Colloquia Announcements

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and nobles, were understood to be thinly veiled kabalistic allegories, void of concrete historical experience or historical reference.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

 

11/14/16 Professor Dalia Wassner Presents Multi-Directional Cosmopolitans: Women Warriors of the Southern Cone

Dalia WassnerAs part of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life’s Faculty Colloquium Series, Professor Dalia Wassner will present “Multi-Directional Cosmopolitans: Women Warriors of the Southern Cone” on November 14, 2016, at 1:15 in the Class of ’47 Room at Homer Babbidge Library.  Attending this event will count towards Sophomore honors. The lecture is being co-hosted by El Instituto: Institute of Latina/o, Caribbean, and Latin American Studies. A kosher lunch will be provided.

In the years after World War II, Latin America’s Southern Cone served as a refuge for former Nazis. A generation later, the military governments of the Southern Cone abducted and “disappeared” thousands of their own citizens, once again creating fragmented societies by demanding silence and collaboration in violent pursuit of “civilization” and “national purity.” Professor Wassner will highlight the historical parallels between the Holocaust and the “Dirty Wars” perceived by a cohort of Jewish feminist cultural activists in Argentina and Chile through an exploration of the Holocaust imagery these activists employed both during the dictatorships, through subversive cultural avenues, and in pursuit of reconciliation and democratization in their aftermath.

Dalia Wassner earned her Ph.D. in History at Northeastern University in 2012. She is currently a Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute of Brandeis University where her research interests include feminist cultural responses to violence in a trans-Atlantic frame, collective memory in terms of multidirectional memory and postmemory, and cultural connections between Jews and other minorities involved in Latin American processes of national democratization. Professor Wassner teaches Women’s Studies, Latin American Studies, and Jewish Studies, most recently at Emerson College, Boston University, and Brandeis University. Her book Harbinger of Modernity: Marcos Aguinis and the Democratization of Argentina (Boston: Brill, 2014), illuminates the intersecting roles of Jews and public intellectuals in bringing democracy to post-dictatorship Argentina. 

10/20/16 Professor Glenn Dynner to Present on Jews, Liquor, and Life in Eastern Europe

Glenn DynnerIn 18th and 19th century Eastern Europe, much of the economy was based on vodka, and Jews were believed to be the only group sober enough to be entrusted with its production and sale. The Jewish-run tavern, leased from the Polish nobleman (poritz), became the center of leisure, hospitality, business, and other aspects of local life. However, as peasant drunkenness reached epidemic proportions, reformers and government officials sought to drive Jews out of the liquor trade. New archival discoveries demonstrate that rather than abandon the lucrative liquor trade, most Jews simply installed Christians as “fronts” and retained their tavern leases. The result—a vast underground Jewish liquor trade that continued down to the end of the 19th century—reflects an impressive level of Jewish-Christian coexistence that contrasts with the more familiar story of anti-Semitism and violence.

Professor Glenn Dynner will present “Jews, Liquor, and Life in Eastern Europe” on Thursday, October 20, 2016, at 12:30pm in the Class of ’47 Room at the Homer Babbidge Library as part of the Faculty Colloquium series sponsored by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.  The series is a forum for the presentation of faculty research.  All are invited to attend.  A kosher lunch will be provided.

Glenn Dynner is Professor of Religion and Chair of Humanities at Sarah Lawrence College. He is the author of “Men of Silk”: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society (Oxford University Press, 2006) and Yankel’s Tavern: Jews, Liquor & Life in the Kingdom of Poland (Oxford University Press, 2014). He is also editor of Holy Dissent: Jewish and Christian Mystics in Eastern Europe (Wayne State University Press, 2011); co-editor of Polin 27; and co-editor of  Warsaw. The Jewish Metropolis: Essays in Honor of the 75th Birthday of Professor Antony Polonsky (Brill, 2015). He is a member of the Institute for Advanced Studies at Princeton University and has been both a Fulbright scholar and the Senior NEH scholar at the Center for Jewish History.

Download the flyer!

Jewish Tavern
Gentiles dancing and drinking in a Jewish tavern. Lithograph by G. Pillati published by A. Chlebowski, “Swit,” and printed by B.Wierzbicki and Sons, Warsaw, n.d. (Moldovan Family Collection via YIVO Encyclopedia)

11/9 In Remembrance of Kristallnacht: Ariela Keysar Will Speak on Anti-Semitism

Ariela KeysarYoung American Jewish adults are more than five times as likely to report being targets of anti-Semitism as older American Jews are (Pew 2013). Since the vast majority of young American Jews spend four or more years studying at universities and colleges, anti-Semitism at institutions of higher education is an issue for the entire Jewish community.

The National Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, conducted by Ariela Keysar and Barry A. Kosmin of Trinity College in 2014 with 1,157 self-identified Jewish college students from 55 campuses, revealed that more than half of the students personally experienced or witnessed anti-Semitism during the 2013-2014 academic year, and the smallness of variations across the regions of the U.S. suggests that anti-Semitism on campus is a nationwide problem. As one Jewish student commented: “Subtle anti-Semitism — it’s the last socially acceptable form of racism” (Keysar & Kosmin 2014). 

According to Professor Keysar, the reported rates of campus anti-Semitism were almost identical between the U.S. in 2014 and the U.K. in 2011. However, American students report more interpersonal prejudice and harassment while British students were more likely to report anti-Semitism in political contexts.

In remembrance of Kristallnacht, Professor Ariela Keysar will present “International Comparisons of Anti-Semitism on Campus: Why Are Women More Likely to Be Targeted” on Wednesday, November 9, on the Storrs Campus at 5:00pm in the Class of  ’47 Room at Babbidge Library. Attending this event will count towards Sophomore honors.  A reception will follow.  Earlier that day, she will present “Variations of Anti-Semitism in a Global Perspective: Conceptual and Methodological Issues” as part of our Faculty Colloquium Series at 1:00pm in the Dodd Research Center, room 162 (a kosher lunch will be provided). 

Professor Keysar, a demographer, is research professor in public policy and law and the associate director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture at Trinity College.

She was the associate director of the landmark Longitudinal Study of American and Canadian Conservative Youth, 1995-2003, and a principal investigator of the Demographic Survey of American Jewish College Students, 2014; the National College Students Survey 2013; the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) 2008; and the Worldviews and Opinions of Scientists: India 2007-08. She was the study director of the American Jewish Identity Survey (AJIS) 2001.

Professor Keysar was born in Israel and holds a B.A. in statistics and an M.A. and Ph.D. in demography from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel.