Tue, Jun 15
01:00PM
Tue, Jun 15
01:00PM

lecture

The Lost World of African American Cantors 1915-1953

Histories of Black-Jewish cultural interaction often focus on how Jews adopted and adapted Black vernacular music—ragtime, jazz, swing, R&B, blues—as performers, promoters, managers, club owners, and record labels. The phenomenon of African American musicians who performed Yiddish and cantorial music in and for the Jewish community in theaters, on record, on radio, and in concert between the World Wars deserves such scholarly inquiry. This talk will honor the memory of now forgotten Black cantors – Mendele der Shvartser Khazn, Reb Dovid Kalistrita, Abraham Ben Benjamin Franklin, Thomas LaRue Jones, and Goldye di Shvartse Khaznte, the first known Black woman cantor. This talk by award winning producer, author, and ethnomusicologist Henry Sapoznik will feature dozens of historic graphics, translations of period Yiddish newspaper previews, ads, and reviews, and the playing of the one known 1923 Yiddish and Hebrew recording of Thomas Jones LaRue.


About the Speaker:

Henry Sapoznik is an award winning record and radio producer, author, and ethnomusicologist in the fields of Yiddish and American popular and traditional culture. Sapoznik, a native Yiddish speaker and child of Holocaust survivors, helped jump-start the klezmer “revival” with “Kapelye” in 1979, was the founding director of the YIVO Sound Archives 1982-1995, and created “KlezKamp: The Yiddish Folk Arts Program” in 1985. Sapoznik, a five-time Grammy nominated producer, won the 2002 Peabody award for his 13-part NPR series “The Yiddish Radio Project” the collection of which was acquired by the American Folklife Center of the Library of Congress in 2011.  Sapoznik was also the final on-air host (1990-1995) of the long-running Yiddish radio show “The Forward Hour” on radio station WEVD. Sapoznik’s 2015 reissue of the earliest Yiddish sound recordings, “Attractive Hebrews: The Lambert Yiddish Cylinders 1901-1905,” won the coveted Certificate of Merit from The Association for Recorded Sound Collections. Sapoznik is currently working on a book about African American cantors of the 1920s.


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, Jun 10
12:30PM
Thu, Jun 10
12:30PM

conversation

At Lunch with Judy Heumann

Author and journalist Julie Salamon (Wall Street Journal and NY Times) sits down with disability rights activist and author, Judith Heumann. Since the 1970's Judy has worked with a wide range of activist organizations, NGOs, and government agencies directly contributing to the development of human rights legislation and policy benefiting disabled people. Over the past year Judy was featured in the award winning documentary, Crip Camp and published a critically acclaimed memoir, Being Heumann. We are honored to welcome Judy!


Presented by:

conversation

Thu, Jun 10
01:00PM
Thu, Jun 10
01:00PM

lecture

Jewish Anarchist Women 1920-1950: the Politics of Sexuality

Anarchist theory includes the belief in freedom for all - that no one person, nor group of people, should have power over any others; that individuals can best decide how to live (and love). In this presentation Elaine Leeder will discuss eight Jewish women who identified as anarchists, active during the 1920s to 1950s. Through analysis of in-depth interviews Leeder explores the complete sexual freedom that these women sought at a time when conventionality and conformity was the norm. These women attempted to create equality in the public and private spheres, some living communally and raising their children in progressive schools. They also sought to maintain complete equality of the sexes through economic independence and maintaining non-conformist sexual relationships. This talk will place a particular focus on the way that ethnicity played a role in these women’s identities, emphasizing their atheism, while still maintaining Jewish values and traditions.


About the Speaker:

Elaine Leeder is a retired dean and professor at Sonoma State University; she is the author of six books, two of which are being used at universities around the country. Her first book The Gentle General: Rose Pesotta, Anarchist and Labor Organizer, was published by SUNY PRESS. She was the author of a number of articles on Anarchist-Feminism in the 1980s. Currently she works in prisons doing restorative justice facilitating dialogues between victims and those who committed the crimes in California prisons. She is the recipient of the Real Hero Award from the American Red Cross for her work in prisons, is listed in Who’s Who of American Teachers, and Who’s Who in America, and was a visiting scholar at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.


Presented by:

lecture

Tue, Jun 08
01:00PM
Tue, Jun 08
01:00PM

concert

Joel Engel: Jewish Folksongs Volume III - Premiere on Facebook and YouTube

Join us for a performance of Joel Engel's Jewish Folksongs Volume III (c. 1920): 10 Yiddish folksongs, dances, and Hasidic nigunim in virtuosic piano arrangements. Together with volumes I and II (featured by YIVO in November 2020), Engel's arrangements were the first classical compositions to feature Yiddish folksongs. His use of Yiddish folk music in his compositions proved to be influential and inspired the Society for Jewish Folk Music and the composers affiliated with it to create a vast oeuvre of similar work. Engel's work also provided a source for a variety of other composers who used Yiddish folksongs in their music including, famously, Prokofiev's Overture on Hebrew Themes, whose second theme is taken from the second song of Volume I from this collection.

This collection of 10 pieces will be performed by pianist Thomas Kotcheff.

About the Performer
Thomas Kotcheff
 (b. 1988) is a Los Angeles based composer and pianist. His music has been described as “truly beautiful and inspired” (icareifyoulisten.com) and “explosive” (Gramophone magazine). His compositions have been performed internationally by The Riot Ensemble, New York Youth Symphony, wild Up, Sandbox Percussion, Trio Appassionata, Argus Quartet, Lyris Quartet, Alinde Quartett, USC Thornton Edge, The Oberlin Contemporary Music Ensemble, HOCKET, Peabody Percussion Group, Latitude 49, and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble amongst others.

As a new music pianist, Thomas has dedicated himself to commissioning and premiering new piano works. His playing has been described as “dazzling” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times and “outstanding” by Steve Smith of Night after Night. In 2020, Thomas released the world premiere recording of Frederic Rzewski’s 75-minute solo piano work Songs of Insurrection in which Rzewski hailed his performance as “magnificent.” He is the pianist and founding member of the Los Angeles based piano duo HOCKET.


Presented by:

concert

Thu, Jun 03
12:00PM
Thu, Jun 03
12:00PM

two-part lecture series

The Jews of the Caucasus: The Multifaceted History of Kavkazi and Georgian Jews

Jewish history runs very deep in the Caucasus—an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse region at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Jewish communities have existed continuously in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus (including Dagestan and Chechnya) for centuries, if not millenia. Join us in exploring the histories and cultures of this region’s oldest Jewish communities. Our first session will focus on Kavkazi Jews (also known as Mountain Jews, Gorsky Jews, or Juhuro), and the second session will highlight the story of Georgian Jews.


About the Speakers:

Part two of a two-part series

Born in Uzbekistan and currently based in Seattle, Ruben Shimonov is an educator, community builder, and social entrepreneur with a passion for Jewish diversity. He previously served as Director of Community Engagement and Education at Queens College Hillel. Currently, Ruben is the Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network, an organization that is building a supportive and much-needed community for LGBTQ+ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. He also serves as Vice President of Education & Community Engagement on the young leadership board of the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), Director of Educational Experiences & Programming for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, and Director of ASF’s Sephardi House Fellowship—a new year-long learning and enrichment program for college student leaders. He is an alumnus of the COJECO Blueprint and Nahum Goldmann Fellowships for his work in Jewish social innovation, and has been listed among The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" young Jewish community leaders and changemakers. Ruben has lectured extensively throughout the world on the histories and cultures of various Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. He is also a visual artist specializing in multilingual calligraphy that interweaves Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. He uses his artistry to deepen Muslim-Jewish interfaith learning and community building.


Presented by:

two-part lecture series

Thu, Jun 03
02:00PM
Thu, Jun 03
02:00PM

panel discussion

The Jewish Enlightenment in the Era of Absolutism

As LBI's yearlong exploration of 1700 years of German-Jewish History concludes its chapter on the era of Absolutism (1648–1806), three scholars will discuss how the intellectual and social developments of the age impacted Jews, and how Jews contributed to those developments.

After the Peace of Westphalia in 1648, territorial states began to centralize power over the numerous small and fractious polities in German-speaking Europe, and they built bureaucracies that rationalized the relationship between the state and its subjects – including Jews. This held both the promise of greater toleration and inclusion, but also the threat of persecution by even more powerful despots.

In the same period, the ideals of the Enlightenment began to change ideas about the proper role of religion in society and the relationship of the individual to religion. The Jewish Enlightenment offered new answers to old questions about whether Jewishness was primarily a nationality or a religion, especially in the context of the Protestant conception of religion as a private matter of individual faith. The ways in which thinkers like Moses Mendelssohn theorized the complex relationship between individuals, religions, and the state paved the way for Jewish participation in secular German society, but they also have implications for our own diverse societies.

About the Panelists
Elisheva Carlebach, Salo Wittmayer Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture, and Society
Elisheva Carlebach specializes in the cultural, intellectual, and religious history of the Jews in Early Modern Europe. Areas of particular interest include the intersection of Jewish and Christian culture and its effect on notions of tolerance, religious dissent, conversion, messianism, and communal governance. Her books include The Pursuit of Heresy (1990), awarded the National Jewish Book Award, Divided Souls: Converts from Judaism in Early Modern Germany (2000) and Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe (2011), winner of the Association for Jewish Studies Schnitzer Prize.

Michah GottliebAssociate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University
Michah Gottlieb’s main field of research is modern Jewish thought and philosophy. His interests include: the faith-reason debate and its political ramifications, modern Bible translation and interpretation, ethical education and character development, and bourgeois piety. His books include: Faith and Freedom: Moses Mendelssohn’s Theological Political Thought (2011); Faith, Reason, Politics: Essays on the History of Jewish Thought (2013) and most recently: The Jewish Reformation: Bible Translation and Middle-Class German Judaism as Spiritual Enterprise (2021).

David J. SorkinProfessor of Modern Jewish History, Yale University
David Sorkin’s work is situated at the intersection of Jewish history and European history since the 16th century. His first book, The Transformation of German Jewry, 1780–1840 (1987), examined the formation of Jewish culture in the German states, which he came to understand as a “subculture.” Sorkin's latest book is Jewish Emancipation:  A History Across Five Centuries (2019), in which he argues that the attainment of civil and political rights or equality is the principal event of modern Jewish history.  He is currently at work on a study of the practice of Jewish politics since the sixteenth century.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Wed, Jun 02
04:00PM
Wed, Jun 02
04:00PM

book club

People of the Book Club: Plunder with author Menachem Kaiser

Go behind the stories and peer inside the archives at the CJH book discussion, led by Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager for Public Services at the Center for Jewish History. This session will feature a discussion of Plunder by Menachem Kaiser, the story of the author’s quest to reclaim his family’s apartment building in Poland—and of the astonishing entanglement with Nazi treasure hunters that follows. This debut from Kaiser has received rave reviews and was described by the New York Times as “a twisting and reverberant and consistently enthralling story…a weird story that gets weirder.” We will be joined by the author for a Q&A after the discussion.

Participants will need to obtain their own copy to read before the discussion.

NOTE: This is a book discussion, not a lecture, so space is limited.


Presented by:

book club

Wed, Jun 02
07:00PM
Wed, Jun 02
07:00PM

concert

To Bigotry No Sanction

A magnificent new cantata, composed by Jonathan Comisar, based on George Washington’s historic Letter to the Hebrew Congregation of Newport, Rhode Island. Commissioned by Congregation Keneseth Israel in the Philadelphia suburb of Elkins Park, PA, the piece embodies touchstones of Jewish and American music in a choral-orchestral setting. The pre-recorded, streamed performance, conducted by Kensho Watanabe, features members of The Philadelphia Orchestra and a multicultural choir representing 17 languages.

The program includes introductory readings by renowned historical interpretive actor Dean Malissa, as “George Washington,” and a post-performance discussion with composer Jonathan Comisar and Congregation Keneseth Israel Rabbi Lance J. Sussman, Ph.D., a professor of American Jewish History. The conversation will be moderated by Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker Sam Katz of History Making Productions.

Promotional partners for the June 2nd performance of Comisar’s To Bigotry No Sanction are the Center for Jewish History, the American Society for Jewish Music, YIVO, the American Sephardi Federation, the American Jewish Historical Society, the Leo Baeck Institute, and the Lowell Milken Center for the Music of American Jewish Experience, American Conference of Cantors, the Cantors Assembly, the Debbie Friedman School of Sacred Music, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, the American Jewish Archives, and the American Jewish Committee.


Presented by:

concert

Thu, May 27
12:00PM
Thu, May 27
12:00PM

two-part lecture series

The Jews of the Caucasus: The Multifaceted History of Kavkazi and Georgian Jews

Part one of a two-part series

Jewish history runs very deep in the Caucasus—an ethnically, linguistically, and religiously diverse region at the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Jewish communities have existed continuously in Georgia, Azerbaijan and the North Caucasus (including Dagestan and Chechnya) for centuries, if not millenia. Join us in exploring the histories and cultures of this region’s oldest Jewish communities. Our first session will focus on Kavkazi Jews (also known as Mountain Jews, Gorsky Jews, or Juhuro), and the second session will highlight the story of Georgian Jews.


About the Speaker:

Born in Uzbekistan and currently based in Seattle, Ruben Shimonov is an educator, community builder, and social entrepreneur with a passion for Jewish diversity. He previously served as Director of Community Engagement and Education at Queens College Hillel. Currently, Ruben is the Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network, an organization that is building a supportive and much-needed community for LGBTQ+ Sephardic and Mizrahi Jews. He also serves as Vice President of Education & Community Engagement on the young leadership board of the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), Director of Educational Experiences & Programming for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee, and Director of ASF’s Sephardi House Fellowship—a new year-long learning and enrichment program for college student leaders. He is an alumnus of the COJECO Blueprint and Nahum Goldmann Fellowships for his work in Jewish social innovation, and has been listed among The Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" young Jewish community leaders and changemakers. Ruben has lectured extensively throughout the world on the histories and cultures of various Sephardic and Mizrahi communities. He is also a visual artist specializing in multilingual calligraphy that interweaves Arabic, Hebrew and Persian. He uses his artistry to deepen Muslim-Jewish interfaith learning and community building.


Presented by:

two-part lecture series

Thu, May 27
04:00PM
Thu, May 27
04:00PM

book talk

X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War II

In June of 1942, amid Third Reich victories everywhere, Winston Churchill and his chief of staff form an unusual plan: a new commando unit made up of Jewish refugees who escaped to Britain. The resulting volunteers are a motley group of intellectuals, artists, and athletes, most from Germany and Austria. Many have been interned as enemy aliens, and have lost their families, their homes—their whole worlds. They will stop at nothing to defeat the Nazis. Trained in counterintelligence and advanced combat, this top-secret unit becomes known as X Troop.

Drawing on extensive original research, including interviews with the last surviving members, author and historian Leah Garrett, Professor and Director of Jewish Studies at Hunter College, follows this unique band of brothers from Germany to England and back again, with stops at British internment camps, the beaches of Normandy, the battlefields of Italy and Holland, and the hellscape of Terezin concentration camp—the scene of one of the most dramatic, untold rescues of the war. For the first time, X Troop: The Secret Jewish Commandos of World War IItells the astonishing story of these secret shock troops and their devastating blows against the Nazis.

This program is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. 


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, May 25
01:00PM
Tue, May 25
01:00PM

book talk

Salomea Perl & Women Yiddish Prose Writers

Warsaw based writer Salomea Perl was one of the rare women publishing literary Yiddish texts at the same time as the klasikers of Yiddish literature, Sholem Aleichem, Mendele Moykher Sforim and Y. L. Peretz. Ruth Murphy's new translation of Perl's work, The Canvas and other stories, is a cause for celebration and reflection. The last thirty years has seen many previously ignored or lost female authors, like Salomea Perl, finally brought into the Yiddish canon. Join us for a discussion of The Canvas, exploring the rediscovery and translation of her work and placing it into its literary context. Moderated by Rokhl Kafrissen (Tablet Magazine) the conversation will feature translator Ruth Murphy alongside Yiddish scholars Anna Fishman Gonshor and Justin Cammy.

Buy the book.


About the Speakers:

Rokhl Kafrissen is a journalist and playwright in New York City. Her ‘Rokhl’s Golden City’ column began appearing in Tablet in 2017, the only regular feature in the world dedicated to new Yiddish culture in all its iterations. Her op-eds on feminism, sociology and Jewish life appear in newspapers all over the world. She was a 2019-2020 14th Street Y LABA fellow, for which she wrote Shtumer Shabes (Silent Sabbath), a black comedy about the dangers of ethnography and human experimentation.

Ruth Murphy is a published and peer-reviewed professional translator specializing in the research and translation of Yiddish literature, historical documents and yizkor (memorial) books. Murphy’s translations have been featured in the Jewish Review of BooksMetamorphoses, and Pakn Treger. Murphy has also served as a translator for the Ellis Island Discography Project where she transcribed and translated multiple early 20th-century Yiddish songs relating to the Jewish Yiddish-speaking immigrant experience.

