Special Event Announcements

Jewish Humor Open Mic Night With Vicky Kuperman: 11/29/17

Vicky Kuperman


On Wednesday, November 29, at 7:00pm at the Konover Auditorium in the Dodd Research Center, students attending Jewish Humor classes this fall at UConn and at the University of Hartford will be performing their own stand-up routines at a Jewish Humor Open Mic Night sponsored by the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford and the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at UConn. Have your own comedy act to share? Contact Professor Avi Patt (patt@hartford.edu) to put your name on the list of the evening's performers!

Facilitating the event will be comedian Vicky Kuperman who was named “one of 12 new comedians to watch” by the Huffington Post. Vicky has been featured on The Maxim Comedy Showcase, on NickMom TV, Sirius Satellite Radio & Comcast, and was presented by comedy legend David Brenner on several shows as part of his tour “David Brenner Presents: Comedy Stars of Tomorrow.”

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or judaicstudies@uconn.edu.


Denial: Film Screening and Discussion on November 8, 2017

Please join us on Wednesday, November 8, at 4:00 pm when the Center for Judaic Studies will present a film screening of Denial in remembrance of Kristallnacht. Guest speaker and Kristallnacht survivor Hans Laufer will provide remarks and answer questions prior to the screening.

The event takes place in Video Theater 2 at the Homer Babbidge Library on Storrs campus and is part of an institution-wide day of reflection and conversation on the theme, "Together: Confronting Racism." Since 1970, the University of Connecticut has designated special days of engaged and transformative learning on campus. For more information on the day's events visit: https://together.uconn.edu/

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact Pamela Weathers at 860-486-2271 or judaicstudies@uconn.edu.


About the Film

Starring Oscar-winner Rachel Weisz, the film Denial is based on the acclaimed book, Denial: Holocaust History on Trial, which tells the true story of Professor Deborah E. Lipstadt’s fight against Holocaust denier David Irving over his falsification of history. Faced with a libel lawsuit in a British court, Lipstadt and her attorneys must prove that the Holocaust really happened.

"Denial is a siren call for truth" - Andrea Mandell, USA Today

"Essential Viewing. Rachel Weisz is a knockout" - Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

Jewish Comedy: A Serious History, October 17, 2017

Jeremy Dauber on Jewish Comedy: A Serious History

Jeremy Dauber will discuss his book, Jewish Comedy: A Serious History, at the Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford (21 Charter Oak Ave.) on Tuesday, October 17, at 7:00 pm. In a major work of scholarship both erudite and very funny, Jeremy Dauber traces the origins of Jewish comedy and its development from biblical times to the age of Twitter. His exploration takes us from the Book of Esther to Seinfeld and Curb Your Enthusiasm from the work of such masters as Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka, the Marx Brothers, Woody Allen, Joan Rivers, Philip Roth, Sarah Silverman, and Jon Stewart.

“You can’t understand comedy without knowing Jewish comedy—and you’ll find no smarter, more intrepid and surprising analysis of the subject than in this book.” –Jason Zinoman, author of Letterman: The Last Giant of Late Night

Jeremy Dauber is the Atran Professor of Yiddish Language, Literature and Culture at Columbia University. He is the author of several books on Jewish literature.

This event is brought to you in partnership with The Charter Oak Cultural Center, The Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford, and University of Connecticut Center for Judaic Studies

Free and open to the community

Register at jamesd@charteroakcenter.org or

cocc@charteroakcenter.org | Phone: 860-310-2586




Screening of The Radical Jew on November 14, 2017

Noam OsbandDocumentary film-maker Noam Osband will be presenting a screening of his award-winning short film, The Radical Jew, on Tuesday, November 14, from 9:30 am – 11:00 am. The screening will be held in Video Theater 2 at the Homer Babbidge Library.

Learn more and watch a trailer on Noam's website.

If you require an accommodation to participate in this event, please contact the Center at 860-486-2271 or judaicstudies@uconn.edu by November 7, 2017.

About the Film


The Radical Jew examines the views of Baruch Marzel, a prominent leader of the Jewish settler community in Hebron, Israel.



Winner of Best Outstanding Nonfiction at the 2017 Short. Sweet. Film Fest.
Winner of Best Documentary Short at the 2016 Charlotte Film Festival
Winner of Outstanding Documentary Short at the 2016 Tallgrass International Film Festival


This event is made possible by the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life and UConn's Middle East Studies Program.


Guy Mendilow Ensemble to Perform November 16

  • Guy Mendilow Ensemble

On November 16, 2017, at 7:00 pm, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, in partnership with Charter Oak Cultural Center, brings the Guy Mendilow Ensemble to Hartford to perform The Forgotten Kingdom. As part of the Center's Scholarship and the Arts initiative, this performance is made free and open to the public!  

