SCJS Annual 2021

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NEW LEADERSHIP AT THE SCJS A Message from the Outgoing Director Dr. Tatjana Lichtenstein, Associate Professor, History 2020–2021 was a most unusual year. At the Schusterman Center, we are exhausted from the demands of online teaching, events, and, truthfully, everything else. Yet, we are gratified that we pulled off a year with strong student enrollment and with events full of marvelous content. Our two Gale lectures attracted large audiences, and our film screenings, research and book talks, and our faculty panel on antisemitism and the far right brought in attendees from across the world. As I look back, I am astonished by just how wide-ranging Jewish Studies at UT is. In this issue, you will be able to read about the many different ways in which Jewish Studies connects students and faculty to the world. We are also highlighting a particular point of pride for all of us: This past year we awarded $25,000 in scholarships to undergraduate students. We are grateful to our donors for this opportunity to advance student excellence and diversity in Jewish Studies. At the end of 2020-2021, my term as director will come to an end. We have accomplished a lot: Created innovative internship and global classroom programs; reinvigorated Israel Studies; launched new degree program; bolstered the Gale Lectures; and expanded opportunities for faculty and students. I want to thank my colleagues, students, advisory board members, staff, and donors. It’s been a privilege to lead such a great team.

A Message from the Incoming Director Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies We all owe Dr. Tatjana Lichtenstein our profound gratitude for her tireless work as director of the SCJS. In the last four years, she has ensured that the SCJS continues to mature as a center for excellence in research and teaching in Jewish Studies. Her accomplishments are too numerous to list, but I have been particularly grateful over the last year for her steady hand in guiding the Schusterman Center in putting on important and timely programming, marshalling resources to support undergraduate learning, and providing support for the pursuit of faculty research. I am honored to be taking over the leadership of the Schusterman Center from Dr. Lichtenstein in September. As Center Director, I intend to build upon the amazing foundation laid by Dr. Lichtenstein and our founding director, Dr. Robert Abzug. Alongside the Center’s diverse academic programming in Jewish Life in the Americas, Israel Studies, and Holocaust and Genocide Studies, I intend to work on a number of new initiatives. First, I want to enhance our existing undergraduate study abroad opportunities by launching new faculty-led programs. Second, I plan to develop our profile as a center for research in Jewish Studies by increasing support for faculty research. Third, I want to increase our existing work with graduate students by developing a new graduate portfolio in Jewish Studies as well as programs that support graduate students’ professionalization in the field. We hopefully, but cautiously, look forward to renewing in-person activities this fall. The next academic year promises to be an exciting one as we welcome Dr. Anthea Butler and Dr. Doris L. Bergen to present our Gale Lectures. Other programs will explore Jewish life in Civil Rights era Mississippi, Conversos and crypto-Jews in Latinx literature, and a conference and exhibit on the legacy of Isaac Bashevis Singer. I hope to see many of you at these events and share with you firsthand the contributions that the SCJS makes to life on the Forty Acres.












"Light / The Holocaust SCJS ANNUAL | 3 & Humanity Project." Photo: Tony Spielberg. Courtesy of Ballet Austin.

“What Starts Here Changes the World” is something we are used to associating with the research, teaching, and innovation that happens at UT Austin. But how does the Schusterman Center contribute to this global conversation? In this issue, we highlight the different ways in which faculty and students in Jewish Studies are expanding our reach beyond the Forty Acres. From faculty research projects to virtual classrooms that allow UT students to work directly with peers at Hebrew University to many more initiatives— the Schusterman Center connects people, artists, ideas, and research across time and space to explore enduring issues in our world.

History and Testimony in Motion: Representation of the Holocaust in Dance By Dr. Rebecca Rossen, Associate Professor, Department of Theatre and Dance In 1994, the New York City choreographer, Tamar Rogoff premiered “The Ivye Project,” performed in the woods just outside of Ivye in today’s Belarus. In these woods is a small memorial marking a mass grave where over 2,500 Jews were killed in 1942, including many of Rogoff’s own relatives. Rogoff brought together an international cast of dancers, musicians, and actors, as well as numerous local children and four elderly survivors to create a performance that re-animated the Jewish lives and culture destroyed

there. Tamar Rogoff’s piece is just one of the performances that I investigate in my new research project, Moving Memory: Holocaust Representation in Contemporary Dance. Other projects include dances that engage the stories of specific survivors, including Ballet Austin’s “Light/The Holocaust and Humanity Project,” based on the life of Houstonian Naomi Warren, and a moving duet for a 90-year-old Hungarian survivor and a younger dancer (chronicled in the dance film, “The Euphoria of Being”). The Holocaust has been a major focus of film, theater, literature, and visual art, and there have been numerous books published to address Holocaust representation within these media. While dance has served as a powerful forum to address the Holocaust, there is little research on this topic. In my view, representations of the Holocaust in dance set history and testimony into motion, nudge memorials out of statis, and activate individual and collective memories. Moving Memory will be the first book to examine dance as a critical site for Holocaust representation in performance pieces created between 1961 and the present by Jewish and non-Jewish choreographers working in North America, Europe, and in Israel.

Fellowship Offers Research Opportunity in Munich By Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, Associate Professor, Department of Middle Eastern Studies

Researchers from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation to conduct research at Ludwig Maximillian University (LMU) in Munich, Germany. This prestigious fellowship will enable me to devote time to complete a monograph that explores the reception of the biblical jubilee legislation in early Judaism and Christianity through the lens of Utopian Studies. My first four-month research trip in Munich was scheduled to begin in late April 2020. One week before the world shut down in March 2020, I was still hoping that the trip would happen. I had all of the paperwork ready for my research trip to Munich, but my plans were cancelled within a month. Fortunately, because of the Humboldt Foundation’s special pandemic provisions, I was able to postpone my first research visit to Munich until this summer. As life is still shut down in much of Europe, I began my first fellowship period this summer remotely from Austin. My research is being hosted by Professor Loren T. Stuckenbruck, a professor of New Testament and early Judaism in the Protestant Theology Faculty at LMU. For the next several months, I will be participating in bi-weekly colloquia held on Zoom for students and researchers affiliated with his professorship. The colloquia are conducted primarily in German. As Munich is seven hours ahead, it means rising early to join the meetings of the colloquium. The rest of my time is spent here in Austin on researching and writing my monograph. In summer 2022, I intend to travel to Munich for my second research visit and complete my monograph.

In 2019, I was awarded a Fellowship for Experienced


Israel Studies Through a Global Lens By Dr. Amy Weinreb, Senior Lecturer, SCJS From enduring ideas about Jewish Diaspora and exile, to narratives of Eastern European immigrant settlement during the pre-state period, to the lived experiences of diverse populations arriving at Israel’s borders today, teaching Israel Studies involves the global. Each phenomenon contains hopes and controversies, but all of them illustrate how Israel remains linked to other locations worldwide.

In my Israel Studies classrooms at UT, students also explore Israel’s contemporary international reality. Ethnographic readings, the footage I’ve captured, and conversations with community partners transport students to locations that reveal Israel’s place in the world. In class, students might find themselves virtually immersed in the packed Tel-Aviv Central Bus Station. There, Filipina women open popup nail salons and Christmas food


stalls, and Sudanese and Eritrean asylum-seekers manage walk-in health clinics. In another session, an American woman pans her camera to the hills bordering her suburban home in Beit Shemesh. She tells the students why she chose to move to Israel with her husband and five children, even if it did not make financial sense. Later, a Palestinian student describes the frustration of arriving at Ben-Gurion airport

after time abroad to discover that she has lost her status as an East Palestinian resident during her absence. She fields questions about what her residential status and statelessness mean. While each of these interactions illuminates the problems and prospects of Israel’s global relationships, in Summer 2021, I am introducing a new and even more immersive international Israel Studies experience at UT: The

Contemporary Jerusalem Global Career Launch. The Global Career Launch is a competitive internship opportunity supported by Texas Global. In an intensive eight-week research internship in Jerusalem, a cohort of eight UT interns will assist Hebrew University affiliates working on community development projects. Hebrew University will offer dedicated meeting space, dorm rooms, library access, and trained assistants. The Contemporary Jerusalem Global Career Launch will guide students as they gain cultural competency and academic experience through research internships. These involve data collection and analysis on projects related to smallholding farmers; peacebuilding and sports, environmental peacebuilding; and psychosocial support in refugee communities, Palestinian workers in the Israeli labor market, identifying opportunities and challenges for Russian-speaking Jews, and the Ministry of Diaspora’s role in working with global Jewish communities to prevent antisemitism. Our students are excited to be working closely with supervisors who may one day be future employers, colleagues, or academic collaborators.

Image: Hebrew University students set out to conduct ethnographic research in the Armenian Quarter of Jerusalem's Old City. They will then discuss their experiences, perspectives, and reading assignments shared with UT students during the Global Virtual Exchange in Weinreb's "Multicultural Israel" course. Photo: Martine Wolber.

