Center News

Faculty Position: Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies & Director of the Center for Judaic Studies

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Connecticut invites applications for the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies at the advanced associate or full professor level.

The holder of the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies will serve as Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life. The successful candidate will spearhead the Center’s interdisciplinary Judaic Studies program (https://judaicstudies.uconn.edu) on campus and in the community, and contribute through research and teaching to further the development of the Hebrew and Judaic Studies section of the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages (https://languages.uconn.edu/hebrew/).

MINIMUM QUALIFICATIONS

Minimally qualified candidates will possess a Ph.D. in a related field; equivalent foreign degrees are acceptable. We seek a candidate with distinguished scholarly accomplishments of national and international recognition, whose research and teaching focus on the Jewish experience in the modern era and who has a vision for advancing our undergraduate and graduate programs in close collaboration with the Center’s Academic Director.

PREFERRED QUALIFICATIONS

The successful candidate should have experience in organizing events that attract students, faculty, and members of the broader community. The director will work with UConn’s programs in Human Rights; Middle East Studies; Africana Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; the NEAG School of Education; and with interested faculty across the disciplines to further enhance the diversity of the program.

The successful candidate should demonstrate excellence in teaching and strong managerial, communication, and public relations skills as well as a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The director reports to the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and oversees all personnel, financial, and administrative functions of the Center, including the work of a program assistant, graduate assistant, and student workers.

Effective fundraising and outreach are vital to the future of the Center, and the incoming director should be experienced and prepared to invest time and energy in these endeavors.

APPOINTMENT TERMS

This position is a full time, tenured 10-month appointment and applicants must meet University requirements for appointment at the rank of Associate or Full Professor.  Rank and salary will be commensurate with the candidate's qualifications and experience.

The operations of the Center of Judaic Studies include programming at the main campus in Storrs and the regional campuses in Hartford and Stamford. The director will work with the coordinator of Judaic Studies at the Stamford campus and engage with partners in the Greater Hartford area to offer cutting-edge programming for students, faculty, and the community at these campuses.

The position is based at the Storrs campus. Candidates may have the opportunity to teach at the campuses at Hartford and Stamford.

TO APPLY

Select “Apply Now” to submit the following on Academic Jobs Online: cover lettercurriculum vitaeteaching statementresearch and scholarship statementvision statement for Center leadershipcommitment to diversity statement, and the names and contact information of three referees who have agreed to write in support of your application if requested.

For search-related inquiries, please contact Ms. Pamela Weathers, Program Assistant at the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life (pamela.weathers@uconn.edu, 860-486-2271).

It is preferred that applications are received by December 31, 2018, and evaluation of applicants will continue until position is filled.

Employment of the successful candidate will be contingent upon the successful completion of a pre-employment criminal background check.  (Search 2019185)

This position will be filled subject to budgetary approval.

All employees are subject to adherence to the State Code of Ethics, which may be found at http://www.ct.gov/ethics/site/default.asp.

___________________________________________________________________

The University of Connecticut is committed to building and supporting a multicultural and diverse community of students, faculty, and staff. The diversity of students, faculty, and staff continues to increase, as does the number of honors students, valedictorians and salutatorians who consistently make UConn their top choice. More than 100 research centers and institutes serve the University’s teaching, research, diversity, and outreach missions, leading to UConn’s ranking as one of the nation’s top research universities. UConn’s faculty and staff are the critical link to fostering and expanding our vibrant, multicultural, and diverse community. As an Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Opportunity employer, UConn encourages applications from women, veterans, people with disabilities, and members of traditionally underrepresented populations.

www.jobs.uconn.edu

Jewish Hartford: European Roots

Jewish HartfordThe Jewish Hartford: European Roots project hosted by UConn Global Affairs explores, documents and shares the rich diversity of European Jewish life before the Holocaust and its enduring legacy in our region.

With broad participation from the Greater Hartford Jewish community, the project supports lectures, field trips, adult learning, youth education, and other programming about Jewish life in Europe, discovering and connecting with this unique heritage.

The Jewish Hartford: European Roots project is generously funded by the Konover Coppa Family Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Hartford and is housed at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

Learn more on the Jewish Hartford: European Roots website

 

Image credit: Reconstructed vault and bimah in the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, Warsaw. Photo shared by Magdalena Starowieyska, Dariusz Golik - Museum of the History of Polish Jews. Licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Share-alike - Poland (CC BY-SA 3.0 PL)

Joint Statement from the Directors of the Center for Judaic Studies, Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

A Message from the Directors of
the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life,
the Human Rights Institute,
and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

We are deeply saddened by the murder of eleven congregants at the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue in Pittsburgh, and we condemn the antisemitism, racism, and hatred of refugees and migrants that motivated this and similar acts of terror.  We are also appalled and outraged by the recent surge of politically motivated violence aimed at prominent critics of President Donald Trump. As scholars of human rights and directors of programs with ties to some of the individuals and communities under attack, we express our solidarity with those targeted and reaffirm our commitment to building a more just, equitable, inclusive, and peaceful society.

