Upcoming Events Spring 2021


A Virtual Conversation on Writing Jewish History – with Nancy Sinkoff and Natalia Aleksiun

Thursday, February 4
1:00 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Nancy Sinkoff (Rutgers University) and Natalia Aleksiun (Touro College)

About This Event

Nancy Sinkoff, From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History (Wayne State Univ. Press, 2020)

Natalia Aleksiun, Conscious History: Polish Jewish Historians before the Holocaust (Littman Library, 2021)


moderated by Avinoam Patt, Director, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life University of Connecticut


Nancy Sinkoff is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History, and Director of the Center for European Studies, Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.

Natalia Aleksiun is Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History at Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, New York.

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Aleksiun / Sinkoff headshots

The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: Out of Tragedy Comes Social Justice with Pamela Nadell

Tuesday, February 9
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Pamela S. Nadell (American University)

About This Event

Pamela Nadell: The Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire: Out of Tragedy Comes Social Justice 

Nadell's scholarship focuses on American Jewish history, especially the history of American Jewish women. Nadell discusses the fire and its aftermath in her award-winning recent book, America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today, recipient of the 2019 National Jewish Book Award “Jewish Book of the Year.” 

While the book traces the evolution of the American Jewish woman’s experiences and activism over four centuries, Nadell will discuss East European immigrant women in New York City in the first decade of the twentieth century.  Sewing until their aching fingers bled and starving on the pennies paid for each cuff stitched, shirtwaist makers brazenly struck in 1909.  But the concessions they won then did not include fire alarms and sprinklers.  Less than two years later, 146 workers perished in a horrific industrial fire.  


Professor Nadell holds the Patrick Clendenen Chair in Women’s and Gender History at American University where she directs the Jewish Studies Program and received the university’s highest award, Scholar/Teacher of the Year.  A past president of the Association for Jewish Studies and the recipient of the American Jewish Historical Society’s Lee Max Friedman Award for distinguished service, her consulting work for museums includes the National Museum of American Jewish History and the Library of Congress.

Made possible by the Fishman Fund for American Jewish History and Jewish Communal Leadership

Co-sponsored by Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies

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Nadell headshot

The Jew as Queer: An Intersectional Approach with Marla Brettschneider

Wednesday, February 10
2:00 p.m.
Virtual Event

Featuring Marla Brettschneider (University of New Hampshire)

About This Event

The Jew as Queer: An Intersectional Approach

In this talk, we will explore Jewish queer theory through the co-constructed frames of race, gender, sexuality, and class. Scholars in the field of Jewish queer studies have been examining this subject for decades. Recently scholars in related fields have begun to do this kind of queered analysis, for example, of Latinx populations and immigrants in the US, refugees and asylum-seekers, indigenous populations, Muslims, Arabs, and South Asians. These studies also crosscut with queered analyses of the historically constructed category of “terrorists” which has great import for Jewish studies today. However, these blossoming subfields do not fully take into account Jewish examinations of similar dynamics. This contemporary Jewish studies talk on The Jew as Queer will bring together these innovative interdisciplinary studies to widen the scope of diverse critical theories as well as Jewish, and even Jewish queer, studies. The talk is designed to enable UConn students, faculty, and community members to bring their interdisciplinary work into a Jewish studies frame as it will support these constituencies in bringing a Jewish lens into their studies in an array of related fields across campus.

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Brettschneider headshot

Sarah Abrevaya Stein in conversation with Amy Weiss

Tuesday, February 23
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Sarah Abrevaya Stein (UCLA) and Amy Weiss (UHart)

About This Event

Sarah Abrevaya Stein in conversation with Amy Weiss

Sarah Abrevaya Stein’s ninth book, named a Book of the Year by The Economist and Mosaic Magazine, an Editors’ Choice by the New York Times, and a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, uses the Levy family’s correspondence to tell the story of their journey spanning generations and the globe. The Levys wrote letters to share grief and to reveal secrets, to propose marriage and to plan for divorce, to maintain connection. They wrote because they were family. And years after they frayed, Stein discovers, what remains solid is the fragile tissue that once held them together: neither blood nor belief, but papers.

For centuries, the bustling port city of Salonica was home to the sprawling Levy family. As leading publishers and editors, they helped chronicle life as it was experienced by Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. The wars of the twentieth century, however, redrew the borders around them, in the process transforming the Levys from Ottomans to Greeks. Family members soon moved across boundaries and hemispheres, stretching the familial diaspora from Greece to Western Europe, Israel, Brazil, and India. In time, the Holocaust nearly eviscerated the clan, eradicating whole branches of the family tree.

