Author: Jillian Chambers

Remembering Louis Gerson

Emeritus professor and political science department head at the University of Connecticut, Louis Gerson, passed away on October 16, 2016. Gerson led an extraordinary life; he fled his native Poland just months prior to the Nazi invasion and fought with the United States Army in Normandy and the Battle of the Bulge.

After the war ended, he studied political science and diplomatic history at UConn, where he would meet his future wife Elizabeth Shanley. Gerson completed his doctorate in political science at Yale, afterwards returning to UConn to teach. This led to a 40-year career at UConn where he made many notable contributions to the political science department and the university as a whole.

According to Stuart Miller, Academic Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, Gerson “was certainly an early and prime mover in getting UConn to pursue the study of the Holocaust, Eastern Europe, and Human Rights.” Gerson, with the help of grants and scholars from Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, and Oxford University in England, secured important Holocaust records in Poland. While UConn did not become the official repository for the material, Gerson was crucial in committing the university to support Judaic studies. His work helped attract the interest of Simon Konover, who would become the Center for Judaic Studies’ major benefactor.

The Hartford Courant article featuring the life of Louis Gerson can be found here.

Center’s Road Show Inspires Judaic Studies Outreach Across the Nation

By Jillian Chambers

In a time of uncertainty for Judaic studies initiatives across the country, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life’s Road Show program allows us to share with the community current scholarship Jewish history, culture, and literature. The Center’s world-class faculty present on a wide variety of topics such as Jewish culture in other regions, the Holocaust, Arab-Israeli politics, and representations of Jews in the works of Shakespeare. The Road Show has been so successful that it has inspired a similar program in Colorado.

The University of Colorado Boulder (CU Boulder) debuted its Peak to Peak lecture series this year, sponsored in part by CU Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies and the Office for Outreach and Engagement’s Arts and Humanities Initiative. While Connecticut’s population density enables the Center to bring the Road Show to the surrounding community more easily, the Peak to Peak program brings Jewish outreach to places hundreds of miles from CU Boulder’s campus. You can learn more about the Peak to Peak program on CU Boulder’s website here.

Nan Goodman, Director of CU Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies and founder of the Peak to Peak program, presented “False Jewish Messiah or Puritan Hero?” in Trinidad, Colorado, almost 225 miles from the Boulder campus. This presentation was the final event for Colorado’s oldest synagogue, Temple Aaron. Built in 1883, it was sold because of Trinidad’s dwindling Jewish population and an inability to maintain the aging building. While the doors of Temple Aaron may be closing, the Peak to Peak program is opening the doors to Judaic studies all around Colorado.

Both of these programs have proved successful in providing their respective communities with educational opportunities in Judaic studies that they might not otherwise get to experience. For more information about the presenters and topics of the Center’s Road Show programming, please visit our Road Show web page or contact the Center at 860-486-2271.

Alumni Spotlight – Marilyn Simon Rothstein

By Jillian Chambers

Recent graduate of the Judaic Studies MA program at the University of Connecticut, Marilyn Simon Rothstein, has published her first novel, Lift and Separate, as reported by the Connecticut Jewish Ledger. The novel follows Marcy Hammer, a woman finding her way after her husband, the head of a global bra company, left her for a lingerie model. Over the course of the novel, Marcy refuses to fall apart even in the face of newly revealed secrets by her family and friends. Marcy handles all of her setbacks while still finding the humor in her heartbreak.

Rothstein, a 63-year-old Avon resident and grandmother of three is fulfilling a life-long dream after earning a journalism degree from New York University, working for Seventeen magazine, and finally launching and running an advertising agency for the last 25 years. Rothstein wrote a novel instead of a thesis while completing a master of arts in liberal studies at Wesleyan University; however she was not able to have it published. While that novel did not come to fruition, Rothstein’s Lift and Separate manuscript has led to a two book deal with Lake Union Publishing; a second book is scheduled for release in January 2018.

Rothstein is also heavily involved with the West Hartford Jewish community. She was the past president of the board of Yachad Greater Hartford Community High School (which is now the Jewish Teen Learning Connection), as well as an advisor to the United Synagogue Youth group at Beth El Temple in West Hartford. Both of Rothstein’s daughters, Sharyn and Marisa, have carried on her legacy and served as past presidents of the Beth El Temple United Synagogue Youth group.

We congratulate Marilyn Simon Rothstein on her accomplishment and look forward to more novels in the coming years! For more updates on Judaic Studies alumni and other Center news, check out our Blog on our website. The original article featured in this story can be found here.


February 2, 2017, “Afro-Jews Uncovered”


On February 2 from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm, Professor Lewis Gordon will speak at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford.  He will be presenting an interactive Road Show lecture entitled “Afro-Jews Uncovered.” The lecture will include performances celebrating and demonstrating cultural traditions.

This event is part of the 12th Annual Celebration of Jewish Arts and Culture, the Charter Oak Cultural Center’s yearly exploration of the historical and contemporary expressions of Jewish identity in art.

For more information about Road Show presentations, please visit our Road Show website page or email the Center at


Research Fellowships at the Center for Jewish History


The Center for Jewish History is offering a range of research fellowships that will provide access to the collections of the Center’s partners – American Jewish Historical Society, American Sephardi Federation, Leo Baeck Institute, Yeshiva University Museum, and YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. While in residence at the Center, fellows will participate in a lively academic community, engaging and producing new scholarship in Jewish studies and other fields.