Justin Cammy is chair and associate professor of Jewish Studies and World Literatures at Smith College, and senior fellow of the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of the introduction to The Full Pomegranate, a recent volume of Sutzkever poetry translated by Richard Fein. Cammy's own translation of Sutzkever's memoir Vilna Ghetto will appear with McGill-Queens University Press in 2021.

Anna Fishman Gonshor is Faculty Lecturer of Yiddish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at McGill University (retired). She has been guest lecturer for several university Yiddish programs and various institutions across North America. As a translator her work includes film, articles for academic publications and archival materials. In addition, she is a longstanding faculty member of the YIVO Uriel Weinreich Summer Program in Yiddish Language, Literature, and Culture.


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, May 25
01:30PM
Tue, May 25
01:30PM

book club

LBI Book Club, Vol. XI: Heinrich Heine

For our next two book clubs, held on May 25 and June 29, we are going to read a variety of both prose and poetry by Heinrich Heine. If you wish to attend both sessions, please register for both occurrences of the event on Eventbrite. There is one book to read from, Heinrich Heine: The Harz Journey and Selected Prose. The rest of the readings are provided, free of charge, at the links below and in the sidebar.

We will be reading for our next meeting:

  • From the book: Ideas: The Book of Le Grand (Page 89 of the Penguin Classics edition advertised) and Memoirs (Page 295 in the Penguin Classics edition advertised)
  • The next readings are poems. You need only read the poems that are marked with an X–all are quite short. They can be found here. Finally, please read this poem, Heine's "Lorelei", found here.

These versions have all purposely been chosen by George Prochnik, who will be leading us through Heine's work for the next two sessions.

Author
Heinrich Heine (1797-1856) is perhaps the best known of Germany's poets. Born into a Jewish family in Düsseldorf, he made a name for himself in the world of literature, but he was more than poems and poetry. His life also involved philosophy and what was considered at the time radical political thought. Heine moved to Paris and remained there, exiled from a Germany he both loved and despised.

Guest Scholar
We are happy to have George Prochnik return to us for our next two book club meetings. Prochnik's latest work, published last November, is Heinrich Heine: Writing the Revolution. His biography of of Stefan Zweig, The Impossible Exile: Stefan Zweig at the End of the World, received the National Jewish Book Award for Biography/Memoir in 2014 and was short-listed for the Wingate Prize in the United Kingdom. Prochnik is also the author of In Pursuit of Silence: Listening for Meaning in a World of Noise (2010), and Putnam Camp: Sigmund Freud, James Jackson Putnam, and the Purpose of American Psychology (2006). He has written for The New Yorker, New York Times, Bookforum, and Los Angeles Review of Books, and is editor-at-large for Cabinet magazine.

Where to Purchase the Book
George Prochnik recommends this text for reading the two prose pieces.


Presented by:

book club

Tue, May 25
04:00PM
Tue, May 25
04:00PM

panel discussion

“Hear Their Cry:” Understanding the Jewish Orphan Experience

To conclude two years at the Center for Jewish History, the Scholars Working Group “Hear Their Cry:” Understanding the Jewish Orphan Experience presents scholarship from four members on the following topics:

Natalia Aleksiun: Survival Strategies and Jewish Orphans during the Holocaust in Eastern Europe
Joshua C. Andy: Remembrance and Resistance: The Testimony and Memoir of Rachel Pinchsowitz Litwak
Emily Bengels: Rescue of Unaccompanied Children from Vichy France to the US: How Past Struggles Can Inform Present Efforts
Katharina Menschick: The Kindertransports from Austria — Findings from Ten Oral Histories in the Leo Baeck Institute’s Austrian Heritage Collection


About the Speakers:

Natalia Aleksiun, Ph.D., is a Professor of Modern Jewish History at Touro College, Graduate School of Jewish Studies, New York. She has published widely on Polish Jewish issues. She is the author of Where to? The Zionist Movement in Poland, 1944-1950, which appeared in 2002 in Polish, and the co-editor, with Antony Polonsky and Brian Horowitz, of Writing Jewish History in Eastern Europe( 2016). She is currently working on a book about the so-called cadaver affair at European Universities in the 1920s and 1930s and on a project dealing with daily lives of Jews in hiding in Galicia during the Holocaust.

Joshua C. Andy, Ph.D., is an Upper School History Teacher at Winchester Thurston School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, where he specializes in non-US history and teaches a class entitled “Genocide: A Global History on Crimes Against Humanity.” For the past eight years, he has traveled with and worked as a scholar and historian for Classrooms Without Borders; in that work he has guided students, teachers, and university educators in Holocaust education. Dr. Andy has been a partipant for the past two years in the Scholars Working Group ‘Hear their Cry: Understanding the Jewish Orphan Experience’ at the Center for Jewish History. His latest publication, ‘When Ghosts Roam the Streets: Historical Memory in Starachowice,’ appeared in February 2020 in In Context and describes how one Polish town grapples with its own history and the larger historical narratives of the Holocaust. He earned his BA with honours from Washington & Jefferson College and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (UK).

Emily Bengels is a doctoral candidate at Gratz College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was a JDC Fellow in 2020 and was selected to be part of the USC Shoah Foundation’s Past is Present commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz and to attend the Yad Vashem Advanced Echoes and Reflections seminar. She leads music for the First Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Hunterdon County and for Congregation Kehilat Shalom, and teaches in Hunterdon County, NJ.

Katharina Menschick received an MA in history and literature from the CUNY Graduate Center in 2019. After working in the archives of the Leo Baeck Institute in New York, she is now is a research associate at the Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Thu, May 20
12:00PM
Thu, May 20
12:00PM

lecture

Sephardi Thought and Modernity: Rabbi Yosef Knafo’s Struggle for Democratization of Knowledge in Fin de Siècle Essaouira

The intention of this series is to spark the interest in processes of Jewish modernization not exclusively mediated by Europeanization. The questions we will be dealing with are related to non-dichotomic identities, multiplicity and loss of language, colonization, social transformation, and intellectual responses to it. We will approach these questions by looking at Jewish-Arab influences, the Sephardi response to European modernization, the responses of the rabbinic leadership and the work of Sephardi intellectuals.

May 20th: Gabriel Abensour (Hebrew University of Jerusalem): Rabbi Yosef Knafo’s Struggle for Democratization of Knowledge in Fin de Siècle Essaouira


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, May 20
12:30PM
Thu, May 20
12:30PM

conversation

At Lunch with Muzzy Rosenblatt

Author and journalist Julie Salamon (Wall Street Journal and NY Times) sits down with influential cultural leaders in the Jewish American Community; we'll hear their thoughts about working in this present moment, current projects, and what they have to say about their Jewish identity. Grab your lunch and tune in for our conversation with Muzzy Rosenblatt, CEO and President of the Bowery Residents’ Committee.

Our Guest This Month
Muzzy Rosenblatt is CEO and President of BRC (the Bowery Residents’ Committee, Inc.), one of the most successful and innovative nonprofits working in service to New Yorkers experiencing homelessness. BRC’s 30 programs with nearly 3,000 units of shelter and housing provide an integrated continuum of comprehensive services to 10,000 individuals it annually serves, offering a caring and effective path from homelessness to home.  In 2017, Muzzy was honored by the Nonprofit Times as one of the country’s Top 50 influential nonprofit leaders. Prior to BRC, Muzzy held several positions in NYC government, including First Deputy Commissioner and Acting Commissioner of the NYC Department of Homeless Services.  A native New Yorker he grew up in Manhattan, attending PS 158 and Hunter College High School, before earning and MPA from NYU Wagner and a BA from Wesleyan University. He now resides in “the hills of the forest” in the county of Queens.

Interviewed By
Julie Salamon is an American author, critic and storyteller. She worked at The Wall Street Journal for five years first as a commodities and banking reporter before spending eleven years as the paper's film critic. Later she became a staff journalist at The New York Times where she was a TV critic and arts reporter. Later she gained fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and became a Kaiser Media Fellow. She has written both fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children-- and produced articles for magazines that include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, and The New Republic. Her books have received wide critical and popular attention, she has just completed "Unlikely Friends," a memoir for Audible Original, scheduled for release in 2021.


Presented by:

conversation

Thu, May 20
07:00PM
Thu, May 20
07:00PM

book talk

A Fortress in Brooklyn: Race, Real Estate and the Making of Hasidic Williamsburg

Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper discuss their new book, which sheds light on the history of one of New York's Hasidic neighborhoods.

Hasidic Williamsburg is famous as one of the most separatist, intensely religious, and politically savvy communities in the entire United States. Less known is how the community survived in one of New York City’s toughest neighborhoods during an era of steep decline, only to later oppose and also participate in the unprecedented gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

Nathaniel Deutsch and Michael Casper unravel the fascinating history of how a community of determined Holocaust survivors encountered, shaped, and sometimes fiercely resisted the urban processes that transformed their gritty neighborhood, from white flight and the construction of public housing to rising crime, divestment of city services, and, ultimately, extreme gentrification. By showing how Williamsburg’s Hasidim avoided assimilation, Deutsch and Casper present both a provocative counter-history of American Jewry and a novel look at how race, real estate, and religion intersected in the creation of a quintessential, and yet deeply misunderstood, New York neighborhood.


About the Speakers:

Nathaniel Deutsch is professor of history at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Michael Casper received his Ph.D. in history from UCLA and has contributed to American Jewish History and the New York Review of Books.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, May 19
01:00PM
Wed, May 19
01:00PM

lecture

Embodying Liberty: American Jewish Attorneys and the Case for Humanizing Public Charge

In 1891, the United States Congress codified a host of physical and mental conditions that would close America’s gates to hopeful immigrants. Since 1882, this policy—the public charge provision—had functioned as a primary means of restricting immigration. While its commodification of health and pathologization of poverty affected all immigrants, eastern European Jews particularly felt its impact, capturing the attention of American Jewish lawyers. Hannah Zaves-Greene examines the legal advocacy of Max Kohler, Abram Elkus, Simon Wolf, and Louis Marshall, American Jewish attorneys who marshalled their deep knowledge of American jurisprudence to defang the law. Focusing on Kohler’s work, we will examine his pro bono defenses of two young Jewish women, who each—about a decade apart—faced the state’s allegation that they had become medical public charges. As he dealt with local officials and argued before the courts, Kohler meticulously framed his opposition to public charge, articulating his philosophy of American citizenship at the nexus of disability and national belonging.


About the Speaker:

Hannah Zaves-Greene is a doctoral candidate in American Jewish history at New York University’s Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. She is currently the Fellow in American Jewish Studies at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and a recipient of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Research Award. Her dissertation, Able to Be American: American Jews and the Public Charge Provision in United States Immigration Policy, 1891-1934, explores how American Jewish women and men engaged with discrimination on the basis of health, disability, and gender in federal immigration law and its administration. She has taught at both the New School for Social Research and Cooper Union, and has published articles in both AJS Review and American Jewish History.


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, May 13
04:00PM
Thu, May 13
04:00PM

conversation

On Jewish Studies Scholars and Their Political Activism and Public Engagement

Modern ideals of scholarly detachment and objectivity have always existed in tension with political and public engagement. In 1895, for example, Theodore Reinach, the President of the Société des études juives in France, wrote: "The Society of Jewish Studies need not concern itself with the present trials of Judaism, however poignant the interest may be. It dwells in the quieter sphere of history, and it is only by dispelling the accumulated errors about ancient Judaism that it can indirectly contribute to rehabilitating or consoling Judaism today.” Magda Teter (Fordham University, NEH Scholar-in-Residence 2020-21), in conversation with Deborah Dash Moore (University of Michigan), will explore the role political concerns and specific events have played not only in the lives of Jewish studies scholars but also in their scholarship.


Presented by:

conversation

Wed, May 12
01:00PM
Wed, May 12
01:00PM

cooking show

A Taste of Rome's Historic Jewish Cuisine

Rome is home to one of Europe's oldest and most delicious Jewish cuisines. Shaped by centuries of hardship and tightly-bound community, la cucina Ebraica Romana (the Roman Jewish kitchen) is defined by its elegant approach to vegetables, saucy braised meats, love of small and briny fishes, and masterclass level of skill for frying foods in olive oil. Join celebrated cookbook author Leah Koenig for an online cooking demonstration highlighting some of Rome's best dishes. The recipe for concia, a bright and silky marinated zucchini dish, will be made available before the event, so students may pick up ingredients and cook along.


About the Speaker:

Leah Koenig's writing and recipes have appeared in The New York TimesNew York MagazineThe Wall Street JournalThe Washington PostFood & WineEpicuriousFood52, and Tablet, among other publications. Leah is the author of six cookbooks including The Jewish Cookbook (Phaidon, 2019) and Modern Jewish Cooking (Chronicle Books). In addition to writing, Leah also leads cooking demonstrations and workshops around the country and world. She lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and two children.


Presented by:

cooking show

Mon, May 10
04:00PM
Mon, May 10
04:00PM

book talk

Contextualizing the Jewish Orphan Experience: Bernice Lerner's <em>All the Horrors of War </em>and Marlene Trestman's <em>Unfortunate Fortunates</em>

After two years at the Center for Jewish History, the Scholars Working Group “Hear Their Cry:” Understanding the Jewish Orphan Experience presents a talk with two group members about their new books.

Bernice Lerner is a senior scholar at Boston University’s Center for Character and Social Responsibility. She is the author of The Triumph of Wounded Souls: Seven Holocaust Survivors’ Lives and coeditor of Happiness and Virtue beyond East and West: Towards a New Global Responsibility. Dr. Lerner will present on her new book, All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor, and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen (2020), in which she focuses on the life of her mother, Rachel Genuth. Michael Berenbaum writes, “All the Horrors of War is a powerful and poignant tale that traces both the arc of the war and the history of the Holocaust. In this meticulously researched and detailed account, Lerner never lets the reader forget the humanity of the victims or their liberators.”

Marlene Trestman is an attorney and author of Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin. With exhaustive research and engaging prose, Trestman’s Fair Labor Lawyer recounts Margolin’s inspirational journey from New Orleans Jewish Orphans Home through the New Deal to the nation’s highest courts, where she shepherded the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. Prompted by her research on Margolin’s early life and by her own childhood in New Orleans as a Jewish orphan, Trestman’s latest work is Most Fortunate Unfortunates: New Orleans Jewish Orphans’ Home, 1855-1946, forthcoming from Louisiana State University Press.

Followed by a Q&A with both authors.


Presented by:

book talk

Thu, May 06
07:00PM
Thu, May 06
07:00PM

workshop

Multigenerational Family Storytelling Workshop (Teens & Up)

Bring multiple generations of your family together, no matter the distance, for a lively evening of guided storytelling. Participants will learn the importance and how-to’s of family storytelling before breaking off into family groups to explore a list of fun, meaningful questions together. Be prepared to learn surprising new details about your relatives - you may have more in common than you think!

This program is presented by the Center for Jewish History, in collaboration with and with funding from Culture Pass. Culture Pass is a program for cardholding patrons of New York City’s public libraries, the Brooklyn Public Library, New York Public Library, and Queens Public Library. Support for Culture Pass is provided by The New York Community Trust, Charles H. Revson Foundation, Stavros Niarchos Foundation, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. To learn more, visit www.culturepass.nyc.


Presented by:

workshop

Wed, May 05
12:00PM
Wed, May 05
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays with José Alberto R. Silva Tavim

In this edition of New Works Wednesday, José Alberto R. Silva Tavimwill discuss his new book "The Diasporas of Jews and New Christians of Iberian Origin between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean."

This book consists of a set of contributions, with different themes and chronologies, on the general theme of Jews of Iberian origin after the late 15th century conversions, that is, with an official Christian identity; and also about welcoming others, of remote Portuguese origin or not, in contemporary Portugal, but also in other longitudes, such as Egypt and Brazil, in different and sometimes even adverse circumstances.

In the light of the dispersion between the Mediterranean and the Atlantic, one can visit, as an example, the fortunes of some of these New Christians in Portugal, and their presence, assuming again a Jewish identity, in Diaspora lands, in Europe and in the New World. Modernity reveals the resistance in Portugal of an awareness of being Jewish; and also that, alongside this phenomenon, the arrival of other Jews, especially from the Maghreb, is more than just a return, it is actually another stage of permanence in completely different contexts with regard to people's origins, their activities, acceptance and respect for its identity.