UT Austin Seminar Explores Civil Society in Israel/Palestine

A classroom scene from Dr. Eaton's course during a study tour in Israel. Photo: Michal Bar.

By Dr. David Eaton, LBJ School of Public Affairs From December 28, 2021 through January 7, 2022, and continuing into the Spring Semester 2022, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies will offer an undergraduate seminar exploring opportunities, challenges and complexities of shared society and coexistence in Israel. The course, “Civil Society Activities Promoting Coexistence, Shared Society and Peace in Israel/ Palestine,” focuses on activities carried out by Muslim, Christian, Jewish and non-denominational non-profit organizations operating within Israeli civil society. These NGOs deal with Israeli/Palestinian coexistence and the advancement of civil and human rights, with an emphasis on the Arab-Palestinian population. Activities include educational and social services programs, equality before the law, community work and advocacy activities, and prevention of systematic discrimination based on ethnic and religious affiliation. The goal is to create dialogue and build coexistence among the different populations in Israel and Palestine.  The course introduces students to key issues for shared society and human rights in Israel, where civilizations, religions, national identities and ideologies converge. Through a series of in-class lectures and discussions, reading material, pre-recorded lectures, virtual and in-person field study, students will be able to learn about and observe a variety of social

initiatives, communities, people, and perspectives on civil society related to coexistence. The course provides opportunities for meetings with people who live the power imbalance in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, such as civil society activists, leaders of nonprofit organizations, government officials, and professional experts. Many of the key leaders of these organizations have experienced personal loss.

“You get so much perspective actually visiting a place and talking to the people who are experiencing every day what you are studying.” Olivia Hay, Student The Israeli nonprofit sector is one of the most complex in the world. In the last decade, a growing number of organizations, including nonprofits, social enterprises and philanthropic foundations, are dealing with issues related to co-existence and the social and political situation of the ArabPalestinian population in Israel.

organizations in the US are also building coexistence among populations of diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds; lessons from this course are transferable to the American reality.

“When we were at Hebrew University, we met with a lot of people that were from different parts and from different sectors of society, they were NGOs and they were families, people who worked with the government and people who worked outside of the government, and I feel like here were multiple approaches to how everyone was coping with the violence, coping with the situation there […] It has been the most educational experience of my life time.” Rahma Sohail, Student

While coexistence of populations practicing different religions is a major issue in Israel, its complexities are shared in other societies around the world, including the US. Many nonprofit


International Migration Experiences, From Museum to Classroom and Back out in the Field Again By Dr. Suzanne Seriff, Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology I am a third generation Jewish Texan. All my grandparents immigrated to this country from the Pale of Settlement at the turn of the 20th century. As anthropologist and museum curator, I have dedicated much of my research, publications, teaching, and curating to the topic of immigration in general—and Jewish immigration in particular. My interest has focused on the intersection of immigration, xenophobia, and race, especially concerning the racialized depiction of immigrants as unwanted and “undesirable” aliens in popular culture cartoons, folk arts, film, fiction, and musical lyrics around the world. Two of my recent exhibitions have had a direct impact on the courses I teach right here at UT.

FORGOTTEN GATEWAY Coming to America Through Galveston Island

In 2009, I curated a nationally traveling exhibition for the Bullock Texas State History Museum that explored the role of Galveston, Texas as an immigrant port into the US. The exhibition drew on this piece of forgotten American history as a way to ask prescient questions about present-day immigration, such as “Who can be an American?” and “Who gets to decide?” Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island included a section on the famed “Galveston Movement,” an organized immigration plan from 1907 to 1914 that was designed to bring Jews from the Pale of Settlement to the US through the port of Galveston. This section of the exhibition drew on firstperson accounts to illustrate the restrictive laws and racist treatment of immigrants from southern and eastern Europe at that time. The NEH-funded exhibition traveled throughout Texas and the US, including six months at The Ellis Island Immigration Museum. Forgotten Gateway sparked my early association with SCJS, which co-hosted a major international symposium on the racialized depiction of Jewish immigrants. It also became the catalyst for a Difficult Dialogue course at UT which I have taught for the last decade. The material culture of

Immigrants Awaiting Inspection, ca. 1910

Courtesy Galveston County Museum, Galveston, Texas

Exhibition produced in partnership with: BULLOCK




Traveling exhibition poster from Forgotten Gateway: Coming to America Through Galveston Island. Courtesy of The Bullock Texas State History Museum.

Jewish immigration (what people bring with them when they move to a new country) and the material culture about Jewish immigrants (how Jewish newcomers are depicted in arts, film, fiction, and photography) is also a focus of two additional courses I have developed for SCJS: “American Jewish Material Culture and Museums,” and “Representations of Jews in the American Public Sphere.” The other exhibition that has inspired me to develop new courses and research projects is Between Two Worlds: Folk Artists Reflect on the Immigrant Experience, which I co-curated in 2013 when I served as the Director of the Gallery of Conscience at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe. This exhibit focused on the words and works of international folk artists who draw on their expressive arts to educate, advocate, and engage the public around issues of longing, belonging, and displacement surrounding the immigrant experience. Back at UT, this exhibition led me to develop two upcoming international projects, including a Maymester study abroad course for undergraduate students that explores the migrant experience through the lens of folk arts and artists, and a new research project exploring the role of folk arts for Jewish Israeli and Palestinian artists to educate, advocate and engage around issues of home, longing, belonging and displacement.

International Jews By Julia Mickenberg, Department of American Studies In American Girls in Red Russia: Chasing the Soviet Dream, Dr. Mickenberg traces the attraction of the Soviet Union to leftist American women activists, who imagined the Soviet Union to be a place where a new revolutionary era for women could take place. Here Dr. Mickenberg describes how Palestine and the Soviet Union alike were locations where American Jews imagined they could shed the burden of antisemitism and marginalization. Pauline Koner was of the same generation as Edith Segal, Anna Sokolow, and other leading figures in the revolutionary dance movement of the 1930s (nearly all of them Jewish), but she was only tangentially connected to it. Koner grew up in a socialist milieu of immigrant Jews in New York City and trained with Russian émigré Michel Fokine, among others. Koner’s eclectic training, exotic looks (long, dark hair, olive skin, high cheekbones), and tremendous adaptability launched her reputation as an “ethnographic” or “neo-ethnic” dancer, who performed dances based on a variety of traditions, including many with a Far Eastern flavor, such as an Indian priestess in “Nalamani” (1930) or a Javanese temple dancer in “Altar Piece” (1930). As Rebecca Rossen has discussed, she even performed in “Hasidic drag.” Koner performed such dances to demonstrate her own universality, “or her ability to represent a variety of Others.” In 1932 and 1933, Koner spent nine months studying and dancing in Egypt and Palestine; a year later she went to the Soviet Union. Koner’s itinerary thus encompassed two of the most popular sites of pilgrimage for Jews in the 1930s, the former a place to be proudly

Pauline Koner dancing on the beach in Leningrad, ca. 1935. Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lennox and Tilden Foundation. Photographer unknown.

Jewish, the latter a place to shed the burdens associated with Jewishness since antisemitism was officially outlawed (though still prevalent). While in Tel Aviv, Koner saw “young settlers from the kibbutzim, energetic, sunburned, work-steeled bodies, and minds honed by the difficulties of survival—a look of life in their eyes and a warmth in their heart […] The atmosphere breathed enthusiasm, hope, and progress.” Koner “felt vibrantly free, as if I had shed an invisible layer of skin, and proud of my Jewishness.” For many Jews, Palestine and the Soviet Union were popular sites of “magic pilgrimage,” both homelands of a sort with utopian promise, places where new people were being created along with

new civilizations. While Palestine was called a Jewish homeland, the Soviet Union offered Jews with roots in the Russian empire a chance to reformulate in terms of “class and political solidarity,” their emotional connection to a land once known for its brutal oppression of Jews. The creation of a Jewish autonomous region known as Birobidjian in the Soviet Far East in 1928 attracted support and settlers from the US, who hailed the idea of a “a territorial enclave where a secular Jewish culture rooted in Yiddish and socialist principles could serve as an alternative to Palestine.” For Jews, part of the Soviet Union’s attraction was the possibility of having distinctions like race or ethnicity no longer matter.


SJCS CORE PROGRAMS Gale Collaborative Brings People from the Americas Together By Dr. Naomi Lindstrom, Director, Gale Collaborative on Jewish Life in the Americas The Gale Collaborative on Jewish Life in the Americas has been able to bring the Americas to UT in part through the longstanding and strong collaborative ties between Jewish Studies at the University of Texas at Austin and the Latin American Jewish Studies Association (LAJSA, founded in 1982 by Judith Laikin Elkin). The listserv of LAJSA was created in 1996 at UT and has been operating here continuously ever since. The participants in the list now number 421 and are spread out over the Spanish American countries, Brazil, Israel, the US, Canada, and Europe. Lajsa-list is published two or three times a week and includes bibliographic information on new publications, research queries, and news of Jewish life in the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking world. Since the Gale Collaborative began to take form in the early 2010s, larger-scale cooperative activities have become possible. In 2013, the SCJS hosted the 16th International Research Conference of LAJSA, conducted in Spanish, English, and Portuguese. This event brought over a hundred scholars in the field to UT for three days of scholarly panels, musical performances, and readings from creative works.


