PROGRAM FOR THE STUDY OF
This is an exciting time for the study of the Jews of the Middle East and North Africa. Scholarship on this important topic is finally emerging from the shadows to claim a pivotal place in the history and culture of the region and its diverse peoples. Topics such as the Jewish contribution to Baghdadâ€™s Arabic renaissance, the role of Jews in Egyptian theater and film, Persian Jewish civilization, and the intellectual genius of rabbis in accommodating Jewish law to Islamic legal practice in Morocco, Tunisia, and Algeria are just a few of the Stephens Hall, intellectual harbingers of a new kind of crossUC Berkeley ÂŠ Keegan Houser disciplinary learning that is breaking down barriers and opening minds. Classes in which students explore Jewish-Muslim relations are now held at universities throughout North America, including at the University of California (UC), where world-renowned specialists on the topic are teaching at nearly every campus. Even more encouraging is the fact that this effervescence is not limited to the United States, but has spread outward to Europe and the MENA region itself, where for years, studies touching on Jewish topics were confined to a small circle of isolated scholars. University-level courses, research groups, and dedicated publications have emerged in Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and elsewhere to cast new light on the relevance of the Jewish experience and its contributions in practically every sphere of intellectual, political, and cultural endeavor. At this critical moment, UC Berkeley is positioned to take a leading role in establishing a new platform for research and study through its nascent Program for MENA Jewry. Among the first of its kind in the United States, the MENA-J Program will establish the University of California as a locus for the study of these Jewish communities across time and space, from Tehran in the East to Cordoba in the West, from the earliest days of Muslim-Jewish coexistence until today. It promises to have a lasting impact on how the region as a whole is studied and understood.
Ketubbah; Yezd, Iran, 1881 Authors: Ravi ben Yehezkel and Sarah bat Simon Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley
The directorship of the MENA-J program encompasses three major University of California campuses, ensuring a steady flow of qualified students, faculty, and scholars.
• To deepen the understanding of Jewish civilization by emphasizing Sephardic, the native autochthonous, and Mizrahi experiences hitherto neglected in formal scholarship. Thematic conferences will be held on a regular basis in an effort to bring together scholars from the US, Israel, Europe, and the Islamic world to discuss MENA Jewry in all its glory and to celebrate the achievements of its outstanding members.
Emily Benichou Gottreich The Program for MENA Jewry was founded and is directed by Emily Benichou Gottreich, Chair of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and an expert on Jewish-Muslim relations. Professor Gottreich is a past president of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies and former member of the Committee for Academic Freedom of the Middle East Studies Association.
Susan Gilson Miller Susan Gilson Miller, Professor of History at the University of California, Davis, is a pioneer in the field of Moroccan Jewish history, with a special interest in urban studies, minority studies, and human rights. She has taught at Wellesley College, Brandeis University, and from 1990 until 2008, at Harvard University, where she established and directed the Program in North African Studies.
Aomar Boum Aomar Boum, Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Los Angeles, is a leading anthropologist of MENA Jewry. His ethnographic work is concerned with the social and cultural representation of and political discourse about religious and ethnic minorities in the MENA.
Complementing the directorship of the program, the UC system boasts world-class experts on Persian Jewry, Sephardic civilization, “convivencia” in Islamic Spain, Italian Jewish liturgy and art, the Culture of the Talmud, Hebrew Bible, comparative Jewish and Islamic law, Hebrew literature, Jews and gender, to name just a few areas of specialization. We also have dedicated Judaica and Islamica librarians on several campuses.
• To produce research on topics of contemporary interest from the perspective of MENA Jewry, including comparative monotheism, Mediterranean economics, racial and ethnic identity constructions, and understandings of gender that underlie social and legal practice, to mention just a few of the countless possibilities for research that fall under the MENA-J umbrella. • To provide scholars from institutions in the MENA region with exposure to advanced Jewish studies and related methodologies, allowing for the cultivation of new perspectives through a program of mutual exchanges, publications, conferences, and fellowships. • To encourage students in the UC system to explore the rich culture of the MENA region through academic study abroad in places where Jews have left a lasting mark on the local culture and society. • To launch outreach activities to schools, civic and religious groups, the business community, and policy-makers to increase understanding of the complexity of MENA civilization and especially its Jewish components. Bhamdoun Synagogue; Bhamdoun, Lebanon, 2017 Artist: Rola Khayyat © Rola Khayyat