With meticulous research and care, Stein uses the Levys’ letters to tell not only their history, but the history of Sephardic Jews in the twentieth century.

Sarah Abrevaya Stein is a historian, writer and educator whose work has reshaped our understanding of Jewish history. Her commitment to research is matched by her love of teaching. At UCLA, she is Professor of History, the Director of the Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, as well as the Viterbi Family Chair in Mediterranean Jewish Studies. She is the author or editor of nine books, including Family Papers: a Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century and Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce


Sarah has received many awards including the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature, two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships, a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Jewish Book Awards and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. 

She lives with her family in Santa Monica, CA.


Made possible by the Hartzel Lebed Endowment Fund and the University of Hartford’s Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies 

Co-sponsored by Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies

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Sarah Stein headshot


Mandell JCC Virtual Hartford Jewish Film Festival 2021

From February 28 to April 2
Virtual Screenings and Panels

Featuring Susannah Heschel, Avinoam Patt, Amy Weiss, and Jeremy Pressman

About This Event

The inaugural Virtual Hartford Jewish Film Festival will be under way February 28 - April 2, 2021. Join us as we watch films - each at our own pace - from Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, and the US. Come together for weekly programs to discuss and learn more.

You can find the HJFF 2021 homepage here: hjff2021.eventive.org/

The entire brochure can be downloaded [here]

In addition to the movies, there are five panels featuring a number of UConn faculty. For a list of the panels, click [here].


Hartford Film Festival 2021



“In the Year 2125, Will American Jews Be Alive?” Grounds for Optimism or Pessimism for the Future of American Jewry

Tuesday, March 2
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Arnold Dashefsky (UConn) and Ira Sheskin (University of Miami)

About This Event

Join us for the George & Lillian Sandals Memorial Lecture with Arnie Dashefsky and Ira M. Sheskin:

“In the Year 2125, Will American Jews Be Alive?
Grounds for Optimism or Pessimism for the Future of American Jewry”

Arnie and Ira are co-editors of the American Jewish Year Book: The Annual Record of North American Jewish Communities.

“A century from now and more, the stately volumes of the American Jewish Year Book will stand as the authoritative record of Jewish life since 1900. For anyone interested in tracing the long-term evolution of Jewish social, political, religious, and cultural trends from an objective yet passionately Jewish perspective, there simply is no substitute.”
Lawrence Grossman, American Jewish Year Book Editor (1999-2008) and Contributor (1988-2015)

Dr. Arnold Dashefsky is a UConn professor at the Department of Sociology and at tge Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life in Storrs, CT.

Dr. Ira M. Sheskin is a professor at the Department of Geography and at the Miller Center for Contemporary Judaic Studies at the University of Miami, Coral; Gables, FL.

This free and virtual event is sponsored by Beth Sholom B’nai Israel (Manchester) & UCONN Center for Judaic and Contemporary Jewish Life.

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Dashefsky + Sheskin


HJFF2021 Reel Talk: Holy Silence (2020)

Tuesday, March 2
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring director Steven Pressman, Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming and Father Kevin Spicer

About This Event

About the festival: The inaugural Virtual Hartford Jewish Film Festival will be under way February 28 - April 2, 2021. Join us as we watch films - each at our own pace - from Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, and the US. Come together for weekly programs to discuss and learn more.

You can find the HJFF 2021 homepage here: hjff2021.eventive.org/

The entire brochure can be downloaded [here]


Participants of the Reel Talk:

Steven Pressman, Emmy-nominated Film Director

Dr. Suzanne Brown-Fleming, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Director of International Academic Programs, author of The Holocaust and Catholic Conscience

Father Kevin Spicer,James J. Kenneally Distinguished Professor of History, Stonehill College, author of Hitler’s Priests: Catholic Clergy and National Socialism 

Moderator: Prof. Avinoam Patt, Director, Center for Judaic Studies, UConn

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HJFF 2021 Reel Talk Holy Silnece

Popular Music in Morocco – A Common Language between Jews & Muslims

Tuesday, March 9
11:00 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Vanessa Paloma Elbaz (University of Cambridge), Nicola Carpentieri (UConn), and Najib Mokhtari (Université Internationale de Rabat)

About This Event

Hosted by the University of Connecticut and  Université Internationale de Rabat
Virtual | Free | Open to public

Event Synopsis

Morocco’s population has used music for generations to transmit unofficial and unwritten knowledge. It is the medium par excellence that has been mobilized to express the ideas of the masses or to shape desired intellectual trends historically and until today.