The Gale Collaborative hosted the website of LAJSA until the organization was able to establish an independent site. Two portions of the new LAJSA website are curated from UT. One is the continuously updated registry of doctoral dissertations and masters theses in Latin American Jewish Studies. The other is an archive of syllabi and descriptions of course offerings on Latin American Jewish themes and Sephardic topics. While universities have struggled to maintain their normal activities during the pandemic, reliance on

distance-learning technology has had some benefits. It has drawn LAJSA members closer to the Gale Collaborative as they are now able to attend our virtual public programming. Since the events have become accessible to scholars everywhere, they are announced over the LAJSA listserv and attract a sizeable international audience. When in Fall 2020 the distinguished Mexican poet Myriam Moscona spoke about her use of Ladino or Judeo-Spanish as a contemporary literary language, her talk was attended by both Co-Presidents of LAJSA as well as several colleagues who are well recognized for their scholarship on the Ladino language and Sephardic literature and culture. In Spring 2021, the Berlin-based researcher Mariusz Kałczewiak spoke about the cultural life of Yiddish-speaking Polish immigrants in Buenos Aires. His lecture was attended by many Argentines, including Perla Sneh, probably the most recognized expert on Yiddish Buenos Aires. The presence of these specialists has led to rich Q&A periods, with information about learning resources being freely shared. When it becomes possible to hold in-person events again, we plan to continue providing online access in order to continue to benefit from the stimulating participation of the far-flung LAJSA community.

Israel Studies at UT By Dr. Karen Grumberg, Israel Studies Faculty Coordinator at SCJS, and Director, Center for Middle Eastern Studies Despite the pandemic, the horizons of Israel Studies at UT have continued to expand. Not only were we able to invite people from outside Austin, Texas, and the US to join our events through Zoom, but the events themselves, along with the accomplishments of our students, also reflect the transnational currents informing our conceptualization of Israel. Over the last year, we heard Dr. Sophia Stamatopoulou-Robbins on waste infrastructure in Palestine, Dr. David Barak-Gorodetsky on American Zionism, and Dr. Yehudit Henshke on the origins of the Mizrahi Sociolect in Israel. We heard comedian Yair Nitzani link the Jewish humor of Eastern Europe and New York to Israeli humor; we viewed the gender-bending art of the Berlin-based Israeli artist Roey Victoria Heifetz, who discussed cultural cross-currents in Israel and Germany; and we chatted with folks from a Houston-based theater company that had performed Anat Gov’s Hebrew play “Oh My God” in English translation. The student activities supported by Israel Studies demonstrate the same commitment to understanding Israel in a broader context. Though we had to redirect the Israel Studies Travel Fellowship toward research, we were able to award several fellowships. Two Dual Language Fellowships were awarded to students for their commitment to the study of both Hebrew and Arabic: Hannah Salmon (Ethnomusicology) and Garrett Shuffield (Middle Eastern

Studies). Two Travel/Research fellowships were awarded to students whose research contributes to Israel Studies: Tara Ginnane (Government), for her comparison of absentee voting politics in Israel and elsewhere; and Robyn Croft (SpeechLanguage Pathology), for her consideration of cross-cultural differences among people who stutter in Israel and the US. The ongoing research of UT faculty working on Israel has also benefitted from the support of Israel Studies at UT. For the first time this spring, we launched a competition for the Israel Studies Faculty Summer Research Stipend. For this award, our committee selected Dr. Amy Weinreb (Senior Lecturer, SCJS) and Dr. Jason Lustig (Israel Institute Teaching Fellow, SCJS).

Weinreb's proposed project, “The Essential Israel Studies Teaching Guide: Global, Virtual, and Ethnographic Approaches,” draws on her decade of expertise teaching Israel Studies and her in-depth interviews of Israel Studies program directors and faculty worldwide. It offers strategies and pedagogical innovations for approaching Israel Studies through an academic lens. Lustig's proposed project, “Fake Jews: Trust and the Contested Epistemologies of Jewishness,” offers “a history of modern Jewish life as a history of trust.” Global in scope, the project poses timely questions regarding truth and disinformation in the context of ascertaining who is or isn’t a Jew, and examines the way trust has informed Jewish history.

OUR STUDENT FUNDING Israel Studies Dual Language Fellowships 2020-2021: $2,000 Israel Studies Travel Fellowship 2020-2021: $3,000 Israel Studies Essay Award 2020-2021:$2,000, supported by the Consulate of Israel in Houston, TX Israel Studies Graduate Fellowship 2020-2021 Recipient: Benjamin Rangell, Middle Eastern Studies 2021-2022 Recipient: Atalia Israeli-Nevo, Anthropology Israel Studies Supplementary Graduate Fellowship 2020-2021 Recipient 2020-2021: Libby Hilliard, Middle Eastern Studies

From Our Internship Program Director By Dr. Suzanne Seriff, Director of the Internship Program in Jewish Studies at SCJS, and Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology If necessity is the mother of invention, then COVID-19 was one heck of a motivating Ima for the 2020-2021 social justice internship program. Each of the three pillars of the program—hands on learning, lessons from our elders, and “chevrutah-style” text study—changed fundamentally to accommodate social distancing. The result may have been the best year ever! Instead of trying to work around the restrictions of the pandemic, we leaned into it. The first innovation of Fall 2020 came directly from the human rights issues uncovered by the global health crisis. Each organization with which we work had been drastically affected. Each was struggling to meet the needs of their most atrisk populations: the un-housed, the poor, the incarcerated, essential workers, immigrants and asylum seekers, underserved youth, and people living with disabilities. We saw the crisis situation as an opportunity for renewed collaboration with host organizations. Students became part of a real-time “rapid response” COVID-19 documentation project of global proportions. Our student interns helped document their organizations’ inventive efforts as they were occurring by working with UT’s Humanities Institute’s “Communities of Care” initiative. This digital storytelling project will join a growing archive of stories, objects, and artworks being collected worldwide to bear


witness to the unprecedented crises of health care this year. The second innovation was to open the internship program to a wider cohort of undergraduates from throughout UT Austin, not only from the College of Liberal Arts. The result was an inspiring mix of pre-med students interested in global health, science and math students schooled in the arts of data collection and analysis, and liberal arts students with strong career goals in social service fields. With this blend of aspirations and experiences, students encountered a diversity of people from whom they could learn. Even though the students’ internships were 100% virtual, each ended up engaging in some of the most consequential projects of any cohort to date. Projects included preparing bills on workers’ right for the Texas Legislature, setting up a national tracking system for migrant vaccinations, promoting free arts programs for underserved youth, documenting music and healing programs for marginalized communities in detention centers, prisons, and schools, and marketing art shows for artists experiencing homelessness. Their work was so vital to the host organizations that, for the first time ever, every single student in the Spring 2021 class will continue interning through the summer months.

The third innovation of the pandemic year involved an “experiential learning” component for our community-wide celebrations—surrounding Sukkot and Passover. While the dinner program shifted to a Zoom event— with readings, study, stories, and song—the students got a special “taste” of the Jewish holiday delivered by yours truly to their front doors. The Fall “Sukkah for Social Change in a Box” contained supplies for students to make their own temporary shelters, along with homemade challah. The spring “Freedom Seder on a Plate” included the ingredients needed to learn about the Passover Seder plate, as well as a pint of matzoh ball soup, grape juice, and chocolate-covered matzah. We responded to crisis by learning from the moment itself, by expanding our tent, and by deftly adapting ancient tradition to new technologies. The added work and commitment it took from all of us testifies to the importance of the work itself—striving toward tikkun olam (repair of the world) in the midst of a global pandemic. For the first time, I understood the wisdom of our ancestors’ teaching from Pirkei Avot (Ethics of our Ancestors) that recognizes the agency and effort involved in the very things we tend to take for granted: “Appoint for yourself a teacher; acquire for yourself a friend; and judge every person according to their own merits (Avot 1:6).”

I have lived a relatively privileged life, yet still I am only a generation removed from homelessness. My parents were migrants. Prior to my birth, home security was something my family didn’t have. Then with the pandemic it became all too real and close to home how quickly families can become homeless and how my own family was just a couple of paychecks away from it. The pandemic highlighted the stigma I unintentionally held about people who were experiencing homelessness. Working with Art from the Streets and Texas After Violence Project, I have continued to find out how different my perspective on homelessness and incarceration was from reality. Being able to process my internship experiences weekly through a Jewish lens has been more helpful than I initially thought. One of the takeaways that I found in the Jewish religion is the idea of being aware and making conscious decisions. This is extremely important to the interpersonal interactions I will only continue to have through my internships. - Amy Ruiz, Intern, Art from the Streets and Texas After Violence Project, Fall, 2020

Top: Student presentations about lessons learned in their internships, including Cruz Zamora's presentation on Workers Defense Project (top), Sofia Hobb's presentation on Migrant Clinicians Network (middle), and Amber Jones's presentation on the AFLCIO. Right: Intern Students, Christine Carranza (left) and Ben Chanditeya (right), each receiving their "Freedom Seder in a Box" for the Passover event, spring 2021.