These acts of violence are the responsibility of the individuals who conceived, planned, and perpetrated them.  In the days and weeks to come, we will undoubtedly learn more about the attacks on the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and on George Soros, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and others.  We recognize, however, that, like last year’s deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville and the more recent racially-motivated murders of two African Americans at a grocery store in Jeffersontown, Kentucky, these events occur in the context of a pervasive environment of incendiary and hateful rhetoric.  Such rhetoric has often been amplified by, and sometimes originated with, the President, who has openly and proudly declared himself and those around him nationalist. We call on our leaders to reject unequivocally the path of political demonization and racial demagoguery and to join with others in building a shared culture of mutual respect and dignity.

If we want such a call to be heeded, we need substantive pressure from our elected officials and the broader society. 

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, and the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center see it as part of their mission to understand the nature and impact of antisemitism, racism, hatred of migrants and refugees, sexism, homophobia and other forms of bigotry; to educate for tolerance and mutual respect; and to foster a more inclusive democratic culture here at UConn and beyond.  We will continue to work with our partners on campus and beyond to support and defend those targeted with hateful rhetoric or deeds, among them our prominent partner George Soros, communities and organizations like the Tree of Life Or L’Simcha Synagogue and the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS), and our weary neighbors walking toward the southern border.

On Wednesday, November 7, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life will commemorate the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, with a lecture on “Antisemitism in Contemporary America” by Dr. Tom W. Smith of the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago.   Next semester, on April 4-5, the Human Rights Institute will hold a conference on “Human Rights and the Politics of Solidarity” in partnership with the Open Society Foundations.  We invite you to join us in this and other work, and we express our steadfast solidarity with all our partners, friends, and neighbors as we work together toward a more just future for all.

Glenn Mitoma
Director
Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Sebastian Wogenstein
Interim Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Stuart Miller
Academic Director
Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Kathy Libal
Director
Human Rights Institute

Molly Land
Associate Director
Human Rights Institute

Joint Statement of UConn Centers, Institutes, and Programs

As leaders of centers, institutes, and programs at the University of Connecticut dedicated to advancing critical understanding of social justice and human rights, we are fully committed to the aim, outlined in the university’s mission, of helping students grow intellectually and become contributing members of society. We pursue this work with full consciousness that many of our programs were created in the wake of social justice movements that sought recognition not only of the rights of marginalized peoples, but also of the obligation on the part of higher education to embrace diversity, cultivate civic responsibility, and promote equity and justice. Our centers, institutes, and programs support research and teaching in fields of knowledge that would not exist but for hard won protections of First Amendment values and academic freedom, and we strive to create robust, rigorous, and responsible intellectual communities among faculty and students of different backgrounds, opinions, and orientations. Critical and productive scholarly inquiry requires environments that foster diverse viewpoints and free and responsible exchange, even – and especially – when those contributions challenge orthodox thinking, wherever on the political spectrum it may be situated.

The invitation to author and media personality Ben Shapiro has provided us an opportunity to reflect on these histories and current objectives of our centers, institutes, and programs, and to reaffirm our essential roles in promoting the university’s core mission of enhancing the social, economic, and cultural well-being of our students and the wider community. We reject the claims of Mr. Shapiro, and those of like-minded individuals and organizations, that our programs are illegitimate or unnecessary university endeavors, and that challenging systemic oppression and seeking more just societies constitutes “brainwashing.” Freedom of expression and academic freedom are essential to promoting diversity of thought and opinion of all members of the community and enable us to engage productively in the pursuit of knowledge and understanding. Broad participation in these pursuits, however, requires not only speaking but also listening – not only “free speech” but also responsible efforts to understand the speech of others. We urge all members of the community to demonstrate our commitment to these values both in this week and beyond.

The following links showcase our centers, institutes, and programs, and indicate some of the ways in which we are working to promote – through efforts such as the Initiative on Campus Dialogues (https://humilityandconviction.uconn.edu/initiative-on-campus-dialogues/) and the metanoia Together: Confronting Racism (https://together.uconn.edu/) – open and mutually respectful exchange on the burning issues of today. Only through such sustained, painstaking, at times uncomfortable work can we hope to advance our collective understanding of ourselves, each other, and the world around us.

