Film@IIJS: Refugee Lullaby
Sep
16
7:00 PM19:00

Film@IIJS: Refugee Lullaby

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Hans Breuer, a Jewish shepherd in Austria, often leaves his flock and his land to help refugees entering Europe. He volunteers his car, his home, his family, and himself to feed, comfort, and shelter new immigrants, always singing Yiddish lullabies. The film follows Hans and a small community of volunteers -- some Jewish, others not -- who find in their shared history as Jews and Europeans a common obligation to provide for those most in need. (72 min)

The screening will be followed by a Q & A with Dir. Ronit Kertsner.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

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America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today
Sep
23
12:00 PM12:00

America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

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America’s Jewish Women uncovers what it has meant to be a Jewish woman in America by weaving together the stories of remarkable individuals—from the colonial matron Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter, the poet Emma Lazarus, to labor activist Bessie Hillman and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. In this groundbreaking history, we see how they and the scores of women—the wives, mothers, activists, and workers who appear in these pages—maintained their Jewish identities as they wrote themselves into American history. Defined by a strong sense of self, a resolute commitment to making the world a better place, and diverse notions of what being a Jew means, America’s Jewish women left deep imprints on their families, communities and the nation they call home. Join us for a lunch time conversation with Pamela Nadell.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

Co-sponsored by the Ingeborg, Tamara, and Yonina Rennert Fund for Jewish Studies at Barnard College.

Pamela Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University where she directs the Jewish Studies Program and is a recipient of American University’s highest faculty award, the Scholar/Teacher of the Year. She earned a doctorate in history from Ohio State University (1982), a B.A. from
Douglass College, Rutgers University (1973) and studied at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem (1971-72).

Prof. Nadell’s other books include Women Who Would Be Rabbis: A History of Women’s Ordination, 1889-1985 (1998), which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award and a main selection of the Jewish Book Club. She is the immediate past president of the Association for Jewish Studies, the learned society of 2,000 Jewish Studies scholars and students. She was one of the four historians comprising the founding historians’ team for the National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia. The American Jewish Historical Society recognized  her distinguished service to the profession with its Lee Max Friedman Award.

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The Political Economy of the News Media in Israel
Sep
24
7:00 PM19:00

The Political Economy of the News Media in Israel

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Two scandals involving media moguls and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are roiling politics in Israel. Guy Rolnik, founder of Israel’s leading financial newspaper, will discuss the nexus of politics, news, and big money in the country.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

Guy Rolnik is an economics journalist and commentator. He is the founder of TheMarker - Israel’s leading business and economics newspaper. Rolnik is an award winning journalist that is credited with revolutionizing economics news in Israel and influencing legislators and regulators in advancing major economics reforms in the country. Rolnik is the recipient of the Sokolov Lifetime Achievement Award in Journalism. He is a clinical professor of Strategic Management at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business.

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When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation
Oct
16
7:00 PM19:00

When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation

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How did a group of charismatic, apocalyptic Jewish missionaries, working to prepare their world for the impending realization of God’s promises to Israel, end up inaugurating a movement that would grow into the gentile church? Committed to Jesus’s prophecy—“The Kingdom of God is at hand!”—they were, in their own eyes, history’s last generation. But in history’s eyes, they became the first Christians.

Join us for a book talk with Paula Fredriksen as she answers this question by reconstructing the life of the earliest Jerusalem community. As her account arcs from this group’s hopeful celebration of Passover with Jesus, through their bitter controversies that fragmented the movement’s midcentury missions, to the city’s fiery end in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem, she brings this vibrant apostolic community to life. Fredriksen offers a vivid portrait both of this temple-centered messianic movement and of the bedrock convictions that animated and sustained it.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

Paula Fredriksen, the Aurelio Professor of Scripture emerita at Boston University, since 2009 has been distinguished Visiting Professor of Comparative Religion at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, she also holds honorary doctorates from Iona College (USA), Lund University (Sweden), and Hebrew University (Israel). She has published widely on the social and intellectual
history of ancient Christianity, and on pagan-Jewish-Christian relations in the Roman Empire. Author of Augustine on Romans (1982) and From Jesus to Christ (1988; 2000), her Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews, won a 1999 National Jewish Book Award. More recently, she has explored the development of Christian anti-Judaism, and Augustine’s singular response to it, in Augustine and the Jews: A Christian Defense of Jews and Judaism(2010); and has investigated the shifting conceptions of God and of humanity in Sin: The Early History of an Idea (2012). Her latest two studies, Paul: The Pagans’ Apostle (2017), and When Christians Were Jews: The First Generation (2018), place the Jesus-movement’s Jewish messianic message within the wider world of ancient
Mediterranean culture, politics, and power.

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Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies: Jewish Museum Practices: A Modern Cultural Innovation
Oct
24
6:00 PM18:00

Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies: Jewish Museum Practices: A Modern Cultural Innovation

Jewish museums, a relatively recent phenomenon, have become a mainstay of Jewish life and also serve as strategic points of entry for others into Jewish history and creativity. As a consequence, these museums now figure in an array of new cultural practices. Visitors to Jewish museums come not only to observe, but also to engage and at times to intervene with these institutions. In addition, visitors take the museum home with them, incorporating its practices of collecting, curating, and displaying into their lives. Speaker: Jeffrey Shandler, Distinguished Professor, Department of Jewish Studies, Rutgers University

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The Jewish Dead in Literature and Lore
Oct
30
6:30 PM18:30

The Jewish Dead in Literature and Lore

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What happens when the line between the dead and the living gets transgressed? Join us for a haunting lecture as we explore this gray area in Jewish lore, literature, and culture. Hear from Jonathan Boyarin as he delves into examples that are both familiar and not and shows us that though we try to preserve tidy lines separating the dead from the world of the living, careful borders which delineate our modern reality, we still remain uneasy. By examining these Jewish ghosts, we find that our discomfort with the afterlife might in fact result from our insistence on these walls.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

Co-sponsored by CUNY Graduate Center and Columbia Univerisity's Department of Germanic Languages.

Jonathan Boyarin is the Diann G. and Thomas A. Mann Professor of Modern Jewish Studies at Cornell University, where he teaches in the departments of anthropology and Near Eastern Studies. His research inquires broadly into modes of transmission of Jewish culture and identity and the dynamics of diaspora, with a special focus on the Jewish community of New York City's Lower East Side. He is currently completing an autoethnography of his study at an Orthodox yeshiva there. 

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Jews in 20th Century Cairo: Navigating Social Class and Public Spaces
Nov
4
12:00 PM12:00

Jews in 20th Century Cairo: Navigating Social Class and Public Spaces

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In this lecture, Alon Tam will explore the social history of the Jewish community in Egypt, with a special emphasis on the city of Cairo, in the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. He will examine such issues as migration, modernity, social mobility, cultural capital, community building, and relations with the larger Muslim society in which those Jews lived. Looking at those themes from the special perspective of performing social identities in various public spaces around Cairo promises to shed new light on the very meaning of Jewishness in actual, everyday life.

The Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies lecture is supported by the generosity of the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation.

Presented jointly by Fordham University's Jewish Studies program and Columbia University's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

Dr. Alon Tam is a social and cultural historian of the Middle East and North Africa. His research interests include urban history, the social history of Jewish communities in that region, historical anthropology, gender, race and ethnicity in the Middle East, and language politics, among others. Tam received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania with an award-winning dissertation titled “Cairo’s Coffeehouses in the Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Centuries: An Urban and Socio-Political History.” A recent fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, he is currently working on Jewish social identities in twentieth century Cairo.