Before there was the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies on the Forty Acres, there was “The Gale”! For almost 50 years, the Gale Family Foundation Annual Lecture Series has brought preeminent scholars, artists, performers, writers, and others working in Jewish Studies to the UT campus. The Gale Lectures, which take place in the Fall and Spring, are the Schusterman Center’s signature semester events. The Gale Family Foundation’s continuous support of Jewish Studies at UT Austin has performed a vital function of introducing undergraduate and graduate students, faculty from across campus, and diverse public audiences to the world of Jewish academic studies, to Jewish arts and culture, and to observers of pressing contemporary issues that touch all our lives.

THE FALL GALE LECTURE SUNDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2021 5:00-7:00 PM Dr. Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania "The Ties That Bind Us: African Americans and Jews in America and Our Shared Future" The history of the Civil Rights movement and the partnership between Blacks and Jews has been one of shared discrimination and struggles. Since the 1960s there has been a fracturing in this religious political and social association. Mixing a combination of local, state and national history, Professor Butler’s talk will explore the history, myth, and challenges to the relationship between these two communities from a religious and political perspective. Anthea Butler is Chair of Religious Studies and Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Africana Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her new book, entitled White Evangelical Racism: The Politics of Morality in America, was published in March 2021. Her other books include Women in the Church of God in Christ: Making A Sanctified World. A historian of African American and American religion, Professor Butler’s research and writing spans African American religion and history, race, politics, and evangelicalism. Professor Butler currently serves as President Elect of the American Society for Church history. She is also member of the American Academy of Religion, American Historical Association, and the International Communications Association. Left: Dr. Anthea Butler. Photo: T. Neal. Center: Dr. Doris Bergen. Photo: Michael Rajzman.

THE SPRING GALE LECTURE SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 20, 2022 5:00-7:00 PM Dr. Doris L. Bergen, University of Toronto "Saving Christianity, Killing Jews: German Military Chaplains and the Holocaust" During Hitler's rule, more than 1,000 men served the German military as chaplains. These Catholic priests and Protestant pastors accompanied Wehrmacht units wherever they went. What role did Christian chaplains play in Nazi German atrocities, including the mass murder of Jews? Can this history shed light on religion and violence in our own times? Doris L. Bergen is the Chancellor Rose and Ray Wolfe Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Toronto. She is the author, editor, or co-editor of five books, including War and Genocide: A Concise History of the Holocaust (3rd edition 2016). A Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada, Bergen was part of the team that designed the National Holocaust Monument in Ottawa. She has served on the Academic Committee of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

CONFERENCE AT UT IN MARCH 2022: NEW APPROACHES TO ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER In Spring 2022, the SCJS in collaboration with the Harry Ransom Center (HRC), Lund University (Sweden), and the Department of Germanic Studies at UT Austin, will spotlight the Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer. The Harry Ransom Center, which holds Singer's archive, is creating an exhibit of materials from the their collection that runs from February 5 to August 31, 2022. To mark the occasion, the president of the Yiddish Book Center, Aaron Lansky, will give a public lecture on March 27, 2022. Dr. Jan Schwarz, who has worked extensively with the Singer Collection at HRC, will deliver the conference’s academic keynote. The academic conference will take place from March 27 to 29, 2022, on the UT Campus.

MEET OUR STUDENTS 2022 Aaron Scholar on His Interest in Biblical Studies Matthew Thompson is a senior from Austin majoring in Jewish Studies with a minor in Classical Greek. Matthew has received several prestigious scholarships in support of his studies. Most recently he was named the 2021-2022 Aaron Scholar as the recipient of the Dawn and Todd Aaron Endowed Presidential Scholarship. What drew you to the Jewish Studies major at UT? I want to attend graduate school to study the Hebrew Bible. The Jewish Studies program at UT made the most sense for preparing to apply to graduate programs. The interdisciplinary aspect of the program has allowed me to take classes that focus on portions of the Hebrew Bible and has really provided the foundations for a


historical-critical understanding of the Hebrew Bible. Can you describe a favorite course? My favorite course is the course that has most significantly shifted my view of the Hebrew Bible. “The Five Books of Moses,” with Dr. Philip Yoo, has permanently changed the way I think about and understand the origins of the Torah. In reading Richard Elliott Friedman’s The Bible with Sources Revealed, the students were introduced to the documentary hypothesis. Sourcecriticism changed not only my view of the Torah, but initiated the construction of the foundations of a mental framework with which to understand the Hebrew Bible like a scholar. Since then I have fallen into the worm hole of biblical criticism. As a result, both my academic career and personal life, I believe, will never be the same. How has being a Jewish Studies major affected other parts of your experience at UT? Being a Jewish Studies major has

allowed me to discover my personal strengths. Pairing the major with a minor in Classical Greek, I have discovered a passion and an ability to learn languages. I transferred to the College of Liberal Arts from the College of Natural Sciences. Transferring to Jewish Studies has allowed me to excel because I am able to utilize my strengths. At the same time, the Jewish Studies program challenged me and caused me to improve in my information retention, my writing, and my language acquisition. Is having a Jewish Studies program important at a university? Why? Should more universities offer this major or a similar one? I believe that having a Jewish Studies program is vital for any university, especially when one considers the extent to which (1) Jewish people have been historically oppressed and (2) Judaism and Christianity have shaped history. I believe that education is power, and if we are to improve society and prevent repeating history’s violence

Images at top from left: Students Simon Gerst, Dinorah M. Cossio, Matthew Thompson, and Robyn Croft.

towards Jews, members of society must have access to specialized education concerning Jewish history. The state university is where our society looks for authoritative research and information in any area, and Jewish Studies are especially relevant given the religious climate of today's world.

Undergraduate Student Selects Jewish Studies Major Before Arriving on Campus Simon Gerst is a junior from Houston

majoring in Jewish Studies and German, with a minor in History. He was a 2020-2021 Aaron Scholar as the recipient of the Dawn and Todd Aaron Endowed Presidential Scholarship in Jewish Studies. He recently won a college-wide competition for an Unrestricted Endowed Presidential Scholarship. What drew you to the Jewish Studies program at UT? I decided to major in Jewish Studies after a single afternoon on the Forty Acres. I had toured Jewish Studies departments at several other schools during my senior year of high school, and UT ended up being my last tour. I audited Dr. Jonathan Kaplan’s course on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the caliber of the course’s students and material impressed me. The students asked really thoughtful questions about complex concepts, and I could tell that Jewish Studies would provide me with the rigorous intellectual environment that I so badly wanted in a university. I also met with Dr. Tatjana Lichtenstein,

and our conversation solidified my findings from Dr. Kaplan’s class. Dr. Lichtenstein talked to me about the variety of courses I could take as a JS major, the scholarships I could earn, and the places I could go with a background in Jewish Studies. I left our meeting confident that SCJS was the place I needed to be. I committed to the University only a few minutes after walking out of the conference room with Dr. L, and I am so glad I did. What are your specific interests within this interdisciplinary major? My primary interest within Jewish Studies is the Holocaust and World War II. From a young age, the Second World War fascinated me. My grandfather, Oles, was a Holocaust survivor from Warsaw. Like many other survivors, he remained silent about his experience in Poland for his entire life. For as long as I can remember, I tried to learn more about him, the world he left behind, and the events which precipitated my existence. I asked my mother questions for years, but I could never construct a picture of the past that satisfied me. My fascination led me to the Normandy Scholars Program on World War II (NSP). Through NSP, I studied the causes, conduct, consequences, and contemporary representations of the Second World War from multiple national perspectives. I left the program with a better grip on my family’s past and the world birthed by the Allies’ victory in 1945. The Eastern Front and the war of annihilation fought between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union really captivated me, but I’m still figuring out what exactly I want to focus my research on within the broader field of WWII. Can you describe a favorite course?

Dr. Lichtenstein’s “Introduction to Holocaust and Genocide Studies” was a particularly impactful class for me. The course examined the Holocaust and the phenomenon of genocide at practical and ideological levels from the perspectives of victims, perpetrators, witnesses, and scholars. The course allowed me to engage intellectually, emotionally, and academically with the subject matter which drew me to Jewish Studies, while also providing me with a nuanced insight into my own background and identity. How has being a Jewish Studies major affected other parts of your experience at UT? Being a Jewish Studies major hasn’t affected my experience at UT; it has defined it. JS is responsible for my academic path; it has connected me with my mentors and friends; and it has shown me the possibilities for my future. I developed into the person and student I am today because of my time in Jewish Studies. It is because of the support and attention I have received from SCJS that I know I can achieve my full potential, regardless of the obstacles I face. I am confident my decision to be a Longhorn was the right one, and my experience in Jewish Studies is a big reason why. Is having a Jewish Studies program important at a university? Why? When I tell people I major in Jewish Studies, they often ask, “What does that mean?” I think the beautiful thing about Jewish Studies is that it can mean whatever you want it to. You have the freedom to study religion, history, philosophy, and so much more, all because they intersect in the world of Jewish Studies. There seems to be a misconception that Jewish Studies


is a very niche area of study. In actuality, students receive a versatile liberal arts education that gives them the liberty to explore their intellectual curiosity in a wide variety of fields. I think there certainly should be more Jewish Studies programs at universities across the country because a JS program is an important element to a university that wants all of its students to have the opportunity to be intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually engaged with their coursework. It really is a unique option for Jewish students like me who have a strong affinity for their Jewish identity and want to explore their heritage, religion, and place in the world.