About the Speaker:

Editor José Alberto R. Silva Tavim will share insights into the book along with some of the contributors: Hugo Martins, who is in Potsdam with a German research grant, published an article in English about the Jews of Hamburg in the 17th century; Angela Benoliel Coutinho (Portuguese-Cape Verdean) wrote about the migration of Jews from Morocco to Portugal and Cape Verde in the 19th and 20th centuries; and Luís Filipe Meneses, from the University of Belo Horizonte (Brazil), wrote an article about a Brazilian Jewish writer of Moroccan origin - Leão Pacífico Esaguy.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, May 05
01:00PM
Wed, May 05
01:00PM

book talk

Information Hunters

Information Hunters examines the unprecedented American effort to acquire foreign publications and information in World War II Europe. An unlikely band of librarians, scholars, soldiers, and spies went to Europe to collect books and documents to aid the Allies’ cause. They traveled to neutral cities to find enemy publications for intelligence analysis and followed advancing armies to capture records in a massive program of confiscation. After the war, they seized Nazi works from bookstores and schools and gathered countless looted Jewish books. Improvising library techniques in wartime conditions, they contributed to Allied intelligence, preserved endangered books, engaged in restitution, and participated in the denazification of book collections. Information Hunters explores what collecting meant to the men and women who embarked on these missions and how the challenges of a total war led to an intense focus on books and documents. Book and document acquisition became part of the apparatus of national security, military planning, and postwar reconstruction. These efforts also spurred the development of information science and boosted research libraries’ ambitions to be great national repositories for research and the dissemination of knowledge that would support American global leadership, politically and intellectually.


About the Speaker:

Kathy Peiss is the Roy F. and Jeannette P. Nichols Professor of American History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work explores modern American cultural history, gender and sexuality, consumer culture, and the history of books, libraries, and information. Other books include Cheap Amusements: Working Women and Leisure in Turn-of-the-Century New York (1986), Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture (1998), and Zoot Suit: The Enigmatic Career of an Extreme Style (2011). She has also served as a consultant to museums, archives, and public history projects, and appeared in the documentary films New YorkMiss America, and The Powder and the Glory.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, May 05
04:00PM
Wed, May 05
04:00PM

lecture

A Tradition of Talent: Jewish Opera Singers and the Patterns That Shaped Their Careers

Due to their unique mediation between the score, the stage, and their audiences, singers are one of the most indispensable elements of opera’s performance and reception. Although opera singers have often inspired scholarship about their geographical, social, and ethnic backgrounds, few studies have designed methods for comparing the experiences of large numbers of singers at the same time. What is more, beyond biographies of individual performers, Jews are rarely understood as significant contributors to the American opera scene. Yet examination of their presence in the Center for Jewish History’s archives confirms that there is merit in undertaking devoted study of their vocal careers.

In this talk, Samantha M. Cooper (CJH Dr. Sophie Bookhalter Graduate Fellow in Jewish Culture 2020-2021, NYU Ph.D. Candidate in Historical Musicology) presents the first extended investigation into the patterns that shaped the trajectories of numerous men and women of Jewish descent who pursued careers as opera singers in New York between 1880 and 1940. Drawing on a wealth of archival resources, she unearths over 50 European- and American-born singers from Jewish families who sang in the citadel of America’s opera scene: New York City. Specifically, she attends to how the outsized frequency of name-changing, connections with the synagogue cantorate, performances for Jewish organizations, recordings in Jewish languages, networking with other Jewish musicians, impact of the Holocaust, and dedication to the State of Israel shaped these singers’ professional lives in particularly Jewish ways. Ultimately, Cooper finds that the statistically significant presence of extraordinarily talented Jewish performers in the American opera industry constituted a much more ordinary reality than scholars of American Jewish history have previously realized.


Presented by:

lecture

Tue, May 04
01:00PM
Tue, May 04
01:00PM

panel discussion

Leftists on Left-Wing Antisemitism

There is a robust discussion inside the Left about antisemitism in its own ranks. This is not just related to Zionism, Israel, and Palestine, but also involves questions about conspiracy theories, notions of secret elites, and critiques of financial capital—as well as how to deal with openly antisemitic actors. This unique panel will bring together four scholars and activists on the Left, who have a range of different views to discuss this. What does antisemitism on the Left actually consist of? Where do different parts of the Left stand in relation to this issue? How is it addressed or ignored? And what are constructive ways the Left can better deal with antisemitism?

Moderated by Spencer Sunshine, this panel will feature Sina ArnoldShane BurleyKeith Kahn-Harris, and Joshua Leifer.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Sun, May 02
06:00PM
Sun, May 02
06:00PM

lecture

Letters to Jozef Tiso, President of the Slovak State 1939-1945

“…From hour to hour, the most threatening news arrives from every corner of Slovakia about the most threatening measures and deportation of the destroyed, impoverished Jewish population to the former Poland and Russia. Please, I beg of you, Your Honor Mr. President, take steps and stop it… Dear Mr. President, they are sending us to a ready-made slaughter…” Jozef M. Bratislava, March 30, 1942

Between 1939 and 1944, thousands of ordinary people wrote to then President Jozef Tiso of the Slovak State about the so-called “Jewish question.” Some wanted mercy from anti-Jewish persecution, others coveted Jewish property. Why did these individuals write to Tiso? How did the President’s Office process the letters? What fates awaited the Jews who wrote to him? In her talk, Madeline Vadkerty will respond to these questions and describe her research at the Slovak National Archive. She will also read some letters to Tiso and discuss their outcomes, as well as discuss the fates of the letter writers. She will describe what the contents of the letters reveal about the scope and nature of anti-Jewish persecution in the Slovak wartime state.


About the Speaker:

Madeline Vadkerty is a Samuel P. Mandell Fellow in the Holocaust and Genocide Studies Program at Gratz College in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where she is pursuing her PhD. She is the author of the book published in March 2020 entitled Slovutný pán president: Listy Jozefovi Tisovi (Your Honor Mr. President: Letters to Jozef Tiso). She is from the United States, but is currently living in Bratislava in order to carry out her research. Her work has appeared in several Slovak and US journals and her book is currently in its second printing.


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, Apr 29
02:00PM
Thu, Apr 29
02:00PM

panel discussion

Samson Schames and the Art of Exile

The German-Jewish painter Samson Schames represents a generation of artists who were forced to leave their homes due to Nazi persecution and yet demonstrated perseverance and resilience in their newly adopted lands. During his internment in an enemy aliens camp near Liverpool and later during the aerial bombardment of London by Nazi Germany, Schames continued to create art using improvised materials and the detritus of war. He created collages and mosaics of broken glass, nails, and wiring, held together by cement. For paintbrushes he used his own hair. Out of the rubble, Schames produced works of great power which captured the pain and suffering around him.

Using Schames’ life story and examples of his work, our panelists will provide a window into the history of exiled artists during the Nazi period and the impact of exile on their art. William Weitzer, Executive Director of the Leo Baeck Institute, will moderate a discussion about Schames with Annika Friedman from the Jewish Museum Frankfurt and Miriam Bistrovic, Leo Baeck Institute's Berlin Representative.

More about Samson Schames
The painter Samson Schames was born to an Orthodox Jewish family in Frankfurt Germany in 1898, and studied art at the Städelschule. He was an Expressionist and endowed his work with explosive spontaneity displayed through stark, spiky strokes, evoking a closer resemblance to applied arts than classical fine arts of his times. He also designed stage sets for the German theater and for the Jewish theater in Germany which in turn influenced his artworks that had an almost scenic quality.

After the Nazis came to power, life became far more difficult. His art was classified as Degenerate Art by the Nazis. In contrast to other artists, his artworks were not only confiscated, but often destroyed by the Nazi expropriators. He and his wife were forced to flee to London in 1939.

With the start of World War II, England interned German-born men as enemy aliens, ironically including German Jews who had escaped Nazi Germany. During his internment, he remained productive despite having access neither to paint nor brushes. He created collages and mosaics using the debris he found as a result of the Nazi bombings. After the war, Schames lived and continued his career as an artist in the U.S.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Wed, Apr 28
12:00PM
Wed, Apr 28
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesday and Global Nacao: Chocolate Around the World

Around the globe today, chocolate is embraced not only by enthusiastic consumers but also by truly passionate creators who pour their hearts into their confections.

Here in this convenient guidebook are nearly 300 of these chocolate masters. From Brussels to Boston, Paris to Tokyo, London to Los Angeles, these are some of the most dedicated artisans anywhere.

Special listings for gluten-free, vegan, organic, and other dietary needs are also included.


About the Speaker:

Joshua de Sola Mendes is the proprietor of www.sandpcentral.org and www.grahamesguides.com. He is a proud S&P community member and researcher who works to bring the international communities together through his website, and under a separate hat, make us all happy through insight into chocolate and chocolatiering. Joining his will be master chocolatiers who will share some of their background.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Apr 28
01:00PM
Wed, Apr 28
01:00PM

concert

Cry, My Heart, Cry: Songs from Testimonies in the Fortunoff Video Archive, Vol. 2

Many of the Holocaust testimonies of the Fortunoff Video Archive at Yale University include song. The placement of song within Holocaust testimonies speaks to music's power, even in the face of oppression, tyranny, and murder. The songs in Yiddish, Hebrew, Polish, Russian and other languages also give us insight into the wartime experiences of the survivors who sing them and offer a glimpse of the multilingual diversity of their experiences. In 2018 D. Zisl Slepovitch began production of an album of songs drawn from testimonies in the Archive titled Where is Our Homeland? After a successful release captivated audiences around the world, the Fortunoff Video Archive and Slepovitch are now releasing Cry, My Heart, Cry: Songs from Testimonies in the Fortunoff Video Archive, Vol. 2 featuring arrangements of 13 additional songs. Join us to celebrate this release with performances and a live digital discussion with the musicians behind this project.

Joshua Camp (accordion)
Dmitry Ishenko (contrabass)
Craig Judelman (violin)
Sasha Lurje (vocals)
D. Zisl Slepovitch (composer, arranger, producer, woodwinds)


Presented by:

concert

Wed, Apr 28
02:00PM
Wed, Apr 28
02:00PM

book club

LBI Book Club, Vol. X: Nathan the Wise

One of the most frequently performed and widely read comedies of the eighteenth century, Gotthold Ephraim Lessing's Nathan the Wise (1779) combines rich characterization with an engaging plot. Set in Muslim-ruled Jerusalem at the time of the Crusades, it deals with universal themes -- including the nature of God, antisemitism, wealth and poverty, and the conflict between love and duty. Today the play is as timely as ever.  (Macmillan Learning).

Author
Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729 – 1781) was a German writer, philosopher, dramatistpublicist and art critic, and an outstanding representative of the Enlightenment era. His plays and theoretical writings substantially influenced the development of German literature. Lessing was not Jewish, but was famous for his friendship with Jewish-German philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. A biography of Mendelssohn's grandson, Felix, describes their friendship as one of the most "illuminating metaphors [for] the clarion call of the Enlightenment for religious tolerance". It was this relationship that sparked his interest in popular religious debates of the time. He began publishing heated pamphlets on his beliefs which were eventually banned. It was this banishment that inspired him to write Nathan the Wise.

Recommended Edition of the Play
Our guest for this book club recommends this particular version of the text, which comes with accompanying essays and historical notes.  Of course, any edition is fine, but this will be the edition "officially used" by the book club for the meeting.  The book can be purchased on Amazon here.

Our Guest
We are pleased to have Professor Peter Jelavich, who was with us twice last year to discuss Berlin Alexanderplatz, return for our discussion of Nathan the Wise.  

Peter Jelavich specializes in the cultural and intellectual history of Europe since the Enlightenment, with emphasis on Germany. His areas of interest include the interaction of elite and popular culture; the history of mass culture and the media; and the application of cultural and social theories to historical study.

He is the author of Munich and Theatrical Modernism: Politics, Playwriting, and Performance, 1890-1914 (1985), Berlin Cabaret (1993), and Berlin Alexanderplatz: Radio, Film, and the Death of Weimar Culture (2006). 

He currently is writing a book on censorship of the arts in Germany from 1890 to the present.


Presented by:

book club

Tue, Apr 27
04:00PM
Tue, Apr 27
04:00PM

panel discussion

The Jewish Experience in Opera

The volume and richness of operatic repertoire drawn from specifically Jewish experience often comes as a revelation to seasoned opera buffs and otherwise knowledgeable devotees of Jewish high culture alike. Yet, dating to the 19th century and continuing on a steep upward incline during the 20th and 21st centuries thus far, very many composers have turned for their operas to themes and subjects of Jewish history, legends, and sacred as well as secular literature. These operas range across several languages, including modern Hebrew and Yiddish.

This panel discussion will include four prominent composers of such operas of Jewish experience: Ofer Ben-Amots, composer of one opera in Hebrew based on The Dybbuk and another in Yiddish on Isaac Bashevis Singer's story, "A Fool's Paradise"; David Schiff, whose opera, Gimpel the Fool is also to a Singer story; Bruce Adolphe, whose operas include Mikhoyels The Wise—about the legendary Soviet Yiddish actor—and Shabbtai Zvi, about the 17th-century so-called "false messiah" naively followed by many thousands of Jews; and Alex Weiser, who wrote an opera about Theodor Herzl, State of the Jews, with librettist Ben Kaplan who will also join the panel.

Introduced and moderated by YIVO's Anne E. Leibowitz Visiting Professor-in-Residence in Music Neil W. Levin, the discussion among the panelists will address questions and issues of topic selection; musical interpretations or reinterpretations of Jewish stories, events, or characters; Jewish aesthetics vis-a-vis the operatic medium; intertwining roles between composer and librettist and/or author; the variety of musical approaches to Jewish themes; and the universal resonance of otherwise specifically Jewish subjects, when viewed through an operatic prism; and what qualifies as a "Jewish opera."


Presented by:

panel discussion

Mon, Apr 26
12:00PM
Mon, Apr 26
12:00PM

lecture

Global Nacao: Dayan Dilemmas

In the past, when Jewish communities were largely insulated and autonomous, the functions and jurisdiction of a Beth Din were more clearly defined. In today's global world, where Jewish communities are less clearly defined, and the Beth Din is largely a private endeavor operating within the general legal framework of the local government, many dilemmas regarding authority and jurisdiction arise. Dayan Ofer Livnat will try to address some of the dilemmas dayanim are faced with, and in particular how they relate to issues of Jewish identity, conversions and monetary disputes.


About the Speaker:

Dayan Ofer Livnat serves as a Dayan on the Sephardi Beth of London. A graduate of the Eretz Hemdah Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, Dayan Livnat teaches in a number of programs for training rabbis and Dayanim, including the Semicha and Dayanut Programs run jointly by the Montefiore Endowment of London and Eretz Hemdah. A lecturer on Tanach at the Jerusalem College as well, Dayan Livnat has previously served in an artillery unit in the IDF and is currently studying for a PhD in Jewish studies at University College London.


Presented by:

lecture

Mon, Apr 26
04:00PM
Mon, Apr 26
04:00PM

book talk

Bugsy Siegel: The Dark Side of the American Dream

In a brief life that led to a violent end, Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel (1906–1947) rose from desperate poverty to ill-gotten riches, from an early-twentieth-century family of Ukrainian Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side to a kingdom of his own making in Las Vegas. In this captivating portrait, author Michael Shnayerson sets out not to absolve Bugsy Siegel but rather to understand him in all his complexity.

Through the 1920s, 1930s, and most of the 1940s, Bugsy Siegel and his longtime partner in crime Meyer Lansky engaged in innumerable acts of violence. As World War II came to an end, Siegel saw the potential for a huge, elegant casino resort in the sands of Las Vegas. Jewish gangsters built nearly all of the Vegas casinos that followed. Then, one by one, they disappeared. Siegel’s story laces through a larger, generational story of eastern European Jewish immigrants in the early- to mid-twentieth century.

Program registrants will receive a code for 30% off and free shipping on the book.

This program is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Presented by:

book talk

Sun, Apr 25
01:00PM
Sun, Apr 25
01:00PM

virtual tour

Global Nacao: Tour of the Venice Ghetto

Tour the Venice Ghetto with Moshe Bassali.

About the tour guide:
Moshe Bassali was born in Milan to Sephardic Jewish parents that came to Italy from Iran in the 1950's and married in Italy. His mother arrived at age 12 and went to school in Milan. Moshe has a degree in economics, works in diamonds, and is an official certified tour guide for Venice and Italy. He has been working in Venice since 1991 and after his marriage, Moshe and his wife, Tally, decided to move there. Currently they have three children. Moshe's father and brothers still live in Milan.


Presented by:

virtual tour

Thu, Apr 22
12:00PM
Thu, Apr 22
12:00PM

panel discussion

Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski: New Scholarship on the History and Memory of the Holocaust in Poland

The new Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at the Graduate Center—City University of New York launches its public programming with “In Honor of Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski: New Scholarship on the History and Memory of the Holocaust in Poland.” Chaired by Dr Joanna Sliwa (winner of the Fraenkel Prize, 2020), the program showcases a wave of outstanding young historians: Miranda Brethour, Alicja Podbielska, and Jonathan Zisook. Professors Engelking and Grabowski will offer remarks in response.