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Parkchester: A Bronx Tale of Race and Ethnicity
Nov
12
12:00 PM12:00

Parkchester: A Bronx Tale of Race and Ethnicity

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In 1940, the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company opened a planned community in the East Bronx, New York. A model of what the neighborhood would become was first displayed to an excited public at the 1939 World’s Fair. Parkchester was celebrated as a “city within a city,” offering many of the attractions and comforts of suburbia, but without the transportation issues that plagued commuters who trekked into New York City every day. This new neighborhood initially constituted a desirable alternative to inner city neighborhoods for white ethnic groups with the means to leave their Depression-era homes. In this bucolic environment within Gotham, the Irish and Italian Catholics, white Protestants and Jews lived together rather harmoniously.

In Parkchester, Jeffrey S. Gurock explains how and why a “get along” spirit prevailed in Parkchester and marked a turning point in ethnic relations in the city.

Gurock is also attuned to, and documents fully, the egregious side to the neighborhood’s early history. Until the late 1960s, Parkchester was off-limits to African Americans and Latinos. He is also sensitive to the processes of integration that took place once the community was opened to all and explains why transition was made without significant turmoil and violence that marked integration in other parts of the city. This eight decade history takes Parkchester’s tale up to the present day and indicates that while the neighborhood is today predominantly African American and Latino, and home to immigrants from all over the world, the spirit of conviviality still prevails on its East Bronx streets.

As a child of Parkchester himself, Gurock couples his critical expertise as leading scholar of New York City’s history with an insider’s insight in producing a thoughtful, nuanced understanding of ethnic and race relations in the city. Join us for a lunch time lecture. 

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

Jeffrey S. Gurock is Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University. A prize-winning author, he has written or edited fifteen books in American Jewish history. Gurock has served as chair of the Academic Council of the American Jewish Historical Society and as associate editor of American Jewish History. He lives with his family in the Riverdale section of the Bronx.

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Film@IIJS: The Unorthodox
Nov
18
7:00 PM19:00

Film@IIJS: The Unorthodox

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When Yakov Cohen’s teenage daughter is expelled from her Orthodox yeshiva in 1983 because her Sephardic ethnicity is deemed "not a good fit" with the Ashkenazi majority, he decides to fight back. Yakov (Shuli Rand) runs a print shop in Jerusalem with no political experience, no money, and no connections; all he has is the will to organize for equal representation for his religious Sephardic community. As he builds allies in his new political movement to join the Jerusalem City Council, Yakov also makes powerful enemies who threaten his business and community standing. This mostly-true underdog story, visually styled like "American Hustle" and "The Big Short," culminates at the Israeli Knesset, where Yakov's movement becomes the Shas Party, a powerful force in Israeli politics to this day. (99 min)

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

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Between Tradition and Transformation: Shabbat Musical Practice in the Jewish Community of Istanbul
Nov
19
12:00 PM12:00

Between Tradition and Transformation: Shabbat Musical Practice in the Jewish Community of Istanbul

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This talk will be about ongoing transformations in the sacred musical repertoires practiced by ḥazzanim (synagogue cantors) and their synagogue congregations in Istanbul’s contemporary Jewish community. Dr. Alpar argues that clergy and laypeople alike negotiate their religious identities as Turkish Jews in the musical choices they make. While many try to maintain the community’s local music tradition, rooted in makam—the Ottoman Turkish melodic system—others attempt to broaden their repertoire with musics from Israel, the United States, and Ḥabad Hasidic Judaism. He will examine adjustments made to the musical components of ritual as responses to decades of Jewish religious life as experienced under the authority of the secular Turkish state and to the resurgence of religious observance within certain segments of the Jewish community. Newly religious and spiritually searching Jews now have a conflicted relationship with their community’s historic, sacred musical practices, appreciating their cultural significance but questioning their relevance and efficacy. He asserts that ḥazzanim and community members articulate ambivalent and changing attitudes about their Jewish identities, memory, and the value of local tradition in their diverse approaches to making sacred music. Based on more than two years of ethnographic fieldwork in Istanbul’s Jewish community, Dr. Alpar's talk investigates the tension between their loyalty to tradition and the freedom and fear of being liberated from it.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov Families.

Co-sponsored by the Sakıp Sabancı Center for Turkish Studies.

Dr. Joseph Alpar is a scholar, performer, and educator whose research centers on musical and religious practices in Turkey and former Ottoman territories. He is a visiting faculty member in ethnomusicology and music history at Bennington College for the 2019-2020 academic year. Alpar earned his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from The Graduate Center, City University of New York in June 2019, having completed a dissertation titled, “Music and Jewish Practice in Contemporary Istanbul: Preserving Heritage, Bending Tradition.” His research has been supported by fellowships from The American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) and The Graduate Center, CUNY. Alpar is an accomplished vocalist and multi-instrumentalist of Turkish, Greek, and Sephardic music, playing santouri, piano, darbuka, and frame drums. He is the director of David’s Harp, an acclaimed Philadelphia-based Sephardic music ensemble. He has taught previously in the music departments of Swarthmore College, Temple University, and CUNY, Hunter College.


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History and Memory: The Legacy of Yosef H. Yerushalmi
Dec
1
1:00 PM13:00

History and Memory: The Legacy of Yosef H. Yerushalmi

  • Pulitzer Hall, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (map)
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In honor of the 10th anniversary of Yosef H. Yerushalmi’s passing, the Institute will be hosting an academic conference to reflect on the legacy of Columbia’s own influential scholar. His major works introduced students and scholars to groundbreaking ideas about Jewish history and memory, Freud’s relationship to his Judaism, and the history of conversos, among others. This conference will provide an opportunity for the public, alumni, and Prof. Yerushalmi’s students to reexamine his lasting influence on the field of Jewish Studies. Join us for a day of reflection and scholarship.

1:00 pm - Opening Remarks by Pierre Birnbaum (University of Paris)

1:30 - 3:00 pm - "Yerushalmi The Historian" Panel featuring Edward Fram (Ben Gurion University), Benjamin Gampel (Jewish Theological Seminary), and Marina Rustow (Princeton University)

3:00 - 3:30 pm - Coffee Break

3:30 - 5:00 pm - "Narrative, History, and Yerushalmi" Panel featuring Olga Litvak (Cornell University), Nancy Sinkoff (Rutgers University), Magda Teter (Fordham University)

6:30 - 8:00 pm - Keynote address by Sir Simon Schama (Columbia University)

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Film@IIJS: Shooting Life
Dec
9
7:00 PM19:00

Film@IIJS: Shooting Life

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Yigal, an unemployed and recently-divorced filmmaker from Tel Aviv, accepts a position teaching film in Sderot. Though his high school students are slow to warm to him, Yigal gains their trust by coaxing them to film their own stories of love and loss as rockets from Gaza fall around them. (84 min)

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov families.

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Vernacular Rabbis: Musar, Translation, and the Making of Ladino Modernity
May
15
6:00 PM18:00

Vernacular Rabbis: Musar, Translation, and the Making of Ladino Modernity

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This lecture explores the paradox how a traditional genre of Jewish literature--musar, often rendered as "ethical writings" in English--became a vehicle for the dissemination of modern ideas in the course of the "long" nineteenth century. Focusing on the example of Judeo-Spanish writings from the Balkans, the talk discusses the intersection of gender and nationalism in Ladino musar literature. It does so through a close reading of Zemach Rabbiner's "The Jewish Mothers in the Biblical Period," a Judeo-Spanish work published in Constantinople on the eve of the First World War.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Prof. Matthias Lehmann is the Teller Family Chair in Jewish History and the Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History and the Center for Jewish Studies at UC Irvine.