2020 PhD Recipient Lands Job at Macalester College Dr. Dinorah M. Cossio earned her PhD from UT Austin in 2021. This fall, she will be a Visiting Professor in the Department of Spanish and

Portuguese at Macalester College. We spoke to her about her research, graduate experience at SCJS, and what the future holds. How did you first develop your interest in Spanish and Argentine film? The topic of my dissertation project came out of the classes in the Departments of Spanish and Portuguese, History, and Middle Eastern Studies that I took during my first three years at UT. These courses inspired my decision to specialize in transatlantic cultural studies focusing on literary and filmic representations of gender in twenty-first-century Spain and Argentina. My dissertation explores different cultural constructions of non-normative mothers. The women portrayed in the narratives and films I analyze are often categorized as unfit and/or sick, as their experiences are nothing like the classical archetypes of motherhood. I ask what effects the pathologizing depictions of these mothers have on culture. Currently, I am developing a new project that addresses antisemitism and the stereotypical representation of Jews in Francoist-era Spanish films. How important was it for you to have Dr. Naomi Lindstrom as your advisor, and what role did SCJS play in your graduate training? Dr. Naomi Lindstrom’s guidance was invaluable to my academic career. During my first years, she introduced me to the possibilities of scholarships and classes at UT, while advising me on readings for my project. She has encouraged me to publish my research, and she has read my work many times, always giving me extensive feedback.


Movie poster for the Spanish version of the 1939 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame, entitled in Spanish Esmeralda La Zingara, that deploys racist imagery.

While I was writing my dissertation and applying to jobs, she met with me numerous times to offer her advice and encouragement. During my time at UT, I received several grants from the Schusterman Center. These grants allowed me to attend academic conferences, purchase books for my project, attend a Hebrew summer course at Middlebury College, and travel to Buenos Aires to interview Jewish writers and work in the Yiddish Archive there. This benefited my research greatly and helped me acquire experience in language learning, public speaking, and fieldwork. During the winter I spent in Buenos Aires, I got to know many writers and scholars that helped me understand how both their Jewish and Argentinian identity shaped their experiences as writers. Tell us about your new position at Macalester College. What experiences from both teaching and learning at UT will you take with you? At Macalester College, I will teach classes related to gender, transatlantic studies, and Spanish grammar. I am very excited to be teaching a class developed from my dissertation topic. This course will focus on motherhood and family studies, gender studies, and ecological issues both in Latin American and Spanish twenty-firstcentury narratives and films. My experience at UT has prepared me well to teach a variety of topics to a diverse student body. As a UT student, I have experienced many teaching styles and ways to approach scholarship that will help me shape the next phase in my academic career. The support of the Schusterman Center during my graduate years allowed me to take my first steps as a scholar.

New Research on Stuttering Among Israelis Robyn Croft is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the Moody School of Communications. She earned her BS from the University of Texas at Austin, her MS in SpeechLanguage Pathology from Texas Christian University and is currently completing her clinical fellowship at the Lang Stuttering Institute to earn her certification as a speech-language pathologist. With the support of an Israel Studies Travel Fellowship, she conducted research in Israel. What first brought you to the field of speech pathology and how did your academic journey bring you to UT? I was first drawn to speechlanguage pathology because of its focus on advancing communication, a central component of the human experience that allows people to build meaningful relationships, to advocate for themselves and others, and to share their unique selves with the world. Speechlanguage pathology satisfies both my academic interests and personal values, making it an ideal career path for me. As an undergraduate sophomore at UT, I emailed several professors in pursuit of a research opportunity. Little did I know that serving as a research assistant for Dr. Courtney Byrd, whose research focuses on stuttering, would profoundly change the trajectory of my personal and professional journey. During my first lab meeting, I listened to Dr. Byrd speak about her approach to stuttering research and treatment, including the holistic focus on each person’s communication effectiveness

and attitudes, rather than their surface-level stuttering behaviors. This person-centered approach and emphasis on communicationrelated thoughts and feelings immediately appealed to me. Do you have a background in Jewish Studies or speaking/reading Hebrew? How did you connect your research with stuttering and interests to a project in Israel? My Jewish education and upbringing, including years of learning about Israel’s culture and language, laid the foundation for my connection to Israel as an adult. When I was 18, I visited Israel for the first time. Moving pieces from my upbringing came to life, and I formed meaningful relationships that humanized my textbook knowledge. Since then, a persistent, inner resolve has motivated me to deepen my understanding of and relationship to this country and its people, and to find ways to contribute. During college, I returned to Israel for a semester to study at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where I took Hebrew and interdisciplinary courses, volunteered at a preschool, and completed an independent study with a speech-language pathologist. I witnessed first-hand how culture and language influence daily communication exchanges, as well as the assessment and treatment of individuals with communication disorders. By the time I started my PhD, I was specifically interested in learning about how perceptions and experiences of stuttering manifest in this multicultural, multilingual, religiously diverse, and politically complex region. What stereotypes exist about those who stutter and what does self-disclosure mean in the context of stuttering? Can you briefly explain your research?

People who stutter are often stereotyped as being nervous, unintelligent, anxious, or shy, which leads to discrimination, social rejection, and feelings of shame and embarrassment. Self-disclosure of stuttering, a practice in which a person who stutters discloses to the listener that they stutter, has been used as a tool to combat negative stereotypes and improve perceptions of stuttering. However, these studies had focused primarily on English-speaking persons who stutter in the USA, limiting the application of this evidencebased practice to culturally and linguistically diverse populations, such as persons who stutter in Israel. With the Israel Studies Travel Fellowship, we replicated a 2017 study by Dr. Byrd and her colleagues to investigate the influence of informative versus apologetic self-disclosure statements on listeners’ perceptions of Hebrew-speaking persons who stutter in Israel. Ninety-two adults in Israel viewed a video of a speaker who selfdisclosed stuttering informatively, apologetically, or not at all. Results indicated that speakers who self-disclosed in a neutral and informative manner were more likely to be viewed as a person who pursues and enjoys social relationships (i.e., “outgoing”), a valued trait in Israeli culture. Importantly, self-disclosing apologetically or not self-disclosing at all yielded no significant benefit. Clinically, this means that speechlanguage pathologists in Israel should encourage their clients who stutter to self-disclose informatively and not apologize for stuttering.


HELP US HONOR BOB ABZUG WE ARE CREATING THE ROBERT H. ABZUG SCHOLARSHIP IN JEWISH STUDIES Last August, after more than forty years on the Forty Acres, Dr. Robert H. Abzug, Audre and Bernard Rapoport Regents Chair of Jewish Studies, Professor of History and American Studies, and Founding Director of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies, retired. In his time on campus, Bob taught thousands of students in courses that span from the history of religion in America, including American Jewish history, to courses on psychology, photography, and comparative genocide. He directed 26 PhD dissertations and won numerous teaching awards. The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies is thrilled to announce a campaign to endow a scholarship in Bob’s honor. The Robert H. Abzug Scholarship in Jewish Studies would provide scholarship support for undergraduate students, with a preference towards students pursuing a thesis, research project, or artistic endeavor on any topic in Jewish Studies at UT Austin. The scholarship may support students meeting the above criteria from any college, school or major.

A committee of friends and colleagues invites you to join in honoring Bob and supporting our students by raising $50,000 to endow a scholarship fund. Here is how you can help: To give online: To give by mail: Make checks out to The University of Texas at Austin and include “Robert H. Abzug Scholarship in Jewish Studies” in the memo line. Mail to the address below: University of Texas Development P.O. Box 7458 Austin, TX 78713-7458 Help spread the word! Robert H. Abzug Scholarship Campaign Committee: Ian Spechler (Chair), Chris Aguero, Samuel Baker, Stacy D. Clark, Steve Finkelman, Jonathan Kaplan, Tatjana Lichtenstein, Margo Sack, Alexandra F. Taylor, and Blake Turner



We are grateful to our many supporters who have helped consolidate Jewish Studies at UT Austin and ensured that we can fund students and teaching in Jewish Studies.

Become a Friend of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies by making an annual contribution of $180 or more. You can sign up by emailing us at For your annual membership ($180), you will receive the Schusterman Center Annual and special invitations to events such as the Gale Family Foundation Fall and Spring Lectures, the Kasman Family Lecture on East European Jewish Life and Culture, the Israel in Context Lecture Series, and Tarbut: Hebrew Arts & Culture Lecture Series.

