Faculty News

Director Avinoam Patt featured on WNPR

Have a listen: Our director Prof. Avinoam Patt was featured today on the WNPR radio show "Where We Live," hosted by Lucy Nalpathanchil, talking about Holocaust analogies among anti-vaccine politicians.

The episode can be found here: https://www.ctpublic.org/show/where-we-live/2021-10-18/some-politicians-are-using-holocaust-analogies-as-anti-vaccine-rhetoric

Prof. Patt's article on the same topic in the Washington Post from June 19th can be found here: https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/2021/06/19/holocaust-education-museum-greene/ 

Dr. Sarah Willen Receives Award for Best Book in Israel Studies

Sarah S Willen

Congratulations to Associate Professor Sarah Willen whose book Fighting For Dignity: Migrant Lives at Israel’s Margins is the winner of the Association for Israel Studies Yonathan Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies published in 2019.

From the Association of Israel Studies:

The Association for Israel Studies annually awards the Shapiro Prize for the best book in Israel Studies published during the last calendar year. This award honors the memory of Yonathan Shapiro (1929-1997), one of Israel's most distinguished and influential sociologists. The award pays tribute to outstanding scholarship in the history, politics, society, law, economics, state, and culture of Israel and also the pre-1948 Jewish community in Palestine.

Willen's book provides a first-rate ethnographic account of migrant lives in Israel and the consequences of the Israeli state’s deportation policy that devastated Tel Aviv’s migrant communities and, in the process, violated the migrants’ human rights and human dignity. The book draws on more than twenty years of direct observation and engagement with migrants as well as Israeli activists. It makes a major contribution to the field of Israel Studies by combining scholarship of the highest standard with an argument that is both urgent and essential, reminding us of the importance of tolerance and understanding as fundamental values of the Jewish state and Israeli society.


Faculty Book Release | Americans Abroad: A Comparative Study of Emigrants from the United States by Arnold Dashefsky

Arnold DashefskyFounding Center Director Professor Emeritus Arnold Dashefsky has recently published a new edition of Americans Abroad: A Comparative Study of Emigrants from the United States (Springer 2020). The book is co-authored by Karen A. Woodrow-Lafield and includes a new introduction as well as four new chapters with a Foreword by Steven J. Gold and Postscripts provided by David J. Graham and Chaim I. Waxman. Originally published in 1992 by Plenum Press, the first edition of Americans Abroad was co-authored by Arnold Dashefsky, Jan DeAmicis, the late Bernard Lazerwitz (z”l), and Ephraim Tabory. 

About the Book

Dashefsky Americans Abroad 2020Since the publication of Americans Abroad in 1992, the study of emigration has advanced considerably. Since the United States in particular receives such a high volume of immigrants, its emigrant population is less-frequently studied. International migration continues to increase, with now over 200 million people worldwide living as emigrants from their birth country for the purposes of work, family integration, improved living situations, or human rights.

Utilizing the same social psychological approach that made the first edition so successful, the authors examine the motivation, adjustment issues and return migration of American emigrants. The analysis of these comparative experiences reveal core elements of American culture.

Learn more on the publisher's website.



Local Synagogues Provide Online Programming

Several UConn Judaic Studies affiliated faculty members will be providing classes for local synagogues organizing online programs. You can find their full schedule below!

Beth David Synagogue, Beth El Temple, Temple Beth Hillel, Congregation Beth Israel, Temple Beth Torah, Congregation B'nai Tikvoh Sholom, The Emanuel Synagogue, Congregation Kol Haverim, Temple Sinai and Young Israel of West Hartford invite the entire community to a:

Beginning the week of April 20th, and running for 9 consecutive weeks, we are pleased to present each week a class by a member of our local academic community. We thank them for their participation in this program and hope that you will take advantage of the opportunity to study with them.

All classes will be accessible on Zoom by clicking on the following link or using the call-in number below.

Join Zoom Meeting


Meeting ID: 934 142 286

Password: lectures

One tap mobile
+19292056099,,934142286# US (New York)

Dial by your location
+1 929 205 6099 US (New York)
Meeting ID: 934 142 286

Find your local number: https://zoom.us/u/abehp2Kc8M

Questions? - E-mail Rabbi Howard Rosenbaum at hrosenbaum@cbict.org or leave a phone message at (860) 920-5686.