This form of mediated communication cuts transversally through boundaries of gender, linguistic and minority societal frontiers. Addressing questions such as: Is Moroccan Jewish popular music a common language with Moroccan Muslims? Is there then, a sonic perception of commonality? What could be the difference between the popular music written and sung by a Jew and that by a Muslim after Independence, if any? This talk will explore the way Moroccan popular music, otherwise known aschaabiand the Jewish version which has been recently labeledchgouri, function as a common language between Muslims and Jews in contemporary Morocco. Focusing on the period after the Arab Spring and Morocco’s constitutional referendum, Elbaz will develop the way music has been deployed for the cementing of commonality within diversity and the intrinsic belonging of Jews to the contemporary Moroccan state.

Event page can be found [here]


UConn Co-Sponsors:

Abrahamic Programs | Arabic & Islamic Studies | Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

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Popular Music Morocco





HJFF2021 Reel Talk: Till Kingdom Come (2020)

Tuesday, March 11
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Prof. Amy Weiss (UHart), Dr. Joel Lohr (Harfort Seminary), and Prof. Jeremy Pressman (UConn)

About This Event

About the festival: The inaugural Virtual Hartford Jewish Film Festival will be under way February 28 - April 2, 2021. Join us as we watch films - each at our own pace - from Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Poland, and the US. Come together for weekly programs to discuss and learn more.

You can find the HJFF 2021 homepage here: hjff2021.eventive.org/

The entire brochure can be downloaded [here]


Participants of the Reel Talk:

Prof. Amy Weiss, Director, Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies, author of forthcoming book on American Jewish-evangelical interfaith relations and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Dr. Joel Lohr, President, Hartford Seminary, author of The Abingdon Introduction to the Bible: Understanding Jewish and Christian Scriptures

Moderator: Prof. Jeremy Pressman, Director of Middle East Studies, UConn, author of The Sword Is Not Enough: Arabs, Israelis, and the Limits of Military Force (Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press, 2020)

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Till Kingdom Come Reel Talk


#TVGoneJewy: TV’s Jewish Renaissance with Ester Kustanowitz

Tuesday, March 16
7:00 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Esther Kustanowitz

About This Event

About the talk: Today’s Jewish writers are reclaiming and reshaping Jewish identity on-screen, and audiences are reacting to the increased Jewish representation with enthusiasm and worry, alternating between celebration and condemnation. So, what do we look for in Jewish representation on TV? We’ll look at some clips and talk about how Jewish identity is currently being portrayed on TV and in the world.

About the speaker: Esther D. Kustanowitz is a Los Angeles-based writer, editor, consultant and speaker.

Esther is a Contributing Writer at the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, where she writes on topics ranging from comedy to grief, from women in Jewish leadership to social media culture; and is a TV columnist at J.: The Jewish News of Northern California. She co-hosts The Bagel Report, a podcast about Jews and entertainment, and speaks about #TVGoneJewy, a term she invented to describe  the increase of Jewish content on TV.

Esther was also founding editor at GrokNation.com; has written for ModernLoss.com, Haaretz, JTA, the Forward, and eJewish Philanthropy, among others; and has worked with dozens of Jewish organizations. She is also working on a book about life after loss called Nothing Helps (But This Might Help).

As a Jewish early adopter of social media platforms including blogging, Facebook and Twitter, Esther is frequently sought-out as a source on social media engagement and culture, and is known as one of the Jewish world’s social influencers.

Esther has also consulted for and spoken at dozens of organizations and institutions in New York, Los Angeles, the San Francisco Bay Area and Israel, including The Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, the ROI Community, IKAR, the American Jewish University, Yeshiva University, Slingshot, Limmud, UpStart Bay Area and the Jewish Federations of North America.

Feel free to share our [flyer]!

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Kustanowitz event


HJFF2021 & ALEPH Reel Talk: Shared Legacies (Blacks, Jews, and Black Jews)

Tuesday, March 18
7:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Prof. Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth) and Prof. Avinoam Patt (UConn)

About This Event

Blacks, Jews, and Black Jews  

This lecture will explore three intertwined dimensions of relations between African Americans and Jewish Americans: Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement, Jewish memory of the Civil Rights Movement in recent decades in light of the rise of white nationalism, and scholarship on racism and what they might contribute to our understanding of antisemitism. Many American Jews turn with pride to the active participation of Jews in the Civil Rights Movement (CRM), in which numerous rabbis and Jewish students took part in disproportionate number – and some died. The Black Jewish bonds of the CRM days remain a powerful and inspiring memory, and many Jews long to revive those alliances. To revive the alliances of the past, Prof. Heschel suggests we need to incorporate new understandings of the nature of racism, and recover the prophetic traditions that forged the alliances in the past.