Panelists
Chair and moderator: Dr. Joanna Sliwa, author of Jewish Childhood in Kraków: A Microhistory of the Holocaust, awarded the 2020 Fraenkel Prize

Featuring a new wave of scholars:

, “Life and Death in the Shadow of Sobibór: Economic Dimensions of Jewish-Gentile Relations in the Town of Wlodawa, 1939-1944”
Alicja Podbielska, “The Righteous or Szmalcowniks?! Narrative of Rescue vs. Holocaust Scholarship”
Jonathan Zisook, “'Polityka Historyczna' and the Instrumentalization of the Holocaust in Contemporary Poland”
Responses by Profs Barbara Engelking and Jan Grabowski


Presented by:

panel discussion

Thu, Apr 22
01:00PM
Thu, Apr 22
01:00PM

lecture

Sephardi Thought and Modernity: In Praise of the Orient: Elia Benamozegh’s Sephardic Modernities

The intention of this series is to spark the interest in processes of Jewish modernization not exclusively mediated by Europeanization. The questions we will be dealing with are related to non-dichotomic identities, multiplicity and loss of language, colonization, social transformation, and intellectual responses to it. We will approach these questions by looking at Jewish-Arab influences, the Sephardi response to European modernization, the responses of the rabbinic leadership and the work of Sephardi intellectuals.

April 22nd: Clemence Boulouque (Columbia University): In praise of the Orient: Elia Benamozegh’s Sephardic Modernities


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, Apr 22
01:00PM
Thu, Apr 22
01:00PM

book talk

Sutzkever Essential Prose

Sutzkever Essential Prose brings the largely unknown prose of seminal Yiddish poet Avrom Sutzkever to English readers in new translations by Zachary Sholem Berger. In these works, Sutzkever blurs the lines between fiction, memoir, and poetry; between real and imagined; between memory and metaphor. He offers haunting scenes drawn from a vast imagination and from the unique life he lived—his youth in Siberia and Vilna, his trauma as a partisan fighter and a survivor of the Holocaust, and his post-war life as a Yiddish poet in Israel. Join us for a conversation celebrating this new book with translator Zachary Sholem Berger and scholars Miriam Trinh and Karolina Szymaniak, moderated by Justin Cammy.

About the Participants
Zackary Sholem Berger is a poet and translator working in Yiddish, Hebrew, and English. His work has appeared in Poetry magazine, the Yiddish Forward, and Asymptote and elsewhere. Themes of his verse range from the philosophical and medical to the immediate problems of his adopted city Baltimore. In the Yiddish world he might be best known as a regular contributor to the Forverts and the translator of Dr. Seuss's Cat in the Hat (as well as other Seuss creations) into Yiddish.

Dr. Miriam Trinh is a professor of Yiddish and Yiddish literature at Hebrew University. Co-founder of “Yo”-Yidish-Ort, a center for Yiddish language and culture in Tel-Aviv and Jerusalem, Trinh is a noted Yiddish educator including at many international summer courses around the world.

Justin Cammy is chair and associate professor of Jewish Studies and World Literatures at Smith College, and senior fellow of the Goldreich Institute for Yiddish at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of the introduction to The Full Pomegranate, a recent volume of Sutzkever poetry translated by Richard Fein. Cammy's own translation of Sutzkever's memoir Vilna Ghetto will appear with McGill-Queens University Press in 2021.

Karolina Szymaniak is assistant professor at the Jewish Studies Department at the University of Wroclaw and Research Fellow at the Jewish Historical Institute. Her research interests range across modern Yiddish literature, Polish-Jewish cultural relations, and translation studies. In addition to having taught Yiddish language and culture throughout Poland and Europe, she has also served as a consultant for the POLIN Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in ?ódz. Her recent publications include Montages. Debora Vogel and the New Legend of the City and My wild goat. Anthology of women Yiddish poets (in Polish). She is also the editor of Rachel Auerbach's ghetto writings, which received the 2016 Polityka History Award.


Presented by:

book talk

Thu, Apr 22
07:00PM
Thu, Apr 22
07:00PM

book talk

The Soul of Judaism - Jews of African Descent in America

Author Dr. Bruce D. Haynes speaks of his recent work The Soul of Judaism in conversation with Dr. Michael Alexander. The Soul of Judaism offers the first exploration of the full diversity of Black Jews, including bi-racial Jews of both matrilineal and patrilineal descent; adoptees; black converts to Judaism; and Black Hebrews and Israelites, who trace their Jewish roots to Africa and challenge the dominant western paradigm of Jews as white and of European descent. 

 

Blending historical analysis and oral history, Haynes showcases the lives of Black Jews within the Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstruction and Reform movements, as well as the religious approaches that push the boundaries of the common forms of Judaism we know today. He illuminates how in the quest to claim whiteness, American Jews of European descent gained the freedom to express their identity fluidly while African Americans have continued to be seen as a fixed racial group. This book demonstrates that racial ascription has been shaping Jewish selfhood for centuries. Pushing us to reassess the boundaries between race and ethnicity, it offers insight into how Black Jewish individuals strive to assert their dual identities and find acceptance within their respective communities.


About the Speakers:

Bruce D. Haynes was born in Harlem, New York. After receiving his B.A. in Sociology from Manhattanville College, he conducted applied research, under sociologist and jury expert Jay Schulman, selecting juries for trials throughout New York State. From there he went on to earn his doctorate in sociology from the City University of New York (1995) and was appointed Assistant Professor of Sociology and African-American Studies at Yale University in 1995. In 2001, he joined the faculty at the University of California, Davis, where he now serves as Professor of Sociology. In addition, he is now a Senior Fellow in the Urban Ethnography Project at Yale University. In 2019 he was awarded the Albert J. Raboteau Book Prize for the Best Book in Africana Religions.

Michael Scott Alexander is the Maimonides Chair of Jewish Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies at U.C. Riverside. He is the author of Jazz Age Jews, which won the National Jewish Book Award, and Making Peace with the Universe: Personal Crisis and Spiritual Healing. Alexander earned a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from Yale University and a B.A. in Near Eastern Languages & Civilizations from the University of Pennsylvania. He has been faculty at the University of Oklahoma, as well as Temple University where he was director of the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. He has served on the board and as associate editor of American Jewish History, where he guest edited several volumes, including co-editing “The Color Issue” with Prof. Bruce Haynes (U.C. Davis). Alexander writes about Jewish history, psychology of religion, and medical humanities.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Apr 21
12:00PM
Wed, Apr 21
12:00PM

lecture

Global Nacao: How the Unique Confluence of Culture can Benefit Modern Jewry

Western Sephardim have lived in the West for over 400 years. Yet their unique background in Spain, rather than Germany and France, has given them a different lens on Western life and thought and we just may discover valuable lessons from them.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Apr 21
01:00PM
Wed, Apr 21
01:00PM

concert

Continuing Evolution 2: Yiddish Folksong in Classical Music

Join us for a digital premiere performance of 5 new compositions engaging with Yiddish folksongs. The new works by composers Derek David, David Ludwig, Anthony Russell, Daniel Schlosberg, and Dan Shore, were commissioned by YIVO and will be presented alongside archival recordings of the folksongs that they are reimagining. Performances will be by members of the Bard Graduate Vocal Arts Program. These new works carry forward a trend which began with Joel Engel's 1909 set of folksong arrangements and includes many works by composers of the Society for Jewish Folk Music as well as composers such as Maurice Ravel, Sergei Prokofiev, Stefan Wolpe, Frederic Rzewski, Julia Wolfe, and others. YIVO began contributing to this repertoire with the commission of 5 new works for a performance in Spring 2020 and continues to build on this legacy with this concert.

About the Performers
The Graduate Vocal Arts Program at Bard Conservatory is a unique Master of Music program in vocal arts. Created to prepare the young singer for the special challenges of pursuing a professional life in music in the 21st century, this two-year MM degree program balances a respect for established repertory and expressive techniques with the flexibility and curiosity needed to keep abreast of evolving musical ideas. Students work on operatic, art song, chamber music, and new music repertoire throughout the coursework of the program. Operatic repertoire is studied and performed throughout the curriculum and in fully staged productions at the Richard B. Fisher Center for the Performing Arts. The program also includes a strong practical component, with seminars and classes on career skills led by some of the leading figures in arts management and administration.


Presented by:

concert

Tue, Apr 20
01:00PM
Tue, Apr 20
01:00PM

book talk

The Light of Days: the Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos

Judy Batalion's new book, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos—already optioned by Steven Spielberg for a major motion picture—brings the largely unknown stories of Jewish women resistance fighters to light. Join us for a conversation with Batalion about this new book led by Andrew Silow-Carroll (New York Jewish Week).

Witnesses to the brutal murder of their families and neighbors and the violent destruction of their communities, a cadre of Jewish women in Poland—some still in their teens—helped transform the Jewish youth groups into resistance cells to fight the Nazis. These “ghetto girls” paid off Gestapo guards, hid revolvers in loaves of bread and jars of marmalade, and helped build systems of underground bunkers. They bombed German train lines and blew up a town’s water supply. They also nursed the sick and taught children.


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, Apr 20
02:00PM
Tue, Apr 20
02:00PM

conversation

A Conversation on Charlotte Salomon

Griselda Pollock (University of Leeds, UK) will be in conversation with Kerry Wallach (Gettysburg College, PA) about the work and life of the Berlin-born Jewish artist, Charlotte Salomon (1917-1943).

Murdered with her unborn child on arrival at Auschwitz in 1943 at the age of 26, Charlotte Salomon left behind an artistic legacy that is as beguiling as it is perplexing. A single, composite artwork of images, text and music that she titled Leben? oder Theater? (Life? Or Theater?) comprises 784 paintings in a variety of modes produced in one year between 1941 and 1942 in the South of France. Salomon began the work after having spent several months in a French concentration camp at Gurs where many ‘German’ refugees in the France had been interned, including Hannah Arendt. In 1943, Salomon had been forced into hiding once Italy, hitherto controlling the Nice region where so many Jewish refugees had sought refuge, fell to German control after Hitler’s invasion of Italy. Pollock is the author of Charlotte Salomon and the Theatre of Memory (Yale U. Press, 2018. She has described Leben? oder Theater? as “an event in the history of modern art,” and has sought to present a searching analysis of Salomon’s paintings through the lenses of feminist art history and Jewish studies in order to draw out a more complex range of meanings in the work than are usually ascribed to it when it has treated as a visual autobiography.

Kerry Wallach, the author of Passing Illusions: Jewish Visibility in Weimar Germany (U. of Mich. Press, 2017), brings to the conversation insights that she has gained from her research on German-Jewish culture as well as new ones related to the preparation of the first book-length study of East European-born Jewish artist and illustrator Rahel Szalit-Marcus (1888–1942).


Presented by:

conversation

Mon, Apr 19
12:00PM
Mon, Apr 19
12:00PM

lecture

Global Nacao: Five London Hakhamim in the Early Enlightenment

The centers of Sephardic life in early modern Europe--Amsterdam, London, Hamburg, Livorno, Venice--were at the very same time the fulcrum of Enlightenment culture. While we know about Sephardic figures like Spinoza and da Costa who were deeply engaged with Enlightenment ideas, most Sephardim were engrossed in commerce. What was on the minds of their Hakhamim, who, in the case of London, lived in close proximity to Locke, Newton and Boyle?


About the Speaker:

Professor Matt Goldish, Dept. of History, Ohio State University is a specialist in Jewish and European History, with interests in Messianism, Jewish-Christian intellectual relations, and Sephardic studies. He holds the Samuel M. and Esther Melton Chair in Jewish History. He earned his B.A. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1986. His Ph.D. (1996) is from Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Goldish has published "Judaism in the Theology of Sir Issac Newton" (Dordrecht: Kluwer-- International Archives of the History of Ideas, 1998), "The Sabbatean Prophets" (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 2004), "Jewish Questions: Responsa on Jewish Life in the Early Modern Period" (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2008), and several edited collections, as well as articles and book reviews. Professor Goldish is active as an invited lecturer in various academic and community environments.


Presented by:

lecture

Sun, Apr 18
10:00AM
Sun, Apr 18
10:00AM

virtual tour

Global Nacao: Synagogue Tour - Indonesia, Dominican Republic, and St. Thomas

Join us as we explore three more Western Sephardi communities that have spread around the globe.

Indonesia:
Yaakov Baruch was born in Jakarta, Indonesia. His grandmother's family came from the Netherlands. In 2004 Mr. Baruch opened a synagogue for the Jews of the Netherlands who remain in Indonesia.

Dominican Republic:
Dr. Hakham Yehonatan Elazar-Demota was born in Miami. He comes from a long line of Sephardic families from Spain, Portugal, and North Africa who established themselves in the Caribbean. He is trained as a Hakham, shochet, and mohel. The Sephardic community in La Romana, Dominican Republic was established in 2013. Today there are over 50 families that gather there. The synagogue was established in 2017 in its current location. Members from the community built the hekhal, teba, and a wooden menorah for Hanukkah.

St. Thomas:
The Hebrew Congregation of St. Thomas was founded by nine Sephardic Jewish families of Spanish and Portugese descent. Today, it is the oldest synagogue building in continuous use under the American flag and the second oldest in the western hemisphere. Rabbi Michael Feshbach has been leading the congregation since 2017.


Presented by:

virtual tour

Thu, Apr 15
12:30PM
Thu, Apr 15
12:30PM

conversation

At Lunch with Trish Hall

Author and journalist Julie Salamon (Wall Street Journal and NY Times) sits down with influential cultural leaders in the Jewish American Community; we'll hear their thoughts about working in this present moment, current projects, and what they have to say about their Jewish identity. Grab your lunch and tune in for our conversation with Trish Hall, writer and former New York Times editor & journalist.

Our Guest This Month
Trish Hall- is a writer and journalist who worked for the New York Times for more than two decades. She initially joined the paper from The Wall Street Journal as a food reporter and eventually oversaw all the feature sections as a member of the masthead. For almost five years, she served as the Op Ed editor. She expanded the reach and the nature of digital offerings, winning an Emmy for an Op Doc produced by her team.  She also created the Sunday Review, which since its inception has been one of the most popular sections at the Times. Her book for Norton, "Writing to Persuade," was published in June 2019. She lives in New York City.

Interviewed By:
Julie Salamon- is an American author, critic and storyteller. She worked at The Wall Street Journal for five years first as a commodities and banking reporter before spending eleven years as the paper's film critic. Later she became a staff journalist at The New York Times where she was a TV critic and arts reporter. Later she gained fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and became a Kaiser Media Fellow. She has written both fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children-- and produced articles for magazines that include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, and The New Republic. Her books have received wide critical and popular attention, she has just completed "Unlikely Friends," a memoir for Audible Original, scheduled for release in 2021.


Presented by:

conversation

Thu, Apr 15
02:00PM
Thu, Apr 15
02:00PM

lecture

Family History Today: Researching your Family History in Israel from Home

Rescheduled from January 21, 2021

Searching for records of your family in Israel can be daunting. Fortunately, much of your research can now be done online. In this lecture, Garri Regev, President of the Israel Genealogy Research Association (IGRA), will provide an overview of the types of records available online and where to focus your efforts. In addition, you will learn about alternatives to vital records and how you can create a vivid picture of how your ancestors lived in Israel.

This program is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Presented by:

lecture

Tue, Apr 13
01:00PM
Tue, Apr 13
01:00PM

lecture

Glikl's Afterlives: On the Circulation and Reception of Glikl's Memoirs

How did Glikl, often referred to as "Glückel von Hameln," become such an iconic and oft-cited figure in Ashkenazic cultural history? In this talk, Matthew Johnson ventures an answer to this question by exploring the belated circulation and reception of Glikl's memoirs (written between 1691 and 1719) in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Johnson will provide an overview of the particular editions and translations—in Yiddish, German, Hebrew, and English—that first made Glikl's memoirs available to a large audience and shaped how they were read and understood, often in contradictory ways, in modernity.


About the Speaker:

Matthew Johnson is a PhD candidate in Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago. His dissertation concerns the relationship between Yiddish- and German-language literature in the twentieth century. His research has been supported by the YIVO Institute, the Fulbright Program and the IFK in Vienna, the Posen Society of Fellows, and the Yiddish Book Center.


Presented by:

lecture

Mon, Apr 12
12:00PM
Mon, Apr 12
12:00PM

lecture

Rich Cultural Heritage of Bukharian Jews II: Language and Literature

On the heels of previous IJE sessions on Bukharian Jewish history and culture, we invite you to join us for a deeper dive into the literary and linguistic tradition of Bukharian Jews. Through our exploration of the eclectic literature and dynamic language of Bukharian Jews, we will discover some of the essential ways in which this Central Asian Jewish community has developed its vibrant and multifaceted culture. Our discussion will take us on a journey to Central Asia, Iran, Afghanistan, the Land of Israel, the United States and beyond.