If you would like to learn more about how to help, please get in touch. You can contact the Incoming Director, Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, by email at jonathan. You may also speak directly to Justin Michalka, Executive Director of Development at the College of Liberal Arts. Justin can be reached by email at or call (512) 471-8861.

Please get in touch with us or visit our website to learn more about the friends’ circle.

You can also visit UT Austin’s Online Giving Page; choose Gift Designation “Liberal Arts, College” & Areas of Need: “Jewish Studies, Schusterman Center for.”

Top: Image of seasonal fruits at Jerusalem's Mahne Yehuda market, collected for Amy Weinreb's course "Cultural Geographies." Photo: Amy Weinreb.


Longtime Academic Advisor Says Goodbye Dr. Cynthia Gladstone Talks Retirement and the History of Academic Advising at UT This summer, the Schusterman Center’s longtime Academic Advisor, Dr. Cynthia A. Gladstone, is retiring. Cindy has been with us for more than 14 years and her deep experience, professionalism, and sage advice will be missed by students and colleagues alike. Wishing you many new adventures in this next chapter of your life, Cindy! Tell us a bit about yourself! I am from El Paso, Texas, and grew up there, but I have lived in Austin for many years. My father was a Holocaust survivor from Czechoslovakia, and my mother was from Dallas, Texas. They met when my father was in medical school at Southwestern in Dallas. I earned a PhD in History from UT in 2003. I have been a professional academic advisor in the College of Liberal

Arts since 2004, but I actually started advising undergraduates in the Department of History for three years while a graduate student. That initial experience inspired me to continue advising after I finished my degree. I cannot remember exactly when I took on Jewish Studies advising, but I believe it was around 2007. I was already advisor for Latin American Studies and then took on Jewish Studies and Linguistics (passing European Studies on to a colleague). So, when I retire, I will have advised Latin American Studies for 17 years, Jewish Studies for around 14 years, and Linguistics for more than 8 years. What have you enjoyed most about your time at UT Austin? I have been both a student at UT and a staff member. I enjoyed school (most of the time!), and I have loved my career here. I wouldn’t trade either experience. It has been special working with students, of course, but I will also remember my colleagues with great fondness. I hope to keep in touch with many of them: advisors, staff, and faculty in the units I have advised for. All of them have impacted my life and work. But I think what I have most enjoyed is being in the higher education atmosphere. There is nothing like the vibrancy and excitement of a college campus. What is the most significant change in advising you have seen during your time here?


Really, two things have changed the most in my experience. First, there is the professionalization of UT advising. When I first started, advising was done by a hodge podge of personnel, including graduate students, faculty, student development specialists, graduate coordinators in dual roles, etc. Eventually, they instituted an advising fee that created resources to hire professional advisors, regularize their titles and roles, and pay for technology. Another major change was the transition from Liberal Arts advisors working exclusively for their particular departments or for the Student Division, to all advisors, except those in the honors programs, working under the aegis of the Student Division. That took a lot of getting used to! What are you looking forward to the most in this chapter of your life? I’m still figuring that out! I certainly look forward to having my time be my own, and, once the pandemic is really over, to doing some traveling. I plan to take some continuing education. I would also like to investigate ways to get involved in politics in this state—NOT as a politician, but as someone working toward changing the way Texas is run. I’m not sure yet how one does that, but I look forward to finding out. Other than all of that, I’m looking forward to spending more time with friends, including the retired folks who can tell me how it’s going for them.

From Austin to Jerusalem Dr. Miriam Bodian on Her Career at UT Austin and Where She Is Headed Next

This summer, Dr. Miriam Bodian is retiring from the Department of History at UT Austin. Dr. Bodian is one of the leading experts on early modern Iberian Jewry and has taught the SCJS’s core introductory course on modern Jewish history along with seminars on Jews and the Inquisition, the history of religious tolerance and many other topics. Her books include Hebrews of the Portuguese Nation: Conversos and Community in Early Modern Amsterdam and Dying in the Law of Moses: Crypto-Jewish Martyrdom in Iberian Lands, 1570– 1670. For the last four years, she has served as director of The Institute of Historical Studies. Dr. Bodian’s expertise and experience and her affection for Jewish Studies and for her colleagues, will be greatly missed. We at the SCJS wish her all the best in this next chapter of her life. What have you enjoyed most about your time at the Schusterman Center? It has been fascinating to watch the Schusterman Center develop in the years since I came to UT in 2009. My academic career began at a time when Jewish Studies was in the early stages of being integrated into the American university. People today often forget that prior to the 1970s, Jewish Studies was almost entirely confined to a few Jewish institutions of higher learning. Today, Jewish Studies centers are the norm at American universities and liberal arts colleges, and they serve a diverse student population. The Schusterman Center is an outstanding example of how such a center can respond

effectively to the interdisciplinary culture of contemporary academic life, to the regional (in this case Central Texas) context, and to new ways of involving students educationally (with the internship program, for example, or with virtual learning at sites in Israel). It has been wonderful to be part of the Center’s development and to teach students who have brought to the classroom such wide and varied life experiences. You are retiring to Jerusalem? How did your relationship with the city first begin, and how has it evolved over the years? I first visited Jerusalem in 1974 to explore Jewish history and culture at the School for Overseas Students at Hebrew University. I stayed for 14 years. Although I’ve always been drawn to cities with a rich history, Jerusalem was unique. But it’s not easy to sum up my subjective experience of the city. Initially I was very much the naïve American, overwhelmed by my first impressions and intimidated by the life stories of the extraordinary Jerusalemites I met. It was through these people—neighbors and grocers as well as professors and students—that I got to know the city and the wider society. Jerusalem is by no means a perfect or easy place. There are everyday aggravations and deep fears. And there are ideological extremes that impact unhelpfully on the conduct of politics and public life. But the Jerusalem I know is also a place that attracts unusually thoughtful and committed people who try

to confront realities honestly and hopefully. What are you looking forward to the most in this chapter of your life? I haven’t yet experienced “retirement”—and the word itself is so unfortunate that I hope I never do! Certainly, stepping down from my position at UT entails significant losses, and I’ll miss the many things I’ve valued here. At the same time, I’m invigorated by the prospect of finding my niche in a new setting, with options open.


FACULTY SPOTLIGHT SCJS Faculty Members Hina Azam and Hervé Picherit on How Their Work Expands the Boundaries of Jewish Studies I have always loved reading, writing, and teaching, and the life of the mind generally, and so academia was a natural decision for me. I completed my BA at Loyola University in Chicago with a double major in Philosophy and Journalism, after which I did my graduate studies at Duke University’s Department of Religion, where I focused on Islamic Studies within a broader comparative theoretical framework. I was drawn to UT Austin because of its stellar Middle Eastern Studies department, its public-facing mission, its size, and its location in the wonderful city of Austin.

moment, when our society is being stretched thin by culture wars: one is allyship and the other is our common humanity. The current polarization in our society shows that staying in our own silos not only deprives our scholarship and teaching of richness, but it also contributes to potentially dangerous misunderstandings between peoples. Jewish Studies and Islamic Studies, whether historically, culturally, or religiously focused, are both enhanced when in conversation with each other.

My main scholarly interest up till now has been in women and gender in Islamic jurisprudence. My first book was on sexual violation in Islamic law, and my other publications thus far have also been related to women and gender in Islam. More recently, I have been interested in Qur’anic ethics and stories and in the teaching of Islam at the college level. I have also become interested more recently in American Muslim fiction, as part of my general interest in how stories— whether in scripture or prose— explore moral content and convey moral principles.

What brought you to your work with the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies?

How did you decide to become an academic, and what was your path to UT?

I hope that my participation, as a Muslim academic in the SCJS will signal and support two principles that I believe are particularly important in this historical

I am very much looking forward to being back on campus, in person. The isolation of the pandemic has adversely affected so much of the university’s work. Not only has the formal classroom been impacted, but the constant informal interaction between faculty, students, and staff has been curtailed. The university is not just an institution, it is a community, and it thrives and relies on the continual flow of ideas and activities. I look forward to a resumption of that flow, even as I hope that we have learned new ways of doing things. I am also looking forward to some writing projects that have been on hold for various reasons and to continuing work with our series on Jews in the World of Islam.

Dr. Hina Azam, an associate professor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies and the Graduate Advisor at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, recently became an affiliate faculty member at the SCJS. Here she discusses how she became connected to the Center and why this is meaningful. What are your scholarly interests?


I was initially brought in when my colleague Dr. Karen Grumberg wanted to create a speaker series on Jews living in Muslim lands. I was immediately interested in helping with this important project. Then, the new director of the Center, Dr. Jonathan Kaplan, invited me to speak on a panel on antisemitism and the American far right. When I was thereafter invited to join the SCJS more formally, I agreed.