at the University of California The University of California has long been committed to creating a community of scholars and students that engages with today’s most challenging debates in the public sphere. While the media and popular opinion continually reinforce notions of an “ancient enmity” between Jews and Muslims, our goal at the University of California is to build bridges based on a realistic understanding of what may be possible. MENA Jewish civilization lies at the heart of that vision. The most distinctive strength of the University of California system is the quality and scholarly range of its affiliated faculty. At UC Berkeley alone, more than 50 faculty in 20 different academic disciplines and professional schools work in some way on the Middle East and/or Jewish studies, with areas of expertise ranging from anthropology and philosophy to architecture and law, as well as Jewish and Islamic studies. Our faculty specialists serve on virtually every important academic or governmental committee dealing with the MENA region. UCLA and UC Berkeley both maintain active research centers devoted to cutting edge work in Jewish and Middle Eastern Studies. UC Davis, UC Irvine, and UC Santa Barbara maintain robust undergraduate and graduate programs in the field. Some of the most promising scholarship on MENA Jewry to date has been produced by scholars at the University of California. Student interest in Middle Eastern and Jewish Studies is surging. At UC Berkeley in 2016-17, more than 2,500 undergraduates and 380 graduates were enrolled in 250 courses covering the Arab world, Iran, Turkey, Israel, areas of Central Asia, Afghanistan, and Middle Eastern communities in Europe and the Americas. Language instruction is offered in Arabic (both Modern Standard and dialects), Aramaic, Armenian, Azeri, Hebrew, Persian, Turkish, Uzbek, Kurdish, Yiddish, and ancient Semitic languages. UC Berkeley and UCLA have the largest library collections devoted to MENA-Jewry, which are accessible to all University of California students and faculty
through interlibrary loan. Both have permanent, professional Judaica and Islamica librarians. UC Berkeley holds nearly 200,000 monographs and over 2,600 periodicals relating to the Middle East in its libraries—including rare collections of Jewish newspapers published in Iraq, Egypt, and the Ottoman Empire in the 19th and 20th centuries and a special collection of Judeo-Arabic folklore from Tunisia; the campuses of the UC system are well-positioned to support doctoral studies in all fields of MENA Jewish studies. The MENA-J Program will be headquartered at the Center for Middle Eastern Studies (CMES) at UC Berkeley. Established in 1868, UC Berkeley is the flagship of the University of California system. Berkeley’s commitment to scholarship on the Middle East began more than a century ago. The campus’s standing as a major site for Middle Eastern Studies was affirmed in 1965, when the U.S. Department of Education designated the University a Title VI National Resource Center for Middle East language and area studies. The CMES itself was founded in 1979 with a mandate to promote the full spectrum of studies concerned with this world area. Today, UC Berkeley’s CMES is the only federally-recognized Title VI Middle East national resource center in the state of California, and ranked highest of all ME centers in the country in the last Department of Education competition. Programming in the area of MENA Jewish studies already has a strong track record at UC Berkeley. The CMES is the cosponsor of the California working group on Jews of the Muslim Mediterranean (CalJeMM) and an institutional member of the American Institute for Maghrib Studies (AIMS), and the Middle East Studies Association (MESA). We regularly partner with academic and cultural institutions throughout the MENA, and maintain an active collaborative relationship with the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies and UC Berkeley’s Center for Jewish Studies.
Joseph Interprets Pharaohâ€™s Dream; Isfahan, Iran, 19th-20th cent (written in Farsi using Hebrew characters) Artist: anonymous Gift of Chimon Mayeri and Family, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley
AN INVITATION In the tradition of tsedakah, contributions to an endowment will serve as a launching pad for an institutionalized Program on MENA Jewry. To ensure its long-term success, we are seeking endowed funds to complement existing institutional support. We invite you to join us in this new realm of innovative collaboration.
CONTACT: Prof. Emily Benichou Gottreich Chair Center for Middle Eastern Studies University of California, Berkeley 340 Stephens Hall Berkeley, CA 94720-2314 (510) 642-8208 firstname.lastname@example.org
Back Cover Photos, Clockwise Saida Synagogue (Ohel Yacob); Sidon, Lebanon, 2016 Artist: Rola Khayyat © Rola Khayyat Wedding; Casablanca, Morocco, 1981 Artist: Arthur Leipzig Gift of Dr. Karen Flanders, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley Refugee Jews from Kurdistan, Kurdish women; Tehran, Iran, 1950 Artist: Moshe Shapiro Gift of the Artist, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley The Karaite Jews [Elie Massuda]; Cairo, Egypt, 1985 Artist: Ira Nowinski Gift of Karl and Elsa Kraus, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley © Ira Nowinski / Stanford Libraries
Saida Synagogue (Ohel Yacob); Sidon, Lebanon, 2016 Artist: Rola Khayyat © Rola Khayyat
Morocco was once home to the largest Jewish community in the Arab world. Today, it boasts Jewish museums, restored heritage sites, and a vibrant Jewish Studies academic community. For these reasons, we have chosen it as a first overseas location for MENA-J programming.
The goals of MENA-J Morocco are three-fold: host visiting scholars of MENA Jewry from the University of 1. To California and support their research by providing professional affiliation, scholarly materials (electronic and documentary), local connections, offices, lodging, and other requirements for succesful research. provide local scholars of MENA Jewry with advanced training 2. To in Jewish studies including Hebrew language, Jewish textual traditions, social science and humanities methodologies, academic writing; training in these areas would be provided by the visiting scholars, creating a scholarly community linking Morocco with the University of California. conduct outreach in contemporary Morocco with regard to 3. To Moroccoâ€™s Jewish past, particularly in the form of curricular development for Moroccan primary and secondary schools in an effort to reintegrate Jewish components into national narrative.