Graduate Research Fellowship

Deadline: February 2, 2017

This is a ten-month fellowship, open to doctoral candidates with ABD status. Fellows receive a $17,5000 stipend and additional funding may be available for applicants at university more than 125 miles from New York City.

Prins Foundation Postdoctoral and Early Career Fellowship for Emigrating Scholars

Deadline: January 16, 2017

This is a ten-month fellowship open to scholars from outside North American and Israel. Fellows will receive a stipend of up to $35,000.


Full application guidelines can be found on the Center for Jewish History’s website. For more information, please contact Chris Barthel at

Afro-Jewish Studies Association Calls for Summer 2017 Papers


The Afro-Jewish Studies Association is calling for papers to be submitted for the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s annual meeting in Jamaica from June 22 to June 24, 2017. This year’s general theme is “Theorizing Livity, Decolonizing Freedom,” however all topic related to Afro-Jewish life are welcome.

Proposals related to the Afro-Jewish Studies Association should be submitted to the Caribbean Philosophical Association’s website. Questions about the conference can also be directed to

Deadline: December 19, 2016

Calls for Applications to the Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme


The International Leo Baeck Fellowship Programme awards fellowships to doctoral students who carry out research into the history and culture of Central European Jewry. We welcome projects on any period or field (including literature, philosophy, history, musicology), and any region (such as Europe, Israel, the Americas), as long as they relate to German-speaking Jewry. In addition to financial support for one year, the program offers an opportunity to exchange ideas and to network. It is open to doctoral candidates of any nationality, studying at any university. All fellows remain at their home institution, but get together for two workshops which are jointly organized by the Studienstiftung de deutschen Volkes and the Leo Baeck Institute London.

More information and where to apply can be found on the website of the Studienstiftung or on the website of the Leo Baeck Institute London.

Deadline: February 1, 2017

Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies 2018 Fellowship


The Oxford Seminar in Advanced Jewish Studies is bringing together an international team of scholars from different disciplines to work on the religious and political vocabulary of the Septuagint, combining the expertise of the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, where it will be based, with the resources of the Oxford Classics Faculty and the Faculty of Linguistics, Philogy and Phonetics. The project will illuminate for biblical scholars the cultural world who produced and read the books of the Septuagint, and will illuminate for classical scholars the ways in which Jews of the Greek world adapted to the dominant culture and influenced it in turn.

Weekly interdisciplinary seminars, and a series of workshops will bring specialists in the Septuagint together with classicists, linguists, historians, and historians of religion. Septuagint vocabulary will be examined along with the Hellenistic cultural background and the methodological problems relating to the background.

Weekly seminars will be convened through the duration of two Oxford terms: January 14 to March 10, 2018 and April 22 to June 16, 2018. These will offer a forum for the Fellows to address central research topics related to the overall theme of the Seminar. The concluding conference will be held June 25-27, 2018.

Visiting Fellows will receive an allowance of £2,515 (pro rata) per calendar month for the period of their tenure. Traveling expenses up to £550 will also be provided, and the Fellows will be provided with a college association during their time at Oxford. Applicants should indicate the specific research they would undertake in the course of the Fellowship and how this research would contribute to the broader work of the project. Applications by senior scholars, and by scholars at the postdoctoral and advanced doctoral level, are welcome. For more information and where to apply, please visit the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies’s website.

Deadline: December 16, 2016

2017 JDC Archives Fellowship


The American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives is pleased to announce that is accepting applications for its 2017 Fellowship program. In 2017, 5-6 fellowships will be awarded to seniors scholars, postdoctoral researchers, graduate students, and independent researchers to conduct research in the JDC Archives, either in New York or in Jerusalem. Research topic sin the fields of twentieth century Jewish History, modern history, social welfare, migration, and humanitarian assistance will be considered, as well as other areas of academic research covered in the JDC archival collections. The fellowship awards are $2,500-$5,000.

Deadline: January 15, 2017

Call for Applications – AJS Dissertation Completion Fellowship Competition


The Association for Jewish Studies invites applications for its second annual Dissertation Completion Fellowship competition. This program is generously supported through a grant from Legacy Heritage Fund. Launched in 2016, this fellowship program awards seven finishing-year fellowships annually ($20,000 each) to PhD students entering the final year of their programs and completing a dissertation in the field of Jewish Studies. The Fall 2016 competition will support fellowships in the 2017-2018 academic year.

The Dissertation Completion Fellowships will encourage the timely completion of doctorates by the most promising graduate students in the field; create a cohort of fellows who will lead the field of Jewish Studies for decades to come; expose new audiences to Jewish Studies scholarships through fellows’ public lectures; and promote continued growth of academic Jewish Studies, at a time of institutional cutbacks in the humanities and social science. The program will both provide resources to fellows, in the form of a $20,000 stipend, as well as professional development opportunities, through a mid-year workshop and ongoing contact with mentors during the fellowship year. Only students who are in the final stages of writing their dissertations and who display clear evidence of their ability to defend their dissertations by June 20, 2018 are eligible to apply for this program.

A unique feature of the program will be its public engagement component. Each fellow will be asked to give one public lecture or workshop at the end of their fellowship year in which they will share their research with a general audience. The purpose of this public speaking component is to give fellows crucial experience in making their work accessible to an interested but non-expert public, and to help satisfy the great demand for engaging and sophisticated discussion of Jewish history, literature, religion, and culture.

For further information, including application instructions please visit the AJS website. Questions? Contact Amy Weiss, AJS Grants and communications Coordinator, at You can apply via Interfolio at this link.

Deadline: December 6, 2016