Author: raa13009

4/21/16 – Kisses to the Children: Screening at Holocaust Convocation

Kisses Collage

Award-Winning Documentary Film

Kisses to the Children

Original Greek title: Filia eis ta pedia / Φιλιά εις τα παιδιά

written and directed by Vassilis Loules

Dodd Research Center

Konover Auditorium

April 21, 2016

6:30 pm

Our Holocaust Convocation will feature a screening of Kisses to the Children, an award-winning documentary film written and directed by our guest speaker, Vassilis Loules.  We are excited to offer this new format at our Holocaust Convocation, and hope you will save the date and join us!

Kisses to the Children is about five Greek-Jewish children who were saved by Christian families during the German occupation, five hidden children who lived in total silence, tell their stories. Stories of terror, anguish and confusion but also stories of salvation and carefree childhood into the arms of strangers: secret Gardens of Eden, nests of love away from the horror of the Holocaust. Five children were forced to mature abruptly.  Rosina, Iossif, Eftyhia, Shelly and Marios grew old, carrying the memory of thousands of children, those who were never given the time to grow up.

The movie follows these five individuals from childhood to present day, revealing their hidden stories and invaluable personal documents–a diary of a child, photographs and home movies. It also depicts the life of the Greek Jewish communities before the War, complemented with rare images of occupied Greece from archival material, as well as amateur films by German soldiers and illegal footage shot by Greek patriots.

Kisses to the Children is not just another film about the Holocaust; it’s a film about childhood in the shadow of the Holocaust.

The ceremony will be followed by a catered reception for all.

Anyone is welcome to attend this event.

4/7/16 – “Tales From The Forgotten Kingdom” with Guy Mendilow Ensemble on April 7, 2016 at Charter Oak Cultural Center


register and print tickets

Charter Oak Cultural Center and the Center for Judaic Studies are excited to bring you a performance by the Guy Mendilow Ensemble on April 7, 2016, at 7pm at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford!

Tickets are free and the Center will be providing free transportation to and from the Storrs campus.  The shuttle is available for anyone in the UConn community and will pickup at 5:30 pm across from Gampel on Hillside Road at the south side of the student union. Please contact us if you would like more information!

Guy Mendilow Ensemble is an “international tour de force” (Bethlehem Morning Call) from Israel, Palestine, Argentina, Japan, and the USA.  The members of the ensemble are on the faculty of leading music schools like Boston’s Berklee School of Music, New England Conservatory, and the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India.  They tour and record with the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Yo Yo Ma, Snarky Puppy, the Assad Brothers, Christian McBride, and Simon Shaheen.  As passionate educators, they are determined to give students of all ages their best.

They will be performing Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom:

“Embark on a musical trek to kingdoms long forgotten and bustling towns now vanished. Follow the stories of vagabond queens, pauper poets and lovers lost to the sea, all set to spellbinding arrangements of old Sephardi songs worthy of symphonic film scores. Wrap these tales up with lush soulful harmonies evoking Flamenco’s gutsiness and the longings of Fado, all combined with heart-pounding percussion and intricate soundscapes.

Journey through the Balkans to the Mid-East beginning in Sarajevo and winding through Salonica and Jerusalem. Tales from the Forgotten Kingdom is a sonic adventure masterfully brought to life by the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, an award-winning sextet of world-class musicians with members hailing from Israel, Palestine, Argentina, Japan, the UK and the USA. This ensemble of internationally savvy world musicians delivers a richly textured global experience of haunting beauty.” (

2/25/16 – “Little Failure: An Evening with Gary Shteyngart” on February 25, 2016

Coming to Connecticut this February!!!

register and print tickets       reserve seat on the shuttle

The Center for Judaic Studies will be co-sponsoring this amazing event with Charter Oak Cultural Center to be held on February 25, 2016 at the Charter Oak Cultural Center, 21 Charter Oak Avenue, Hartford.  The event will be free and open to the public. All students, faculty, and staff are more than welcome to attend, as well. Transportation will be provided (free of charge) for students from UConn Storrs campus to Hartford and back to Storrs following the event. A conversation with Author Gary Shteyngart will be lead by Sasha Senderovich.  Sasha Senderovich is an Assistant Professor of Russian Studies and Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

A coach shuttle will be available from Storrs to Hartford and back for those who need transportation!  Please notify us so we can reserve your seat on the bus.