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Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel
May
9
7:00 PM19:00

Spies of No Country: Secret Lives at the Birth of Israel

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The four spies at the center of this story were part of a ragtag unit known as the Arab Section, conceived during World War II by British spies and Jewish militia leaders in Palestine. Intended to gather intelligence and carry out sabotage and assassinations, the unit consisted of Jews who were native to the Arab world and could thus easily assume Arab identities. In 1948, with Israel’s existence in the balance during the War of Independence, our spies went undercover in Beirut, where they spent the next two years operating out of a kiosk, collecting intelligence, and sending messages back to Israel via a radio whose antenna was disguised as a clothesline. While performing their dangerous work these men were often unsure to whom they were reporting, and sometimes even who they’d become. Of the dozen spies in the Arab Section at the war’s outbreak, five were caught and executed. But in the end the Arab Section would emerge, improbably, as the nucleus of the Mossad, Israel’s vaunted intelligence agency.

Spies of No Country is about the slippery identities of these young spies, but it’s also about Israel’s own complicated and fascinating identity. Israel sees itself and presents itself as a Western nation, when in fact more than half the country has Middle Eastern roots and traditions, like the spies of this story. And, according to Friedman, that goes a long way toward explaining the life and politics of the country, and why it often baffles the West. For anyone interested in real-life spies and the paradoxes of the Middle East, Spies of No Country is an intimate story with global significance.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.



Matti Friedman, a journalist and contributor to the New York Times Op-Ed Section, is the author of two previous works of nonfiction.

His 2016 book Pumpkinflowers: A Soldier’s Story of a Forgotten War was chosen as a New York Times’ Notable Book and as one of Amazon’s 10 best books of the year. Pumpkinflowers was selected as one of the year’s best by Booklist, Mother Jones, Foreign Affairs, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. It won the 2017 Vine Award for Canadian Jewish literature and the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for memoir, and was shortlisted for the 2017 RBC Taylor Prize, the Writer’s Trust Prize, and the Yitzhak Sadeh Prize for military writing (Israel). Editions were published in the US, Britain, Canada, Israel, and China.

Matti’s first book, The Aleppo Codex, an investigation into the strange fate of an ancient Bible manuscript, won the 2014 Sami Rohr Prize, the ALA’s Sophie Brody Medal, and the Canadian Jewish Book Award for history. It was translated into seven languages.

Spies of No Country, the story of Israel’s first intelligence agents in 1948, has received the 2018 Natan Book Award.

A former Associated Press correspondent, Matti’s work as a reporter has taken him from Israel to Lebanon, Morocco, Moscow, the Caucasus, and Washington, DC, and his writing has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Tablet Magazine, and elsewhere.Two essays he wrote about media coverage of Israel after the 2014 Gaza war, for Tablet and The Atlantic, triggered intense discussion and have been shared on Facebook more than 130,000 times.

He was born in Toronto and lives in Jerusalem with his family.




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Anti-Semitism in the Americas
May
7
1:00 PM13:00

Anti-Semitism in the Americas

Join us for this timely and relevant conference to explore anti-Semitism in the Americas, contextualizing this very important topic, both historically and geographically. The year 2019 marks:

  • The 100th anniversary of the Tragic Week in Buenos Aires, the first violent outburst of anti-Semitism in the history of the Western Hemisphere .

  • The 25th anniversary of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, the deadliest anti-Semitic attack after the defeat of the fascist powers in 1945.

In addition, 2018 witnessed a dramatic upsurge in anti-Semitism and anti-Semitic violence in the United States.

The goal of this conference is to provide a fresh perspective about anti-Semitism in the Americas. We hope to address the roots and the effects of these anti-Semitic events and use these moments to reflect on the experience and practice of anti-Semitism in the Americas. What new insights can be gained by looking at anti-Semitism from a hemispheric perspective [aka North and South America] rather than just looking across the Atlantic? Indeed, how will one see 'American' Jewish history [aka North American] with fresh eyes when considering aspects of the South American experience? What can thinking anew about anti-Semitism in North and South America teach us about anti-Semitism as a concept and Jewish life in the Americas? In this new age of extremism, it is more important than ever to study the intersection of anti-Semitism, racism, and populism.

Schedule:

At the Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies - 617 Kent Hall, 1140 Amsterdam Avenue

1:00 pm: Opening Remarks

1:20 pm: What Do We Mean When We Say 'Antisemitism'? with David Engel

2:00 pm: Anti-Semitism in Latin America panel with Federico FinchelsteinJudit Bokser LiwerantAlberto Spektorowski, and Natasha Zaretsky

4:00 pm: The Long History of Anti-Semitism in North America panel with Rebecca KobrinMenhaz AfridiKatherine Benton-Cohen, and Rachel Gordan

At Barnard College's Diana Center- 3009 Broadway

6:00 pm: Anti-Semitism, Populism, and Migration in Latin American History with Federico Finchelstein

7 pm: Reception hosted by Barnard Forum on Migration

Co-Sponsored by the Barnard Forum on Migration, Columbia University’s Institute for Latin American Studies, Columbia University’s Hispanic Institute for Latin American and Iberian Cultures, the Latin American Jewish Studies Association, and The New School for Social Research.

Registration is available for the full conference or a portion of the programs.

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Film@IIJS: Who Will Write Our History
Apr
29
6:00 PM18:00

Film@IIJS: Who Will Write Our History

  • Pulitzer Hall, Columbia Graduate School of Journalism (map)
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In November 1940, days after the Nazis sealed 450,000 Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, a secret band of journalists, scholars and community leaders decided to fight back. Led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum and known by the code name Oyneg Shabes, this clandestine group vowed to defeat Nazi lies and propaganda not with guns or fists but with pen and paper. Now, for the first time, their story is told as a feature documentary. Written, produced and directed by Roberta Grossman ("Above and Beyond"), "Who Will Write Our History" mixes the writings of the Oyneg Shabes archive with new interviews, rarely seen footage and stunning dramatizations to transport us inside the Ghetto and the lives of these courageous resistance fighters. (95 min)

After the screening, we will be joined by Samuel Kassow for a Q & A.

Supported by the generosity of the Radov Family.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University's Department of History and Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). 

Samuel Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, holds a Ph.D. from Princeton University. He has been been a visiting professor at many institutions including the Hebrew University, Harvard, Toronto and Dartmouth. From 2006 until 2013 he was the lead historian for two galleries of the recently opened POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw.  He has been elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Jewish Research.

Professor Kassow is the author of Students Professors and the State in Tsarist Russia: 1884-1917 (University of California Press, 1989), The Distinctive Life of East European Jewry (YIVO, 2003) and Who will Write  our
History: Emanuel Ringelblum and the Secret Ghetto Archive
 (Indiana,  2007),  which received the Orbis Prize of the AAASS and which was a finalist for a National Jewish Book Award. It has been translated into eight languages. He is also co-editor of Between Tsar and People (Princeton University Press,1993) and edited  "In Those Nightmarish Days: the Ghetto Reportage of Peretz Opoczynski and Josef Zelkowicz " which Yale University Press published in October 2016. Along with David Roskies his has edited and compiled the ninth volume of the Posen Anthology of Jewish Culture which Yale University Press will publish next year. A child of Holocaust survivors, Professor Kassow was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Germany.


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Mr. Straight Arrow: The Career of John Hersey
Apr
16
12:00 PM12:00

Mr. Straight Arrow: The Career of John Hersey

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Few are the books with as immediate an impact and as enduring a legacy as John Hersey’s Hiroshima. First published as an entire issue of The New Yorker in 1946, it was serialized in newspapers the world over and has never gone out of print. By conveying plainly the experiences of six survivors of the 1945 atomic bombing and its aftermath, Hersey brought to light the magnitude of nuclear war. And in his adoption of novelistic techniques, he prefigured the conventions of New Journalism. But how did Hersey—who was not Japanese, not an eyewitness, not a scientist—come to be the first person to communicate the experience to a global audience?

