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.

Last Event in the Fall

On December 6, Jewish and Israel Studies Program will host its last event in the Fall semester:  J. J. Goldberg will lecture on “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 from 2000-2007, transforming the paper into one of the leading and most respected voices of contemporary Jewish press.  His weekly column “Good Fences” appears on the editorial pages of the The Forward.  He also blogs at http://blogs.forward.com/jj-goldberg/.

The event will be at 108 Usdan (Taylor Meeting room) at 8pm.

Research Opportunities at the Yiddish Book Center

The National Yiddish Book Center is now accepting applications for two educational programs: the Fellowship Program for recent college graduates and the Steiner Summer Program for undergraduates.

The Fellowship Program offers talented young college graduates who are passionate about Yiddish language and culture the opportunity to work at the Book Center for a year. As paid, full-time staff members, fellows provide content for existing programs and spearhead new ones, while continuing their education in Yiddish language, literature and culture. Applicants should have strong backgrounds in Jewish studies or related disciplines and a working knowledge of Yiddish. Application deadline: January 3, 2011. For more information, please visit http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/fellowship-program

The Steiner Summer Program offers matriculating college students a unique opportunity for a tuition-free, seven-week intensive course in Yiddish language and culture. Beginning and intermediate students will study original and adapted Yiddish texts, as well as the history, literature, culture and music of the Jews of central and Eastern Europe. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program as of January 1, 2011. Application deadline: February 1, 2011. For more information, please visit  http://www.yiddishbookcenter.org/steiner-summer-program-yiddish

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.

Upcoming October Events in Jewish and Israel Studies

October 7, Susan Einbinder: “Seeing the Blind: Medieval Jewish Martyrdom, Poetry, and Hysterical Blindness,” 4:30pm at PAC 004

Susan Einbinder is Professor of Hebrew Literature at Hebrew Union College the author most recently of No Place of Rest: Jewish Expulsion and the Memory of Medieval France, which traces the ways that fourteenth-century texts written by Jews in Spain, Provence, Italy and North Africa recall the trauma of the 1306 expulsion from France.  She is also the author of Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France.

October 12, Playwright Joshua Sobol will talk about his new book Cut Throat Dog at Russell House at 8pm.

Joshua Sobol will place his new novel within the context of the “Shylock Syndrome.”  Sobol is an international renowned playwright, writer, and director.  In 2000 he was a visiting scholar at Wesleyan University and directed, with Wesleyan students, the play “Ghetto”, which was translated into more than 20 languages and has been performed by leading theaters in more than 25 countries through the world.  A reception will follow.

October 25, Israeli Author Michal Govrin will talk about her new book Holds on to the Sun at Russell House at 8pm.

“Hold on to the Sun:  Words Facing the Unspeakable”:  Michal Govrin will talk about her new book “Hold on to the Sun:  Stories and Legends”, which addresses through short stories, essay, and poetry the unspeakable through words.  The talk will end with a reading from the book.  Among the pioneers of Jewish experimental theater, Govrin has directed award-winning performances in all major theaters in Israel.  She also has published numerous nonfiction and personal essay, which have appeared in international journals and anthologies in several languages. A reception will follow.

An Opportunity for Students

One of our former students is currently working for the Moment Magazine and sent this announcement:

Award-Winning Magazine Seeks Student Contributors for Blog of Jewish Ideas

Moment Magazine, co-founded by Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, is recruiting bright, inquisitive, and diverse university students to contribute to our blog “In the Moment.” Moment is the world’s largest independent Jewish magazine, and our blog gets upwards of 10,000 hits a month. As a student blogger, you will write one post a week on topics of Jewish politics, religion and culture. This is an incredible opportunity for young writers to develop their skills and benefit from the expertise of our team of experienced editors. At the end of each semester, the three bloggers who have generated the most web hits will receive a cash prize.

To apply, please send an application consisting of the following to nelis@momentmag.com by October 10, 2010:

  • Your name, age, university and major.
  • 1-2 short paragraphs on why you’re interested in Jewish issues and what unique perspective and background you bring to the blog.
  • 2 short writing samples.
  • 4 specific, original ideas for blog-posts you’d want to write.


Check out “In The Moment” at http://momentmagazine.wordpress.com/ and Moment’s website at http://www.momentmag.com <http://www.momentmag.com/> .

Fall Events in Jewish and Israel Studies

September 16, screening of Israeli film “Beaufort” (2007) and a talk with Ron Leshem, the author and scriptwriter at the Goldsmith Cinema at 8pm.

The film takes place in 2000 during the Israeli withdrawal from Southern Lebanon after 18 years of conflict. It follows IDF soldiers at the medieval Beaufort Castle preparing to leave.

October 7, Susan Einbinder: “Seeing the Blind: Medieval Jewish Martyrdom, Poetry, and Hysterical Blindness,” 4:30pm at PAC 004

Susan Einbinder is Professor of Hebrew Literature at Hebrew Union College the author most recently of No Place of Rest: Jewish Expulsion and the Memory of Medieval France, which traces the ways that fourteenth-century texts written by Jews in Spain, Provence, Italy and North Africa recall the trauma of the 1306 expulsion from France.  She is also the author of Beautiful Death: Jewish Poetry and Martyrdom in Medieval France.

October 12, Playwright Joshua Sobol will talk about his new book Cut Throat Dog at Russell House at 8pm.

October 25, Israeli Author Michal Govrin will talk about her new book Holds on to the Sun at Russell House at 8pm.

November 4, Jewish and Israel Studies – Open House and Reception, 4:15

November 17, Berel Lang will give the annual Hallie Lecture, 4:15 PM, the COL Lounge.

The Hallie Lecture Series was created by David Rhodes ‘68 to honor the late professor of philosophy, Philip Hallie. The series focuses on key ethical questions of our day.

December 6, J.J. Goldberg will speak on “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.

Jewish and Israel Studies Program Hosting Its First Cultural Event

Please join us for our first cultural event, starting an exciting and rich program we have prepared for the whole year.

On September 16, this coming Thursday, there will be a screening of an Israeli film “Beaufort” at the Goldsmith Family Cinema, Film Studies, Wesleyan University, 8 pm. The film tells a story of Israeli soldiers preparing for withdrawal from Southern Lebanon in 2000.

The film’s screenwriter, Ron Leshem, will join us for a discussion after screening.  Please join us there.

Jewish and Israel Studies Program has a Facebook page, http://bit.ly/WesleyanJIS. “Like” us to get updates about our exciting program this year.  Or follow us through this blog: http://jis.blogs.wesleyan.edu/

I look forward to seeing you on Thursday.

Visual Arts Competition for Emerging Artists, Ages 18-39

The Milken Archive in conjunction with the Foundation for Jewish Culture is sponsoring a visual arts competition called “Eye Meets Ear: Visual Arts Competition for Emerging Artists.”  Its purpose is to find twenty pieces of art to serve as cover art for the twenty themed volumes of music that comprise the Milken Archive’s new online museum (visit at www.milkenarchive.org <http://www.milkenarchive.org> ). The creator of each selected artwork will receive a prize of $2,000, a total of $40,000 will be awarded, and there is no limit to the number of submissions an individual can make.  You can read more about the competition at www.jewishculture.org <http://www.jewishculture.org> .

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;