Originally from Uzbekistan, Ruben Shimonov grew up in Seattle, where he obtained his BA in International Relations, Near Eastern Studies, and Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. As a Bukharian Jew—whose multilayered identity lies at the intersection of Mizrahi, Sephardic, and Russian-speaking Jewish (RSJ)—Ruben roots his work as an educator, social innovator, and community builder in a deep passion for the diverse cultural mosaic of the Jewish people.


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, Apr 08
02:00PM
Thu, Apr 08
02:00PM

book talk

Julie Metz and Ariana Neumann in Conversation: Eva and Eve

Julie Metz's mother Eve was the quintessential New Yorker–steely, savvy, thrifty, pragmatic, brusque. It was difficult to imagine her living anywhere else except the Upper West Side of Manhattan, but New York City was in fact her adopted home. She was born in Vienna to a comfortable, middle class Jewish family until Germany annexed Austria on March 12th, 1938.

In the two years following the Nazi takeover, her father Julius struggled to find a safe haven for his wife and children. Across the ocean, anti-immigration fervor prevailed as part of the initial America First movement. Miraculously, Julius got his family out of Vienna just in time, thanks to perseverance, a medicine package made of folded paper, a sympathetic American Vice Consul, and good luck.

Shortly after Eve’s death, Metz found a keepsake book her mother had kept hidden in a drawer for over half a century, filled with farewell notes from her childhood friends and relatives. In that secret keepsake book, her mother’s name was Eva. Inspired by this discovery, Metz set out in search of her mother’s lost childhood. The result is Eva and Eve, a real-life detective story that offers moments of grace, serendipity, and lessons for this polarized moment when once again Otherness is the enemy.

Please join us as Julie Metz engages in conversation with Ariana Neumann, who in similar fashion wrote about her family's past as Jews living in Prague at the time of the Nazi occupation. Both women in their work bring to light answers to questions that they had learned, growing up in their families, were not to be asked. Ariana Neumann's own work, When Time Stopped: A Memoir of my Father's War and What Remains, was published in 2020. It was a winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award for Best Memoir. Both women have appeared on the New York Times Bestseller List. 


About the Speakers:

Julie Metz is the New York Times bestselling author of Perfection. She has written for publications including The New York TimesSalon, Dame, Redbook, and Glamour. She has received fellowships at Yaddo, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and The Vermont Studio Center. She lives with her family in the Hudson Valley. You can find out more about Julie’s writing life on Instagram: @JulieMetzWriter and her website.

Ariana Neumann was born and grew up in Venezuela. She has a BA in History and French Literature from Tufts University, an MA in Spanish and Latin American Literature from New York University and a PgDIP in Psychology of Religion from University of London. She previously was involved in publishing, worked as a foreign correspondent for Venezuela’s The Daily Journal and her writing also appeared in The European. She currently lives in London with her family. When Time Stopped is her first book. Listen to a podcast with Ariana Neumann here.

Order their Books
Eva and Eve: A Search for My Mother's Lost Childhood and What a War Left Behind.
When Time Stopped: Memoirs of my Father's War and What Remains


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Apr 07
12:00PM
Wed, Apr 07
12:00PM

lecture

The Untold Story of Bukharian Jews During WWII

Manashe Khaimov presents a unique intergenerational video project that documented the little-told story of the role of the Bukharian Jews in World War II; in addition to the stories of Ashkenazi Jews who were evacuated from their homes and fled to Central Asia.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Apr 07
04:00PM
Wed, Apr 07
04:00PM

book talk

Family Affairs: Writing Parents’ Stories

In the fourth program of the series, Bernice Lerner, author of All the Horrors of War: A Jewish Girl, a British Doctor and the Liberation of Bergen-Belsen (Johns Hopkins, 2020) and Susan Jacobowitz, author of the manuscript Far from Childhood: A Holocaust Memoir, discuss with Natalia Aleksiun their parents' interrupted childhoods during the Holocaust in the Carpathian Mountains. The authors will reflect on their work uncovering the life trajectories of Rachel Genuth and Henryk Jakobowicz and the link between their own familiarity with and distance from the stories. They will share insights about the role of their own scholarship and writing about intimate tales of suffering, rupture, continuity, and courage.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Mar 31
02:00PM
Wed, Mar 31
02:00PM

book club

LBI Book Club, Vol. IX: The Spirit Returneth by Selma Stern

The Spirit Returneth tells the story of a Jewish family living in Jewish communities along the Rhine in the fateful years of 1348 and 1349. Through following the children of one family, who leave home to marry and start families of their own or to study, we follow the progression of the Black Death as it spreads across Germany, bringing with it horrific pogroms and massacres of Jews. As the disease and accompanying violence spreads, we watch the characters, Jews but also Christians sympathetic to them, struggle for survival and/or accept death. The book was published immediately after the Holocaust in 1946, and both at the time and today reviewers have noted that the novel deals with the Holocaust in actuality, but the author chose to distance herself from the immediate event and purposely set her novel in an "earlier Holocaust" of the Jewish people in Germany.

Author
Selma Stern (1890 - 1981) was one of the first women to become a professional historian in Germany. Her writings in history dealt with Jewish history, and included the history of Jewish emancipation, the Court Jews of the Early Modern period, She is best-remembered for her seven-volume work The Prussian State and the Jews. A research fellow at the Akademie für die Wissenschaft des Judentums in Berlin, she received her doctorate and married the director and founder of the academy, Eugen Täubler. In 1941 they fled to the United States, some of the last Jews able to flee Germany. Settling in New York at first, they then went to the Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, where she worked as an archivist. Eugen died in 1953. Selma Stern retired in 1955, quickly becoming one of the founders of the Leo Baeck Institute. In 1960 she moved to Switzerland to live near her sister, where she continued to write as well. She died in Basel in 1981.

Where to Get the Book
The Leo Baeck Institute has received permission from the publisher to copy and share the book with members of the book club, as the book is out of print. Once you register for the event, you will receive a link to a copy of the book in our Dropbox account in your order confirmation email. You can download the book and read it online, or if you have access to a printer you can print it out and read the hard copy. You will also find a copy here and there using Ebay, Amazon, and other book selling websites, but they are rare to find and often expensive. That said, you can sometimes find a cheap copy as well.


Presented by:

book club

Thu, Mar 25
02:00PM
Thu, Mar 25
02:00PM

panel discussion

The Blood Libel: New Media and Conspiracy Theories

Magda Teter will join David N. Myers to discuss the story of Simon of Trent and the role of print media in spreading conspiracy theories.

More than 600 years ago, a conspiracy theory about the murder of children went viral in a brand new medium, and it has circulated in ever-changing forms to the present day, inspiring vigilantism, mob violence, and state persecution.

Magda Teter (Fordham University), whose new history of the "Blood Libel" tracks its origins and spread, will join fellow historian David N. Myers (UCLA) to discuss the story of Simon of Trent as a case study in how a new medium – print – accelerated the spread of conspiracy theories.

Simon was a toddler whose dead body was found on Easter Sunday in 1475 in a canal under the home of a Jewish family in the city of Trent, then part of the Holy Roman Empire (now Italy). The town’s Jews were accused of killing Simon as part of a supposed Jewish ritual that required the blood of a Christian child, and the trial resulted in the destruction of Trent’s Jewish community and the creation of a cult with little Simon at its center. As historian Magda Teter notes in her essay on the incident for Leo Baeck Institute's Shared History Project, “The trial had a long-term impact on Jewish history, Catholic history and canon law, and the history of antisemitism. Its reverberations are still felt today.”

While this incident was not the first or last trial of Jews accused of killing a Christian child, it took on a life of its own because it happened soon after the advent of the printing press. This allowed for the first time a broad dissemination of stories, inspiring literary and artistic productions that became increasingly detached from reality as they spread.

This history matters more than ever today as mis- and disinformation spread in another new medium destabilize institutions and inspire violence.

About the Panelists
Magda Teter is Shvidler Chair in Judaic Studies and Professor of History at Fordham University. Her work focuses on early modern religious and cultural history, with emphasis on Jewish-Christian relations, the politics of religion, and transmission of culture among Jews and Christians across Europe in the early modern period. She published numerous articles and books in English, Polish, Italian, and Hebrew. Teter was recently appointed the 2020-2021 National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Fellow at the Center for Jewish History, and she will be working on her current research project, The Dissemination and Uses of the Jewish Past: The Role of The Present in The Production and Politics of History.

David N. Myers is the Sady and Ludwig Kahn Professor of Jewish History at UCLA, where he serves as the director of the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy. He is the author or editor of fifteen books in the field of Jewish history, including a forthcoming book with Nomi Stolzenberg on the Satmar Hasidic community of Kiryas Joel, New York. Myers serves as President of the New Israel Fund.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Wed, Mar 24
01:00PM
Wed, Mar 24
01:00PM

cooking show

What's Cooking for Passover - The Cream Puff Challenge!

Culinary historian Sarah Lohman gives a live demonstration from her kitchen.

A light fluffy choux pastry filled with cream that’s kosher for Passover? Sounds like a challenge! Culinary historian Sarah Lohman hosts a live demonstration with step-by-step instructions to help you whip up this delicate and delicious treat.  Director of Collections Melanie Meyers pulls from several of the Passover cookbooks found in our collections that document how food trends have changed and evolved for this holiday. The ingredients tell a story of immigration, trade, and intersectionality- understanding through food, the diversity of the American Jewish community.


Presented by:

cooking show

Wed, Mar 24
04:00PM
Wed, Mar 24
04:00PM

book talk

The Last Million: Europe's Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War

Historian David Nasaw is the author of the award-winning, acclaimed biographies The Patriarch, Andrew Carnegie, and The Chief.  In his sweeping new masterwork, THE LAST MILLION: Europe’s Displaced Persons from World War to Cold War (Penguin Press), Nasaw turns his attention to the gripping yet little-known story of the million displaced persons left behind in Germany following the end of World War II: Jews, Poles, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians, and other Eastern Europeans who refused to go home or had no homes to return to. The Last Million would spend the next three to five years in displaced persons camps, temporary homelands in exile, divided by nationality, with their own police forces, churches and synagogues, schools, newspapers, theaters, and infirmaries. By 1952, the Last Million were scattered around the world. As they crossed from their broken past into an unknowable future, they carried with them their wounds, their fears, their hope, and their secrets.

Nasaw will share this history in a wide-ranging conversation with Atina Grossmann, author of Jews, Germans, and Allies: Close Encounters in Occupied Germany (Princeton University Press) and Professor of History in the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the Cooper Union, whose research relates to transnational Jewish refugee stories.

This program is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, Mar 23
11:00AM
Tue, Mar 23
11:00AM

panel discussion

Nazi-Looted Art and Archives: Recovering and Preserving Jewish Culture

The ravages of the Holocaust and post-World War II led to the theft and disappearance of art, archives, and personal assets. Join Jonathan Brent and Howard Spiegler for a discussion on the quest to recover and preserve these cultural treasures.


About the Speakers:

Jonathan Brent is the Executive Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. From 1991 to 2009 he was Editorial Director and Associate Director of Yale Press. He is the founder of the world acclaimed Annals of Communism series, which he established at Yale Press in 1991. Brent is the co-author of Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953 (Harper-Collins, 2003) and Inside the Stalin Archives (Atlas Books, 2008). He is now working on a biography of the Soviet-Jewish writer Isaac Babel. Brent teaches history and literature at Bard College.

Howard Spiegler is co-chair of Herrick, Feinstein LLP’s Art Law Group, handling all aspects of commercial art matters. Working with other specialists in the firm, Howard advises clients on international trade issues, loans, museum and private exhibitions, organization and structuring of businesses, estate planning, insurance issues, art financing, tax, criminal law concerns, and other matters.

He has been integrally involved in some of the most important litigations brought on behalf of foreign governments and heirs of Holocaust victims and others to recover stolen artwork or other cultural property, including the precedent-setting “Portrait of Wally” case, in which he settled a litigation, with the assistance of the U.S. Government, brought on behalf of an estate to recover a painting confiscated by a Nazi agent in the late 1930s, the recovery on behalf of the family of the famous Soviet artist Kazimir Malevich of a number of extremely valuable and important Malevich paintings from the City of Amsterdam, and the recovery, on behalf of the Royal Library of Sweden, of a 415-year-old atlas, and other valuable books, which had been stolen from the library.

Howard is a frequent lecturer and panelist at educational, professional and industry organizations on a myriad of topics in art law. He is a regular writer and contributor to a variety of publications including the recently published first edition of The Art Law Review, of which Howard is the co-editor and for which he co-authored a chapter providing an overview of art law in the United States.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Sun, Mar 21
10:00AM
Sun, Mar 21
10:00AM

cooking show

Sephardic Culinary History with Chef Hélène Jawhara-Piñer

Episode VIII: Mexican Crypto-Jewish Pesach recipe

Sephardi Culinary History is a show that combines chef and scholar Hélène Jawhara-Piñer’s fascination with food studies and flair for creating delicious cuisine. Join along as she cooks Sephardic history! ASF Broome & Allen Fellow Piñer earned her Ph.D in History, Medieval History, and the History of Food from the University of Tours, France.


Presented by:

cooking show

Thu, Mar 18
12:30PM
Thu, Mar 18
12:30PM

conversation

At Lunch with Susan Rosenberg Jones and Rebecca Naomi Jones

A new virtual interview series hosted by Julie Salamon

Author and journalist Julie Salamon (Wall Street Journal and NY Times) sits down with influential cultural leaders in the Jewish American community; we'll hear their thoughts about working in this present moment, current projects, and what they have to say about their Jewish identity. Grab your lunch and tune in for our conversation with Photographer Susan Rosenberg Jones and her daughter Actor, Rebecca Naomi Jones

Our Guests This Week
Susan Rosenberg Jones is a portrait and documentary photographer focused on home, family, and community. Her work has been displayed at Camerawork Gallery, apexart Gallery in Tribeca, Griffin Museum, and Howland Cultural Arts Center among others.  Her series Second Time Around was selected for the Portfolio Showcase 9 exhibit at the Center for Fine Art Photography, Ft Collins, CO in 2016, received Honorable Mention in the 2017 Baxter Street at CCNY Annual Juried Competition, and was named a 2017 Critical Mass Top 50. Widowed, a portrait and text series, was named a 2019 Critical Mass Top 200 finalist. And in 2020, Susan was awarded a Critical Mass 200 finalist for her series, Safe Haven, an examination of her relationship with her husband during the Covid-19 lockdown in NYC.  Susan’s work has been published in Lenscratch, Fraction, Float Magazine, The American Scholar, and F-Stop Magazine. She has participated in numerous juried group exhibitions. www.susanrosenbergjones.com 

Rebecca Naomi Jones has performed on Broadway in Oklahoma!Significant Other, Hedwig and The Angry Inch, American Idiot and Passing Strange. Her off-Broadway performances include Big Love (Drama League nomination), Murder Ballad (Lilly award and Lucille Lortel nomination), Describe the Night (2018 Obie Award for Best Play), Marie and Rosetta, Fire In Dreamland, The Fortress of Solitude, Love’s Labour’s Lost, Wig Out! and As You Like It. Films: Someone Great (upcoming), The Outside Story (upcoming), French Fries, Most Likely To Murder, The Big Sick, Ratter, Ordinary World, Passing Strange and the documentary Broadway Idiot. Select Television: Strangers, High Maintenance, Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll, Inside Amy Schumer, Limitless and Difficult People. Solo concerts: Lincoln Center American Songbook, Apollo Cafe. Rebecca holds a BFA in Drama from the North Carolina School of the Arts.

Interviewed By
Julie Salamon is an American author, critic and storyteller. She worked at The Wall Street Journal for sixteen years first as a commodities and banking reporter before spending eleven years as the paper's film critic. Later she became a staff journalist at The New York Times where she was a TV critic and arts reporter. Later she gained fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and became a Kaiser Media Fellow. She has written both fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children-- and produced articles for magazines that include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, and The New Republic. Her books have received wide critical and popular attention, she has just completed "Unlikely Friends," a memoir for Audible Original, scheduled for release in 2021.


Presented by:

conversation

Thu, Mar 18
01:00PM
Thu, Mar 18
01:00PM

lecture

Sephardi Thought and Modernity: Sephardim in Israel and the Critique of Secularism

The intention of this series is to spark the interest in processes of Jewish modernization not exclusively mediated by Europeanization. The questions we will be dealing with are related to non-dichotomic identities, multiplicity and loss of language, colonization, social transformation, and intellectual responses to it. We will approach these questions by looking at Jewish-Arab influences, the Sephardi response to European modernization, the responses of the rabbinic leadership and the work of Sephardi intellectuals.