For students who are interested, but unable to attend, there will be an informal event on the UConn Storrs campus the morning of February 25th, in conjunction with a few classes and student groups.  Email for details if interested, (they are still finalizing.)

Here’s some info about Gary from his website:

Gary Shteyngart was born in Leningrad in 1972 and came to the United States seven years later. He is the author of the novels Super Sad True Love Story, which won the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize and was selected as one of the best books of the year by more than forty news journals and magazines around the world; Absurdistan, which was chosen as one of the ten best books of the year by The New York Times Book Review and Time magazine; and The Russian Debutante’s Handbook, winner of the Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction and the National Jewish Book Award for Fiction. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, Travel + Leisure, Esquire, GQ, The New York Times Magazine, and many other publications and has been translated into twenty-six languages. Shteyngart lives in New York City and upstate New York.

SAVE THE DATE!  This event is sure to be entertaining and bring you a few laughs!!!


New Courses for Spring 2016

New Courses (Spring 2016)

There are two new courses available in the Spring 2016 semester.  Information about both courses is provided below.

Africana Studies

Ethiopian Jews In Ethiopia And Israel: The Contested Nature Of Ethnic Differences And National Belonging

(HEJS 3298-001/SOC 3298-001)

Download flyer here.

In 1867, Joseph Halévy, the French Jewish scholar, meets for the first time members of the Beta Israel community in northern Ethiopia, upon been identified sole as European, he replies: “Oh, my brothers, I am not just a European, but an Israelite, like you.” Halévy’s interlocutors turned to look at one another, wondering how to make sense of such a claim?

In this course we will follow such moments in the history of Ethiopian Jews (Beta Israel)—and the border social context and relations they embedded in—from the 19th century, through the great migration to Israel, and present day second generation in contemporary Israel. Looking at the social trajectory of Ethiopia Jews, we will examine more broadly the contingent and contested nature of categorical membership along racial, ethnic and religious lines, and across different cultural, temporal and national contexts.

Topics To Be Covered:

  1. Ethiopian Jewishness and Religious Boundaries in Ethiopia
  2. Sociological literature on the Making of Ethnic And Racial Categorization
  3. Immigration and Contemporary Social Problems in Israel

This course has two main objectives that complement each other: First, to acquire familiarity with the social history of Ethiopian Jews’ symbolic inclusion within the boundaries of contemporary Judaism and Israeli nationhood. Second, by using the modern history of Ethiopian Jews as a case study—and in comparison to other cases from the United States, Latin America, and more—acquire familiarity with the sociological literature that explores the variations in the workings of classification schemes, the ways our social world is organized and experienced.


Holocaust_Course Holocaust in Theater and Film

(HEJS 3298-002/ENGL 3623-001/DRAM 3138-002)

Download flyer here.

How do your represent the unimaginable? As daunting of a task as this is, the Holocaust is one of the most dramatized and written about events in history for the amount of time since its passing. In this course we will be examining the means by which authors and directors have attempted to represent the Holocaust. We will discuss what tools were used including choices made in written structure, visual imagery, and the use of language in an attempt to capture the essence of the Holocaust and explore its deeper meaning and societal repercussions.

As well as examining both dramatic works and films that depict the Holocaust we will read first-hand accounts and watch documentaries in order to broaden our knowledge of the Holocaust so that we can better reflect upon the statements being made in the representations. We will also be reading a large body of criticism relating both the dramatization of the Holocaust and the Holocaust itself. Some of the works being studied in the class include; Akropolis by Jerzy Grotowski, Endgame by Samuel Beckett, The Deputy by Rolf Hochhuth, Who Will Carry the World by Charlotte Delbo and Ghetto by Joshua Sobel as well as many others. We will also be examining films including Ida directed by Pawel Pawlikowski, The Pianist directed by Roman Polansky, and Amen directed by Costa-Gavras.

The coursework will include keeping a journal of your reflections on the material covered in the course, turning in one mid-term paper, and preparing a final presentation for the class.

This will be a discussion based class, and as such, class participation is also considered to be a part of the coursework.