What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead?

stop (so far so good). Going through graduate school and then in my first academic job at the University of Wyoming, I discovered the great privilege and responsibility of teaching students. Eventually, I was lucky enough to find my home department of French and Italian at UT where I’ve had the great fortune of working with amazing students and faculty. SCJC faculty affiliate Dr. Hervé Picherit is an associate professor in the Department of French and Italian and an affiliate faculty member at the Center for European Studies. Here he discusses his current research and teaching goals and how the 2016 election reshaped his approach to his work. What are your scholarly interests? Since graduate school, I’ve been fascinated with the novel, which lead me to write my dissertation and first book about the French novelists Marcel Proust and LouisFerdinand Céline. I considered their diametrically opposed reactions to World War I. I also enjoy working on film and the avant-garde. I suppose what unifies my work is a fascination with the ways in which authors use literary or cinematic form to create new conceptual spaces for artistic play. One of the most personally valuable discoveries I made early on was realizing that literature and art are sophisticated forms of the same kind of make-believe that we engage in as children. How did you decide to become an academic, and what was your path to UT? I ended up following that path because, like so many others in my field, I love reading. I decided I would make it a central part of my existence until someone told me to

What do you most enjoy teaching here? Every semester, I am surprised and humbled by our students. UT students are a decidedly impressive group. I count among the great fortunes of my professional life that I get to know their stories and that I get to contribute to their ambitious visions of the future. It’s also an immense privilege to share with this group texts and films that I feel are important or that might help them as they prepare to go off into the world.

light of the authoritarianism and intolerance that dominated our horizon. In the years that followed, I came to feel the urgency of doing research and teaching classes that addressed the contemporary dangers we face but that still used the tools of my training. And since my field is Twentieth-Century French literature, my study of these issues in the past lead me to France’s tenuous relationship with Judaism in a century marked most notably by the Dreyfus Affair and Vichy’s collaboration with the Germans during the French Occupation. These issues had already influenced my first book, where I considered Proust’s complex relationship with his own Judaism and Céline’s virulent antisemitism. But my approach to these questions become more focused for me in the graduate class I taught on the Literature of Collaboration and Resistance. The conversations I had with my students in this class indicated that we had found a way to combine our unique set of skills with a subject that spoke to the present moment. What are you most looking forward to in the year ahead? In the spring, I will be reprising my “Literature of Collaboration and Resistance” graduate course. I look forward to the tenor of the conversation with students in light of January 6, 2021.

What brought you to your work with the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies? The day after the 2016 presidential election I had to continue teaching my graduate course on French avant-garde literature. I remember being hard-pressed justifying to my students our work on something that suddenly felt frivolous in

On a lighter note, I look forward to teaching a new Plan II undergraduate course, “College Goes to the Movies,” which examines the myth of the American university experience as portrayed in popular film. I’ve always loved watching college movies, and I look forward to getting serious about something so seemingly frivolous.


FACULTY NEWS Itzik Gottesman participated in an event sponsored by the Yiddish Book Center: “Keeping It in the Family: Yiddish Writers and Their Legacies.” The panel consisted of children and descendants of Yiddish writers discussing their family history. At the Association for Jewish Studies convention, Gottesman spoke about the blog he directs, Yiddish Song of the Week, which celebrated its tenth anniversary last year. As part of the festival “Yiddish New York,” he gave four lectures on Jewish folklore and spoke at the Riverdale Temple in NYC on “The Jewish Belief in

the Evil Eye.” Gottesman is one of the founding members of a new website that was launched this past year Inside the Yiddish Folksong to which he contributed the essay “The Life of the Yiddish Folksinger.” Karen Grumberg guest-edited a special issue of Poe Studies on “Poe in the Middle East,” where she published an article on Poe in the Hebrew imagination. She also published an article on Amos Oz and the short story form in the Journal of Israeli History and an entry on “Space in Modern Hebrew


Literature” in Oxford Bibliographies in Jewish Studies. This Spring, she was promoted to Full Professor (starting in Fall 2021). Jonathan Kaplan published the following essays in edited volumes in 2020–21: “Martyrdom, Mysticism, and Disputation: Rabbi Akiva and the ‘Beginning’ of Rabbinic Interpretation of Song of Songs” and “Pastiche, Hyperbole, and the Composition of Jonah’s Prayer.” He presented papers over Zoom at the annual meetings of the Society of Biblical Literature and the Association for Jewish Studies as well as gave lectures at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Universität Osnabrück, and Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich. He was awarded a William M. Calder III Fellowship by the American Friends of the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. Jason Lustig publishes his book, A Time to Gather: Archives and the Control of Jewish Culture, in December 2021 with Oxford University Press. He is also excited to share two forthcoming articles, including “From Monumental Histories to a Multiplicity of Histories: The Persistence and Meaning of Master Narratives of Jewish History,” which will appear in AJS Review. He also continues publishing and producing the Jewish History Matters podcast (, which recently surpassed 125,000 total downloads. Julia Mickenberg is working on a project she’s tentatively titled The Way We Were: Eve Merriam and the Hidden History of American Feminism, a biographically based

intellectual history that uses the Jewish, feminist, communist writer and activist Eve Merriam (19161992)—who happened to be an inspiration for Barbra Streisand’s character in The Way We Were but is more significant as a poet, playwright, essayist, and author for children—as a lens for exploring the lives and work of other left-feminist women writers of her generation. Esther Raizen is back in the Hebrew language classroom after a decade of administrative work, and she had a most rewarding year. She published a review essay on Since 1948: Israeli Literature in the Making and is completing the essay “Terrible Noise: Jean-Claude Pecker on Loss, Remembrance, and Silence,” which discusses two poetry collections by French astrophysicist Jean-Claude Pecker (1923-2020), in which he grapples with the loss of his parents in the Holocaust and articulates the impact of this loss on his life and work. Jonathan Schofer contributed “Wisdom in Jewish Theology” to The Oxford Handbook of Wisdom and Wisdom Literature and wrote reviews of Jewish Veganism and Vegetarianism: Studies and New Directions for The Journal of Jewish Ethics and of the T&T Clark Handbook of Children in the Bible and the Biblical World. Suzy Seriff saw her ongoing work toward inclusive and hands-on learning honored with a studentinitiated international virtual exhibition on “Folk Arts in the Time of Covid,” and two awards, the Signature Course Inclusive Classroom Award, and the

Tower Award for “Outstanding Community Based Learning Instructor.” Her course “Austin Jews in the Civil Rights Era” and its digital storytelling archive is to expand in fall of 2021, through a partnership with Dr. Laurie Green (History) on a larger project on women’s activism in Austin and UT during the Civil Rights Era.

for her book project: “The Essential Israel Studies Teaching Guide: Global, Virtual, and Ethnographic Approaches.” This guide will offer an overview of the field, teaching strategies, and pedagogical innovations for approaching Israel Studies through a rigorously academic lens. Bruce Wells published “Death in the Garden of Eden” in the Journal of Biblical Literature. He also received a Big XII Faculty Fellowship for research at Baylor University and presented (over Zoom) two invited lectures on the parallels between the figures of Adam and Eve and Babylonian temple servants at Baylor University and the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität in Münster, Germany. He also advised Audrey Baillette’s undergraduate honors thesis, “Prophetic Interpretation to Political Aspiration: American Evangelical Christian Support of Israel.”

Geoff Smith spent the year working with his colleague, Brent Landau, on researching and writing The Secret Gospel of Mark: A Controversial Scholar, a Scandalous Gospel of Jesus, and the Fierce Debate Over Its Authenticity. In 1958, while conducting an inventory of the holdings of the library of Mar Saba, an ancient monastery in the Judean desert, Morton Smith—a well-known scholar of Jewish Studies and Early Christianity—found a text that purported to be a secret version of the Gospel of Mark in which Mark offers esoteric teachings to more advanced students. Some scholars have come to believe that Morton Smith discovered an authentic version of the Gospel of Mark and that the Secret Gospel provides new, reliable information about Jesus’ life and ministry; others suspect that Smith forged the manuscript himself, perhaps as a joke. In this book Drs. Landau and Smith argue that the truth lies somewhere in between. Amy Weinreb used her Global Virtual Exchange implementation grant from Texas Global to teach an enhanced version of “Multicultural Israel,” which includes Hebrew University student guests. She also invited local community liaisons to her new course, “Contemporary Jerusalem,” to support students’ independent inquiry projects. Weinreb received Global Career Launch funding and the Israel Studies Summer Research Stipend

Philip Yoo published “Dinah Among Jacob's Seventy: On Genesis 46:827” in Biblica and continues to work on the next book on the multiple presentations of the wilderness period as they are preserved in the Pentateuch. He is leaving UT to take up the position of Assistant Professor of Hebrew Bible and Jewish Studies at the Department of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia this Fall. He will miss the intellectual community at the SCJS.

Posters for 2020-2021 SCJS events organized by affiliated faculty members and leadership.