Africana Studies Institute https://africana.uconn.edu/mission/

American Studies Program https://americanstudies.uconn.edu/about/

Asian and Asian American Studies Institute https://asianamerican.uconn.edu/profile/mission_statement/

Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life https://judaicstudies.uconn.edu/about/

El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies https://elin.uconn.edu/

Humanities Institute https://humanities.uconn.edu/

Human Rights Institute https://humanrights.uconn.edu/our-mission-history/

Thomas J. Dodd Research Center https://thedoddcenter.uconn.edu/about/history/

Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Program https://wgss.uconn.edu/our-mission/

 

Sebastian Wogenstein, Interim Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Samuel Martinez, Interim Director, El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean and Latin American Studies

Glenn Mitoma, Director, Thomas J. Dodd Research Center

Melina Pappademos, Interim Director, Africana Studies Institute

Michael P. Lynch, Director, Humanities Institute

Alexis L. Boylan, Associate Director, Humanities Institute

Cathy J. Schlund-Vials, Director, Asian and Asian American Studies Institute

Kathryn Libal, Director, Human Rights Institute

Molly Land, Associate Director, Human Rights Institute

Micki McElya, Director, Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies Program

Christopher R. Vials, Director, American Studies Program

Farewell Wishes to Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at UConn extends warm wishes to Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy on her retirement.  We offer her heartfelt thanks for her invaluable work in establishing the Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies at UConn-Stamford! 

A Message from Nehama Aschkenasy

Nehama AschkenazyProfessor (Em.) of Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies, UConn
Founding Director (Em.), Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies, UConn Stamford

Dear Friends, Supporters, and Students,

I’m now officially retired from my position as Professor and Director. This is a bitter-sweet moment; it’s tough to build from the ground up, but it is tougher to let go. The Talmud says that “the baker should not attest to the quality of his own dough.” I am the proverbial “baker” in this case, but, as I’m writing not only for myself but for all our loyal friends, and especially the founders of our Center, I’ll take this opportunity to reflect on our accomplishments.

Over thirty-seven years ago a group of visionary community leaders embarked on a collaborative effort with the local campus of the University of Connecticut, and founded the Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies. Since its inception, our Center has had a dual mission: to develop and expand credit courses in all areas of Judaic Studies within the undergraduate curriculum and establish a forum for public discourse, in courses, seminars, and conferences, where both our regular students and community members would learn and discuss topics of current issues or of Jewish scholarship with the best and the brightest of today’s scholars, writers, and policy analysts.

On a personal note, I have had the privilege of working with some of the best individuals who advocated for us and made it financially possible for the Center to accomplish our phenomenal success. Reviewing the breadth of our offerings through the years and the caliber of guest speakers who addressed our groups, I am proud and also awed! Some of these speakers were already well known at the time, such as the late CHAIM POTOK and DR. IRVING HOWE, but I dare say that we also “discovered” junior scholars who then went on to brilliant careers, such as Political Scientist DR. SHIBLEY TELHAMI, (now the Anwar Sadaat chair at the University of Maryland, but then a young scholar only beginning to make his mark in the academic community), DR. FAWAZ GERGES (currently at the London School of Economics, who recently published a study of ISIS), and RON CHERNOW, the prominent, best-selling biographer (currently of “Hamilton” fame, who discussed at the time his book on the Jewish banking family, the Warburgs). We were fortunate to study with the brilliant orator, historian DR. HOWARD SACHAR, who was our guest speaker several times; we had the pleasure of learning from the internationally-acclaimed Israeli writer AMOS OZ, the renowned theologian DR. SUSANNAH HESCHEL of Dartmouth College, and, recently, DR. BRUCE HOFFMAN of Georgetown University, one of the foremost experts on contemporary terrorism. We also hosted twice the MOST REV. DR. DAVID JAEGER, member of the Roman Rota, the Vatican’s Supreme Court, who shared with us his vast knowledge as a theologian and unparalleled experience as peace maker. AMB. DR. DANIEL KURTZER, currently Professor of Middle East Policy at Princeton University and former U.S. Ambassador to both Israel and Egypt, addressed our audiences twice in recent years. And in our 2017 Annual Kuriansky Conference, we all enjoyed tremendously the knowledge and oratory of the renowned legal scholar, Dr. Jeffrey Rosen.  Our topics have been varied and fascinating, from interfaith dialogues on women in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, or on the meaning of “A Just War” in the three Abrahamic religions, to various issues related to the Middle East and contemporary Israel, to discussions of “Jews and Capitalism,” Jewish mysticism, and a variety of themes in history, from Jewish revolts in ancient Palestine to life in the East European Shtetl, to episodes of resistance and heroism during the Holocaust.