In Mr. Straight Arrow, Jeremy Treglown answers that question and shows that Hiroshima was not an aberration but was emblematic of the author’s lifework. Born in China, the son of YMCA missionaries, Hersey (1914-93) was a WW2 reporter for Time and Life. His themes as a journalist and novelist included masculine aggression, imperialism, racism, civil rights and the environment. As a correspondent in Moscow he was taken to some of the first Nazi concentration camps liberated by the Communists, and to the site of the Warsaw ghetto, experiences which led to his deeply researched 1950 The Wall -- the first American novel to deal with the Shoah. He also wrote for The New Yorker about the early kibbutzim, and, later, about the second generation of Israelis. By the time of Hiroshima’s publication, Hersey was already a famed war writer and had won a Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. He continued to publish journalism of immediate and pressing moral concern; his reporting from the Freedom Summer and his exposés of the Detroit riots resonate all too loudly today. But his obsessive doubts over the value of his work never ceased. Mr. Straight Arrow is an intimate, exacting study of the achievements and contradictions of Hersey’s career, which reveals the powers of a writer tirelessly committed to truth and social change. Join us for a lunch time conversation with Jeremy Treglown.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Co-sponsored by the Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life at Columbia's Journalism School. 

Jeremy Treglown is the Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of English Studies, School of Advanced Study at the University of London and Emeritus Professor at the University of Warwick.

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Species: Rabbis, Humans, and Other Creatures in Late Antiquity
Apr
15
12:00 PM12:00

Species: Rabbis, Humans, and Other Creatures in Late Antiquity

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The notion of humanity “created in the image of God,” often seen as quintessentially Jewish, highlights the elevation or singularity of the human inasmuch as it resembles or reflects divinity. However, this talk presents an alternate approach to the human, one which travels through early rabbinic zoological and reproductive science. Reading texts from the Mishnah’s tractates of Niddah (menstrual purity), Bekhorot (firstborn donations to the Jerusalem temple), and Kilayim (forbidden mixings of species), Professor Neis shows evidence of how the rabbis intertwined their ideas of gynecology together with those of zoology. The rabbis of the Mishnah conceived of the human alongside other animals, within broader considerations about reproduction, overlaps and distinctions between species, and hybridity. This alternate rabbinic view of the human with its more porous approach will be put in conversation with ideas about bodily and species variation in Aristotle’s Generation of Animals.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Rachel Rafael Neis, an associate professor appointed in History and Judaic Studies, holds the Jean and Samuel Frankel Chair in Rabbinics. Neis obtained a Ph.D. in Jewish Studies from Harvard University, a Masters in Religious Studies from Boston University, and a law degree from the London School of Economics. Neis' first book The Sense of Sight in Rabbinic Culture: Jewish Ways of Seeing in Late Antiquity (Cambridge, 2013) won the Salon Baron Prize for best first book in Jewish Studies and an honorable mention for the Jordan Schnitzer Award. The Sense of Sight offered a cultural history of vision focusing on late ancient rabbis, Jews, and other minorities living under Roman and Sassanian rule in Palestine and Mesopotamia respectively. Neis' second book project is at the intersection of rabbinics, history of ancient science, animal studies and feminist science studies, and is entitled Generation and the Reproduction of Species: Rabbinic Conceptions of Life in Late Antiquity. Neis is also working on a third project about the potentials and limits of "law" as a category of analysis for rabbinic literature and Jewish studies.

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Animals & Animality in the Babylonian Talmud
Apr
11
6:00 PM18:00

Animals & Animality in the Babylonian Talmud

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Animals and Animality in the Babylonian Talmud selects key themes in animal studies - animal intelligence, morality, sexuality, suffering, danger, personhood - and explores their development in the Babylonian Talmud. Beth A. Berkowitz demonstrates that distinctive features of the Talmud - the new literary genre, the convergence of Jewish, Christian, and Zoroastrian cultures, the Talmud's remove from Temple-centered biblical Israel - led to unprecedented possibilities within Jewish culture for conceptualizing animals and animality. She explores their development in the Babylonian Talmud, showing how it is ripe for reading with a critical animal studies perspective. When we do, we find waiting for us a multi-layered, surprisingly self-aware discourse about animals as well as about the anthropocentrism that infuses human relationships with them. For readers of religion, Judaism, and animal studies, her book offers new perspectives on animals from the vantage point of the ancient rabbis.

Join us for a conversation on the intersection of these various topics with Beth A. BerkowitzSergey Dolgopolski, and Naama Harel.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University's Department of Religion, The Society of Fellows and Heyman Center for the Humanities and the Office of the Divisional Deans in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.

Supported by the generosity of the Columbia University Jewish Studies Fund.

Beth A. Berkowitz is a scholar of Jewish and Religious Studies with a specialization in classical rabbinic literature. She is the author of Execution and Invention: Death Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2006); Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Animals and Animality in the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming). She is co-editor with Elizabeth Shanks Alexander of Religious Studies and Rabbinics: A Conversation (Routledge, forthcoming). Her current writing is on the experience of pleasure in animals as the Babylonian Talmud conceives it, and her next book project will be a “biblical bestiary” that profiles the reception history of various animal characters in the Hebrew Bible.

Sergey Dolgopolski's general area of interest is the variety of ways in which philosophy and literature interact, creating new philosophical concepts and new literary forms. He specializes in the Talmud as a body of text and thought seen from poetic, rhetoric and philosophical perspectives, with a particular interest in mutual hermeneutics of philosophical, rhetorical and Talmudic traditions, and with emphasis on mutually shaping engagements of poetic Talmudic and philosophical thinking. His newest book, Other Others: The Political After the Talmud (Fordham University Press, 2018, puts contemporary political theory and a literary-theoretical exploration of the core text of Rabbinic Judaism, the Talmud, into both a fruitful and tensed conversation one with another. Prof. Dolgopolksi's current project, tentatively titled: Suspending New Testament: The Political Philology of the Palestinian Talmud, renegotiates the competing notions and practices of citation in late antiquity and modernity by asking anew the question of the relationships between the law which always comes from the past and the citation of the law which is only and always available in the present.

Naama Harel directs the Hebrew program at Columbia University. Her research focus is at the intersection of Modern Jewish and Hebrew Literature and Human-Animal Studies. She has published various scholarly articles on related themes, including compassion for animals in the renaissance of Hebrew literature, metamorphosis narratives, animal fables, anthropomorphism, de-allegorization, humanimal hybridity and liminality, post-anthropocentric utopias, and species fluidity. Her book Kafka’s Zoopoetics: Beyond the Human/Animal Barrier is forthcoming with the University of Michigan Press. In her current book project, The Jew, the Beauty, and the Beast, she explores the triangular interplay between Jewishness, gender, and animality in Modern Hebrew literature.

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The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish treasures from the Nazis
Apr
9
7:00 PM19:00

The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish treasures from the Nazis

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The Book Smugglers is the nearly unbelievable story of ghetto residents who rescued thousands of rare books and manuscripts—first from the Nazis and then from the Soviets—by hiding them on their bodies, burying them in bunkers, and smuggling them across borders. It is a tale of heroism and resistance, of friendship and romance, and of unwavering devotion—including the readiness to risk one’s life—to literature and art. And it is entirely true. Based on Jewish, German, and Soviet documents, including diaries, letters, memoirs, and the author’s interviews with several of the story’s participants, The Book Smugglers chronicles the daring activities of a group of poets turned partisans and scholars turned smugglers in Vilna, “The Jerusalem of Lithuania.”