Participants of the Reel Talk:

Prof. Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College)

Moderator: Prof. Avinoam Patt, Director, Center for Judaic Studies, UConn

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Heschel Shared Legacies


Yom HaShoah Program: “Legacies of European Jewry – The Second Generation and Beyond”

Tuesday, April 6
7:00 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Dr. Andrew Zalewski, Leora Tec, Ralph Berger, and Frederick Roden

About This Event

Legacies of European Jewry: The Second Generation and Beyond
Annual Yom HaShoah Program, the University of Connecticut, Stamford, Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life

The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut, Stamford Campus will host a special panel discussion on the legacies of the European Jewish experience.  Panelists will include Dr. Andrew Zalewski, vice president of Gesher Galicia (geshergalicia.org), an organization dedicated to the history of Jewish Galicia and author of two books on the subject; Leora Tec, founder of Bridge to Poland (https://bridgetopoland.com/), that promotes dialogue between contemporary Poles and American Jews; and Ralph Berger, an editor of his parents' writings as members of the Bielski partisans who survived Nazism in the Belorussian forests, the subject of Nechama Tec's book Defiance and its film adaptation.  This program will be our annual Yom Hashoah commemoration.


Moderator: Dr. Frederick Roden, Professor of English and Coordinator of the UConn Stamford Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life.

Co-Sponsors: Bridge to Poland and Gesher Galicia

Speaker Bios:

Leora Tec is the founder and director of Bridge To Poland, which seeks to educate people about Jewish history in Poland with an emphasis on how the Jews of Poland are being remembered by non-Jewish Poles today. Leora is the Special Projects Partner of Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN in Lublin, Poland and a Mary Elvira Stevens Traveling Fellow from Wellesley College (2018-2019). In cooperation with Brama Grodzka-Teatr NN Leora has created the online video archive, The Neshoma Project: Conversations with Poles Rescuing Jewish Memory. Leora sits on the board of the American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies. She is the author of several articles including “Bridge Building in the Polish Jewish Landscape in Jews in Dialogue (Brill 2020) and the forthcoming, “An Inclusive Model of Memory Work in Poland: Bridge To Poland as a Case Study” with Professor Jolanta Ambrosewicz-Jacobs in the Polish journal Politeja.  Leora's mother, Nechama Tec, is a Holocaust survivor and Holocaust scholar whose book, "Defiance," was made into the film of the same name starring Daniel Craig and Liev Schreiber. Leora holds a B.A. from Wellesley College and a J.D./LL.M. from Duke University School of Law.


Andrew Zalewski is vice president of Gesher Galicia, a non-profit organization carrying out genealogical and historical research on Galicia, once home to the largest Jewish community of Austria-Hungary. Gesher Galicia conducts archival research in Polish, Ukrainian, and Austrian archives making the findings available to general public on its website. Through special educational programs and the publication of its quarterly research journal, the organization also informs on the history of the former Jewish community of Galicia.
Andrew Zalewski is a frequent speaker at meetings of Jewish genealogical societies and cultural and academic institutions in the US and abroad. His lectures and writings have focused on Jewish cultural transformation and educational access, modernizing activities of Jewish physicians, and Jewish legal status in Galicia. Unique archival records—vital records, population surveys, maps, and old newspapers—provide the background for his in-depth descriptions of Galicia.
Andrew Zalewski authored two books on Austrian Galicia: Galician Trails: The Forgotten Story of One Family (Thelzo Press 2012) and Galician Portraits: In Search of Jewish Roots (Thelzo Press 2014), in which he traced the story of his ancestors in a historical context. He is a former professor of medicine at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia.


Ralph S. Berger is an arbitrator, mediator, attorney and adjunct lecturer for Cornell University. Albert S. Berger is a retired teacher, sports coach and mentor of teachers-in-training at Brooklyn College. They are the co-editors of With Courage Shall We Fight, a book that tells the incredible story of survival of their parents, Jewish Resistance fighters Murray “Motke” Berger, one of the original members of the Bielski Brigade (depicted in the movie “Defiance”), and Frances “Fruma” Berger, the first woman in the Brigade to be issued a weapon. Miraculously, first individually and then together as fighters in the Bielski Brigade, they escaped from the Nazis and certain death and literally fought back, saving not only their own lives but those of others as well.  The book is a compilation of their first person written memoirs and their mother’s compelling poetry about the Holocaust and life as a Partisan. It tells the story of their lives before, during and after the War. In both prose and poetry, this memoir teaches readers about courage in the face of adversity and that the experiences of Holocaust martyrs and survivors must never be forgotten. Since the book was first published Ralph and Albert have lectured on it at, among other places, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC, the Museum of Jewish Heritage in NYC, the Holocaust Memorial of the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, Miami-Dade College, St. John’s Law School, Nazareth College, Colgate University and numerous temples and schools.  All proceeds from the sale of the book are donated to support Holocaust education.

