The Present and Future of European Jews–A Conversation with Jared Gimbel ’11

Why is European Jewry important in both Europe and the world at large?

Jared Gimbel in Cracow
Jared Gimbel in Cracow

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-2
Jared Gimbel ’11 in Amsterdam

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.

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/

 

JIS Events in the Spring Semester 2013

The Sixth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival, 2013

“My Australia” by Ami Drozd will open the Ring Family Wesleyan Israeli Film Festival on Thursday, January 31

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 14Off 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.

 

Other Events:

“Jellyfish” (Meduzot) by Etgar Keret (2007) will be screen at the “Back by Popular Demand” series co-sponsored by Jewish and Israel Studies and Film Studies Department on April 23. Etgar Keret will introduce the film

 

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

Joe Amar, album cover of “An Evening With Jo Amar In Old Jerusalem”, Judaica Sound Archives, Florida Atlantic University

 

 

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)”

Israeli Film Festival

We had our Sixth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival on January 31. My Australia captured the audience’s attention with the complicated issues it raised concerning post war anti – semitism in Poland, neo – Nazism and cultural identity. Professor Magda Teter commented upon those issues and put them in their historical context. Please join us next Thursday, February 7 at 8 pm at the Goldsmith Cinema for the screening of the movie The Fifth Heaven.

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.

 

Final Event: Showcase of Students’ Work in Jewish and Israel Studies

Another academic year is about to end. Just a few classes are left. A crunch time for our students and faculty, but also a time to celebrate students’ achievements. Since 2010 students and faculty have celebrated students’ projects in Jewish and Israel Studies. And while some students will indeed graduate with the Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate this year, others are still working on their courses, and still some are engaged in research and creative projects contributing to Jewish and Israel Studies without getting the certificate.

Herzl Forest Poster for the 50th Anniversary of the Jewish National Fund, 1954
Herzl Forest Poster for the 50th Anniversary of the Jewish National Fund, 1954

 

Come and join us! 

Learn about politics of trees in Israel/Palestine; folklore among Jews from Europe and Arab countries; Holocaust memory and family story; women and Jewish liturgical practices; rhetoric of otherness against Jews and Muslims in Europe; bioethics and Jewish law! And much more.

Come and get inspired to do creative work in Jewish and Israel Studies.

Reception will follow.

Monday, May 7, Allbritton 103, 4:30 PM

Jewish and Israel Studies Events after Spring Break

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.

Joseph Siry "Beth Shalom Synagogue" (Chicago, 2011)
Joseph Siry “Beth Shalom Synagogue” (Chicago, 2011)

 

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!

This Week’s Events in Jewish and Israel Studies

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
860/685-2330

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.

 

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.