Our credit courses introduced the wealth of the Judaic texts and history to students who came from a diversity of ethnic and religious backgrounds, focusing on the great contribution of Judaism to Western civilization and the meaning of studying a religion, a culture, and a people’s history in the context of secular academia. Our college-age students learned of the ethics of social justice advocated in the Judaic masterworks, of the tolerance and respect for other views and creeds enfolded in Judaic teachings, and of the highs and lows of the Jewish historical experience. We have been pioneers in introducing courses in Holocaust, the Bible as literature, and the Bible’s impact on the literary history of Western civilization, on women in Judaic literary tradition and in Jewish religion, and of contemporary Israeli literature with a special angle, studying these contemporary works in the context of Middle Eastern literature, society, and politics.  

In one of Amos Oz’s stories, the protagonist reflects back on his life’s ambitions, and concludes that all he would leave are “footprints on the water.” I hope and pray that my life’s work, and the tireless efforts of our friends through the years, will amount to real footprints on solid ground, and that our Center will continue to flourish in future years.

Warm regards to all,

Nehama

Remembering Professor Arthur Abramson

Arthur AbramsonIt is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Dr. Arthur Abramson, Professor emeritus of Linguistics, this past weekend.

Arthur had been an active and distinguished member of our Judaic Studies community. He served on the Center’s Executive Board for many years and co-chaired, together with Elliot Wolk (z”l), the Academic Advisory Board and the Citizens Advisory Board. Until recently, Arthur was an active member of the Yiddish Tish. His sense of humor and linguistic-etymological tangents are legendary. According to Arnie Dashefsky, the founding director emeritus of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, Arthur contributed significantly to establishing Judaic Studies at UConn in the 1970s.

A Professor in the Linguistics Department, Arthur was a profoundly influential experimental phonetician. Arthur co-founded UConn’s Department of Linguistics in 1967 and served as department head from 1967 to 1974. He served as President of the Linguistics Society of America in 1983 and was a member of the inaugural class of LSA Fellows in 2006. Arthur’s research on Southeast Asian languages, particularly Thai, was influential, and his work with Leigh Lisker on voice onset time is considered one of the true classics of the field.

There will be a graveside service on Thursday, December 21 at 1pm at Beth Sholom Cemetery, Autumn Street, Manchester, CT.

May his memory be a blessing.

Sebastian

Remembering Professor Bruce Stave

Bruce StaveIt is with great sadness that I share news of the passing of Dr. Bruce Stave, Emeritus Professor and a former Head of the History Department, who passed away Saturday morning, December 2, from complications of congestive heart failure. 

Bruce had been an active and distinguished member of our Judaic Studies community and a generous supporter of our Center. He served on the Center’s academic advisory and executive boards for many years and was a member of key university committees. A professor in the History Department, he was a leading scholar in American urban history, a path-breaking methodologist in oral history, and a leading historian of the development of the University of Connecticut. The Head of the History Department, Chris Clark, says that Bruce and his wife Sondra Stave “have been stalwart friends of the department, supporting graduate students through a generous scholarship fund, and attending numerous departmental and public events over the years. He was a warm personal friend to many.”

A celebration of Bruce’s life will take place on Friday, April 20, 2018 at the Alumni Center from 4-6pm. Contributions may be made to the University of Connecticut Foundation for the Bruce M. and Sondra Astor Stave Prize in Recent American History or to a charity of your choice. 

May his memory be a blessing.

Sebastian

Spring 2018 Courses in Hebrew and Judaic Studies (HEJS) Announced

Spring 2018 HEJS course schedule

 

It's almost time to register for spring courses! Spring 2018 course topics in Hebrew and Judaic Studies (HEJS) include Jewish Magic, The Holocaust in Print, Theater, and Film, Ethiopian Jews in Ethiopia and Israel, and Selected Books of the Hebrew Bible. For students interested in Hellenistic Judaism, Alexander the Great in Fact and Fiction is offered under CAMS. Biblical and Modern Hebrew language courses are also available. For full course details, including dates and times, please visit: judaicstudies.uconn.edu/students/courses/

Professor Sebastian Wogenstein Named Interim Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

Sebastian WogensteinThe Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life extends a warm welcome to our newly appointed Interim Director, Professor Sebastian Wogenstein. Sebastian is an Associate Professor in the German section of the Literatures, Cultures, and Languages Department, a faculty associate of the Human Rights Institute, and a faculty member of Judaic Studies. He has published widely in the areas of human rights and literature, German-Jewish literature, and 20th/21st century German literature and theater. 

We offer our congratulations to former Director Jeffrey Shoulson in his new capacity as Interim Vice Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives. His service and dedication to the Center were invaluable, and we wish him well in his new endeavor!

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 toward 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.