Colloquia Announcements

Karen B. Stern to Present “Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity” on Apr. 4, 2019

Karen Stern

On Thursday, April 4, Professor Karen B. Stern (Brooklyn College of CUNY) will present the Gene and Georgia Mittelman Lecture in Judaic Studies: "Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity." A kosher lunch will be provided.

The talk will be held from 12:30 - 1:30 pm in Werth Tower 112 and is free and open to the public. It is made possible by the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Humanities Institute, the Anthropology Department, and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. 

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

About the Talk

Few direct clues exist to the everyday lives and beliefs of ordinary Jews in antiquity. Prevailing perspectives on ancient Jewish life have been shaped largely by the voices of intellectual and social elites, preserved in the writings of Philo and Josephus and the rabbinic texts of the Mishnah and Talmud. Commissioned art, architecture, and formal inscriptions displayed on tombs and synagogues equally reflect the sensibilities of their influential patrons. The perspectives and sentiments of non-elite Jews, by contrast, have mostly disappeared from the historical record. Yet just like their neighbors throughout the eastern and southern Mediterranean, Mesopotamia, Arabia, and Egypt, ancient Jews scribbled and drew graffiti everyplace—in and around markets, hippodromes, theaters, pagan temples, open cliffs, sanctuaries, and even inside burial caves and synagogues. In this talk, Prof. Stern reveals how these markings can tell us more than we might expect about the men and women who made them, people whose lives, beliefs, and behaviors eluded commemoration in grand literary and architectural works. Drawing analogies with modern graffiti practices, she documents the overlooked connections between Jews and their neighbors to shed new light on the richness of their quotidian lives and on how commonly popular Jewish practices of prayer, mortuary commemoration, commerce, and civic engagement crossed ethnic and religious boundaries.

About the Speaker

Karen B. Stern, Associate Professor of History at Brooklyn College of CUNY, conducts research across disciplines of archaeology, history, and religion and teaches courses on Mediterranean cultural history, visual history, and the material culture of Jews in the Greek and Roman worlds. She has conducted field research throughout the Mediterranean and has excavated in Petra (Jordan), Sepphoris (Israel), and ancient Pylos and the Athenian Agora (Greece). Having taught at Dartmouth College, USC, and Brown University, she has served as a research fellow of the NEH, Albright Institute of Archaeological Research (Jerusalem), and the Getty Villa. She is the author of Inscribing Devotion and Death: Archaeological Evidence for Jews in North Africa (Brill 2008) and Writing on the Wall: Graffiti and the Forgotten Jews of Antiquity (Princeton University Press, 2018). Multiple media outlets, including the Daily Beast, Atlas Obscura, NPR, Guardian, Ha'aretz, and Chinese CCTV, have featured her research.

Directions

map South Garage to Werth TowerWerth Tower is a short walk from South Parking Garage (2366 Jim Calhoun Way)*
• Exit the garage through the ground floor exit onto Jim Calhoun Way and cross Jim Calhoun Way toward Gampel Pavilion.
• Staying to the left of Gampel Pavilion, turn onto Gampel Service Drive.
• Turn left before the sports field, and walk up the ramp located at the end of the sidewalk.
• Peter J. Werth Residence Tower is located at the top of the ramp on the left.

*Due to construction on campus, South Parking Garage on Jim Calhoun Way can be accessed from Hillside Road or Alumni Drive. Separatist Road should not be used because a portion of Jim Calhoun Way is closed to traffic.

Click here for a printable PDF version of these directions

Matthew Parent to Present “Outgunned: Israeli Military Innovation and the Talpiot Program” on Feb. 5, 2019

Israeli Soldiers

On Tuesday, February 5, Matthew Parent will present "Outgunned: Israeli Military Innovation and the Talpiot Program" for our Faculty Colloquium series. A kosher lunch will be provided.

The talk will be held from 12:30 - 1:30 pm, in Oak Hall 236 and is free and open to the public. It is made possible by the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life and the UConn Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

About the Talk

Engaged in conflict from its inception, the Israeli military faced complex challenges requiring creative solutions. While military aid and acquisitions from other countries, like the US, proved essential to early conflicts, Israel quickly needed its own indigenous solutions. Culminating in the establishment of the Talpiot program, military innovation was--and is--pivotal in the strengthening of Israel's military power. This presentation looks at the history, challenges, and major events in Israeli military innovation, as well as its unique characteristics compared to many other military establishments around the globe.

About the Speaker

Matthew ParentMatthew Parent is a PhD candidate in the Political Science Department at UConn, concentrating in International Relations. His research focuses on the intersection of security studies, military innovation, and popular culture. His data comes from diverse electronic and print sources, popular media, as well as from places like NATO's archives in Brussels, Belgium. His work attempts to intentionally bridge the gap between scholarly study and practical policy applications. He holds degrees from the University of Massachusetts, the Catholic University of America, and the University of Connecticut.

