Colloquia Announcements

11/14/16 Professor Dalia Wassner to Present 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. 

Professor Glenn Dynner to Present on Jews, Liquor, and Life in Eastern Europe | Oct. 20, 2016

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.

Medicine and Maimonides in Medieval Egypt to be Presented by Dr. Efraim Lev | Sept. 27, 2016

Dr. Efraim LevOn September 27 at 12:30 PM in Dodd Conference Room 162, Dr. Efraim Lev will present “Medicine and Maimonides in Medieval Egypt: Notes from the Cairo Geniza.” The event is open to the public and a kosher lunch will be served.

About the Talk

Nearly 2,000 of the 300,000 fragments found in the Cairo Genizah deal with medical issues and among them is a practical prescription written in the hand of the great Jewish philosopher, legal scholar, and physician, Maimonides (1138-
1203). This presentation will offer some insights into the materials used in the prescription and what they can tell us about practical medical knowledge in the Middle Ages.

About the Speaker

Dr. Efraim Lev is Professor of Humanities in the Department of Land of Israel Studies at the University of Haifa.

Dr. Yonatan Adler to Present on the Jewish “Stone Age” | Sept. 20, 2016

On September 20, 2016, at 12:30 PM in Student Union Room 304B, Dr. Yonatan Adler (in conversation with Professor Stuart S. Miller) will present “The Jewish ‘Stone Age’ in Roman Palestine.” The event is open to the public and lunch will be served.

Dr. Yonatan Adler is directing the excavation of a 2,000-year-old limestone workshop in a cave in the Galilee, Israel that served as a stone vessel factory during the period of the Second Temple and perhaps later. Was the popularity of stone vessels, which are common in Jewish settlements in Roman Palestine, due to the fact that some Jews believed they could not become impure or because people simply preferred them over pottery made of clay? Dr. Adler’s presentation will be in conversation with the Center’s Academic Director, Prof. Stuart Miller, who has written extensively on this topic.

Dr. Yotam Hotam to Present “Transgression” in Modern Jewish Thought | April 20, 2016

On April 20, 2016, at 12:30 PM in Dodd Room 162, Professor Yotam Hotam will present “‘Transgression’ in Modern Jewish Thought.” A spot for this event can be reserved by contacting Lunch will be served.

Dr. Hotam will examine Sigmund Freud’s dual sense of identity as a secular modernist who rejects obedience to Jewish law (halacha) and as a lawful Jew who resists succumbing to the secularized- Christian modern culture.

Yotam Hotam is the 2015 Horace W. Goldsmith Visiting Professor in Judaic Studies at Yale, a 2015-2016 Teaching Fellow of the Israel Institute in Washington, and a Visiting Fellow of the Center for the Humanities at Wesleyan University. He is the author of Modern Gnosis and Zionism: The Crisis of Culture, Life Philosophy and Jewish National Thought.



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.


Alon Segev to Present “Theologian in Support of National Socialism – The Case of Gerhard Kittel” | Feb. 17, 2016

On February 17 at 12:30 PM in Dodd Conference Room 162, Dr. Alon Segev will present “Theologian in Support of National Socialism – The Case of Gerhard Kittel.” 

About the Talk

In 1933, Gerhard Kittel (1888-1948), the great German theologian, one of the greatest biblical scholars of the 20th century, and the founder and co-editor of the Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, published a text called The Jewish Question in which he argued that the Jewish religion and salvation history were the origin of the “Jewish problem.” According to Kittel, a theological answer to the Jewish Question did not exclude or confine the Nazi racial answer but rather supported it and provided it firm foundation. The interplay between religion and race converge in Kittel’s thesis to support the case of National Socialism.

Abour the Speaker

Dr. Alon Segev was a Max-Planck “Minerva” Fellow (teaching and research) in the Department of Philosophy, University of Heidelberg, and then a DFG Fellow at the Martin-Buber Institute (University of Cologne). In the past few years, Alon has published extensively on subjects in Holocaust studies, modern German philosophy, and classical and modern philosophy.

Abigail Miller to Present “Refugee – Survivors: Jewish Resettlement in Argentina and Holocaust Memory” | Jan. 28, 2016

On January 28, 2016 at 12:30 PM in Dodd Conference Room 162, Abigail Miller will present “Refugee-Survivors: Jewish Resettlement in Argentina and Holocaust Memory” The event is open to the public and lunch will be served.

Abigail Miller is a third-year doctoral student at the Strassler Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University in Worcester, MA. Her work examines Argentina as a place of refuge for Jewish refugees during and after the Holocaust with a particular interest in refugee narratives of loss and recovery. This topic speaks to her interest in following Jewish refugees into the postwar decades, specifically looking at the ways in which Holocaust memory and trauma affected their resettlement and lives in Argentina.

4/1/16 – Colloquium – Einstein’s Legacy: Studying Gravity in War and Peace

EinsteinWe’re very pleased to be co-sponsoring a colloquium with the Physics Department.

Friday, April 1st, 2016

04:00 PM – 05:00 PM

Storrs Campus
Gant Science Complex, Physics Building, Room P038

Professor David Kaiser, from the Department of Physics and Program in Science Technology, and Society at MIT, will present:

“Joint Physics/Judaic Studies Center Colloquium
Einstein’s Legacy: Studying Gravity in War and Peace”

Refreshments will be prior to the talk, at 3:30 p.m., in the Gant Complex,
Physics Library, Room P-103.

A popular image persists of Albert Einstein as a loner, someone who
avoided the hustle and bustle of everyday life in favor of quiet
contemplation. Yet Einstein was deeply engaged with politics throughout
his life; indeed, he was so active politically that the U.S. government
kept him under surveillance for decades, compiling a 2000-page secret file
on his political activities. His most enduring scientific legacy, the
general theory of relativity — physicists’ reigning explanation for
gravity and the basis for nearly all our thinking about the cosmos — has
likewise been cast as an austere temple standing aloof from the
all-too-human dramas of political history. But was it so? This lecture
examines ways in which research on general relativity was embedded in, and
at times engulfed by, the tumult of world politics over the course of the
twentieth century.