Hear from David E. Fishman as describes what has been hailed as"Monuments Men for book lovers" and "first rate scholarship that pulses with the beat of a most human heart."

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University's Department of History and Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). This event is part of Carnegie Hall’s Migrations: The Making of America festival.

David E. Fishman is a professor of Jewish History at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in modern Jewish history. Dr. Fishman also serves as director of Project Judaica, JTS's program in the Former Soviet Union (FSU), which is based at Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow) and Kyiv-Mohyla Academy University (Kiev). He directs its Jewish Archival Survey, which publishes guides to Jewish archival materials in the FSU.

Dr. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry. His most recent book, The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis(ForeEdge, 2017) has been hailed as "Monuments Men for book lovers" and "first rate scholarship that pulses with the beat of a most human heart." Previous monographs include Russia's First Modern Jews (New York University Press, 1996) and The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005). Dr. Fishman is the coeditor (with Burton Visotzky) of From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature (Westview Press, 1999), and edited a volume of Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik's Yiddish writings, Droshes un ksovim (Ktav, 2009).

For 15 years (1988–2003), Dr. Fishman was editor in chief of YIVO-Bleter, the Yiddish-language scholarly journal of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He is a member of the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Social Studies and Polin.

A native New Yorker, Dr. Fishman has taught at Brandeis University, Bar-Ilan University, Russian State University in Moscow, and Yeshiva University's Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He has been a fellow at the Hebrew University's Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of Pennsylvania's Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies.

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The Naomi Prawer Kadar Annual Memorial Lecture with Jonathan D. Sarna
Apr
3
6:30 PM18:30

The Naomi Prawer Kadar Annual Memorial Lecture with Jonathan D. Sarna

  • Columbia Graduate School of Journalism Pulitzer Hall, Joseph D. Jamail Lecture Hall, 3rd Floor (map)
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Who’s ever heard of Cora Wilburn, the first Jewish novelist in America? At nineteen, she’d traveled the world and disdained its corruption. Clawing her way out of poverty as the Civil War divided the United States, she traded her needle for a pen, fighting for women’s rights, abolition, and her own freedom to rejoin the Jewish people. Hear from Jonathan D. Sarna as he shares the life and literature of this extraordinary woman, whose newly-discovered diary contains some poignant words in Yiddish.

6:30 pm - Reception

7:30 pm - Lecture

Supported by the generosity of the Naomi Foundation.

Jonathan D. Sarna is University Professor and the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, where he directs the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He is also the Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish history in Philadelphia and chair of the Academic Advisory and Editorial Board of the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati. His many books include AMERICAN JUDAISM: A HISTORY, soon to appear in a second edition.

The Naomi Prawer Kadar Annual Memorial Lecture provides an opportunity for the public to explore topics of Yiddish language and linguistics, the history of Yiddish, Yiddish children’s literature and education. The lecture is supported by the Naomi Prawer Kadar Foundation, Inc., which is dedicated to reimagining education. The Naomi Foundation champions Yiddish, Naomi’s lifelong passion, as a vibrant, rich, and contemporary language. The Naomi Foundation advances the teaching and learning of Yiddish, particularly in academic and scholarly settings.

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Left, Right, and Center: An Israeli Election Preview
Apr
1
7:00 PM19:00

Left, Right, and Center: An Israeli Election Preview

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Just a week before Israelis head to the polls, join IIJS for a discussion of just how Israel’s complicated elections work – and who one expert thinks is likely to prevail. Featuring Natan Sachs, Director of The Center for Middle East Policy at The Brookings Institution in conversation with Daniel Bonner, Foreign Policy Fellow at The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Natan Sachs is a fellow in and director of the Center for Middle East Policy at Brookings. His work focuses on Israeli foreign policy, domestic politics, the Arab-Israeli conflict, and U.S.-Israeli relations. He is currently writing a book on Israeli grand strategy and its domestic origins.

Sachs has taught on the Arab-Israeli conflict at Georgetown University's Department of Government, and research design for the Security Studies Program at Georgetown. Previously, Sachs was a Fulbright fellow in Indonesia, where his research included an empirical study of the behavioral effects of Islamic and national identities. He was subsequently a Hewlett fellow at Stanford’s Center on Democracy, Development, and the Rule of Law.

Sachs earned a bachelor's degree in the Amirim Excellence program at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, and a master's and doctorate in political science from Stanford University.

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 Don't Panic, Don't Ignore: How to Report on Hate
Mar
28
7:30 PM19:30

Don't Panic, Don't Ignore: How to Report on Hate

  • Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, Pulitzer Hall, Joseph D. Jamail Lecture Hall (map)
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With a rise in anti-Semitism in America and beyond, how should the media deal with hate, with hate crimes, with perpetrators, with statistics? How should we cover a dangerous force without underestimating, simplifying or exaggerating? Hear from Adam Serwer, staff writer at The Atlantic, Laurie Goodstein, religion reporter for The New York Times, Jane Eisner, editor of The Forward, Rachel Glickhouse, Partner Manager for the Documenting Hate project at ProPublica and moderator Samuel G. Freedman as they dive into this very important and timely conversation.

Co-sponsored by Columbia Graduate School of Journalism.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

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Who Wants to Be a Jewish Writer? And Other Essays
Mar
25
7:00 PM19:00

Who Wants to Be a Jewish Writer? And Other Essays

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From one of today’s keenest critics comes a collection of essays on poetry, religion, and the connection between the two. This collection brings together his essays on poetry, religion, and the intersections between them, with a particular focus on Jewish literature. He explores the definition of Jewish literature, the relationship between poetry and politics, and the future of literary reputation in the age of the internet. Several essays look at the way Jewish writers such as Stefan Zweig and Isaac Deutscher, who coined the phrase “the non-Jewish Jew,” have dealt with politics. Kirsch also examines questions of spirituality and morality in the writings of contemporary poets, including Christian Wiman, Kay Ryan, and Seamus Heaney. He closes by asking why so many American Jewish writers have resisted that category, inviting us to consider “Is there such a thing as Jewish literature?” Join us for a conversation between Adam Kirsch and Jeremy Dauber

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family

Co-Sponsored by Columbia University's Center for American Studies.

Adam Kirsch is a regular contributor to the Atlantic and the New Yorker,and the author of ten books, including The People and the Books: 18 Classics of Jewish Literature and Why Trilling Matters. He lives in New York City.

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Film@IIJS: Geula (Redemption)
Mar
11
7:00 PM19:00

Film@IIJS: Geula (Redemption)

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Menachem, a former frontman for a rock band, is now religious and a father to a six-year-old. When his daughter is diagnosed with cancer, he must find a creative solution to fund the expensive treatments. He reunites his band to play Orthodox weddings. The journey to save his daughter opens old wounds, but allows him to reconnect with his secular past and his music. (104 min) Screening will be followed by conversation with Gershom Gorenberg.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye and Radov Families

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Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies: Designing West Bank Settlements: The First Years
Mar
7
6:00 PM18:00

Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies: Designing West Bank Settlements: The First Years

In the news, the conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often revolves around the settlements built in the West Bank, which Israel conquered from Jordan in 1967. Very little however is said about the actual design and construction of the settlements, and their relationship to Zionism as well as to the tradition of modernist architecture that developed in Israel.

