Colloquia Announcements

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

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 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.

3/23/16 – Colloquium – “Excavation at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth”

Maha Darawsha ColloquiumOn March 23, Professor Maha Darawsha will present a faculty colloquium on “Excavation at the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth.”

The event will take place in Oak 236 at 12:30 PM.

Reservations are requested, as lunch will be served.

To view a recording of some of the excavation process, click here.

Please contact the Center at to register for this colloquium or for more information.

Professor Darawsha’s work is in collaboration with the University of Hartford’s Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, and this event will be followed by a lecture at UHart on Thursday, March 24, also by Maha.

For more information on both events, click here.