The Fourteenth Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival

On behalf of the Center for Jewish Studies and with the co-sponsoring of the College of Film and the Moving Image, it is my pleasure to announce the 14th Annual Ring Family Wesleyan University Israeli Film Festival, 2021. This year the festival, which goes virtually for the first (and hopefully the last) time, will feature the best and the most recent work by leading Israeli and international figures. The festival will be inaugurated by a multimedia presentation by Ron Leshem, the creator and writer of the successful TV show, Valley of Tears. Ron Leshem is back by popular demand from people who missed his talk last semester about the success of Israeli TV shows in Hollywood. Ron Leshem is the writer and creator of the Valley of Tears which plays now on HBO Max. His multi-media presentation is scheduled for Thursday February 25 at 6PM. A link for a free viewing of the first episode of Valley of Tears will be available to those who register on our website 48 hours before the talk. The registration website for all events is

Following this opening event, I am delighted to present a CT Premiere of the movie Here We Are. A description and a trailer is available on our website. The link to a free viewing of the film as well as the link to the talk is available 48 hours before the talk which is scheduled for on March 4 at 4 PM. The talk is scheduled earlier than usual because the film’s director, Nir Bergman, will be joining us from Israel (thanks to Avner Shavit, the visiting scholar of the Center for Jewish Studies). This is a feel good movie necessary for anyone who needs to keep the spirits up.

Finally, again back by very popular demand, the internationally acclaimed writer and winner of the prestigious Chevalier de Arts award, Etgar Keret, is returning once again to Wesleyan. On March 11 at 4 PM we will screen a short movie “Outside”, a COVID Fairy Tale, based on a short story Etgar Keret first published in the New York Times Magazine, as well as conduct an international live on line conversation with him. Please registrar on our website to get a link to attend this event.

The Film festival is curated by Dalit Katz, and sponsored by the Ring Family, The Center for Jewish Studies and the College of Film and the Moving Image.

Why Hollywood Loves Israeli TV shows

Due to the pandemic, The 18th Annual Fall Series Contemporary Israeli Voices, 2020  (curated by Dalit Katz) has moved online with two live multi-media presentations with Q/A sessions with the audience. The theme for the series this year was the success of Israeli artists in Hollywood. The series was inaugurated with renowned actress Ayelet Zurer who talked about Acting and the Brain’s Plasticity. Zurer spoke about her acting in American movies such as Angels & Demons and Man of Steel as well as acting in Israeli movies and the successful TV show Shtisel. The presentation included screenings of video trailers from her work. In the second presentation, which coincided with the official release of the trailer of the much anticipated TV show Valley of Tears, writer and scriptwriter, Ron Leshem, talked about Why Hollywood Loves Israeli TV Shows. Each presentation was followed by a Lunch and Learn meeting in which Hebrew students conversed with the speakers in Hebrew.  All presentations were opened to the public and were well attended. The Wesleyan community eagerly anticipates welcoming Ayelet Zurer and Ron Leshem again in the near future, hoping for in person  visits to our campus.

EPC Unanimously Approved a Revised Minor in Jewish and Israel Studies  

On February 2020, the Education and Policy Committee, the committee in charge of Wesleyan’s academic curriculum, approved unanimously the Center for Jewish Studies’ proposal for a Revised Minor in Jewish and Israel Studies. This new multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary minor explores various academic areas such as Jewish religion, Jewish culture, Jewish letters and Israel Studies. Courses counted for this Minor are offered by Jewish and Israel core and affiliated faculty, Jewish and Israel distinguished visitors and other Wesleyan faculty.  Student theses with Jewish and Israel relevance across the disciplines as well as study abroad courses and Hebrew courses will be counted towards the five required courses for the Minor. The requirements for completing the Minor will be updated and listed in the Center for Jewish Studies website as well as the Registrar’s catalog. Students can declare the new Minor at the same time they declare their Majors. Students who are currently taking courses in Jewish and Israel Studies as well as faculty expressed their enthusiasm and support of this innovative new minor. Please contact the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, Dalit Katz, for additional information.


Winners of the Best Jewish Studies Project Contest

The committee for the Best Jewish Studies Projects Awards has chosen two winners for the Best Jewish Studies Award: one in the creative category and one in the academic category. For the best creative project, the winner is Shayna Dollinger’s Abayudaya Radio Show. In this remarkable radio podcast, Shayna explores the Abayudaya, the unknown Jewish community in Uganda. The podcast moves elegantly and smoothly between Shayna serving as a journalist and the community’s rabbi whom she interviews. While exploring the subject, Shayna does not shy away from confronting controversial questions about the difficulties of Aliya (immigration to Israel) that members of the community face in light of the unfair and possibly racist attitude of the Israeli religious authorities and the establishment. For the best academic paper, the winner is Noah Kline’s paper on Memory in the Spotlight. Relaying on interviews with Spiegelman and other sources, Kline offers a fascinating analysis of Art Spiegelman canonical comic Maus that expands into existential and philosophical questions regarding truth and memory. While the issue of preserving the private Holocaust experiences of Spiegelman’s father from Auschwitz through graphic narration is brought to light by Kline in a thorough way, he explores  deeper questions: What is memory and does it represent the truth? How can we describe the reality of one person’s experience and translate it into a work of art? Is it possible to create a meaning out of someone else memories? Kline did a great job in this piece by articulating his philosophical questions while providing answers and suggestions for answers leaning on the multilayered complex work of Spiegelman.