Jeffrey Shoulson’s Podcast Interview with New Books in Jewish Studies

Jeffrey Shoulson, Professor and Director of the Department of Literature, Culture, and Languages lectures undergraduate student on Feb.13, 2013. (Peter Morenus/UConn Photo)       fictions_of_conversion

Professor Jeffrey Shoulson was recently interviewed about his newly published book, In Fictions of Conversion: Jews, Christians, and Cultures of Change in Early Modern England (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013), by New Books In Jewish Studies. Listen to a podcast of the interview.

Jeffrey S. Shoulson, the Doris and Simon Konover Chair in Judaic Studies and the Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut, argues that the promise and peril of conversion was projected onto the figure of the Jew, the ultimate religious “other” in English society.

Shoulson looks at English writings on religious conversion and how conversion became a means through which other “technologies of transformation” were figured. His reading of diverse texts, from the translated King James Bible to the poetry of Milton, helps us understand the ways in which the figure of the Jew could serve a variety of purposes in the early modern English imagination.


36th Anniversary Celebration to be held November 15, 2015

main page

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life is proud to be celebrating 36 years!

Save the Date!  Plans are underway for a celebration of an important milestone with the Center.  We'll be hosting a special program on November 15th from 3:30 - 5:30, followed by a reception, at the Dodd Building in the Konover Auditorium.

The event will consist of the following:


3:30 Welcome by Jeffrey Shoulson

3:30-4:20 pm: Panel discussion (enthusiastically open to the public) featuring several alumni of our MA and undergraduate programs, along with Arnie Dashefsky and Stuart Miller, to talk about the history of the Center and its growing impact.

4:30 - 5:15 pm: Keynote address by Professor David Ruderman, Joseph Meyerhoff Professor of Modern Jewish History at the University of Pennsylvania and former Director of Penn’s Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (the preeminent Center for Judaic Studies in the country). Professor Ruderman will be offering an overview of the development of the field of Judaic Studies over the course of the 36 years of our Center’s existence and consider where future trends are heading.

5:15 - 5:45 pm: Celebratory Reception in Konover Lounge

We welcome your attendance at this event.  Please RSVP if you plan on attending.  Download the event flyer.

Judaic Studies 101 – Programs by CT Colleges and Universities across the state.

js_101Judaic Studies 101 – Inviting the community into the lecture hall.  Here’s a list of programs being offered across the state.

Connecticut’s colleges and universities offer a wealth of informal learning opportunities to the general public, and departments of Jewish, Judaic, and Israel studies are no exception. Through lectures, films, conferences, and cultural events, the community becomes an integral part of these academic programs, adding their perspectives to the audience and interacting with students in an informal educational setting.

Here are the highlights of the fall semester Judaic studies programs offered by Connecticut’s colleges and universities that are open to the community. Not all programs were available at press time. Visit the schools’ websites for more information.

Judaic Studies 101 – Inviting the community into the lecture hall

Faculty Colloquium – “The Ark, Gone But Not Forgotten: Cultural Memory and Material Culture in the Hebrew Bible” presented by Daniel Fisher of U.California-Berkeley

Daniel Fisher


Daniel Fisher
Department of Near Eastern Studies
University of California, Berkeley

Daniel Fisher is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. His research explores social, historical, and literary questions in the Hebrew Bible and early Jewish biblical interpretation. He is currently completing a dissertation entitled, “Memories of the Ark: Cultural Memory, Material Culture, and the Construction of the Past in Biblical Societies.” This project develops a cultural biography of the Ark of the Covenant, exploring its use and reuse as a site of memory, both before and after its loss.  It examines the central role that objects play in the Hebrew Bible, considering the ways that biblical writers and early biblical interpreters engaged with objects—at times claiming, reimagining, and contesting them, but almost always remembering with them.

Daniel has held a number of fellowships, including fellowships at the École biblique et archéologique française de Jérusalem, at the Albright Institute for Archaeological Research, and he most recently served as a curatorial fellow at the Bancroft Library’s Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life. He holds a C.Phil. from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.A. in Hebrew Bible and Jewish studies from Vanderbilt University, and a B.A. (Honors) in religious studies from McGill University.

Please RSVP to

Download flyer here for additional promotion / distribution.

Ark Narrative from Dura Europos