This talk looks at the design of one of the first settlements built in the West Bank, at a time when Israelis were still debating the administrative fate of the occupied territories. While government officials were hesitant to populate the West Bank with Israelis, activists advocated for building settlements, whether out of a desire to be close to Biblical sites or to be close to Arab culture. Meanwhile, professional architects preferred ignoring the West Bank. This talk examines the debates that emerged between these different groups and the architectural forms that resulted from those debates. It takes the case of the Jewish settlement of Hebron in order to show how a political landscape that we take for granted today came about in contingent and unexpected ways.

Noam Shoked is the Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities at Princeton University.

In partnership with Fordham University’s Jewish Studies program.

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Law, Selfness, and Kinship in Medieval Karaism
Mar
4
12:00 PM12:00

Law, Selfness, and Kinship in Medieval Karaism

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What establishes a relationship between two individuals that makes them members of a kin? What does it mean to have an affinity and to belong to a meaningful group? What role does the law play in acknowledging or constituting belongingness?

The lecture will address these questions by focusing on a very special historical moment in which the notions of selfness, kinship and belonging were formulated anew through a legal reform of the medieval Karaite law. We trace, evoke and articulate these notions through analysis of commentaries and firsthand accounts on a major legal change that took place through the eleventh century.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Joseph E. David is a Visiting Professor (Adjunct) of Law at Yale Law School and a Visiting Professor at the Program in Judaic Studies at Yale University. He is an Associate Professor of Law at Sapir Academic College in Israel. His research focuses on Law and Religion, Legal History, Comparative Law, and Jurisprudence.



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Experiencing Jewish Music in America: A Listener's Companion
Feb
25
12:00 PM12:00

Experiencing Jewish Music in America: A Listener's Companion

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Experiencing Jewish Music in America: A Listener's Companion offers insights into an extensive range of musical genres and styles that have been central to the Jewish experience, beginning with the arrival of the first Jewish immigrants in the sixteenth century and the chanting of the Torah, to the sounds of pop today. It lays the groundwork for the listener’s understanding of music in its relation to Jewish studies by exploring the wide range of venues in which this music has appeared, from synagogue to street to stage to screen. Each chapter offers selected case studies where these unique forms of music were—and still can be—heard, seen, and experienced. 

This book gives readers unique insights into the challenges of classifying Jewish music, while it traces its history and development on American soil and outlines “ways of listening” so readers can draw clear connections to Jewish culture. The volume thus brings together American Jewish history, the story of American and Jewish music, and the roles of the individuals important to both. It offers the reader tools to identify, evaluate, and appreciate the musical genres, and reflect the growing interest of the past decade in the academic study of Jewish music. Hear from Tina Frühauf as she shares some of the music that has informed the Jewish experiance in New York. 

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University's Department of Music.


Tina Frühauf serves on the faculty at Columbia University and is associate executive editor at Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale in New York. She serves also on the doctoral faculty of The Graduate Center, The City University of New York. An active scholar and writer, Frühauf’s research is centered on music and Jewish studies, especially in religious contexts but also art music, historiography, and Jewish community (through participatory action research), often crossing the methodological boundaries between ethnomusicology and historical musicology.

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In Dialogue: Jewish Polish Relations During the Second World War
Feb
21
6:00 PM18:00

In Dialogue: Jewish Polish Relations During the Second World War

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The history and memory of World War II and the destruction of the majority of European Jews on Polish soil have run on separate tracks: the history of World War II and the Holocaust. Samuel Kassow and Piotr Wróbel will focus their conversation on the contested issues in the Polish Jewish relations of this period, and the problem of distinct historical memories this period evokes among Jews and Poles.

About the Speakers

Samuel Kassow is the Charles H. Northam Professor of History at Trinity College, and is recognized as one of the world's leading scholars on the Holocaust and the Jews of Poland. Kassow was born in 1946 in a DP-camp in Stuttgart, Germany and grew up speaking Yiddish. Kassow attended the London School of Economics and Princeton University where he earned a PhD in 1976 with a study about students and professors in Tsarist Russia. He is widely known for his 2007 book, Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archive (Indiana University Press). He was elected a Fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research, has won numerous awards, and has lectured widely.

Piotr Wróbel is Konstanty Reynert Chair of Polish History at the University of Toronto. His current research focuses on national minorities in East Europe. He is the author or co-author of seven books and more than 75 articles about Polish, German, Byelorussian, and Jewish history published in Poland, Great Britain, and the United States. The titles of his current projects are “History of the Jews in Poland ”. In 2006, he co-edited Nation and History: Polish Historians from the Enlightenment to the Second World War.

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Film@IIJS: Outdoors
Feb
20
7:00 PM19:00

Film@IIJS: Outdoors

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Gili and Ya'ara, a married couple in their 30s, decide to leave Tel Aviv and build their dream house on a "perfect" hillside lot in the Galilee. While their house is being built, the foundations of their relationship are challenged one by one. As their story shifts from comedy to drama and back again, Noa Koler (The Wedding Plan) and Udi Razzin (Foreign Letters) give magnetic, lived-in performances as Ya'ara and Gili. (80 min)

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The Diamond Setter
Feb
18
1:00 PM13:00

The Diamond Setter

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Inspired by true events, this best-selling Israeli novel traces a complex web of love triangles, homoerotic tensions, and family secrets across generations and borders, illuminating diverse facets of life in the Middle East.

The uneventful life of a jeweler from Tel Aviv changes abruptly in 2011 after Fareed, a handsome young man from Damascus, crosses illegally into Israel and makes his way to the ancient port city of Jaffa in search of his roots. In his pocket is a piece of a famous blue diamond known as “Sabakh.” Intending to return the diamond to its rightful owner, Fareed is soon swept up in Tel Aviv’s vibrant gay scene, and a turbulent protest movement. He falls in love with both an Israeli soldier and his boyfriend–the narrator of this book–and reveals the story of his family’s past: a tale of forbidden love beginning in the 1930s that connects Fareed and the jeweler.

Following Sabakh’s winding path, The Diamond Setter ties present-day events to a forgotten time before the establishment of the State of Israel divided the region. Moshe Sakal’s poignant mosaic of characters, locales, and cultures encourages us to see the Middle East beyond its violent conflicts.

Hear from author Moshe Sakal as he discusses this "richly evocative" novel.

Supported by the generosity of the Appel Family.

Moshe Sakal is the author of five Hebrew novels, including THE DIAMOND SETTER, published in NYC in 2018 (translated by Man Booker Prize winner, Jessica Cohen), the best-selling YOLANDA, which was short-listed for the Sapir Prize and was published in France in 2012, and MY SISTER, which was long-listed in 2016.

Sakal's novel THE DIAMOND SETTER was named one of TimeOut New York’s “11 Books You Will Want to Binge-Read This Month,” and Entertainment Weekly has called “[An] essential read…[one] of 2018’s biggest titles…a vital depiction of queer life in the Middle East.” 

Moshe Sakal was born in Tel-Aviv into a Syrian-Egyptian Jewish family. He has been awarded the title of Honorary Fellow in Writing by the University of Iowa, the Eshkol Prize for his work, and a Fulbright grant. Sakal lived six years in Paris, France. He currently lives in Jaffa.

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Heidegger and the Jews - What's Next?
Feb
13
12:00 PM12:00

Heidegger and the Jews - What's Next?

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Martin Heidegger is considered by many to be the most important philosopher of the twentieth century. Many of his closest and most brilliant students were Jews. So were his teachers. And his thought has left an undeniable mark on Jewish thought. He was, however, also a member of the Nazi party and grounded his politics in his own philosophy. What are we to make of this?