Roots & Routes: Conversations on Displacement and Belongin

Tune into WESU 88.1FM Middletown every Monday starting Feb. 24, 1:30pm for Roots & Routes: Conversations on Displacement and Belonging. You can listen to previous episodes and learn more about it here.

Roots and Routes is a radio show bringing stories of exile, homeland, and belonging from all over the world, from Bangladesh to Bosnia, from NYC to Istanbul. The show is researched, produced, and presented by students of the Yaniv Feller’s course “RELI213\CJST214 Refugees & Exiles: Religion in the Diaspora” with support from the Allbritton Center’s Office for Service Learning.

The Center for Jewish Studies at the Association for Jewish Studies Conference

The Center for Jewish Studies actively participated at the 51st Annual Association for Jewish studies Conference in San Diego. For the second year in a row, the Center for Jewish Studies sponsored the AJS Film Festival. In addition, Dalit Katz, the center’s director, introduced the opening film of the festival, Tel Aviv on Fire. Shayna Dollinger, a candidate for the Certificate in Jewish and Israel Studies, and Sophia Shoulson, a Wesleyan graduate, also attended the conference. Michelle Katz, an alumni of the Center for Jewish Studies, is the AJS Membership and Content Conference Manager.

Professor Katz Published an Article on the Association for Jewish Studies Film Committee Work

Dalit Katz, the Chair of the Film Committee of the Association for Jewish Studies, published an article entitled “From Cairo to the Cloud to Tel Aviv on Fire: News from the AJS Film Committee, Fall 2019” at the AJS News: The Conference Issue . The article details the film committee’s work: organizing a film festival at the AJS conference, arranging for speakers and Q/A sessions with film directors, and initiating and chairing an annual pedagogical session on “Teaching with Films,” with a different theme each year. The annual AJS conference is scheduled for December 16-18, 2019, and will take place at Hilton San Diego Bayfront. The Association for Jewish Studies is the largest learned society and professional organization whose mission is “to advance research and teaching in Jewish Studies at colleges, universities, and other institutions of higher learning, and to foster greater understanding of Jewish Studies scholarship among the wider public”.

For more information about the article, please check the following link:

Prof. Dollinger speaks on Black Power, Jewish Politics

Professor Marc Dollinger, the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University  and a  Wesleyan parent, delivered an interactive multi- media presentation about Black Power, Jewish Politics: Reinventing the Alliance in the 1960s. Earlier  that day Professor Dollinger met with students in the Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for African- American Studies for a lunch in which he shared  the circumstances which prompted him to write this book.  This presentation was part of the Annual Jeremy Zwelling lecture instituted to honor Jeremy Zwelling, the founder of Jewish Studies at Wesleyan University. We had a full house in attendance, and hope to plan more events with the Center for African -American Studies. The lecture was sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies.

Contemporary Israeli Voices, 2019 Features Two Outstanding Female Writers: Shalev and Rabinyan

In the fall, the Center for Jewish Studies hosted Dorit Rabinyan and Zeruya Shalev as part of the series Contemporary Israeli Voices. Dorit Rabinyan delivered a talk about her recent book All the Rivers, a love story between an Israeli woman and a Palestinian man, which was banned by Israel’s Ministry of Education from being taught at high schools. Zeruya Shalev delved into the return of pain and the haunting of the past in her recent novel Pain. Both writers met Hebrew classes and answered the students’ questions in Hebrew. A book sale and reception followed each presentation. Students in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Studies wrote papers reflecting on those presentations. We look forward to hosting those accomplished writers again in the future. The series Contemporary Israeli Voices was initiated and organized by Dalit Katz the Director for the Center for Jewish Studies and is sponsored by the Center for Jewish studies.


Dalit Katz served as a juror at the Lighthouse International Film Festival

Dalit Katz, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies,  served as a juror in the documentary category at the Lighthouse International Film Festival at Long Beach Island in New Jersey. The opening night film was the feature film Skin, directed by the Israeli film maker Guy Nativ who won the Oscar for a short by the same title. After the screening Guy Nativ conducted a Q/A session with the audience. The film festival’s executive director this year is Amir Bogen, the Scholar in Residence at the Center for Jewish Studies in spring 2019.