Visit Charter Oak's website for detailed information on directions and parking. 

About the Guy Mendilow Ensemble


The Guy Mendilow Ensemble is an award-winning quintet with a cast of world-class players who mesmerize audiences with their skill in playing a wide variety of instruments, including the berimbau, jaw harps, and thumb piano.  Guy Mendilow and his four musical collaborators are an international ensemble hailing from Israel, Palestine, Argentina and the USA. Their unique performances combine premier musicianship with cinematic storytelling, conjuring voices lost to war and upheaval, whisking audiences to distant times and picturesque places and, ultimately, inspiring the motivation to explore lesser known cultures and histories as they recreate the music of the Sephardic diaspora and tell the stories of lost cultures.

The ensemble specializes in deep community engagement and has been artist-in-residence with Celebrity Series of Boston since 2014. In 2017, the National Endowment for the Arts selected the Guy Mendilow Ensemble for Art Works, a grant for the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, and the strengthening of communities through the arts.

Alongside touring with the Guy Mendilow Ensemble, members are on the faculty of music schools like the Swarnabhoomi Academy of Music in India and tour/record with the likes of Bobby McFerrin, Yo Yo Ma, Snarky Puppy, the Assad Brothers, Christian McBride, the Video Game Orchestra, Amanda Palmer, and Simon Shaheen. Formed in 2004, the Ensemble is based in Boston and New York.

About the Show


Rendering stories and songs of an older age with drama, humour and heart, The Forgotten Kingdom finds highly resonant, deeply moving connections to contemporary struggles, debates, and dilemmas. By digging deep into Sephardic scholarship and revitalizing the sound recorded on gritty field recordings, Mendilow and company bring tales to life, intertwining voices, percussion, and soulful playing to render these songs in all their color, drama, and heart. The Forgotten Kingdom is a musical trek through a nearly lost world as the audience journeys through former Ottoman lands starting in Sarajevo and winding through Salónica in a narrative-driven performance that reimagines the historical record of Sephardic communities of the Balkans and Mediterranean.

Director’s Note


70 years after the end of WWII, American craving for stories about this global war persists, evidenced by the volume of WWII novels, Hollywood films and documentaries released yearly. However, ask the average American what s/he knows about Spanish-speaking Jewish communities in Greece, Bulgaria or Bosnia, and you will most likely receive a blank stare. Why is it we know so much about the plight of certain communities in WWII, yet others are virtually ignored?

I first heard Sephardic songs from Balkan and Mediterranean communities in my boyhood Jerusalem home. Yet it wasn’t until later that I started listening through other artists’ interpretations to the traditional songs and their tales —and got hooked by the meandering modes, by stories that harken to Tolkien (and, it turns out, on which Tolkien based some of his work) and by a riveting history of integration, migration and adaptation. These are great stories. Not because they are Jewish or Mediterranean or Balkan, but because they present near-universal themes that continue to captivate today. And the story of the stories—a case study in shifting identities due to migration, the evolution and change of tradition, of resilience and struggle—is alive and relevant today, too.

The story of Ladino mirrors experiences that I, and most of the artists in the Ensemble, live personally, as an immigrant to this country. The same is true for many of our audience members. My hope for Forgotten Kingdom is to spark fascination with these stories, their communities, and ultimately their meta-story, through arrangements and storytelling that create an emotional experience strong enough to sweep audiences away, even if they know nothing about Ladino culture. The stories are too good to be ignored, and the communities from which they come too important in terms of what they represent—from models of integration and interfaith cooperation to their own rich heritage—to be dismissed.

— Guy Mendilow

What People Are Saying


...music of hope and affirmation, sophisticated in its delivery but easily accessible to listeners anywhere” — Chicago Tribune


a resurgent force …explodes with artistry, refinement, and excitement” — Yvon Shore, Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati OH


...an international tour de force.” — Bethlehem Morning Call


The Guy Mendilow Ensemble was magical! They performed superbly and let us dream throughout the Mediterranean world.” — Peter Steinfeld, ACES Series, Buena Vista University, Storm Lake, IA


…The ensemble takes you on a tour through an almost lost world that is filled with stories, beautiful melodies, and traditions. Guy and his ensemble have a way of capturing this tradition while making it accessible and engaging for a contemporary audience...the music has a broad appeal that reaches in a way that’s entertaining and enlightening. Simply said, you come to enjoy a concert, but the cultural experience and learning is much deeper. From his showmanship to his skill as a convener, teacher, and cultural explorer, Guy Mendilow is reviving an important culture though his music, one that I believe has much value throughout the world.” — Laura Mandel, New Center NOW, Boston, MA

MODI to Perform Comedy Show at Mandell JCC September 18

Modi Rosenfeld, voted one of the top 10 comedians in New York City by the Hollywood Reporter and BackStage, will be performing on Monday, September 18, 7:30 pm, at the Gilman Theater, Mandell Jewish Community Center (335 Bloomfield Avenue, West Hartford, CT).

