Author: Pamela Weathers

New Fall Course Offering! Anthropology of Jewish Cultures

James Barnett Professor of Humanistic Anthropology Richard Sosis will be teaching a new course this fall entitled Anthropology of Jewish Cultures. The course is being developed by Professor Sosis and Assistant Professor and Director of the Research Program on Global Health and Human Rights Sarah Willen, recent awardees of the course development grant offered by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. Credits earned from the course may be applied towards the major or minor in Judaic Studies.

Anthropology of Jewish Cultures (ANTH 3098) will meet this fall from 2:00-5:00 pm on Wednesdays.

About the Course:

Abraham Joshua Heschel once poetically remarked that the Bible is not human theology but rather “God’s anthropology.” God, so to speak, has not been alone in studying Jewish life. In Western culture, Judaism has been characterized by its minority, outsider, and marginal status.  Not surprisingly, given anthropological interest in studying “the other,” anthropologists have produced an extensive literature aimed at understanding Judaism and Jewish experiences. The primary goals of this course will be to engage this literature by exploring the diversity of Jewish cultures and examining how influential anthropological theorists (e.g., Mary Douglas, Roy Rappaport, Alan Dundes, and Melvin Konner) have sought to explain the variation and commonalities of these cultures.

The course will place considerable emphasis on Jewish folk traditions as they’ve emerged cross-culturally and their tension with, as well as occasional acceptance by, rabbinic institutions.  Moreover, anthropological efforts to document these traditions, such as Ansky’s ambitious Jewish Enthnographic Program, will be discussed.  Students will be exposed to the rich ethnographic literature on Jewish cultures. These ethnographic writings will be used to explore various topics, communities, and movements within Jewish culture including: Haredim, Ethiopian Jewry, Yiddish culture in Europe and the U.S., chavurah communities, Sephardic communities in Muslim cultures, the Ba’al Teshuvah movement, women’s status within Jewish cultures, and secularization among Jewish communities.

The course will conclude by briefly examining how rabbinic writers, including Mordechai Kaplan, Neil Gillman, and Jonathan Sacks, have drawn upon anthropological data and theories to interpret Jewish teachings and provide visions for the development of Jewish life.

Faculty Book Release: American Jewish Year Book 2016, co-Edited by UConn Professor Arnold Dashefsky

American Jewish Year Book 2016  Includes Pew Study that Finds Commonalities between Orthodox Jewry and Evangelical Protestants

Arnold DashefskyThe 2016 volume of the American Jewish Year Book, co-edited by Professor Arnold Dashefsky of the University of Connecticut and Professor Ira Sheskin of the University of Miami, has been recently published by Springer. The publication is supported by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life as well as the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut and the Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Miami. Included in this volume of the Year Book is the 2015 Pew Report on Orthodox Jews, “A Portrait of American Orthodox Jews,” as well as a response to the report from nine distinguished scholars and a rejoinder by Pew researchers.

The 2015 Pew report on American Orthodox Jewry represents an extended analysis of the data collected in the 2013 Pew Study, “A Portrait of Jewish Americans.”  Pew, a nonpartisan research center that produces surveys on a myriad of topics, finds that while adult Orthodox Jews makeup only 10% of the American Jewish population, they represent a growing community due to their average younger age and high fertility rates. According to Pew, “if the Orthodox grow as a share of US Jews, they gradually could shift the profile of American Jews in several areas, including religious beliefs and practices, social and political views and demographic characteristics.” 

Despite the various sub-sects within the growing Orthodox community, Pew’s data find that politically and religiously, as a whole, the group more resembles white Evangelical Protestants than other Jewish groups based on the importance of religion in their lives and in that they are more likely to identify as more politically conservative than other Jews and are more than three times as likely to identify or lean Republican than other Jews.

If the divide between liberal and conservative Jews grows, significant policy implications in communal and political life could develop.  Unless dialog is cultivated and maintained across the spectrum of Jewish groups, a fractured community could come to distrust those with opposing views; and intolerance of differing viewpoints could be fostered, mirroring what we have recently seen in the wider American culture as the 2016 presidential election and its aftermath demonstrated.

American Jewish Year Book 2016Since 1899, the Year Book has served educators, scholars, lay leaders, and members of the Jewish community as an inestimable resource. Featuring chapters from eminent scholars on North American Jewish life as well as extensive lists detailing the numerous North American Jewish institutions, periodicals, academic resources, and major events, the Year Book preserves an invaluable annual record of Jewish life.

The 2016 volume includes topical articles on international affairs by Mitchell Bard, which summarizes and relates yearly events through the lens of the American-Israeli relationship, and an article on the diverse dimensions of American Jewish family life by Harriet Hartman.  Population studies for the United States, World Jewry, and Canada are provided by Ira Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky, Sergio DellaPergola, and Charles Shahar, respectively.