Esther Dischereit to Present Faculty Colloquium on March 25, 2019

Esther Discherit

On Monday, March 25, Esther Dischereit will present "Jewish Lives and the Situation in Germany - Regarding Others and 'Us' in the Public Sphere" for our Faculty Colloquium series. A kosher lunch will be provided.

The talk will be held from 12:30 - 1:30 pm, in Oak Hall 236 and is free and open to the public. It is made possible by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, the Human Rights Institute, the Humanities Institute, and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

About the Talk

The situation of Jews in Germany cannot be separated from the situation of other minority groups, and a close look reveals that one is reflected in and through the others. Many Muslims have been prompted to find civic interlocutors among the Jewish minority by the ways in which the majority population in German society has questioned whether and how they might "belong." In 2018, the Turkish and Turkish-German community in Germany witnessed the end of the so-called NSU trial against a member of a terrorist cell that called itself "National Socialist Underground (NSU)." The group was responsible for the murder of at least nine persons with migration background and a police officer. The number of arson attacks on refugee housing rose dramatically, and right-wing terrorists circulate lists of Jewish targets for potential attacks. Turkish and Jewish organizations call for investigations to continue and to recognize migrant perspectives in tackling racial attacks.

How does this effect "us"? To answer this, I must first ask, in addition: Who is this "us"? How ought "we," as Jewish citizens and migrants, respond to racialized hate crimes not sufficiently investigated by law enforcement and the judiciary in Germany? My talk will address some aspects of the current situation of Jews in light of the rise of AfD populist party politics in Germany and of German-American relations after the elections of Trump in the U.S.

About the Speaker

Esther Dischereit is currently DAAD Chair in Contemporary Poetics at NYU. She is described by her publisher, Suhrkamp Verlag, as “possibly the preeminent German-Jewish voice of the post-Shoah generation,” lives in Berlin. She has published fiction, poetry and essays, as well as plays for radio and the stage. She is the founder of the avant-garde-project WordMusic and has worked as a curator for various projects in contemporary art/new media. She has collaborated with the dancer and choreographer Holly Handman-Lopez, the composer and percussionist Ray Kaczynski, Djane İpek İpekçioğlu, the concept artists Riccardo Ajossa, beate maria wörz and many others; most recently with the calligrapher Veruschka Goetz. She has been a Fellow at the Moses Mendelssohn Centre for European and Jewish Studies and holds frequent lectures and readings in the United States, Canada, Israel, South America and Europe. Esther has received many prizes for her work, including the Erich Fried Prize in 2009.

Dr. Ofer Dynes to Present The End of the World and the Beginning of Hasidic Literature on March 26

Ofer Dynes

On March 26, at 12:30 pm, Dr. Ofer Dynes of McGill University will present "The End of the World and the Beginning of Hasidic Literature" for the Center for Judaic Studies Faculty Colloquium series. The talk will be held in Oak Hall, room 236. A complimentary kosher lunch will be served.

Please RSVP to attend: https://cjsoferdynes.eventbrite.com

This event is co-sponsored by the Humanities Institute and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages.

About the Presentation

Dr. Dynes will discuss his book, The Fiction of the State: The Information Revolution in Eastern Europe and the Beginning of Modern Jewish Literature (1772-1848), which centers on the rise of Hasidic literature. Traditionally, scholars have interpreted the tales of Nahman of Bratslav (1772-1810), a Hasidic leader, as an esoteric expression of his relationship with God. Fittingly, the political themes in the tales, the legends on the lives of kings, queens, princesses, and nobles, were understood to be thinly veiled kabalistic allegories, void of concrete historical experience or historical reference. This talk offers a new interpretative model of Nahman’s tales and their allegorical structure and, more generally, of his theological-political-literary vision. Drawing on Nahman’s vernacular literary theory, as well as on his recently discovered “scroll of secrets,” his encoded messianic prophecy, Dr. Dynes will show how we can read the tales both as allegory and as mimetic, concrete reference to the political reality in partitioned Poland. 

About the Speaker

Ofer Dynes (PhD Harvard, 2016) is the Ethel Flegg Postdoctoral Research Fellow at McGill University where he teaches Hebrew and Yiddish literature and Jewish cultural history. His research has been supported by the Posen Society of Fellows, the Center for Jewish History, the Center for the Study of Law and Culture at Columbia University, the Lviv Center for Urban History of East Central Europe, and the Austrian Fund for Social Sciences, among other institutions.

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

Professor Pinchas Giller to Present The Changing Face of Kabbalah Research on March 5

Pinchas GillerOn March 5 at 12:30 pm, Professor Pinchas Giller will present "The Changing Face of Kabbalah Research" for the Center for Judaic Studies Faculty Colloquium series. The talk will be held in the Heritage Room on the fourth floor of Babbidge Library.