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Yom Hashoa




Translator’s Talk: Harry Potter in Yiddish with Arun Schaechter Viswanath

Tuesday, April 20
5:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Arun Schaechter Viswanath, the translator of Harry Potter Un Der Filosofisher Shteyn

About This Event

Join us for a conversation with this truly special guest: Arun Schaechter Viswanath's translation of the first volume of the Harry Potter world best-sellers appeared in 2020, titled Harry Potter Un Der Filosofisher Shteyn.

From the translator's homepage: Arun “Arele” Schaechter Viswanath grew up in Teaneck, New Jersey in a Yiddish- and Tamil-speaking home. His desire to translate Harry Potter grew from a strong feeling that a translation of such a popular children’s novel into Yiddish would be a boon and a resource for Yiddish students and teachers, Yiddish-speaking children and parents, and the Yiddish world more broadly. Arun resides with his wife Tali Adler in New York and works in tech as an operations strategist and data analyst. He enjoys bouldering, reading back-issues of , playing board games, and learning new languages and instruments.

Yair Rosenberg covered the Yiddish publication for Tablet Magazine, which you can read [here].

More details to follow soon.


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Schaechter Flyer half


Edward Lewis Wallant Award Ceremony w/ Peter Orner and Lee Conell

Wednesday, April 21
7:30 - 9:30 p.m. EST
Virtual Event

Featuring Lee Conell and Peter Orner

About This Event

Honoring the 2019 and 2020 Award winners

Peter Orner, Maggie Brown and Others (2019)

Lee Conell, The Party Upstairs (2020)

The Edward Lewis Wallant Award is presented annually by the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the Univ. of Hartford to an American writer whose published creative work of fiction is considered to have significance for the American Jew. A panel of three critics serves as judges, and seeks out a writer whose fiction bears a kinship to the work of Wallant, preferably an author who is younger or unrecognized.  Past winners include Chaim Potok, Thane Rosenbaum, Dara Horn, Nicole Krauss, Julie Orringer, Joshua Henkin, Kenneth Bonert, David Bezmozgis, Rebecca Dinerstein, Ayelet Tsabari, and most recently, Eduardo Halfon.

More information [here]

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Most Center events are free and are always open to the public.  We hope to see you there!


Parking is available in the North and South garages on campus as well as at metered spaces. On weekends, and after 5:00 pm on weekdays, visitors as well as permit holders may park in any on-campus space not designated as reserved, restricted, or limited. Find out more about visitor parking on the Storrs campus. 

Getting Here:

View an interactive map of the Storrs campus and even download the app version to your phone: 




campus map


The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life sponsors a number of event series designed to support both scholarship and the arts.  

Each month, the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life sponsors a Faculty Colloquium that showcases the work of a scholar in Judaic Studies.  The informal gathering provides an opportunity for scholars to present and discuss their current research projects. The discussions are open to all, and a kosher lunch is served.

The Yiddish Tish luncheon discussion, established in 1982 by founding Director Arnold Dashefsky, convenes monthly to speak and read in Yiddish. The group welcomes new members of any speaking level!

The Fierberg Lecture in Judaic Studies sponsors the annual Academic Convocation on the Holocaust.  Guest speakers have included award-winning director Vassilis Loules and renowned Holocaust experts Timothy Snyder and Berel Lang.

Additional endowments such as the Ishier Jacobson Fund for Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies sponsors the Maria and Ishier Jacobson Lecture held annually at the UConn Stamford campus; and the Gene and Georgia Mittelman Lecture in Judaic Studies is held annually, featuring such speakers as Dr. Susannah Heschel.

Additionally, we have forged a partnership with Charter Oak Cultural Center in Hartford to collaborate on cultural and educational events. This relationship extends our capacity to support, sustain, and foster Jewish culture and the arts beyond the campus.

In the spirit of our mission to provide support and enrichment, we also collaborate with many departments, centers, and institutes across the University to fund various lectures and projects of mutual interest.