Author: Pamela Weathers

Dr. Robert E. Meditz to Present on Theologian Paul Tillich’s View of Judaism, September 13

Tillich quote


On Wednesday, September 13, at 3:00 pm, Dr. Robert E. Meditz will present “The Dialectic of the Holy: Paul Tillich's Idea of Judaism within the History of Religion” for the Center for Judaic Studies Faculty Colloquium Series. The presentation will be held in the Class of ’47 room at the Homer Babbidge Library.  Attending this event counts toward sophomore honors credit.


Dr. Meditz will discuss his recently published work, The Dialectic of the Holy: Paul Tillich's Idea of Judaism within the History of Religion (DeGrutyer, 2016), which represents the first published book-length treatment on Paul Tillich and Judaism, a neglected aspect of Tillich’s thought. Paul Tillich (1886 - 1965) was a Protestant Christian theologian who was an outspoken critic of the German National Socialist regime and supporter of the Jews.  Dr. Meditz will discuss some of the ways in which Tillich maintained a positive view of Judaism, especially through his understanding of the history of religion and critique of religious nationalism.

About Dr. Meditz

Robert E. Meditz

Bob Meditz is an independent scholar who has lived and worked in the Hartford area since 1986, when he graduated from Yale Divinity School with a Master of Divinity degree.  He has held a "day job" in financial services since graduating from Yale, and he completed a PhD in Theology in 2014 through a joint venture between Hartford Seminary and the University of Exeter (UK).  He was also a Faculty Fellow at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in June of 2016, participating in the Religion and Genocide seminar.  His research interests include antisemitism and the evolving history of Christian anti-Judaism.

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Aaron Rosman at 860-486-2271 or by September 6, 2017.

Dr. Yossi Chajes to Present From the Spheres to the Sefirot: Kabbalistic Diagrams and the Visualization of the Divine

Yossi Chajes

Dr. Yossi Chajes, Associate Professor in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa and Director of its Center for the Study of Jewish Cultures, will be presenting “From the Spheres to the Sefirot: Kabbalistic Diagrams and the Visualization of the Divine” for the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life Faculty Colloquium Series on October 16, 2017.  The colloquium will be held at 12:00 pm in room 162 at the Dodd Research Center.  All are invited, and a kosher lunch will be served. Attending this event counts toward sophomore honors credit.

Supported by the Israel Science Foundation, Dr. Chajes directs the Ilanot Project, a research project dedicated to cataloging and describing kabbalistic diagrams created by Jewish mystics as a kind of cosmological cartography that served as an essential tool for both students and practitioners of Kabbalah. 

A former recipient of Fulbright, Rothchild, Wexner, and Hartman Fellowships, Dr. Chajes (Ph.D., Yale University 1999) has also been a visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, twice a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and most recently a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem.

His book, Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism (2003) was listed by the Wall Street Journal in 2013 as among the top five books ever written on spirit possession, alongside Aldous Huxley’s The Devils of Loudun. Chajes’s research interests include Kabbalah, early modern Jewish egodocuments, women’s religiosity, the history of Jewish attitudes towards magic, and the visualization of knowledge.

His pioneering work has been awarded three Israel Science Foundation grants, as well as the Friedenberg Prize for the outstanding ISF-funded project in the humanities (2014). A considerable number of publications relating to the Ilanot Project are forthcoming. Some of Yossi’s publications may be found at

We look forward to his presentation!

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Aaron Rosman at 860-486-2271 or by October 9, 2017.

kabbalistic diagrams
Kabbalistic diagrams created by Jewish mystics


Professor Stuart Miller Speaks at the 125th Anniversary of the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society

Professors Nicholas Bellantoni and Stuart Miller examine the mikveh at Chesterfield, CT

Professor Stuart Miller, the Center’s academic director, spoke at the 125th anniversary celebration of the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society on Sunday, June 11. The society, formed in 1892, served the Russian Jewish farming community that settled in Chesterfield, CT.

Today, the Society works to preserve the site of that historic Jewish community. An expert in ritual baths in ancient Israel, Professor Miller helped lead an excavation in Chesterfield, in 2012, where a rare mikveh was discovered as well as the remains of a synagogue and creamery. The site is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

For more information on the anniversary celebration, visit the New England Hebrew Farmers of the Emanuel Society at

You can also read about the excavation at Chesterfield in UConn Today.

MODI to Perform Comedy Show at Mandell JCC September 18

Modi Rosenfeld, voted one of the top 10 comedians in New York City by the Hollywood Reporter and BackStage, will be performing on Monday, September 18, 7:30 pm, at the Gilman Theater, Mandell Jewish Community Center (335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT).