All classes will begin at 7:30 PM

Wednesday, April 22nd
Dr. Avinoam Patt, Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, University of Connecticut
"Yom Ha-Shoah Veha-Gevurah: On Jewish Heroism, Martyrdom, and Sacrifice"

Wednesday, April 29th
Dr. Jeremy Pressman, Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of Middle East Studies, University of Connecticut
"Camp David, 40+ Years Later: Strategy, Peace, Autonomy"

Monday, May 4th
Dr. Joshua Lambert, Academic Director, Yiddish Book Center and Visiting Assistant Professor of English at the University of Massachusetts
"Sholem Aleichem's Motl the Cantor's Son and How We Think about Immigrants"

Thursday, May 14th
Dr. Ron Kiener, Professor of Religious Studies, Trinity College
"Jewish Imagination in a Time of Pandemic: Apocalypse, Messianism, and Lament"

Wednesday, May 20th
Dr. Deena Grant, Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, 
Hartford Seminary
"Divine Love and Punishment in Deuteronomy and Beyond"

Tuesday, May 26th
Dr. Sarah Willen, Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Connecticut
""Love the stranger": Migrant Workers, Asylum Seekers, and Israeli
Activists in Tel Aviv"

Tuesday, June 2nd
Dr. Sara Johnson, Associate Professor of Classics and Ancient Mediterranean Studies, University of Connecticut
"Not Lost in Translation: The Greek Bible from Aristeas to the Rabbis"

Monday, June 8th
Dr. Sam Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, 
Trinity College
"David Ben Gurion and the Making of the Jewish State"

Thursday, June 18th
Dr. Stuart Miller, Professor of Hebrew, History, and Judaic Studies and Academic Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, University of Connecticut
"Separating out the Facts: The Origins of Christianity and the History of Judaism"

Dr. Arnold Dashefsky Receives Sklare Award

Arnold DashefskyThe Marshall Sklare Award is given annually by the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry (ASSJ) to a senior scholar who has made a significant scholarly contribution to the social scientific study of Jewry, primarily through the publication of a body of research in books and articles or of published work related to public policy.

We are proud to share that Professor Emeritus Arnold Dashefsky, founder of the Center for Judaic Studies, will receive the Sklare Award this year for his career-long distinguished contributions to the field of sociology. Awardees are prolific scholars who have helped to shape the modern study of Jewish life

The Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry is a cross-disciplinary organization of individuals whose research concerns the Jewish people throughout the world. The ASSJ encourages and facilitates contact among researchers, supports the dissemination of research, and assists in the cultivation of younger scholars.

Director Avinoam Patt Presents “Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust”

Center Director Avinoam Patt provided virtual presentation "Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust" for TJC at Home, a Project of the Adult Education Committee of The Jewish Center in Princeton, NJ. The presentation reflects on Professor Patt's newly published monograph Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust (Wayne State UP 2020) https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/laughter-after.

Director Patt Featured in UConn Today

Dr. Patt lecturing

Christine Buckley from UConn Today interviewed Dr. Avinoam Patt, Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, on the question of Jewish Humor. The phenomenon of many Jews being funny was explained by Patt through the position of the immigrant: As a coping strategy humor can bridge cultural differences and signal harmlessness to the majority of society. But there is also a specific epistemology to that position: From the margins, one is more likely to gain critical insights into society, which then takes the form of a joke. In his notion of Jewish humor being primarily an exilic feature, Patt transcends the particularism of Jewish humor to more universal questions of being a minority and the quest for identity.

Dr. Patt became the Center's Director in August 2019, and so Buckley's piece further uses the opportunity to offer a nuanced biographical portrayal of him, linking his academic interests to his personal experiences. Patt shares what it was like to grow up as the son of two Israeli parents in Houston, Texas, how he entered the field of Jewish Studies, and where he finds intersections between his current two main interests, Holocaust Studies and Jewish Humor, which "might seem incongruous" at first. As the new director, Dr. Patt set himself the goal of expanding the Judaic Studies section at UConn, while also strengthening the Center's outreach program beyond the borders of the campus.

The piece appeared in UConn Today on October 28, 2019, and can be read online in full length here.

Director Avinoam Patt invited to Provost’s Distinguished Speaker Series in 2020

Professor Avinoam Patt

Dr. Avinoam Patt to Lecture on Holocaust Remembrance in the Provost's Distinguished Speaker Series

It is an honor to announce that our Director Avinoam Patt is invited to lecture at the Provost's Distinguished Speaker Series, which "provides an opportunity for our most recently-inducted Board of Trustees Distinguished Professors and Endowed Chairs to share advances in their expertise and engage thought-provoking discussions." [Learn more about this series and its speakers.]

Save the Date: February 26, 2019, 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Dr. Patt's lecture will address the topic of "Trauma, Testimony, and Time: Remembering the Holocaust in the 21st Century."

The event is free and open to the public. It takes place at the Konover Auditorium in the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center on the Storrs Campus. A reception will follow in the Dodd Lounge with light refreshments. If you require an accommodation to attend, please notify provost@uconn.edu.

About the speaker:

Avinoam J. Patt, Ph.D. is the Doris and Simon Konover Chair of Judaic Studies and Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut. He is the author of Finding Home and Homeland: Jewish Youth and Zionism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust (2009); 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 (2010); and is a contributor to several projects at the USHMM including Jewish Responses to Persecution, 1938-1940 (2011). Most recently, he is co-editor of a new volume on The Joint Distribution Committee at 100: A Century of Humanitarianism (2019), Laughter After: Humor and the Holocaust (2020), and Understanding and Teaching the Holocaust (2020). He is currently completing a new book on the early postwar memory of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising.