One of the comedy circuit’s most sought-after performers, Modi has been featured on HBO, CBS, NBC, ABC, Comedy Central, Howard Stern, and E! Entertainment and has received rave reviews in The New York TimesTime Out NY, and the New York Post.

Tickets are $10. Attendance is free for students with student ID. For reservations, contact the Mandell Jewish Community Center Box Office at 860.231.6316. Or purchase online at: 


This event is sponsored by the Lillian Margulies Singer Jewish Humor Fund, the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, the Mandell Jewish Community Center, and the UConn Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.  

About MODI

Born in Israel, MODI moved to the United States when he was seven. After college, MODI worked as an investment banker and had no plans to become a stand up comedian. But one open mic changed everything.

Amelia David of BackStage raves, “MODI has a young Sid Caesar-esque talent for creating accents and characters, making him appeal to a diverse market.” According to the Los Angeles Times, MODI is “versatile and quick on his feet. He can read an audience in a beat and improvise so nimbly that he keeps any audience, regardless of age, race and gender, laughing.”

MODI has appeared in several feature films and played leading roles in two: Waiting for Woody Allen, which won the LA Film Festival, and Stand Up, a feature-length film. According to Variety, MODI delivers a “naturally funny performance with a tremendous amount of energy on screen.”

MODI is a regular performer at the New York and Los Angeles comedy clubs and headlines around the country. He has also gone on tour in the United Kingdom, Holland and Israel and performs in comedy festivals and special venues, including Montreal’s Just for Laughs Comedy Festival and The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.

May 7: Writer-in-Residence Joan Seliger Sidney Participates in Poetry Rocks

Sun. May 7, 2:00 pm: Center for Judaic Studies Writer-in-Residence Joan Seliger Sidney will be participating in Poetry Rocks!, a quarterly poetry series at Arts Center East in Vernon (709 Hartford Turnpike). For more information, visit Arts Center East

Joan Seliger SidneyJoan Seliger Sidney is the author of Bereft and Blessed, Body of Diminishing Motion: Poems and a Memoir (an Eric Hoffer Finalist, 2015) and The Way the Past Comes Back. She has received individual artist’s poetry fellowships from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism, Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation, Vermont Studio Center, and a Visiting Faculty Fellowship from Yale.  She’s writer-in-residence at the University of Connecticut’s Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.  In addition, she facilitates “Writing for Your Life,” an adult workshop.

May 3: Professor Roden to Discuss Latest Book for English Department’s Book Talk

Recovering JewishnessJudaic Studies affiliated faculty member Professor Frederick Roden will be discussing his latest book, Recovering Jewishness: Modern Identities Reclaimed (Praeger 2016) at a Book Talk sponsored by the UConn English Department.  The event takes place on May 3, at 1:30 pm, in the Stern Room, Austin Hall.

Also presenting at the Book Talk will be Professor Patrick Hogan who will discuss his latest work, Imagining Kashmir: Emplotment and Colonialism (University of Nebraska 2016).

Refreshments will be served.

April 24, 2017: “The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between”

The UConn Humanities Institute will be hosting a talk on Monday, April 24, at 4:00 pm with guest speaker Dr. James E. Young entitled "The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between."  
The lecture takes place in the UCHI Conference Room (room 153), fourth floor, Homer Babbidge Library, Storrs Campus. 
Dr. James E. Young is the Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies, UMass Amherst, and jury member for the Berlin Holocaust Memorial and the 9/11 Memorial. 
The talk is supported by the Symbolic Reparations Research Project, Humanities Institute, UCHI Public Discourse Project, Human Rights Institute, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, and the Department of Art and Art History. For more information contact Associate Professor of Art History Robin Greeley (robin.greeley@uconn.edu), or visit: http://symbolicreparations.org/
UCHI Poster for James E. Young lecture

The Power of Poetry: April 15, 2017

Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life Writer-in-Residence Joan Seliger Sidney will be participating in a poetry reading on April 15, 2017, at 4:30 pm at Metro Cafe in Hartford. The reading supports multiple sclerosis patients, and funds raised at the event will support the Mandell Center for Multiple Sclerosis at Saint Francis Hospital in Hartford.

Please visit the St. Francis Foundation for more details