March 18th: Yaakov Yadgar (Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford): Sephardim in Israel and the critique of secularism


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Mar 17
04:00PM
Wed, Mar 17
04:00PM

lecture

Family History Today: Location, Location, Location - Historical Maps in Genealogy Research

Answering the question "where do my ancestors come from?" is key to understanding their history and traditions. However, identifying and locating the places where they lived, particularly in Eastern Europe, is often a tricky task. In this lecture, Ed Mitukiewicz, map consultant for the documentary film Raise the Roof, will demonstrate how you can use historical map websites and geographic information databases to overcome these challenges.

This program is sponsored by the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute. It is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Mar 17
07:00PM
Wed, Mar 17
07:00PM

panel discussion

The Tenor of Irish-Jewish Relations in 19th-20th Century New York

Join us as Miriam Nyhan Grey, Associate Director of NYU's Ireland House, hosts a discussion with Dr. Hasia Diner and Dr. Jeffrey Gurock as they question the long-accepted visions of Hibernians and Hebrews at constant loggerheads, and look to complicate the historical narrative with examples of common ground and cooperation. Dr. Diner will speak to the histories of American Jews and Irish American’s entwined with each other starting in 19th century. How they met informally on streets and in apartment buildings, but also how they connected in the labor movement, through politics, and schools.  In these encounters, Irish Americans, who had been in the United States longer and had established crucial power bases in the nation, served as mentors, models, and mediators for the Jews. Dr. Gurock will take us into the 20th century, describing the welcome Jews received at an Irish-Catholic University during the inter-war period, with a special emphasis on Jewish athletes becoming institutional standard bearers for St. John’s University. The relationship culminated in a tale of the unusual “get along” attitude obtained between the Irish and Jews in a post-war Bronx neighborhood. 


Presented by:

panel discussion

Mon, Mar 15
04:00PM
Mon, Mar 15
04:00PM

book talk

Hidden Heretics: Jewish Doubt in the Digital Age

Join author Ayala Fader (Fordham University) in conversation with Michal Kravel-Tovi (Tel Aviv University) about her book, a revealing look at Jewish men and women who secretly explore the outside world, in person and online, while remaining in their ultra-Orthodox religious communities.

What would you do if you questioned your religious faith, but revealing that would cause you to lose your family and the only way of life you had ever known? Hidden Heretics tells the fascinating, often heart-wrenching stories of married ultra-Orthodox Jewish men and women in 21st-century New York who lead “double lives” to protect those they love. While they no longer believe that God gave the Torah to Jews at Mount Sinai, these hidden heretics continue to live in their families and religious communities, even as they surreptitiously break Jewish commandments and explore forbidden secular worlds in person and online. Drawing on five years of fieldwork with those living double lives and the rabbis, life coaches, and religious therapists who minister to, advise, and sometimes excommunicate them, Ayala Fader investigates religious doubt and social change in the digital age.

In stories of conflicts between faith and self-fulfillment, Hidden Heretics explores the moral compromises and divided loyalties of individuals facing life-altering crossroads.

A 30% discount on the book is available to attendees and a special code will be included with your registration.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Mar 10
12:00PM
Wed, Mar 10
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays: The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity: What Christianity Cost the Jews with Ross Shepard Kraemer

The Mediterranean Diaspora in Late Antiquity examines the fate of Jews living in the Mediterranean Jewish diaspora after the Roman emperor Constantine threw his patronage to the emerging orthodox (Nicene) Christian churches.

About the Author
Ross Shepard Kraemer is Professor Emerita of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies at Brown University, where she specialized in early Christianity and other religions of the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, including ancient Judaism. She holds an M.A. and a Ph.D. from Princeton University, and a B.A. from Smith College. Her many publications have focused particularly on gender and women's religions in the Greco-Roman Mediterranean, and on aspects of Jews and Judaism in the late antique Mediterranean diaspora.


Presented by:

book talk

Mon, Mar 08
01:00PM
Mon, Mar 08
01:00PM

lecture

Leaving Behind the Froyen-vinkl, or How Women Functioned in the Male World of Yiddish Literature

For centuries, writing has been one of the few avenues available for women to make their voices heard in the public sphere. Joanna Lisek will present an overview of the strategies women used to break their way into the sphere of the printed Yiddish word: from annotations in the margins of books, to poems smuggled into the press in the guise of letters from readers, to the question of how relations with men were needed as leverage for getting published. Women writers and poets were not treated as equal partners in the male empire of Yiddish press and literature. Wedged into their froyen-vinkl, their “women’s corner,” women could expect condescension rather than actual recognition for their work. It is no coincidence that the seat of the Union of Jewish Writers and Journalists in Warsaw was described as a secular besmedresh, that is, a traditionally typical male institution. Finding a voice in the besmedresh of secular Yiddish literature was no easy task, and even more difficult was ensuring that this voice had a meaningful and important part in the discussion. Join us for this lecture to hear how they succeeded, oftentimes resorting to camouflage, at times openly manifesting their creative independence, all the while contending with unfavorable criticism.


About the Speaker:

Joanna Lisek is a literature scholar, translator, and faculty member at the Taube Department of Jewish Studies at the University of Wroclaw. Her main focus is on Jewish poetry and Yiddish culture, with a focus on women. She is the author of the monographs: Jung Wilne – ?ydowska grupa artystyczna [Yung Vilne, A Jewish Artistic Group, Wroclaw 2005] and Kol isze – g?os kobiet w poezji jidysz (od XVI w. do 1939 r.) [Kol ishe - The Voice of Women in Yiddish Poetry from the 16th Century to 1939, Sejny 2018], and the editor of the volumes: Nieme dusze? Kobiety w kulturze jidysz [Silent Souls? Women in Yiddish Culture, Wroclaw 2010] and Mykwa. Rytual i historia [Mikveh - Ritual and History, Wroclaw 2014]. She co-edited, with Karolina Szymaniak and Bella Szwarcman-Czarnota, Moja dzika koza. Antologia poetek jidysz [My Wild Goat. Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets, Kraków 2018]. In addition to the work of poets from Yiddish, she has translated into Polish works by, among others, Puah Rakovsky, Yente Serdatzky, and Chava Rosenfarb. Lisek is the editor of Zydzi. Polska. Autobiografia [Jews. Poland. Autobiography] series, which by 2023 will publish over 20 volumes of Jewish autobiographical literature, translated into Polish from Yiddish, Hebrew, German, Russian, as well as memoirs written originally in Polish.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Mar 03
12:00PM
Wed, Mar 03
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays: The Jews of Iran and Rabbinic Literature: New Perspectives with Daniel Tsadik

Dr. Tsadik’s book addresses the question of Iranian Jewry’s familiarity with rabbinic literature from the 16th century to the beginning of the 20th century. Many of the book’s theses challenge and revise prevailing views that see this Jewry as largely isolated from world Jewry and its rabbinic legacy.

About the Author
A Fulbright scholar, Dr. Daniel Tsadik obtained his PhD in 2002 from the Yale University History Department. He authored several articles, a book entitled "Between Foreigners and Shi‘is: Nineteenth-Century Iran and its Jewish Minority" (Stanford University Press, 2007), another book entitled "The Jews of Iran and Rabbinic Literature: New Perspectives" (2019) which won the (Israel) Prime Minister Prize, and co-edited the book "Iran, Israel and the Jews: Symbiosis and Conflict from the Archaemenids to the Islamic Republic" (2019). From 2008 to 2020, Professor Tsadik taught at Yeshiva University, where he served as Associate Professor of Sephardic and Iranian Studies. His current research is on Shi‘ite-Jewish polemics.

For more about the book: mosadharavkook.com


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Mar 03
04:00PM
Wed, Mar 03
04:00PM

book talk

Survival on the Margins: Polish Jewish Refugees in the Wartime Soviet Union

Join author Eliyana R. Adler (Penn State University) in conversation with Debórah Dwork (The Graduate Center, CUNY) about her book, the forgotten story of 200,000 Polish Jews who escaped the Holocaust as refugees stranded in remote corners of the USSR.

Between 1940 and 1946, about 200,000 Jewish refugees from Poland lived and toiled in the harsh Soviet interior. They endured hard labor, bitter cold, and extreme deprivation. But out of reach of the Nazis, they escaped the fate of millions of their coreligionists in the Holocaust.

Survival on the Margins is the first comprehensive account in English of their experiences. The refugees fled Poland after the German invasion in 1939 and settled in the Soviet territories newly annexed under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. Facing hardship, and trusting little in Stalin, most spurned the offer of Soviet citizenship and were deported to labor camps in unoccupied areas of the east. They were on their own, in a forbidding wilderness thousands of miles from home. But they inadvertently escaped Hitler’s 1941 advance into the Soviet Union. While war raged and Europe’s Jews faced genocide, the refugees were permitted to leave their settlements after the Soviet government agreed to an amnesty. Most spent the remainder of the war coping with hunger and disease in Soviet Central Asia. When they were finally allowed to return to Poland in 1946, they encountered the devastation of the Holocaust, and many stopped talking about their own ordeals, their stories eventually subsumed within the central Holocaust narrative.

Drawing on untapped memoirs and testimonies of the survivors, Eliyana Adler rescues these important stories of determination and suffering on behalf of new generations.


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, Mar 02
01:00PM
Tue, Mar 02
01:00PM

panel discussion

Beba Epstein: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl

The YIVO Bruce and Francesca Cernia Slovin Online Museum's inaugural exhibition, Beba Epstein: The Extraordinary Life of an Ordinary Girl, uses the true story of Beba Epstein, a girl born in Vilna in 1922 who survived the Holocaust, to explore East European Jewish life in the 20th century. The museum's innovative, interactive storytelling contextualizes over two hundred artifacts from the YIVO Archives.

Join us for a discussion celebrating this exhibition featuring Beba Epstein's son, Michael Leventhal, scholar Antony Polonsky, museum chief curator Karolina Ziulkoski, and YIVO's Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Brent. The discussion will be moderated by Gal Beckerman (The New York Times Book Review).


Presented by:

panel discussion

Mon, Mar 01
12:00PM
Mon, Mar 01
12:00PM

lecture

The Persian Experience: The Jews of the Great Silk Road

Follow in the footsteps of the Bukharian Jewish merchants on the Silk Road and discover the ancient network of trade routes that were for centuries crucial to Eurasian cultural interaction. Explore with us the history of these roads connecting East and West, stretching from the Korean peninsula and Japan to the Mediterranean Sea. Understand the impact and the contribution that Central Asia's Jewish communities of today's Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Afghanistan made towards the development of this ancient path. We will learn about the Jewish presence in this area for over 2000 years, will look into their houses and read into the letters that the Jews of Central Asia exchanged for centuries with their fellow European Jewish communities.


About the Speaker:

Manashe Khaimov is an Adjunct Professor in Jewish Studies, with a specialty in History and Culture of the Bukharian Jews at Queens College. Manashe was born in a city along the Silk Road, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, where his ancestors lived for over 2000 years, which makes Manashe’s Jewish identity simultaneously Bukharian, Sephardic, Mizrahi, and Russian speaking. He is a fourth-generation community organizer, informal Jewish educator, and a lifelong learner who brings his passion working with Jewish community. He is founding director and social innovator of the Bukharian Jewish Union, the founder of AskBobo.org, the only Bukharian online dictionary and the founder of The Jewish Silk Road Tours ™ walking tours in NYC. Manashe researched and produced several documentaries about Bukharian Jewish community as part of the Bukharian Lens project: The Untold Story of Bukharian Jews; The Untold Story of Bukharian Jews and Ashkenazi Jews Who Were Evacuated During WWII to Central Asia; Bukharian Roots. Manashe launched MEROS: Center for Bukharian Jewish Research & Identity at Queens College Hillel.


Presented by:

lecture

Sun, Feb 28
10:00AM
Sun, Feb 28
10:00AM

cooking show

Sephardic Culinary History with Chef Hélène Jawhara-Piñer

Episode Seven: Turrón and Conversos

Sephardi Culinary History is a new show that combines chef and scholar Hélène Jawhara-Piñer’s fascination with food studies and flair for creating delicious cuisine. Join along as she cooks Sephardic history! ASF Broome & Allen Fellow Piñerearned her Ph.D in History, Medieval History, and the History of Food from the University of Tours, France.


Presented by:

cooking show

Sun, Feb 28
12:00PM
Sun, Feb 28
12:00PM

lecture

The Persian Experience: Uprooted from Iran with Sharona Mizrahi

In this part of "The Persian Experience" series, Sharona Mizrahi shares her personal story.

Sharona was born in Kerman, Iran. Her great-grandparents came from Hamadan and Yazd. Sharona's great-grandparents escaped the famine of 1917-1920 in Hamadan, the city mentioned in the Book of Esther as Hegmatana or Ekbatana, the capitol of the Persian Empire during Acheshverosh's regime.

Sharona's oldest brother, Kurosh, has traced her family's lineage back six generations. Sharona attended public school in Iran until her first year of high school. Then in 1984, she, along with two sisters and one brother Z"L, escaped from Iran. One night in August, two weeks prior to Rosh Hashanah, smugglers arrived in the middle of the night and the Mizrahi family dropped everything and left their house to escape.

In this talk, Sharona will give a brief history of her family and their one-year journey to the United States.


Presented by:

lecture

Thu, Feb 25
02:00PM
Thu, Feb 25
02:00PM

book club

LBI Book Club, Vol. VIII - Fanny von Arnstein: Daughter of the Enlightenment

In February, we will be reading Fanny von Arnstein: Daughter of the Enlightenment by Hilde Spiel.  We are pleased to have as our special guest in the discussion Professor Deborah Hertz.

About the Book
Fanny von Arnstein was an important figure in the history of the Enlightenment.  Born into a wealthy Jewish family in Berlin, she married and moved to Vienna, where she founded a salon attracted politicians, artists, writers, and other prominent figures. Included in this list are Madame de Staël, Arthur Schopenhauer, and Amadeus Mozart. Hilde Spiel's biography provides "a vivid portrait of a brave and passionate woman, illuminating a central era in European cultural and social history." (Quotes from Amazon review).  At the same time, a biography is also a product of its own place and time.  Published in 1962 in German, it was less than 20 years since the Holocaust, and thus speaks to Jewish world that had been decimated, but also reborn.

Author
Hilde Spiel (1911-1990) was born into a Jewish family in Vienna.  With the rise of Nazism in the country, she chose to immigrate to London in 1936, before the Anschluss.  Both an author and a journalist, Hilde and her family visited Austria regularly after the war, and Hilde returned permanently in 1963, the year after Fanny von Arnstein: Daughter of the Enlightenment was published. Spiel herself stated this was her favorite work of all she had written. She died in 1990 in Vienna.

Guest
Deborah Hertz is the Herman Wouk Chair in Modern Jewish Studies and a professor in the Department of History at the University of California in San Diego.  You can learn more about her work here.  We look forward to having her join us.


Presented by:

book club

Wed, Feb 24
03:00PM
Wed, Feb 24
03:00PM

lecture

Color on My Mind: The History of the First Black Mental Health Clinic in America

The Lafargue Clinic was founded in 1946 by a group of black intellectuals and German-Jewish doctors. These activists joined together to answer a pressing need in New York - the need for psychiatric care for Black people. Blacks were historically denied access to clinics and hospitals that provided for the mental needs of the city. Further, black intellectuals argued that their communities suffered two-fold: having the psychological needs all people had, but also further needs fueled by the racism they experienced around them.

Led by American cultural figures like writers Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and photographer Gordon Parks, as well as the German-Jewish doctors Frederic Wertham and Hilde Mosse (who had fled Berlin after Hitler took power in 1933), the Lafargue Clinic was in the basement of a church. Using partitions, small rooms were formed for visitors seeking psychiatric care. The care was free, even though it had to be privately supported, as no New York City government agencies agreed to fund it. The Lafargue Clinic became the first clinic for psychiatric care for Black people in America. Its legacy continues today as The Northside Center for Child Development.

Register to join this presentation by Gabriel Mendes, author of Under the Strain of Color: Harlem's Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry, (Cornell University Press, 2015). He will discuss the history of the Lafargue clinic, its importance in the history of public health, and its important role in the battles against school segregation.


About the Speaker:

Gabriel N. Mendes is Director of Public Health Programs at the Bard Prison Initiative. He has held academic positions at Emmanuel College, UC San Diego, and, most recently, Vanderbilt University, where he was Senior Lecturer at the Center for Medicine, Health, and Society. He was also Associate Director of the Higher Education Opportunity Program at Bard College and Director of the Men2B Program at the Rhode Island Department of Corrections. Mendes is the author of Under the Strain of Color: Harlem’s Lafargue Clinic and the Promise of an Antiracist Psychiatry (Cornell University Press, 2015), and he is currently writing his second book Through a Glass Darkly: Race and Madness in Modern America. Mendes holds a Ph.D. in American Civilization from Brown University, an M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from Hobart College.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Feb 24
04:00PM
Wed, Feb 24
04:00PM

book club

People of the Book Club: The Lost Shtetl with Author Max Gross

Go behind the stories and peer inside the archives at the CJH book discussion, led by Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager for Public Services at the Center for Jewish History. This session will feature a discussion of The Lost Shtetl by Max Gross, winner of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award in the "Book Club" category. A work of speculative fiction and magical realism, The Lost Shtetl tells the tale of a previously undiscovered remote Polish shtetl that is suddenly and unceremoniously dragged into the present. We will be joined by the author for a Q&A after the discussion.