The conundrum of Martin Heidegger and the Jews continues. The recent publications of Heidegger’s private philosophical notebooks reignited the debate over his ties to the National Socialist party and his personal anti-Semitism. These notebooks reveal that Heidegger establishes a philosophical case for his prejudices against Jews, one which arguably cuts to the very heart of his thinking. But this is merely one more chapter in the long and troubling topic of ‘Heidegger and the Jews’ that began almost a century ago but which does not seem to be going away any time soon. As a case in which history, politics and philosophy are weaved together, coming to terms with Heidegger's relation to Jews and Jews' relation to Heidegger requires coming to terms with the complexity of Jews’ responses to the honorable and tragic history they share with Germany and Europe, as it encompasses the predicament of Jewish existence in the twentieth century, with its struggles, hopes, tragedies and attempts of reconstruction.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Co-sponsored by Columbia University's Department of Religion.

Daniel Herskowitz is the current the Rabin-Shvidler Postdoctoral Fellow. Herskowitz graduated from the Department of Theology and Religion in the University of Oxford in 2018 (member of Wolfson College). His dissertation, titled “Which God will Save Us? Jewish Receptions of Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy”, examines central Jewish encounters with Heidegger’s philosophy and argues that Heidegger is a key reference point in the negotiation of the boundaries between Judaism, Christianity, and secularism in twentieth century Jewish thought.

During his DPhil research, he has received several fellowships and awards, including The Rothschild Foundation (Hanadiv) Europe Fellowship for Jewish Studies, The Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Award, and the Association for Jewish Studies Dissertation Completion Fellowship. His articles have been published or accepted for publication in various peer-reviewed journals, including Modern Theology, Journal of ReligionNew German CritiqueJewish Quarterly ReviewInternational Journal for Philosophy of ReligionAJS Review, and Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy.

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Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History’s Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library
Feb
6
12:00 PM12:00

Prince of the Press: How One Collector Built History’s Most Enduring and Remarkable Jewish Library

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The story of one of the largest collections of Jewish books, and the man who used his collection to cultivate power, prestige, and political influence

David Oppenheim (1664–1736), chief rabbi of Prague in the early eighteenth century, built an unparalleled collection of Jewish books, all of which have survived and are housed in the Bodleian Library of Oxford. His remarkable collection testifies to the myriad connections Jews maintained with each other across political borders. Oppenheim’s world reached the great courts of European nobility, and his family ties brought him into networks of power, prestige, and opportunity that extended from Amsterdam to the Ottoman Empire. His impressive library functioned as a unique source of personal authority that gained him fame throughout Jewish society and beyond. His story brings together culture, commerce, and politics, all filtered through this extraordinary collection. Based on the careful reconstruction of an archive that is still visited by scholars today, Joshua Teplitsky’s book offers a window into the social life of books in early modern Europe.

Hear from Joshua Teplitsky on what has been described as "an intellectual feast for historians and an indispensable treasure for book lovers of all kinds."

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family

Joshua Teplitsky is assistant professor of history at Stony Brook University. He specializes in the history of the Jews in Europe in the early modern period and in the study of books and media. He lives in New York City.

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Films@IIJS: Kishon
Dec
5
7:00 PM19:00

Films@IIJS: Kishon

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Israeli satirist Ephraim Kishon sold millions of books, was a founding member of Israel's comedy establishment, and won two Golden Globes (for Sallah Shabati and The Policeman), yet he struggled with writing an autobiography. At the age of 70, he invited journalist Yaron London to assist him. Kishon uses animation and other engaging storytelling tricks to bring their dialogue to life and to tell Kishon's amazing story, from his youth in Hungary to his harrowing escape from a Nazi concentration camp to the many high and low points of his writing career and personal life. (87 min).

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A Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Family: Challenging Stereotypes
Nov
29
6:00 PM18:00

A Modern Middle Eastern Jewish Family: Challenging Stereotypes

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Join IIJS for the Salo Baron New Voices Lecture with Dr. Liat Maggid-Alon.

Since the 1960's, the history of the family has become an important branch of social history. In Middle Eastern studies, however, its' impact is still quite limited. Modernization theories often present the family as a social institution in decline. In the context of Middle Eastern societies, the family is also described as a "traditional" player, halting "progress" and restricting liberal processes. This lecture will call this perspective into question.

In this discussion, information gleaned from life stories of former members of the Jewish community in Egypt during the first half of the 20th century will be explored. In addition, we'll compare this new knowledge with documents from a partial archive of the Jewish Sephardi community and Grand Rabbinate of Cairo, which has not been systematically researched or analyzed until now.

Supported by the generosity of the Salo W. and Jeannette M. Baron Foundation.

Dr. Liat Maggid-Alon is a Post-doctoral Associate, Department of History, University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign. She received her PhD entitled Family and Gender: The Jewish Bourgeoisie of Egypt during the First Half of the 20th Century - from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be'er Sheva. She is the recipient of the Council for Higher Education of Israel prestigious doctoral scholarship, her Masters' thesis and Doctoral dissertation won additional awards - among which are the Chaim Herzog Center for Middle East Studies and Diplomacy Award and The Joseph and Racheline Barda Chair for the Study and Research of Jewish Heritage in Egypt award. Her first paper, titled "Modernity, Socio-Cultural Practises and Oral Testimonials: The Jewish Bourgeoisie of Egypt" had won the The Jama'a Bilingual Interdisciplinary Journal for the Study of the Middle East's Annual Papers Competition for Young Scholars Award (to be published in the May 2019 issue), and her Master's thesis will be published as a book [in Hebrew] in 2019. She is also the proud recipient of the Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies Award. Her post-doctoral research is a comparative one, that focuses on Family, Gender and Modernity in additional Middle Eastern Jewish Communities mostly those of the Shaam and Iraq.  

Additional Information: Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 5:45 pm.

Presented jointly by Fordham University's Jewish Studies program and Columbia University's Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies.

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Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American
Nov
19
12:00 PM12:00

Open Your Hand: Teaching as a Jew, Teaching as an American

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Fifteen years into a successful career as a college professor, Ilana Blumberg encounters a crisis in the classroom that sends her back to the most basic questions about education and prompts a life-changing journey that ultimately takes her from East Lansing to Tel Aviv. As she explores how civic and religious commitments shape the culture of her humanities classrooms, Blumberg argues that there is no education without ethics. When we know what sort of society we seek to build, our teaching practices follow.

 

In vivid classroom scenes from kindergarten through middle school to the university level, Blumberg conveys the drama of intellectual discovery as she offers novice and experienced teachers a pedagogy of writing, speaking, reading, and thinking that she links clearly to the moral and personal development of her students.

Writing as an observant Jew and as an American, Blumberg does not shy away from the difficult challenge of balancing identities in the twenty-first century: how to remain true to a community of origin while being a national and global citizen. As she negotiates questions of faith and citizenship in the wide range of classrooms she traverses, Blumberg reminds us that teaching - and learning - are nothing short of a moral art, and that the future of our society depends on it.

Join us for a lively lunchtime conversation with Prof. Ilana Blumberg and Prof. Ari Goldman.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

ILANA M. BLUMBERG is a senior lecturer in English literature and director of the Shaindy Rudoff Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Bar-Ilan University in Tel Aviv, Israel. She is the author of Victorian Sacrifice: Ethics and Economics in Mid-Century Novels and the Sami Rohr Choice Award-winning memoir Houses of Study: a Jewish Woman among Books.

Additional Information: Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 11:45 am. A light kosher lunch will be served.

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"Meet a Yiddish Celebrity”: An Evening with Yiddish Princess Sarah Gordon
Nov
13
8:00 PM20:00

"Meet a Yiddish Celebrity”: An Evening with Yiddish Princess Sarah Gordon

Sarah Mina Gordon is a fourth generation Yiddish singer. She has recorded and performed with The Klezmatics, Frank London’s Klezmer Brass All-Stars, Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, Sharabi, and others. She fronted Yiddish Princess, a Yiddish rock bank.

