Letters at Wesleyan; he has taught at Wesleyan, Trinity College, SUNY at Albany, the University of Colorado, and the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

December 6, J. J. Goldberg, “The Next American Judaism: Israel, Intermarriage and the Seinfeld Effect”

J. J. Goldberg is a senior columnist at the Forward, where he had served as the editor-in-chief, transforming the paper into one of the leading and most respected voices of contemporary Jewish press.

Fall 2010 Courses in Jewish and Israel Studies at Wesleyan

Here is the preview of Fall 2010 courses in JIS at Wesleyan.  For more updated information about courses, events, and the Program see our new JIS-Booklet Fall 2010.

To meet faculty and learn more about JIS at Wesleyan, come and stop by our table at the Academic Forum on September 2, 2:30-4:30 at the Freeman Athletic Center, Wesleyan.

Gateway courses:

HIST247: Jewish History: From Biblical Israel to Diaspora Jews

Prof. Magda Teter, Mon-Wed, 1:10-2:30PM in PAC002

RELI201: Old Testament/Hebrew Bible

Prof. Annalise Glauz-Todrank, Tue-Th, 10:30-11:50AM, Butterfield A 413

Hebrew Language and Literature:

HEBR101: Elementary Hebrew I

Prof. Katz,Dalit, M.W.F. 10-10:50AM, Fisk 210

HEBR201: Intermediate Hebrew I

Prof. Dalit Katz, M.W.F. 11-11:50AM, Fisk 210

HEBR210: Hebrew Literature

Prof. Dalit Katz, Tuesday-Thursday 10:30-11:50AM, Religion SEM

Elective Courses:

COL311: Spinoza’s ETHICS

Prof. Brian Fay, Monday, 7-9:50PM, Russel House, Seminar Room

COL324: Freud and Psychoanalysis

Prof. Paul Schwaber, Tuesday-Thursday, 2:40-4 PM, Butterfield C 314

GOVT270: Comparative Politics of the Middle East

Prof. Anne Peters, Tuesday-Thursday 2:40-4 PM, Judd Hall B6;

GOVT344: Religion and Politics

Prof. Nancy Schwartz, Monday-Wednesday, 1:10-2:30PM, PAC104;

GRST250: Cultural Criticism and Aesthetic Theory: Walter Benjamin and Theodor Adorno

Prof. Urlich Plass,  Tuesday-Thursday 10:30-11:50AM, Fisk 404

HIST210: American Jewish History: 1492-2001

Prof. Ronald Schatz, Monday-Wednesday, 2:40-4 PM, Allbritton 004;

HIST234: The Middle East in the 20th Century

Prof. Bruce Masters, M.W.F. 9-9:50AM, PAC001;

From Maccabees to Lenny Bruce: Student Project in Jewish and Israel Studies

On May 4, 2010, Wesleyan students will present their projects in Jewish and Israel Studies.

Three seniors will present their senior thesis research projects:  Peter Gilchrist, Arielle Golden, and Kalen Flynn, their topics range from the history and memory of the Maccabean uprising, the identity of Spanish conversos, and history and memory of the Holocaust.

And five students currently enrolled in the capstone seminar on methods, theories, and models of Jewish Studies (RELI 396)–Emily Evnen’10, Ben Fitzelle’12, Jared Gimbel’11, Ross Shenker’11, and Paul Silverman’13–will showcase their semester-long project that range from masculinity and Zionism, Jewish comedy and humor in the US, Arthur Miller and Jewish identity, and Jewish folklore.

Please join us, refreshments will be served.  May 4, 2010, 4:15 Allbritton 103.