One of the comedy circuit’s most sought-after performers, Modi has been featured on HBO, CBS, NBC, ABC, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, and E! Entertainment and has received rave reviews in The New York TimesTime Out NY, and the New York Post.

Tickets are $10. Attendance is free for students. For reservations, contact the Mandell Jewish Community Center Box Office, 860.231.6316.

This event is sponsored by the Lillian Margulies Singer Jewish Humor Fund, the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, the Mandell Jewish Community Center, and the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.  

About MODI

Born in Israel, MODI moved to the United States when he was seven. After college, MODI worked as an investment banker and had no plans to become a stand up comedian. But one open mic changed everything.

Amelia David of BackStage raves, “MODI has a young Sid Caesar-esque talent for creating accents and characters, making him appeal to a diverse market.” According to the Los Angeles Times, MODI is “versatile and quick on his feet. He can read an audience in a beat and improvise so nimbly that he keeps any audience, regardless of age, race and gender, laughing.”

MODI has appeared in several feature films and played leading roles in two: Waiting for Woody Allen, which won the LA Film Festival, and Stand Up, a feature-length film. According to Variety, MODI delivers a “naturally funny performance with a tremendous amount of energy on screen.”

MODI is a regular performer at the New York and Los Angeles comedy clubs and headlines around the country. He has also gone on tour in the United Kingdom, Holland and Israel and performs in comedy festivals and special venues, including Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

2017 Israel Academic Travel Award Winners Announced

Jerusalem at sunset

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life is proud to announce the recipients of the 2017 Israel Academic Travel Awards. The awards are sponsored by the Center for Judaic Studies, Global Affairs, and the Middle East Studies program.  Each student was awarded $1500 to defray the cost of their summer academic travel to Israel.

Miriam Katz will be working at Tel Aviv University in the lab of Dr. Yossi Shiloh. Dr. Shiloh’s lab examines the neurogenetics of aging in hopes of one day being able to prevent or reverse the mental changes that come with old age. The internship is part of the Career Israel program in partnership with Onward Israel.

Nathan Schachter will be interning with The Jewish Agency’s Israel Shilchut (Israeli Emissaries) program through Onward Israel. Nathan will be assisting in the emissaries’ training to help prepare them for their time abroad.

Shelly Silver will be interning at Zeekit, an Israeli startup that reinvents the way consumers browse, share, and shop from their mobile devices. Shelly’s internship will focus on marketing and communications within the company. The internship is in partnership with Onward Israel.

Congratulations to our awardees!

Professor Arnold Dashefsky Interviewed by Connecticut Jewish Ledger

Founding director of the Center for Judaic Studies, Professor Arnold Dashefsky, was recently interviewed by the Connecticut Jewish Ledger. Professor Dashefsky spoke about the recent release of the American Jewish Year Book, which he co-edits along with Professor Ira Sheskin of the University of Miami. He discussed the Pew Research Center’s findings on Orthodox Jewry, which were reprinted in the Year Book, as well as the current trends in North American Jewish life.  Visit the Ledger’s website to read the article in full.  

May 7: Writer-in-Residence Joan Seliger Sidney Participates in Poetry Rocks

Sun. May 7, 2:00 pm: Center for Judaic Studies Writer-in-Residence Joan Seliger Sidney will be participating in Poetry Rocks!, a quarterly poetry series at Arts Center East in Vernon (709 Hartford Turnpike). For more information, visit Arts Center East

Joan Seliger SidneyJoan Seliger Sidney is the author of Bereft and Blessed, Body of Diminishing Motion: Poems and a Memoir (an Eric Hoffer Finalist, 2015) and The Way the Past Comes Back. She has received individual artist’s poetry fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and a Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Yale.  She’s writer-in-residence at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.  In addition, she facilitates “Writing for Your Life,” an adult workshop.

Academic Convocation on the Holocaust: Time Capsules in the Rubble

Convocation on the Holocaust, April 24, 2017. Photo credit: Akshara Thejaswi, The Daily Campus

On Monday, April 24, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center sponsored the Fierberg Lecture in Judaic Studies annual Academic Convocation on the Holocaust with guest speaker Professor Samuel Kassow, history professor at Trinity College.

Professor Kassow presented on a secret archive of materials collected and hidden by prisoners in the Warsaw Ghetto. All but three members of the group, Oyneg Shabes, led by historian Dr. Ringelblum perished. The collected documents and writings they produced recording Jewish life in Poland before and during the war bore witness to the Holocaust, and the archive now serves as the cultural legacy of Polish Jewry.

For more, read The Daily Campus article featuring the event.