Participants will need to obtain their own copy to read before the discussion.

NOTE: This is a book discussion, not a lecture, so space is limited.


Presented by:

book club

Tue, Feb 23
12:00PM
Tue, Feb 23
12:00PM

workshop

The Persian Experience: East and West - Can the Two Walk Together?

Join us for an experiential workshop with poet Esther Shkalim where she will share about her life as a Persian Jew in Israel, accompanied by readings from her well-received works "Sharkiya" and "What a Woman Must Know," published by Kinneret-Zemura-Bitan.

Part of "The Persian Experience," East and West: Can the Two Walk Together? (Amos 3:3) is a discussion with poet Esther Shkalim on a Mizrahi woman in a Western, secular society. Shkalim will discuss the following questions:

How does a woman from a Mizrahi traditional patriarchal society contend with Western, modern, secular Israeli society?
What is her relationship to the status of women in Mizrahi society, Orthodox society, and Israeli society?
How does she approach the ethnic mosaic of Israeli society?


About the Speaker:

Esther Shkalim is a poet of Persian heritage who researches Jewish diasporas of the East and West, with a focus on culture and community. Her two books, "Sharkiya" and "What a Woman Must Know" were published by Kinneret-Zemura-Bitan. In addition, she has published many poems in different books and journals, educational texts, and literary journals. Her poems are studied in universities, colleges and schools across Israel.


Presented by:

workshop

Mon, Feb 22
01:00PM
Mon, Feb 22
01:00PM

lecture

The Picture and Price of Jewish Assimilation in Documentary & Feature Silent Film

The early twentieth century was a period of assimilation and acculturation for large segments of the Jewish population living in the United States and Central and Eastern Europe. It was also a time of development and flowering for cinema – a new, democratic art form. Focusing on documentaries as well as feature silent films, 2019 Jan Karski & Pola Nirenska Award recipient Professor Daniel Grinberg will analyze the changing character and perception of Jews in both the United States and Poland.

This analysis will be compared with sociological theories and observations, as well as with literary presentations of the subject (I. Zangwill, A Yezierska, A Gordin). This talk will also consider the price of assimilation for Jewish communities of this period, the persistent “myth of America,” omnipresent in Yiddish culture before WW2, and antisemitic stereotypes and cliches popular in films of the 1920s and 1930s.


Presented by:

lecture

Sun, Feb 21
12:00PM
Sun, Feb 21
12:00PM

workshop

The Persian Experience: Persian Music Workshop

Explore Persian music with singer, creator, composer, and researcher Maureen Nehedar.


About the Speaker:

Maureen Nehedar is an Israeli singer, creator, composer, and researcher. She has created a revival of Persian-Jewish tradition poetry (Piyutim). In August 2018 she released her new Piyyutim CD 'Why do you stand afar', in 2016 she released the CD Gole Gandom and in 2014 she released the album Asleep in the Bosom of Childhood. In 2019 she won the Neve Shechter Prize and The Rabinovich Foundation for the Arts for Original Israeli Work.


Presented by:

workshop

Thu, Feb 18
12:30PM
Thu, Feb 18
12:30PM

conversation

At Lunch with Ann Temkin

A new virtual interview series hosted by Julie Salamon

Author and journalist Julie Salamon (Wall Street Journal and NY Times) sits down with influential cultural leaders in the Jewish American Community; we'll hear their thoughts about working in this present moment, current projects, and what they have to say about their Jewish identity. Grab your lunch and tune in for our first conversation with Ann TemkinChief Curator at MoMA in New York City.


About the Speakers:

Julie Salamon is an American author, critic and storyteller. She worked at The Wall Street Journal for 16 years first as a commodities and banking reporter before spending 11 years as the paper's film critic. Later she became a staff journalist at The New York Times where she was a TV critic and arts reporter. Later she gained fellowships at the MacDowell Colony and became a Kaiser Media Fellow. She has written both fiction and non-fiction books for adults and children-- and produced articles for magazines that include The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, Vogue, Bazaar, and The New Republic. Her books have received wide critical and popular attention, she has just completed "Unlikely Friends," a memoir for Audible Original, scheduled for release in 2021.

Ann Temkin is an American art curator, and currently the Marie-Josee and Henry Kravis Chief Curator of Painting and Sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  Previously she was the Muriel and Philip Berman Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Ms. Temkin is an ex-officio Trustee at the Institute of Fine Arts, New York University and a member of the Claifornia Institute of the Arts Board of Overseers. She was born in Connecticut and received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University and her PhD in the history of art from Yale University.


Presented by:

conversation

Thu, Feb 18
04:00PM
Thu, Feb 18
04:00PM

lecture

Not Antigone’s Heirs: Soviet Yiddish and Vernacular Holocaust Memory Culture - Live on Zoom

AJS Dissertation Completion Fellow 2020/21 Miriam Schulz looks at a little-known chapter of Soviet Jewry: Soviet Yiddish cultural groups and influential individuals and the ways in which they created their own vernacular Holocaust memory culture in the Soviet Union, not against but within state politics. They made their memory practices part of the post-Stalinist memory culture that had ostensibly little room for Holocaust memorialization. With the help of several examples, looking primarily at the interplay of Holocaust monuments and texts, she will showcase aspects of this Soviet Yiddish memory culture and the labor that went into it despite the less-than-conducive environment.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Feb 17
12:00PM
Wed, Feb 17
12:00PM

book talk

The Persian Experience: Book Discussion with Roya Hakakian

This discussion with Roya Hakakian opens our lecture series on Persian Jewry.

In "Journey from the Land of No" Roya Hakakian recalls her childhood and adolescence in prerevolutionary Iran with candor and verve. The result is a beautifully written coming-of-age story about one deeply intelligent and perceptive girl’s attempt to find an authentic voice of her own at a time of cultural closing and repression. Remarkably, she manages to re-create a time and place dominated by religious fanaticism, violence, and fear with an open heart and often with great humor.

Roya Hakakian is the author of "Assassins of the Turquoise Palace" and "Journey from the Land of No," and has published two collections of poetry in Persian. Her essays have appeared in The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal, and on NPR’s All Things Considered. She has collaborated on programming for leading journalism units in network television, including 60 Minutes. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and served on the editorial board of World Affairs. Since 2015, she has taught at THREAD, a writing workshop at Yale, and is a fellow at the Davenport College at Yale. She lives in Connecticut.

For more about the book: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/73604/journey-from-the-land-of-no-by-roya-hakakian/


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Feb 17
01:00PM
Wed, Feb 17
01:00PM

book talk

Yiddish: Biography of a Language – Live on Zoom

Jeffrey Shandler's new book, Yiddish: Biography of a Language, presents the story of Yiddish, the defining vernacular of Ashkenazi Jews, from its origins to the present. Shandler relates the multifaceted history of Yiddish in the form of a biographical profile. Through a series of thematic chapters—from “Name” and “Date and Place of Birth” to “Religion” and “Life Expectancy”—he offers surprising insights into the dynamic interrelation of the language, its speakers, and their culture and explores the varied symbolic investments that Yiddish speakers and others have made in the language. Join us for a conversation celebrating this new book with Jeffrey Shandler, Anita Norich, and Ayala Fader, moderated by YIVO's Academic Advisor and Director of Exhibitions Eddy Portnoy.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Feb 17
07:00PM
Wed, Feb 17
07:00PM

book talk

Dr. Albert Menashe & The Holocaust in Salonika

Join Dr. Joe Halio for a special book talk on the newly republished memoirs of Dr. Albert Menashe, one of the few survivors from the Jewish Community of Salonika. BIRKENAU (AUSCHWITZ II): How 72,000 Greek Jews Perished was a ground-breaking work of Holocaust survivor testimony and was one of the first testimonies written by a survivor after World War II.


Presented by:

book talk

Tue, Feb 16
02:00PM
Tue, Feb 16
02:00PM

panel discussion

Jewish Life in Late Antiquity: From Colonia Agrippina to Augusta Raurica

Thanks to the order of a Roman Emperor from 321 CE that allowed the municipal council of the Roman colony at the site of modern-day Cologne to compel Jews to service, we know that Jews were part of late Roman society in the northern European provinces at least 17 centuries ago. A tiny ring of similar age bearing a menorah was unearthed in the Roman town of Augusta Raurica in modern-day Switzerland bears further testament to the presence of Jews in the late Roman Empire in Europe.

But what was life like in these outposts of the Empire? How did Jews relate to their pagan and Christian neighbors, and how do we know? As Leo Baeck Institute explores this history in the Shared History Project, we are pleased to convene three experts on late antiquity for a discussion of the archeological and historical evidence surrounding Jewish life in ancient Rome, the social and political structure of late Roman Society, and the role the Jews played in particular.

About the Panelists
Dr. Thomas Otten is the founding director of MiQua – LVR-Jewish Museum in the Archeological Quarter of Cologne. After studying pre- and early history, classical archaeology and ancient history, he managed the Rhenish Association for Monument and Landscape Conservation before heading the department of conservation and preservation at the public monument agency in the Ministry of Construction of North Rhine-Westphalia from 2006 to 2016. Between 2010 and 2015 he curated archaeology exhibitions on behalf of the federal state. He lectures at the Institute of Archaeology of Cologne University.

Prof. Werner Eck was Professor of Ancient History in the University of Cologne from 1979 to 2007. He earned a PhD in Ancient History from the University of Erlangen-Nürnberg. He is a leading expert on the history of the Roman Empire, and he was awarded the Max Planck Prize for International Research for “for pioneering insights in the history of the Roman Empire.” He was a member of the Institute for Avanced Study in Princeton from 1983–84, and at the Sackler-Institute for Advanced Study at the University of Tel Aviv from 1999–2000. He is Dr. h. c. of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and one of the co-editors of the Corpus Inscriptionum Iudaeae/Palaestinae, a multi-lingual corpus of the inscriptions from Alexander to Muhammad in Israel.

Prof. René Bloch is Professor of Jewish Studies at the University of Bern (Switzerland), where he holds a joint appointment in the Institute of Jewish Studies and the Institute of Classics. He obtained his Ph.D. (Dr. phil.) as well as his “habilitation” from the University of Basel. Bloch’s recent publications include: “Der jüdische Ring von Kaiseraugst” (in Jüdischer Kulturraum Aargau, J. Picard, A. Bhend, ed., 2020). “Jew or Judean: The Latin Evidence” (in Torah, Temple, Land, M. Witte et al., ed., 2021). “Moses: Motherless with Two Mothers” (in Missing Mothers: Maternal Absence in Antiquity, S. Hübner, D. M. Ratzan, ed., 2021).


Presented by:

panel discussion

Fri, Feb 12
01:00PM
Fri, Feb 12
01:00PM

panel discussion

Sexing American Jewish History

Moderator: Kathy Peiss, University of Pennsylvania
Discussants: Gillian Frank, University of Virginia; Rachel Kranson, University of Pittsburgh; Jonathan Krasner, Brandeis University

The latest issue of American Jewish History asks: What differences have Jews and Judaism made in the history of American sexuality? How has sexuality shaped the history of American Jews and Judaism?

Set the mood for your Valentine’s Day weekend by joining us for a virtual conversation that will celebrate the publication of this special issue, and consider all that we stand to learn by sexing American Jewish history.


Presented by:

panel discussion

Thu, Feb 11
03:00PM
Thu, Feb 11
03:00PM

lecture

Family History Today: Finding Your Eastern European Jewish Family on JRI-Poland.org

For 25 years, JRI-Poland.org has served as the preferred database for the historical Jewish records that survive in the archives of Poland. This vast collection of 6.2 million documents includes information about towns and families from Poland, Ukraine, Belarus, Lithuania, Germany, and the former territories of Galicia and Prussia. In this lecture, Robinn Magid, Assistant Director of JRI-Poland.org, will recount some truly memorable stories of genealogical breakthroughs achieved by researchers, and will demonstrate how you can take advantage of this vast resource.

This program is sponsored by the Ackman & Ziff Family Genealogy Institute. It is funded, in part, by a Humanities New York CARES Grant, with support from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the federal CARES Act, and by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


Presented by:

lecture

Wed, Feb 10
12:00PM
Wed, Feb 10
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays: Ideas: Shemot with Sina Kahen

Following our New Works Wednesdays fall series with Sina Kahen discussing his first book in the "Ideas" series, we welcome him back for a discussion on the second, newly-released book "Ideas: Shemot."

Sina will be speaking about "Monotheism & Science: How the Exodus impacted our understanding of reality."

The Torah is Judaism's crown. The ideas gleaned from it have improved and advanced human civilisation. Sina Kahen weaves together ideas from ancient to modern times, in an effort to provide an intellectually honest and spiritually fulfilling representation of the Torah's weekly portions. Drawing from science, philosophy, psychology, and history, this series offers the reader a vision of Torah based on intellect and integration, rather than superstition and isolation.

Sina Kahen is author of 'Ideas: Shemot', the latest volume in his popular series on the weekly Torah portion, based on the Classical Sephardi approach to Torah. His full time work is in surgical robotics and AI, and he represents The Sephardi Habura in the UK.

For more about his book: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RRBPX1Y


Presented by:

book talk

Sun, Feb 07
12:00PM
Sun, Feb 07
12:00PM

workshop

Writing Between Tongues: An Exploration of Hebrew and Arabic Calligraphy - Part 2

Following the success of December’s talk “Writing Between Tongues: An Exploration of Hebrew and Arabic Calligraphy”, we are excited to bring back educator and artist Ruben Shimonov for a follow-up interactive artist talk, virtual gallery tour, and workshop. In this 90-minute session, we will take a deeper dive into the rich visual worlds of Arabic and Hebrew calligraphy. Educator, community organizer, and artist Ruben Shimonov will take us on an exploratory journey of his multilingual calligraphy and the ways he has used his art to enrich Muslim-Jewish interfaith communities. We will have a talk-back with the artist, as well as a live calligraphy demonstration during which you can try your hand at the calligraphy!


Presented by:

workshop

Wed, Feb 03
12:00PM
Wed, Feb 03
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays: Views of Jewish Morocco: Forms, Places, Narratives with Nadia Sabri

In this interactive session Nadia Sabri will have a discussion with book contributors Abdou Filaly Ansary, Vanessa Paloma Elbaz and Brahim El Guabli.

The book is a multidisciplinary collective work that focuses on the memory of Moroccan Judaism through autobiographical accounts, testimonies, artistic experiences and critical writings that shed light on them. These contributions weave an unprecedented set of texts and works of art, combining temporalities around memories of a world lost forever, of a Morocco that the young ignore, and that this book proposes to revisit in a pluralistic manner. The collection encompasses a contemporary reflection on the scope of maintaining the memory of Moroccan Judaism.


About the Speaker:

Academic and independent curator, Dr. Nadia Sabri is president of the Moroccan section of AICA (International Association of Art Critics). Nadia Sabri has built projects around Art and societal issues over the course of the last fifteen years. She conceives artistic projects as a driving force combining research, demonstrative processes, and experiences. Nadia Sabri has written and directed several research projects and publications on contemporary art and its relationship to sociopolitical issues such as cities, exile or even artist commitment. In 2015, she founded Exiles, paradigm fertile, a multidisciplinary platform for reflection and creation around the issue of exile as a creative and evolutionary paradigm. She lives in Rabat (Morocco) where she is associated professor at Mohammed V University and also works as a curator and researcher in several countries. For more about the book: https://lefennec.com/livre/exils-vues-du-maroc-juif-formes-lieux-recits/


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Feb 03
05:00PM
Wed, Feb 03
05:00PM

discussion

Family Affairs: Jewish Ruptures, Mourning, and Belonging – Live on Zoom

In the third program of the series, Sharon Musher, author of Promised Lands: Hadassah Kaplan, Zionism, and the Making of American Jewish Women and David Slucki, author of Sing This at My Funeral: A Memoir of Fathers and Sons, will discuss with Natalia Aleksiun their grandparents’ and parents’ turbulent life trajectories before, during, and after the war in New York, Europe, British Palestine, and Australia. Rather than an examination of modern Jewish politics, this conversation will reflect on family ties, hopes and disappointments, loss and belonging in an intimate perspective through studying personal documents of loved ones.


Presented by:

discussion

Sun, Jan 31
10:00AM
Sun, Jan 31
10:00AM

cooking show

Sephardic Culinary History with Chef Hélène Jawhara-Piñer

Episode Six: Meatballs ‘cursed by the Jews’ & Muhallabiyye

A special show focusing on Sepharadim in the Middle East.