Yale University Conference “Rokhl Oyerbakh: The Bridge Between Wartime and Postwar Testimony” Nov. 3-4

Rokhl OyerbakhRokhl Oyerbakh: The Bridge Between Wartime and Postwar Testimony

Sunday, November 3rd, and Monday, November 4th, 2019
Yale University, New Haven, CT


Center Director Avinoam Patt and affiliated faculty member Samuel Kassow will be participating in an upcoming conference at Yale University hosted by the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University Library.

This November, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies will host the first ever international symposium dedicated to the legacy of writer, historian, and documentarian Rokhl Oyerbakh (Rachel Auerbach).

Rokhl Oyerbakh was a writer, essayist and a member of the Oyneg Shabes underground documentation project in the Warsaw Ghetto. As one of the only survivors of Oyneg Shabes, she helped recover the buried documentation after the war before emigrating to Israel. As a survivor-historian, Oyerbakh’s work to document first-person accounts of victims’ experiences continued after the war as Director of Yad Vashem’s Department for the Collection of Witness Testimony. She was responsible for curating survivor testimony for the Eichmann trial, and she played a prominent role as a survivor-advocate in the controversy surrounding Jean-François Steiner’s book Treblinka. These are but a few facets of Oyerbakh’s important contributions to our understanding of the survivor experience, and the history of the Holocaust.

Hosted by the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies at Yale University Library, with keynote speaker Samuel Kassow, Charles H. Northam Professor of History, Trinity College

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC, no registration required

WEBSITE: https://fortunoff.library.yale.edu/events/rokhl/
With questions, please contact Stephen Naron at stephen.naron@yale.edu.

Presenters and Speakers:
  • Leora Bilsky, Professor at the Tel Aviv University Faculty of Law, and Director of the Minerva Center for Human Rights, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • Dr. Boaz Cohen, Western Galilee College, Akko, Israel
  • Havi Dreifuss, Professor in Jewish history, Tel Aviv University, Israel
  • Glenn Dynner, Chair of Religion Department, Sarah Lawrence College
  • Professor Dr. Efrat Gal-ed, Institut für Jüdische Studien, Heinrich-Heine-Universität, Düsseldorf, Germany
  • Laura Jockusch, Albert Abramson Assistant Professor of Holocaust Studies, Brandeis University
  • Dr. Lisa M. Leff, Director of the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
  • Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence at Yale Law School and Professor of History at Yale University
  • Avinoam Patt, Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, University of Connecticut
  • Sharon Pucker Rivo, Executive Director, National Center for Jewish Film, Brandeis University
  • Sven-Erik Rose, Professor of German and of Comparative Literature, University of California, Davis
  • David Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture, Professor of Jewish literature, Jewish Theological Seminary
  • Karolina Szymaniak, Assistant Professor at the Department of Jewish Studies, University of Wrocław, Poland 
About Fortunoff Archive at Yale University Library

In 1979, the Holocaust Survivors Film Project began collecting video-taped interviews of Holocaust survivors in the New Haven area. In 1981, the collection was donated to Yale University and The Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, part of the Yale University Library, opened its doors to the public the following year. The Fortunoff Archive has been working to record, collect and preserve Holocaust witness testimonies — and facilitate the work of researchers, educators and the general public — ever since.

The Fortunoff Archive currently holds more than 4,400 testimonies, which are comprised of over 12,000 recorded hours of videotape. Testimonies were produced in cooperation with thirty-six affiliated projects across North America, South America, Europe, and Israel, and each project maintains a duplicate collection of locally recorded videotapes. The Fortunoff Archive and its affiliates recorded the testimonies of willing individuals with first-hand experience of the Nazi persecutions, including those who were in hiding, survivors, bystanders, resistants, and liberators.

Testimonies were recorded in the language the witness preferred, and range in length from 30 minutes to over 40 hours (recorded over several sessions).

Prof. Susan Einbinder to Present “Jewish Physicians in Europe” on Sept. 26 for UConn CLIR Program

Susan EinbinderHow did Jews study medicine and who were their patients? What were their career options? What did they think of the great medical debates of their time, and what kinds of tensions characterized their professional and personal lives? How did they respond to the great pandemic of 1347-1352 known as the Black Death?

On Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, 1:15 to 2:45, Susan Einbinder, Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, Department of Literatures, Cultures and Languages, UConn, will present "Jewish Physicians in Europe's Middle Ages" for UConn Extension's Center for Learning in Retirement (CLIR). 

There is a fee to register: 
CLIR’s purpose is to provide intellectual stimulus for adults from all walks of life through informal classes and discussions. There are no academic or age requirements. Come join us in the Vernon Cottage on UConn’s Depot Campus, with free parking and access for the mobility impaired. (GPS address: Witryol Place, Storrs, CT 06269)  For registration questions ONLY, contact Marilyn Diaz at marilyn.diaz@uconn.edu. For all other questions, email CLIR President Steve Kenton at clirpres@gmail.com. The CLIR schedule is also available on the Web at http://clir.uconn.edu