WHO ARE WE? Hina Azam, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies

John Hoberman, Professor, Germanic Studies

Hervé Picherit, Associate Professor, French and Italian

Daniel Birkholz, Associate Professor, English

Jonathan Kaplan, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies

Esther Raizen, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies

Miriam Bodian, Professor, History

Tatjana Lichtenstein, Associate Professor, History

Rebecca Rossen, Associate Professor, Theatre and Dance

Naomi Lindstrom, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese

Jonathan Schofer, Associate Professor, Religious Studies

Jason Lustig, Israel Institute Teaching Fellow, SCJS

Suzanne Seriff, Senior Lecturer, Anthropology

Anat Maimon, Lecturer, Middle Eastern Studies

Geoffrey Smith, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies

Tracie M. Matysik, Associate Professor, History

Alexander Weinreb, Professor, Sociology

Julia Mickenberg, Professor, American Studies

Amelia Weinreb, Senior Lecturer, SCJS

Mary Neuburger, Professor, History

Bruce Wells, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies

Martha G. Newman, Associate Professor, History

L. Michael White, Professor, Religious Studies

Na’ama Pat-El, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies

Philip Yoo, Lecturer, Th. Jefferson Center for the Study of Core Texts and Ideas

Pascale Bos, Associate Professor, Germanic Studies Davida H. Charney, Professor, Rhetoric and Writing David Crew, Professor, History David Eaton, Professor, LBJ School of Public Affairs Steven J. Friesen, Professor, Religious Studies Yitskhok (Itzik) N. Gottesman, Senior Lecturer, Germanic Studies Karen Grumberg, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Studies Michael P. Harney, Professor, Spanish and Portuguese Geraldine Heng, Professor, English


SCJS CALENDAR 2021-2022 *Virtual event, to be held via Zoom

SEPTEMBER September 1 “Lost and Found and Lost: Forgetting the Torah in Rabbinic Judaism” (Dr. Mira Balberg, UC San Diego)* September 23 Roundtable on Israel/Palestine*: (Dr. Hina Azam, Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin; Dr. Ahmad Agbaria, Post-Doctoral Fellow, The Zvi Yavetz School of Historical Studies, Tel Aviv U; Dr. Samy Ayoub, Middle Eastern Studies, UT Austin; Dr. Mohammad Mohammad, Middle Eastern Studies; Dr. Esther Raizen, Middle Eastern Studies; and Dr. Jeremi Suri, History/LBJ School)

OCTOBER October 7 “Are ‘Orientals’ a Race or a Nationality? Immigration Restriction of Asians and Jews in the Early 20th Century” (Dr. Madeline Y. Hsu, UT Austin)

NOVEMBER November 3 “The Jewish Experience in Mississippi during the Civil Rights Era” (Dr. Leon Waldoff) November 8 “Israeli Blackness in Motion: Transnational Perspectives on Jewish Racial Difference” (Dr. Bryan K. Roby, University of Michigan)

FEBRUARY February 3 “The ‘Jewnited States’ at the End Times: Fundamentalist Christian Fiction and the Baptism of White Nationalism” (Dr. Danielle Christmas, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill) February 20 Gale Spring 2022 Lecture: “Saving Christianity, Killing Jews: German Military Chaplains and the Holocaust” (Dr. Doris L. Bergen, University of Toronto)


October 13 “The Converso’s Return” (Dalia Kandiyoti, CUNY-Staten Island)

March 2 “Beyond Binaries: Jewish Suriname Through the Photographer’s Lens” (Dr. Laura Leibman, Reed College)

October 17 Gale Fall 2021 Lecture: “The Ties That Bind Us: African Americans and Jews in America and Our Shared Future” (Dr. Anthea Butler, University of Pennsylvania)

March 27 Harry Ransom Center Keynote (Aaron Lansky, President, Yiddish Book Center)

Top: Bryan K. Roby. Middle: “Portretfoto van Phili Samson als kotomisie, ca. 1935,” an image that Leibman will discuss in her lecture. Courtesy of the Jewish Historical Museum, Amsterdam. Bottom: Mari Balberg.



We offered 20 courses in Jewish Studies.

640 STUDENTS We taught 640 students.


We hosted 526+ event atttendees .


We had 34+ affiliated faculty members.



We provided $25,000 in student support.

We hosted 13+ events.

Fall 2021 Course Offerings American Jewish History Dr. Jason Lustig This class surveys the development of American Jewish life from 1492 to the present. Students will examine cultural, religious, and migratory trends that have shaped Jews in the western hemisphere and in the United States in particular. Austin Jews in the Civil Rights Era Dr. Suzanne Seriff Revolution was in the air in the 1960s in Austin and other places in Texas. Where were the Jews? Right/Left? Activist/Pacifist? Gay/


Straight? White/Other? We will learn the art of oral history and digital storytelling to explore the history of Austin’s Jews in the Age of Aquarius. Divine Persuasion in Biblical Time and Place Dr. Davida Charney Strategies for persuading audiences were distilled into the art of rhetoric in ancient Athens, where critical thinking and civic oratory became key parts of democratic governance. This course employs the concepts of rhetorical theory to examine the distinctive persuasive strategies used around the same time in the cultures of the ancient Near East.

History of Israel Dr. Jason Lustig This course examines the origins of modern Israel and the Zionist project within the context of the land and the people who have lived there, of diverse faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Students will gain a historical context to understand the complex movement of ideas, peoples, and polities across this stretch of land. Holocaust Aftereffects Dr. Pascale Bos This course examines the influence of American Hollywood representations of the Holocaust as they have shaped and are reflective

of the American cultural memory of the Holocaust. In contrast to Europe, knowledge of the events in the United States has been mediated by cinematic images from its earliest inception. Internship in Jewish Studies Dr. Suzanne Seriff This program is designed to give students a chance to explore potential career interests, test their passion for community service, strengthen their resume through real, hands-on work experience, and be introduced to Jewish texts and teachings on issues such as workplace ethics and responsibility to repair the world. Introduction to Jewish Studies Dr. Amy Weinreb This class exposes students to major themes in Jewish Studies through guest lectures by UT faculty who work in the field. This semester, the course is organized around three thematic units: Exile and Diaspora; Jewish Identity; and Jewish Ethics.


Intro to Jewish Civilization (to 1492) Dr. Jonathan Schofer This class surveys Jewish civilization from the origins of Ancient Israel to 1500 C.E. It addresses both the history of Jews during this long period, and the most influential writings produced during that time. Intro to the Old Testament Dr. Bruce Wells This course will examine the biblical traditions and texts of the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament as products of particular historical and cultural communities—namely, ancient Israel and Judah—and as literary and religious documents. Law and Justice in the Bible Dr. Bruce Wells

how various biblical traditions developed over time to form the foundation for later rabbinic and Christian ethical thought. Spatializing Culture Dr. Amy Weinreb This course focuses on Jewish communities throughout the globe and over time, including Jewish life in Latin America, the Middle East, North Africa, Asia, and Europe. We will study how space, place and landscape are produced, perceived, and experienced and how this may be applied to Jewish experiences at diverse geographic scales. Intro to Holocaust and Genocide Studies Vasken G. Markarian

This course examines the legal traditions of the Torah and what they reveal about the practice of law and justice in ancient Israel and the wider biblical world. The course acquaints students with

Genocidal events and violence belong to the catalogue of human behavior across time and space. This course introduces students to interdisciplinary perspectives (including historical, political, sociopsychological and cultural methods and insights) on genocide as a global phenomenon.

Studying Jewish societies and cultures requires a global lens, and at the SCJS, faculty and students work to internationalize Jewish Studies through handson, experiential learning and cutting-edge research.

to America Through Galveston Island. It depicts members of the first wave of East European Jewish immigrants who were part of the Galveston Movement. Here, they are greeted at the docks by Galveston’s famed Rabbi Henry Cohen.

The two photos on this year’s cover speak to the theme of “Global Connections Through Teaching and Research” in content and form.

Title and credit: Jewish immigrants at the North German Lloyd Wharf in Galveston, July 1, 1907. Courtesy: University of Texas at San Antonio Libraries Special Collections, Courtesy Temple B’nai Israel.

The large photo was featured in a nationally traveling exhibition curated by SCJS faculty member, Dr. Suzanne Seriff for The Bullock Texas History Museum in 2009 entitled Forgotten Gateway: Coming

For information about the smaller image and for credit details, please refer to page 5.


SCHUSTERMAN CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES The University of Texas at Austin RLP 2.402 305 E 23rd St B3600 Austin, Texas 78712 512-475-6178 Dr. Tatjana Lichtenstein | Director Dr. Jonathan Kaplan | Incoming Director Galit Pedahzur | Senior Program Coordinator Dr. Suzanne Seriff | Director, Internship Program in Jewish Studies Dr. Naomi Lindstrom | Director, Gale Collaborative on Jewish Life in the Americas Dr. Karen Grumberg | Faculty Coordinator, Israel Studies Dr. Cynthia Gladstone | Academic Advisor Nicole Farrell | Communications Specialist/Graduate Assistant Dr. Lindsay Alissa King | Newsletter Editor