Sephardi Culinary History is a new show that combines chef and scholar Hélène Jawhara-Piñer’s fascination with food studies and flair for creating delicious cuisine. Join along as she cooks Sephardic history! ASF Broome & Allen Fellow Piñer earned her Ph.D in History, Medieval History, and the History of Food from the University of Tours, France.


Presented by:

cooking show

Thu, Jan 28
04:00PM
Thu, Jan 28
04:00PM

exhibit opening

Behind the Scenes of an Exhibition: Emile Bocian in Chinatown

In partnership with the Museum of Chinese in America (MOCA), the Center has launched a new online exhibition, An Unlikely Photojournalist: Emile Bocian in Chinatown, a never-before-seen collection of images of Manhattan’s Chinatown in the 1970s and 80s. Co-curators Kevin Chu, Assistant Director of Collections at MOCA, and Lauren Gilbert, Senior Manager of Public Services at the Center for Jewish History, will share a behind-the-scenes look into Bocian's life, his collection, and the genesis of the exhibition. Bocian’s grandniece and nephew will also be in attendance to share their memories.

Emile Bocian (1912-1990) was the child of Jewish immigrants who spent the last two decades of his life living and working in Chinatown as a photojournalist for The China Post, a Chinese-language daily. He photographed protests, celebrations, and scenes of daily life, as well as storefronts and streetscapes that provide a glimpse into a vanishing New York.


Presented by:

exhibit opening

Thu, Jan 28
07:00PM
Thu, Jan 28
07:00PM

book talk

The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: A Conversation between Lila Corwin Berman and Dahlia Lithwick

Join Lila Corwin Berman, author of The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution, and Dahlia Lithwick, senior editor at Slate, for a discussion about the history of American Jewish philanthropy and what that history might tell us about money, politics, and the public good in American and American Jewish life today.

Berman is professor of history at Temple University, where she directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Lithwick writes about law and politics and is a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate.


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Jan 27
12:00PM
Wed, Jan 27
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays – “White Zion” with Gila Green

In our extended New Works Wednesdays series, we explore new fictions works. In this part of the series, Gila Green discusses her new work White Zion.

The novel takes readers into the worlds of 19th century Yemen, pre-State Israel, modern Israel and modern Canada. You will hear the voices of a young boy marveling at Israel's first air force on his own roof, the cry of a newly married woman helpless to defend herself against her new husband's desires, the anger of the heroine's uncle as he reveals startling secrets about his marriage and the fall-out after generations of war.

Gila Green's novels feature characters of Sephardi, Yemenite, and mixed Middle Eastern heritage because she couldn't find any Jewish stories that reflected her experience growing up and decided to write them herself. Her novel-in-stories White Zion explores one Yemenite family's journey from Sanaa to Jerusalem to Canada. In Passport Control, heroine Miriam Gil struggles to understand her Yemenite father's past against a trove of family secrets. Gila is an author, a creative writing teacher, an EFL college lecturer, an editor, and a mother of five. When she's not exploring the Middle East in her novels, she migrates to South Africa in her continuing environmental young adult series that takes place in Kruger National Park. In addition to her four published novels, her short works have been featured in dozens of publications including: Sephardic Horizons, Jewish Fiction, Jewish Literary Journal, Fiction Magazine, Akashic Books, The Fiddlehead, and others.

For more about the book and the author: https://www.gilagreenwrites.com/


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Jan 27
02:00PM
Wed, Jan 27
02:00PM

book club

LBI Book Club, Vol. VII: The War of the Jews

This month, we will be reading and discussing The War of the Jews: A Historical Novel of Josephus, Imperial Rome, and the Fall of Judea and the Second Temple (also known as Josephus: A Historical Romance) by Lion Feuchtwanger, published in 1932. We are pleased to be joined for the discussion by Professor Johnathan Skolnik.

About the Book
Joseph ben Matthias, Judaen aristocrat and Jerusalem Temple priest of the first rank, steps out into the boundless, magnificent city of Rome. He's clever, handsome, fêted by his Jewish hosts, and on a righteous mission to free three venerable old Jews wrongfully imprisoned as rebels. Joseph secures an audience with Nero's beautiful young Empress, Poppæa. Charmed by Joseph's zeal, she asks the Minister of Oriental Affairs to release the prisoners. The Minister seizes the opportunity to trade his assent for an edict guaranteed to outrage and mobilize the Jews of Judaen; Rome needs an excuse to comprehensively crush ongoing Jewish resistance. His scheme bears fruit. In the year 66 Judaen revolts. Led by canny old commander Vespasian, Roman forces prevail until only the fortified city of Jerusalem remains in the hands of Jewish rebels. Vespasian is acclaimed Emperor and returns to Rome, leaving the siege to his son Titus. Weeks drag by. Jerusalem, with its lofty, magnificent Temple, becomes to the besieging Romans a symbol of obdurate Jewish arrogance to be overthrown. Rebel commander, Roman captive and Flavian protégé, Josephus, long reviled as a traitor and Roman toady, is portrayed by Feuchtwanger with clear-eyed empathy as a complex, brilliant man whose desire to become a "citizen of the world" conflicts with his Jewish identity. It was Joseph’s destiny, however, to become a fierce defender in Rome of the unique importance of Jewish contribution to humanity, and to become known as the first-century historian Flavius Josephus and the author of The Jewish War (Description adapted from a review by Annis, HistoricalNovels.info).

About the Author
Lion Feuchtwanger (1884–1958) was a German-Jewish novelist and playwright. A prominent figure in the literary world of Weimar Germany, he influenced numerous contemporaries as a leading cultural figure, including Bertolt Brecht. Feuchtwanger's Judaism and fierce criticism of the Nazi movement, years before it assumed power, ensured that he would be a target of government-sponsored persecution after Adolf Hitler's appointment as chancellor of Germany in January 1933. Following a brief period of internment in France and a harrowing escape from Europe, he found asylum in the United States, where he died in California. Until his death, he was an important figure in German literature and the middle of a circle of cultural figures who had fled Europe in the Nazi period.

About our Guest
Jonathan Skolnik is Associate Professor of German at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is also on the faculty in Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and in History. His books include Jewish Pasts, German Fictions: History, Memory, and Minority Culture in Germany, 1824-1955. You can learn more about him here.


Presented by:

book club

Thu, Jan 21
01:00PM
Thu, Jan 21
01:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays – “Concealed” with Esther Amini

In our extended New Works Wednesdays series, we explore new fiction and nonfiction works. In this part of the series, Esther Amini discusses her new work Concealed.

Esther Amini grew up in Queens, New York, during the freewheeling 1960s. She also grew up in a Persian-Jewish household, the American-born daughter of parents who had fled Mashhad, Iran. In Concealed, she tells the story of being caught between these two worlds: the dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows.

Exploring the roots of her father's deep silences and explosive temper, her mother's flamboyance and flights from home, and her own sense of indebtedness to her Iranian-born brothers, Amini uncovers the story of her parents' early years in Mashhad, Iran's holiest Muslim city; the little-known history of Mashhad's underground Jews; the incident that steeled her mother's resolve to leave; and her parents' arduous journey to the U.S., where they faced a new threat to their traditions: the threat of freedom. Determined to protect his daughter from corruption, Amini's father prohibits talk, books, education, and pushes an early Persian marriage instead. Can she resist? Should she? Focused intently on what she stands to gain, Amini comes to see what she also stands to lose: a family and community bound by food, celebrations, sibling escapades, and unexpected acts of devotion by parents to whom she feels invisible.

Esther Amini is a writer, painter, and psychoanalytic psychotherapist in private practice. Her short stories have appeared in Elle, Lilith, Tablet, The Jewish Week, Barnard Magazine, Inscape Literary, and Proximity. She was named one of Aspen Words’ two best emerging memoirists and awarded its Emerging Writer Fellowship in 2016 based on her memoir entitled: “Concealed.” Her pieces have been performed by Jewish Women’s Theatre in Los Angeles and in Manhattan, and was chosen by JWT as their Artist-in-Residence in 2019.


Presented by:

book talk

Thu, Jan 14
02:00PM
Thu, Jan 14
02:00PM

book talk

Rabbi Leo Baeck: Living a Religious Imperative in Troubled Times

Michael A. Meyer's new biography of Leo Baeck affirms Baeck's place in history as a courageous community leader and as one of the most significant Jewish religious thinkers of the twentieth century, comparable to such better-known figures as Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, and Abraham Joshua Heschel. Meyer will discuss his new book with David Ellenson, Chancellor Emeritus of the Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion.

About the Book
Rabbi, educator, intellectual, and community leader, Leo Baeck (1873–1956) was one of the most important Jewish figures of prewar Germany. The publication of his 1905 Das Wesen des Judentums (The Essence of Judaism) established him as a major voice for liberal Judaism. He served as a chaplain to the German army during the First World War and in the years following, resisting the call of political Zionism, he expressed his commitment to the belief in a vibrant place for Jews in a new Germany. This hope was dashed with the rise of Nazism, and from 1933 on, and continuing even after his deportation to Theresienstadt, he worked tirelessly in his capacity as a leader of the German Jewish community to offer his coreligionists whatever practical, intellectual, and spiritual support remained possible. While others after the war worked to rebuild German Jewish life from the ashes, a disillusioned Baeck pronounced the effort misguided and spent the rest of his life in England. Yet his name is perhaps best-known today from the Leo Baeck Institutes in New York, London, Berlin, and Jerusalem dedicated to the preservation of the cultural heritage of German-speaking Jewry.

According to Meyer, to understand Baeck fully, one must probe not only his thought and public activity but also his personality. Generally described as gentle and kind, he could also be combative when necessary, and a streak of puritanism and an outsized veneration for martyrdom ran through his psychological makeup. Drawing on a broad variety of sources, some coming to light only in recent years, but especially turning to Baeck's own writings, Meyer presents a complex and nuanced image of one of the most noteworthy personalities in the Jewish history of our age.


About the Speakers:

Michael A. Meyer is the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History Emeritus, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati. Meyer is the author of more than 200 articles and reviews as well as numerous books, including Response to Modernity: A History of the Reform Movement in Judaism.

David Ellenson is Chancellor Emeritus and I.H. and Anna Grancell Professor of Jewish Religious Thought at of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR). He served as president of HUC-JIR for 12 years, from 2001–2013. He is a fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a fellow and lecturer at the Institute of Advanced Studies at Hebrew University, Jerusalem. His extensive publications include Tradition in TransitionRabbi Esriel Hildesheimer and the Creation of a Modern Jewish OrthodoxyBetween Tradition and Culture, and After Emancipation (a National Jewish Book Award winner).


Presented by:

book talk

Wed, Jan 13
12:00PM
Wed, Jan 13
12:00PM

book talk

New Works Wednesdays – The Lamps of Albarracin” with Edith Scott Saavedra

In our extended New Works Wednesdays series, we explore new fictions works. In this part of the series, Edith Scott Saavedra discusses her new work The Lamps of Albarracin.

Historical fiction author Edith Scott Saavedra explores her journey to bring alive the culture and history of Sephardic Aragon and true stories of resistance to the Spanish Inquisition by giving voice to women and girls. Inspired by traditions passed down from mother to daughter for generations, the author would discover in the historical records episodes of resistance long suppressed by the monarchy and church in Spain, write a historical novel in English and Spanish editions, and set out to bring this content to students in Spain and the United States.

"The Lamps of Albarracín" is a fictional first-person narrative by a Sephardic girl that recounts the arrival of the Spanish Inquisition into the Kingdom of Aragon in the 1480s. It is based on extensive review of Spanish Inquisition testimony and historical research. The novel gives voice to the diverse peoples of late-medieval Aragon – Jews, Muslims, Christians and persons of mixed heritage, with a focus on women and true stories of tolerance and courage. It also celebrates the rich culture and traditions of multicultural Aragon in the years prior to the Expulsion of the Jews.

Edith Scott Saavedra earned her BA and JD degrees from Harvard University. She has had a distinguished career as an international lawyer, business consultant and nonfiction author. The Lamps of Albarracín/Los Candiles de Albarracín, her first novel, has received media attention throughout the Spanish speaking world, including Radio Sefarad Madrid, Sefarad.es, eSefarad, Libertad Digital, Radio Aragón, Semanario Hebreo and Radio Las 2 Orillas Bogotá.

For more about the book: https://www.amazon.com/Lamps-Albarracin-Edith-Scott-Saavedra/dp/1724787519/


Presented by:

book talk

Sun, Jan 10
02:00PM
Sun, Jan 10
02:00PM

celebration

New York Ladino Day 2021: Adelantre / Onward!

Join us for ASF’s 4th Annual Ladino Day created by Jane Mushabac and Bryan Kirschen.

You’ll hear Ruth Azaria, actor Hank Azaria’s mother, speak about growing up with Ladino; Rabbi Nissim Elnecavé on expressions we love; Ladino students on learning the language; renowned writer Myriam Moscona; the premiere of a contemporary short play; and celebrated singer Daphna Mor.

Ladino is a bridge to many cultures. It is a variety of Spanish that has absorbed words from Hebrew, Turkish, Arabic, French, Greek, and Portuguese. The mother tongue of Jews in the Ottoman Empire for 500 years, Ladino became the home language of Sephardim worldwide. While the number of Ladino speakers has sharply declined, distinguished Ladino Day programs like ours celebrate and preserve a vibrant language and heritage. These programs are, as Aviya Kushner wrote in the Forward last January, “Why Ladino Will Rise Again.”

Since 2013, International Ladino Day programs have been held around the world to honor the Ladino language, also known as Judeo-Spanish. January 10th marks New York’s 4th Annual Ladino Day created by Drs. Jane Mushabac and Bryan Kirschen for the American Sephardi Federation.


Presented by:

celebration

Wed, Jan 06
12:00PM
Wed, Jan 06
12:00PM

lecture

The Rich Cultural Heritage of Bukharan Jews

On the heels of our 2-part session about the multifaceted history of Bukharian Jews, we invite you to join us for a deeper dive into the rich and dynamic culture of this millenia-old community. Join us as we explore the musical, literary, and culinary heritage of Bukharian Jews—discovering the ways in which they have developed their mosaic culture through a dynamic interaction with the dominant and changing societies surrounding them. Our discussion will take us on a journey to Central Asia, the Land of Israel, the United States, and beyond.


About the Speaker:

Born in Uzbekistan, raised in Seattle, and currently based in New York City, Ruben Shimonov is a Jewish educator, community builder, social entrepreneur and artist with a passion for Jewish diversity and pluralism. He previously served as Director of Community Engagement & Education at Queens College Hillel—where he had, within his vast portfolio, the unique role of cultivating Sephardic & Mizrahi student life on campus. Currently, he is the Founding Executive Director of the Sephardic Mizrahi Q Network—a grassroots movement building a supportive, vibrant and much-needed community for LGBTQ+ Sephardic & Mizrahi Jews. He also serves as Vice-President of Education & Community Engagement on the Young Leadership Board of the American Sephardi Federation, as well as Director of Educational Experiences & Programming for the Muslim-Jewish Solidarity Committee. Within both organizations, Ruben has used his artistry in Arabic, Hebrew & Persian calligraphy to enhance Muslim-Jewish dialogue and relationship building. In 2018, Ruben was listed among The Jewish Week’s “36 Under 36” young Jewish community leaders and changemakers. He has lectured extensively on the histories and cultures of various Sephardic & Mizrahi communities. He is also an alumnus of the COJECO Blueprint and Nahum Goldmann Fellowships for his work in Jewish social innovation.


Presented by:

lecture

Mon, Jan 04
01:00PM
Mon, Jan 04
01:00PM

lecture

Modern Russia and the Putin System – Live on Zoom

Join us for a discussion of the political system of modern Russia and its significance to the world by Russian politician and economist Grigory Yavlinsky. Yavlinksy will address the history of how and why Russia came to be as it is now, the current Russian political system and how it works, and the future of autocracy in Russia. After his lecture, Yavlinsky will be joined by YIVO's Executive Director and CEO Jonathan Brent for a conversation around these issues and audience Q&A.

This lecture is dedicated to Jonathan Brent.


About the Speaker:

Grigory Yavlinsky is a Russian politician and economist. A proponent of market-oriented reforms under Gorbachev, Yavlinsky has been a key figure of the liberal democratic opposition as a leader of political party ‘Yabloko’ for which he was the member of the Russian Parliament and the 2018 presidential candidate. His books include The Putin System. An Opposing View (Columbia, 2019); Realeconomik: The Hidden Cause of the Great Recession (Yale, 2011); Incentive and Institutions: The Transition to a Market Economy in Russia (Princeton, 2000); 500 Days: Transition to the Market Economy (St. Martin, 1991). He is a professor at the National Research University “Higher School of Economics” in Moscow.


Presented by:

lecture