The event is free and open to the public, and a kosher lunch will be served. Please RSVP to attend: https://cjsgiller.eventbrite.com

About the Presentation

The most influential summary of the development of Kabbalah was Gershom Scholem's "Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism." However, since the publication of "Major Trends" some seventy years ago, many new discoveries and historical interpretations have revised the scholarly view of this branch of Jewish Studies. Where was Scholem correct and where have his conclusions been disproved? In individual terms and on a large scale, the popular understanding of the role of Kabbalah in the history and phenomenology of religions is in bad need of revision.

About the Speaker

Professor Giller is Chair of the Jewish Studies Department and Jean and Harvey z"l Powell Professor in the College of Arts & Sciences at the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. He directs the Kabbalah and Hasidism Program at the American Jewish University.

This event is made possible by the Center for Judaic Studies, the Humanities Institute, the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages, and the Medieval Studies Program.

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

Professor Shachar Pinsker to Present A Rich Brew: How Cafes Created Modern Jewish Culture on February 26

Shachar Pinsker

On February 26, at 12:30 pm, Professor Shachar Pinsker of the University of Michigan will present "A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture" for the Center for Judaic Studies Faculty Colloquium series. The talk will be held in Oak Hall, room 236. A complimentary kosher lunch will be served.

This event is free and open to the public! Please RSVP to attend: https://cjspinsker.eventbrite.com

About the Presentation

Professor Pinsker’s talk will explore coffeehouses as a silk road of modern Jewish culture by examining a network of interconnected cafés that were central to the modern Jewish experience in a time of migration and urbanization, from Odessa, Warsaw, Vienna, and Berlin to New York City and Tel Aviv. Drawing on stories, novels, poems, newspaper articles, memoirs, archival documents, photographs, caricatures, and artwork, he will show how Jewish modernity was born in the café, nourished, and sent out into the world by way of print, politics, literature, art, and theater. What was experienced and created in the space of the coffeehouse touched thousands who read, saw, and imbibed a modern culture that redefined what it meant to be a Jew in the world.

About the Speaker

Shachar Pinsker is Associate Professor of Hebrew Literature and Culture at the University of Michigan. He is a specialist in modern Hebrew and Jewish literature and culture, and he is the author of the award-winning book Literary Passports: The Making of Modernism Hebrew Fiction in Europe (Stanford, 2011).

This event is co-sponsored by the Humanities Institute and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

Colloquium with Professor Avinoam Patt: The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising

On Tuesday, February 6, at 12:30 pm, Professor Avinoam Patt will present "The Jewish Heroes of Warsaw: The Afterlife of the Warsaw Ghetto" for the Center for Judaic Studies Faculty Colloquium series. The talk will be held in the Humanities Institute conference room located on level 4 of the Babbidge Library.

Professor Patt is the Philip D. Feltman Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford where he is also director of the Museum of Jewish Civilization.

A complimentary kosher lunch will be served. This event is free, open to the public, and attendance qualifies for honors credit. It is made possible by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life Frances and Irving Seliger Memorial Endowment Fund, the Humanities Institute and the Department of Literatures, Cultures, and Languages. Please RSVP to https://ujspatt.eventbrite.com

About the Talk

On April 19, 1943, Jewish resisters of the Warsaw Ghetto rose up against the Nazi soldiers guarding them. The Warsaw Ghetto Uprising was transformed into a symbol of Jewish resistance, Jewish sacrifice, and Jewish martyrdom during and after World War II. Professor Patt will examine how and why this watershed event quickly became the prism through which Jews around the world understood and interpreted the murder of European Jewry during the Holocaust and the ways in which memory of the uprising was mobilized by diverse Jewish communities in the service of varied political ideologies after the war.

About the Speaker

Professor Patt received his PhD in Modern European History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies from New York University. His first book, Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (published by Wayne State University Press, May 2009) examines the appeal of Zionism for young survivors in Europe in the aftermath of the Holocaust and their role in the creation of the state of Israel. He is the co-editor (with Michael Berkowitz) of a collected volume on Jewish Displaced Persons, titled We are Here: New Approaches to the Study of Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany (Wayne State University Press, February 2010). He is a contributor to several projects at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and is a co-author of the source volume, entitled Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1938-1940 (USHMM/Alta Mira Press, September 2011). Professor Patt has also published numerous articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia articles on various topics related to Jewish life and culture before, during, and after the Holocaust and is director of the In Our Words Interview Project with the children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.

If you require an accommodation to participate, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or pamela.weathers@uconn.edu.

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.

About the Presentation

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. 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.

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 860-486-2271 or judaicstudies@uconn.edu 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 https://haifa.academia.edu/JHChajes.

We look forward to his presentation!

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact the Center at 860-486-2271 or judaicstudies@uconn.edu by October 9, 2017.

kabbalistic diagrams
Kabbalistic diagrams created by Jewish mystics