Daughter of legendary Yiddish singer and scholar, Adrienne Cooper (z’l), Sarah grew up immersed in innovative Yiddish culture. Dedicated to making new Yiddish art, she has collaborated with Michael Winograd, Frank London, Alicia Svigals, and The Klezmatics to pen original Yiddish songs which are sung around the world. Her song, “Ekhod/Who Knows One,” is of world renown and has been taught and performed at festivals from California to Krakow.

Sarah is also an educator – teaching third grade at Brooklyn Friends School for over a decade and designing and leading Yiddish culture programs for children and adults. She is one of the founding organizers of Yiddish New York and regularly teaches song at Klez Kanada.

The event is free and open to the public.

In Yiddish and English. Rugelekh will be served.

Questions? Email Agi Legutko at abl2109@columbia.edu

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Films@IIJS: Azimuth
Nov
12
7:00 PM19:00

Films@IIJS: Azimuth

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Join IIJS for a screening of Azimuth followed by a Q & A with with first-time director Mike Burstyn, famed stage and screen actor.

The Six Day War, June 11th, 1967: an Israeli soldier and an Egyptian soldier encounter each other in an abandoned UNEF post in the Sinai desert on the day after the Israeli/Egyptian cease fire. During their ensuing firefight both men are trapped in the abandoned post, struggling to survive each other and the desert surrounding them.

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German Reparations and the Reconstruction of the Jewish World
Nov
7
7:00 PM19:00

German Reparations and the Reconstruction of the Jewish World

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German Reparations and the Jewish World has become a standard reference work since it was first published in 1987. Based extensively on archival sources, the author examines the difficult debate within the Jewish world whether it was possible to reach a material settlement with Germany so soon after Auschwitz. Concentrating on how the money was spent in rebuilding Jewish life, Prof. Zweig also analyzes how the reparations payments transformed the relations bteween Israel and the diaspora, and between different Jewish political and ideological groups. Prof. Zweig will share his latest research on the reparations, restitution and indemnification processes from the perspective of 70 years later.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Ronald W. Zweig is the Taub Chair of Israel Studies at New York University and Director of the Taub Center for Israel Studies. He is also the director of the Meyers Paths to Peace program at N.Y.U. Previously Professor Zweig was the director of the Institute for Research in the History of Zionism at Tel Aviv University. He has also been a Visiting Professor at several universities, as well as a Visiting Fellow at Churchill College, Cambridge; Yad Vashem, Jerusalem and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Zweig has published three books and many scholarly articles, and edited three collections of essays. From 1983-2000, he edited the Journal of Israeli History, and was also the editor of the online edition of the Palestine Post (1932-1950), a retrospective newspaper digitization project. He earned a Ph.D. in Modern History from the University of Cambridge, England.

Additional Information: Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 6:45 pm.

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Reembracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History
Oct
30
6:00 PM18:00

Reembracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History

In his multi-volume social and religious history of the Jews, Salo Baron, one of the most influential Jewish historians of the 20th century, decried how Jewish history had been told and retold as an endless tale of woe. Instead, Baron stressed that, in the diaspora, Jews did not necessarily suffer more than other members of the societies in which they resided, and often lived creatively within Christian and Islamic lands. At the Annual Norman E. Alexander Lecture in Jewish Studies, Benjamin Gampel will explain how Baron’s claims about the Jews grew out of the social and religious landscape of the early twentieth century Europe. Gampel will argue, based on his understanding of medieval Jewish history, that a newer understanding of the lachrymose history of the Jews could well be seen as an appropriate way to appreciate the saga of this minority people and be of importance, as well, to the social and religious challenges facing contemporary Jewry.

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Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth Century America with Shari Rabin
Oct
29
12:00 PM12:00

Jews on the Frontier: Religion and Mobility in Nineteenth Century America with Shari Rabin

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Jews on the Frontier offers a religious history that begins in an unexpected place: on the road. Shari Rabin recounts the journey of Jewish people as they left Eastern cities and ventured into the American West and South during the nineteenth century. It brings to life the successes and obstacles of these travels, from the unprecedented economic opportunities to the anonymity and loneliness that complicated the many legal obligations of traditional Jewish life. Without government-supported communities or reliable authorities, where could one procure kosher meat? Alone in the American wilderness, how could one find nine co-religionists for a minyan (prayer quorum)? Without identity documents, how could one really know that someone was Jewish?

Rabin argues that Jewish mobility during this time was pivotal to the development of American Judaism. In the absence of key institutions like synagogues or charitable organizations which had played such a pivotal role in assimilating East Coast immigrants, ordinary Jews on the frontier created religious life from scratch, expanding and transforming Jewish thought and practice.

Jews on the Frontier vividly recounts the story of a neglected era in American Jewish history, offering a new interpretation of American religions, rooted not in congregations or denominations, but in the politics and experiences of being on the move. This book shows that by focusing on everyday people, we gain a more complete view of how American religion has taken shape. This book follows a group of dynamic and diverse individuals as they searched for resources for stability, certainty, and identity in a nation where there was little to be found

Join us for a lunchtime lecture to discuss a book that Jonathan D. Sarna termed "one of the most significant contributions in years to the study of nineteenth-century American Judaism."

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Shari Rabin is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies and Associate Director of the Pearlstine/Lipov Center for Southern Jewish Culture at the College of Charleston. She is a historian of American religions and modern Judaism, specializing in the nineteenth century.

Additional Information: Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 11:45 am. A light kosher lunch will be served.

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Book Talk: Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine by Suzanne Schneider
Oct
25
7:00 PM19:00

Book Talk: Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine by Suzanne Schneider

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Is religion a source of political stability and social continuity, or an agent of radical change? This question, so central to contemporary conversations about religion and extremism, has generated varied responses over the last century. Taking Jewish and Islamic education as its objects of inquiry, Mandatory Separation sheds light on the contours of this debate in Palestine during the formative period of British rule, detailing how colonial, Zionist, and Palestinian-Muslim leaders developed competing views of the form and function of religious education in an age of mass politics. Drawing from archival records, school syllabi, textbooks, newspapers, and personal narratives, Suzanne Schneider argues that the British Mandatory government supported religious education as a supposed antidote to nationalist passions at the precise moment when the administrative, pedagogic, and curricular transformation of religious schooling rendered it a vital tool for Zionist and Palestinian leaders. This study of their policies and practices illuminates the tensions, similarities, and differences among these diverse educational and political philosophies, revealing the lasting significance of these debates for thinking about religion and political identity in the modern Middle East. Join IIJS for an insightful conversation with Suzanne Schneider.

Supported by the generosity of the Kaye Family.

Suzanne Schneider received her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. from the Department of Middle East, South Asian and African Studies at Columbia University. An interdisciplinary scholar working in the fields of history, religious studies, and political theory, Suzanne’s research interests relate to Jewish and Islamic modernism, religious movements in the modern Middle East, the history of modern Palestine/Israel, secularism, and political identity. She is the author of Mandatory Separation: Religion, Education, and Mass Politics in Palestine (Stanford University Press) and a regular contributor to The Revealer: A Review of Religion and Media. She is currently working on a book about religious violence in the modern age. In her capacity as BISR’s Deputy Director, Suzanne oversees program execution, development initiatives, and institutional partnerships.

Additional Information: Seating will be available on a first-come first-served basis. Doors open at 6:45 pm.

For additional questions, please contact IIJS@columbia.edu.

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