Our first faculty colloquium of the fall semester introduced the work of Daniel Fisher, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Near Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, who is completing a dissertation entitled “Memories of the Ark: Cultural Memory, Material Culture, and the Construction of the Past in Biblical Societies.”
Fisher outlined the fascinating cultural history of the Ark, from its origins in the Biblical text as the movable throne of the Lord, to its function as a vessel to hold the tablets of the covenant, to its placement in the tent of meeting, to its ultimate loss. Fisher’s research charts the course of the Ark of the Covenant as its values change over time in response to different communal values or communal needs and, in so doing, examines how people understand themselves in terms of material objects and how the values placed on objects reveal how a community interprets its past and its desires for the future. Continue reading →
On Thursday, April 23, 2015, Rabbi Deborah Waxman, President of the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College and Susan Herbst, President of the University of Connecticut, led a conversation at the Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Center examining the role of Zionism in today’s North American Jewish life. The public dialog fittingly took place on the 67th anniversary of the establishment of the State of Israel.
Turnout was impressive with a mix of students, faculty, and members of the general public who were all able to ask questions. Attention was paid to the need for a civil discourse, with both Herbst and Waxman noting that the current polarity within American political circles often renders discussion of sensitive topics difficult if not impossible.
In keeping with the inclusive nature of Reconstructionist Judaism, Waxman invited a celebration of multivocalities and presented an optimistic view of the future of Zionism in America, urging a transition from reaction to renewal in response to the Holocaust and noting that from the standpoint of progressive Judaism, it is possible to practice Zionism in America despite conflicting positions with the Israeli government, suggesting that a post-ethnic moment is needed to undercut antisemitism.
The debate of the ages came to UConn! Watch professors and academics use their area of expertise to argue for the Latke or the Hamentash. For centuries, these two Jewish foods have satisfied the masses, the Latke on Hanukkah, and the Hamentash on Purim. It’s about time that someone settles once and for all which is the better food.
FEATURING for the LATKE: President Susan Herbst, Professor Lewis Gordon, Africana Studies and Philosophy
FEATURING for the HAMENTASHEN: Professor Jeremy Pressman, Political Science Professor Jeffrey Shoulson, Judaic Studies.
The “Latkes vs. Hamentashen” debate, a decade old pseudo-intellectual competition, came to the University of Connecticut for the first time and proved to be a major success, with debaters drawing laughs from both attendees and the colleagues they were debating. The event, organized at UConn by SuBog and UConn Hillel, was first held at the University of Chicago in 1946, and was intended to not only unify Jewish members of the student body and faculty, but also to poke fun at academia by having extremely overqualified participants argue the merits of two popular Jewish foods.
The Social Science Research Council and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences hosted a book publication celebration to honor the recent work of UConn faculty in the field of social sciences this Thursday. The event was energized with discussion about past successes throughout the discipline and promise for the upcoming years.
Since the release of its first edition in 1899, the American Jewish Year Book has been the continuous record of what is happening to Jewish culture. However after production ceased in 2008, Arnold Dashefsky, of the Department of Sociology and director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, and Ira M. Sheskin of the University of Miami partnered with an international publishing company out of the Netherlands to revive the series. The yearbook contains reference articles on contemporary trends and demographics. For example, at the time of the first release in 1899, there were 2,500 Jews in Florida, however now there are about 600,000. The 2012 edition is out, and the 2013 is in final stages of editing.
Professor Dashefsky’s Sociology of Anti-Semitism Class enjoyed their field trip to the Loeb Visitors Center and Touro Synagogue in Newport, RI on Wednesday, October 29th. The attractions they visited are rich in Jewish history and have a strong focus on religious freedom.