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 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.
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.
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
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.
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.
In a special event on the eve of Homecoming/Family Weekend, the internationally lauded novelist and journalist Amos Oz will give a public lecture on campus. The talk, titled “Israel Through Its Literature, is scheduled for Thursday, November 3, at 8 p.m. in Memorial Chapel.
Amos Oz, Israel’s best known writer, is the author of novels, novellas, short stories, children’s books, literary and political essay collections, and the moving memoir A Tale of Love and Darkness. Oz’s most widely acclaimed novel, My Michael (1968), was an immediate artistic and political sensation. It has been published in over 30 countries and in 1975 was made into a popular film. Among many other titles received with admiring reviews and heavy sales are The Hill of Evil Counsel (3 novellas), In the Land of Israel (essays on the Lebanon War), and novels such as To Know a Woman and The Same Sea.
One of the founders of the Peace Now movement, Oz has written extensively about Arab-Israeli relations and for over forty years has championed dialogue and campaigned for mutual recognition between Israel and a Palestinian state. He is a long-time teacher and currently Professor at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Beersheba.
Amos Oz is the recipient of numerous awards for literary and humanitarian activity, including the Prix Femina (1998) and Knight of the Legion of Honor (1997) in France; the German Friedenspreis (1992), Goethe Prize (2005), and Heine Prize (2008); and the Israeli Prize for Literature (1998).
Arrangements for this appearance were made through the B’nai B’rith Lecture Bureau. The event’s sponsors are the Rosenberg Family Fund for Jewish Student Life, Wesleyan Writing Programs and the Annie Sonnenblick Fund, the Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture Fund, Jewish and Israel Studies, the Wesleyan Jewish Community, and the College of Letters.
Students and faculty are back on campus and a new and exciting year is upon us. Jewish and Israel Studies will offer an exciting array of courses and events. The events will be open to public and at the same time, as always, tightly linked to our courses. Here are some highlights:
September 19, Shimon Adaf, award winning Israeli poet and novelist, will present: “Behold the Present, If you Must: Questions Asked by Young Israeli Writers Nowadays”, 8pm, Usdan 108
November 1, Jewish and Israel Studies Open House, USDAN 108, Noon. Lunch will be served.
November 9 , Philip P. Hallie Memorial Lecture: (COL) Jan Gross, Professor Norman B. Tomlinson ’16 and ’48 Professor of War and Society at Princeton University, will speak on “On the Periphery of the Holocaust: Opportunistic Killings and Plunder of Jews by Their Neighbors.” 4:15 pm, COL Lounge, Butterfield C.
November, 10, Vivian Mann, Professor of Jewish Art and Material Culture at the Jewish Theological Seminary, “Islamic Jewish Art”, 8pm, Russell House.
November 17, Jolanta Dylewska, internationally acclaimed director and filmmaker, will present her compelling documentary “Po-lin: Shreds of Memory,” 8 pm, the Goldsmith Family Cinema
November 30, Rachel Rubinstein, Associate Professor of American literature and Jewish Studies at Hampshire College, will give a JIS lecture. She is the author of Members of the Tribe: Native America in the Jewish Imagination, published in 2010, 8 pm.
December 6, Eskol Nevo, an award-winning Israeli novelist will talk about his new book Homesick, 8 pm at Russell House.
We hope to see you at these and other events this semester!
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.
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.
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.