Center Direct Jeffrey Shoulson contributed to the November 2016 issue of AJS News, which focused on the topic of contingent faculty. In On Contingent Faculty, Professor Shoulson considered the role of non-tenure-track faculty in the university system and specifically within Jewish Studies programs and predicted that the reliance on contingent faculty would continue to increase as fiscal pressures persist in constraining university spending. Professor Shoulson discussed the ways contingent faculty members can be supported by their programs and departments and expressed the hope that standards of pay and benefits would rise. Read the full article here.
Congratulations to Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy, director of the Center for Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies at UConn, Stamford, for her recent contribution, “Reversing the Aqedah: The Biblical and the Mystical in Grossman’s ‘To the End of the Land'” in The Bible Retold by Jewish Artists, Writers, Composers, and Filmmakers, edited by Helen Leneman and Barry Dov Walfish and published by Sheffield Phoenix Press!
From the publisher:
Helen Leneman and Barry Dov Walfish, both specialists in biblical reception history, have compiled an unusually rich collection of new essays by experts in their fields. This book is a pioneering attempt to portray and analyse the visions of twentieth- and twenty-first century Jewish artists working in different media—visual art, literature (novels, poetry and short stories), music (opera, oratorio and song), and film—who have retold biblical narratives through their art. Reading these essays together will bring a new appreciation and understanding of what makes the perspective of these visual artists, writers, composers and filmmakers on the Hebrew Bible uniquely Jewish.
All of these Jewish visions can be considered a form of modern midrash, as the artists imaginatively fill in gaps in the biblical narrative, bringing a modern sensibility to the meanings of the stories.
Under the heading ‘Biblical Women’, the stories of the matriarchs, Hagar, and other biblical women are re-imagined in the visual arts, poetry and music. Several further chapters focus on the story of the Aqedah (Binding of Isaac), as represented in the visual arts, literature and music. Other retellings of biblical narratives through short stories are then examined, while yet other chapters explore the books of Esther and Psalms as envisioned and retold in the visual arts, opera, literature and film
These retellings, analysed and discussed by the authors of this ground-breaking volume, will stimulate the reader to view the texts in new ways or to confront their challenge to personal or traditional interpretations of those texts.
The 2015 volume of the American Jewish Year Book, produced by Springer and supported by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut and the Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, will be released in the coming weeks. Included in the Year Book are the regular chapters on US and world Jewish population statistics, this year with some surprising findings. Of note, Sergio DellaPergola, in reporting on his world Jewish population studies, argues that Israel’s Jewish population has outnumbered that of the United States, the largest Diaspora community. DellaPergola argues that Israel’s rapid Jewish population growth has overtaken the US’s more stable growth and estimates that Israel’s Jewish population has reached 6.2 million and the US population 5.7 million. However, as DellaPergola points out, “Israel’s Jewish population faces a significant demographic challenge with its gradually diminishing majority status vis-á-vis the Palestinian Arab population who live within the boundaries of the State of Israel as well as on the whole territory between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.” In fact, according to DellaPergola, the enlarged Jewish population represents a bare majority (52.1 %) of the total population living between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River.
Other estimates of the Jewish population in the United States are higher, including that of Ira Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky who, in this issue of the Year Book, estimate the figure to be closer to 6.8 million. In the chapter on US Jewish Population, Sheskin and Dashefsky examine the May 2015 Pew Study, America’s Changing Religious Landscape, which, in contrast to scholarly opinion that the US Jewish population is not increasing, reports that the adult Jewish population has increased from 1.7 to 1.9 % from 2007 to 2014. According to Sheskin and Dashefsky, “while the increase in the proportion of adult Jews from 2007 to 2014 was not statistically significant, it does suggest the likelihood of stability in the Jewish share of the adult population of the US.”
The research findings of population studies reported in the Year Book have broader implications in terms of policy and Jewish community planning. One thing that can be agreed upon, is that due to Israel’s higher fertility rates, younger Jewish population, and increased immigration, the population in Israel will continue to increase while the US Jewish population is expected to remain more stable due to higher intermarriage rates and an aging population.
The Year Book, since 1899 with a brief interruption from 2008-2012, has served educators, scholars, lay leaders, and members of the Jewish community as an inestimable resource. Featuring both chapters from eminent scholars on North American Jewish life as well as extensive lists detailing the numerous North American Jewish institutions, periodicals, academic resources, and major events, the Year Book preserves an invaluable annual record of Jewish life.
Regular articles on National Affairs by Ethan Felson, joined this year by Mark Silk, and Jewish Communal Affairs by Lawrence Grossman summarize and relate yearly events. Topical articles specific to this issue include Steven Gold’s chapter on adaptation patterns of US Jewish immigrants while Annette Koren, Leonard Saxe, and Eric Fleisch examine Jewish campus life. Population studies for the United States, World Jewry, and Canada are provided by Ira Sheskin and Arnold Dashefsky, Sergio DellaPergola, and Charles Shahar, respectively.
The book includes a fascinating afterward on some of the stunning continuities in those practices Stuart discovered between the ancient world and 19th century New England during his excavation of the remains of Jewish farming community in Chesterfield, CT.
The use of religious gifts by the state to promote social order in the Byzantine Era laid the foundation for many modern charitable practices, according to Daniel Caner, associate professor of history and literatures, cultures, and languages. Caner delves into the details of philanthropy in this early Christian society in his latest book project, The Rich and the Pure: Christian Gifts and Religious Society in Early Byzantium. The project recently earned the support of a yearlong fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities – one of only 89 awarded in 2014 – which recognizes individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to both humanities scholars and general audiences. To read the complete article, click here.
A 2010 population report from the University of Miami and the University of Connecticut releases new estimates on American Jewish Population
CORAL GABLES, FL (October 21, 2010)–Researchers from the University of Miami (UM) and the University of Connecticut (UConn) have published a 2010 report on the American Jewish population, as part of a new North American Jewish Data Bank Report series.