Professor Samuel D. Kassow to Present “Time Capsules in the Rubble: The Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto” for the Academic Convocation of the Holocaust

Sam KassowOn Monday, April 24, at 7:00 pm, please join us for the annual Academic Convocation on the Holocaust when Trinity College Professor Samuel D. Kassow will present "Time Capsules in the Rubble: the Secret Archive of the Warsaw Ghetto." The Convocation will be held in the Doris and Simon Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Research Center on the Storrs campus and is sponsored by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life Fierberg Lecture in Judaic Studies, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center. A reception will immediately follow. Attending this event counts toward sophomore honors credit.

For additional information, please call 860-486-2271, or email program assistant Aaron Rosman at aaron.rosman@uconn.edu.

 

About the Presentation

During World War II, Jews resisted not only with guns but also with pen and paper. Even in the face of death they left "time capsules" full of documents that they buried under the rubble of ghettos and death camps. They were determined that posterity would remember them on the basis of Jewish and not German sources. Thousands of documents were buried in the Ringelblum Archive in the Warsaw Ghetto. Of the 60 people who worked on this national mission, only three survived. This will be their story.

What began as a collection of documents and attestations clandestinely obtained in order to record testimony of Jewish life in Poland under occupying Nazi forces became, when word of mass killings reached Warsaw, the courageous pursuit of Warsaw ghetto prisoners to bear witness to the Holocaust.

Jewish historian Emanuel Ringelblum established the underground group Oyneg Shabes in 1940, its secret mission to archive Jewish life in Poland by conducting interviews and collecting documentation that included photos, letters, diaries, official government notices, flyers, and posters–all of which served to document and describe life in the Jewish ghetto as well as the destruction of Jewish communities in Poland.

Milk can used to store documents in Warsaw Ghetto
Milk can used to hide documents in Warsaw Ghetto

Dr. Ringelblum and all but three members of the Oyneg Shabes group perished in the Holocaust, but their testimony remains an incomparable resource for Holocaust study. Before the Warsaw uprising, the documents were buried in milk cans and tin boxes in three locations in the Ghetto. Unearthed in 1946 and 1950, two-thirds of the archive has been found and preserved by the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw, Poland, and researchers have cataloged and digitized the archive throughout the last two decades.

Trinity College historian Samuel D. Kassow, expert on the Ringelblum collection, is the author of Who Will Write Our History? Emanuel Ringelblum, the Warsaw Ghetto, and the Oyneg Shabes Archives in which he documents the efforts taken by Dr. Ringelblum and Oyneg Shabes to preserve Jewish history and resist Nazi oppression.

Professor Kassow served as a consultant for the documentary film project Who Will Write Our History, set to release in 2017 and directed by award-winning director Roberta Grossman with Nancy Spielberg as executive producer. The film is based on Professor Kassow's study. For the full story, see Jewish Ledger article "On Location in Poland." http://www.jewishledger.com/2016/07/on-location-in-poland/

Samuel D. Kassow is the Charles Northam Professor of History at Trinity College. He is author of Students, Professors, and the State in Tsarist Russia, 1884–1917 and editor (with Edith W. Clowes) of Between Tsar and People: The Search for a Public Identity in Tsarist Russia. He lives in Hartford, Connecticut.

For more details on the Ringelblum Archive, visit the Jewish Historical Institute: http://www.jhi.pl/en/blog/2014-10-08-ringelblum-archive

Parking:

Parking is available in the North and South garages on campus. Garage rates are $1/hr after 5pm. Did you know that after 5:00 pm, visitors may park in any on-campus space not designated as reserved, restricted or limited? This now includes S-Lot, which is just a short walk from the Dodd Research Center.

Getting Here:

View an interactive map of the Storrs campus and even download the app version to your phone: http://maps.uconn.edu/map/

 

Warsaw Ghetto
Warsaw Ghetto

Emanuel Ringelblum
Dr. Emanuel Ringelblum

May 22, 2017, “Separating Out the Facts: The Origins of Christianity and the History of Judaism”

Stuart MillerOn May 22 at 7:00 PM, Professor Stuart Miller will speak at Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport, CT (Friend Hall, 2385 Park Avenue). Rodeph Sholom can be reached at 203-334-0159.

Professor Miller will be presenting a Road Show lecture entitled “Separating Out the Facts: The Origins of Christianity and the History of Judaism.” In this Road Show, Professor Miller provides an in-depth exploration on what both Jews and Christians need to know about the beginnings of Christianity and its roots in Judaism as well as the reasons for the eventual “parting of the ways.” 

 

For more information about Road Show presentations, call the Center’s Program Assistant Aaron Rosman at 860-486-2271 or email:  aaron.rosman@uconn.edu.