Hanging Hannukah lamp with hamsa inlaid with six-pointed star; Morocco, 20th century Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, UC Berkeley, purchased with funds provided by Seymour Fromer
To date, we have identified the following mechanisms for meeting these goals: Overseas course. MENA-J will organize an annual study tour to Morocco for students to learn about Moroccan Jewish heritage and civilization first hand. This class will be accredited through the University of California and open to all students. It will consist of week-long stays in the Atlas Mountains, Marrakech, Fez, and Tangier, where students will collaborate with Moroccan partners on projects related to oral history and memory, Amazigh (Berber) culture, site restoration, Sephardic and Andalusian heritage, and comparative religious legal traditions. Establishment of a Center for the Study of Islamicate Jewry (merkaz li-dirasat al-yahud fi-l-islam) in Marrakech, Morocco. Complementing the new Haim Zafrani Research Center in Essaouira (the two communities are themselves historically linked), the merkazâ€™s mandate would extend to scholars wishing to conduct research not only on Moroccan Jewry but also on Jewish topics based in other parts of the Arab-Islamic world, a necessity given the current (and likely long term) lack of access to important research sites like Aleppo, Baghdad, Cairo, or Istanbul for researchers on Jewish topics. Ideally, this center would be housed in the Marrakech mellah, once the Arab worldâ€™s largest Jewish quarter. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a Jewish Studies Center in the Islamic world.
To find out how you can join our MENA-J Morocco efforts, please contact: Professor Emily Benichou Gottreich Program for MENA Jewry Center for Middle Eastern Studies University of California, Berkeley (510) 642-8208 email@example.com
GIVING OPPORTUNITIES Program for MENA Jewry Center for Middle Eastern Studies University of California, Berkeley The Program for MENA Jewry presents an opportunity for individual families as well as other interested parties to join with UC Berkeley to help institutionalize a new field in the American academy and in the process create a more hopeful model for multi-ethnic and multi-religious societies. We invite you to celebrate the heritage and culture of Jews from the MENA. Please consider contributing to all or any of following program elements. Endowments may be named for the donor, or if the donor so chooses, in memory or honor of someone special. Endowed Chair in MENA Jewish Civilization UC Berkeley maintains its high level of academic quality only by recruiting and retaining the very best faculty, and incentives such as Endowed Chairs help to keep UC Berkeley competitive in this regard. The Endowed Chair is among the highest honors at UC Berkeley. It rewards individual accomplishment while providing the University as a whole with resources for attracting new faculty, creating curricular innovation, improving facilities, and other priorities. Income generated from the Endowed Chair in MENA Jewish Civilization will be used at the discretion of its holder to support teaching and research on related themes. $ 6 million Visiting Professor The Visiting Professorship will bring an outstanding specialist in the field of MENA Jewry to campus each year to participate in all facets of academic life at UC Berkeley, including teaching courses and offering public lectures. $ 3 million Post Doctoral Scholar Scholarly exchanges are critical to ensure continual dialogue between scholars of Islam and Judaism. This endowment will generate about $50,000 each year to support stipends for an annual visiting scholar. We are especially interested in hosting scholars from Israel and the Muslim world, particularly Arab countries, and in offering continuing education to them and other professionals.
$ 1.5 million
Graduate Fellowships In contrast to the generous multi-year support available for graduate students at peer institutions, UC Berkeley is typically able to provide only year-to-year financial aid for a small number of graduate students. Competition for top students is intensifying as universities seek to meet the demand for an expanded pool of high-caliber Middle East specialists. This fellowship will be made available to incoming or continuing UC Berkeley graduate students who are researching topics related to MENA Jewry. Current dissertation topics of UC Berkeley students include a study of illness among Cairo’s Jews in the time of Maimonides, Berber-Jewish folklore in North Africa and among Moroccan Jews in Israel, a linguistic study of Judeo-Persian, and a comparison of Mizrahi and “Beur” (French North African) literature.
$ 1 million
Curricular Enrichment To address MENA-J issues on the undergraduate as well as the graduate level, the Program will institute an annual survey course on Jews of the MENA, as well as a graduate seminar comparing and contrasting Judaism and Islam. A course on one of the languages used by Jews of the Islamic world, including Ladino, Judeo-Arabic, and Judeo-Persian, may also be taught on regular basis with support from this fund. Public Programs and Outreach
In order to promote the study of MENA Jewry on the UC Berkeley campus and beyond, the MENA-J Program will sponsor an annual conference and/or lecture series. It will focus on different themes each year, ranging from a critical re-thinking of the Spanish “Golden Age” to comparing the MENA Jewish refugee experience of the twentieth century with similar events of today. These activities will likely generate publications, including monographs and edited books, as well as curricula and other materials emphasizing MENA Jewry’s role in world history, produced in partnership with ORIAS (Office of Resources for International and Area Studies) for dissemination to primary and secondary schools.
Administration To ensure consistency, quality, a broad vision, and extensive interaction with the larger community, all elements of the Program for MENA Jewry will be administered by the professional staff of the Center for Middle Eastern Studies under the supervision of UC Berkeley’s Vice Chancellor for Research. It will also benefit from the creation of an advisory board comprised of today’s top scholars and practitioners of MENA Jewish Studies.
Learn about the new Program for the Study of MENA Jewry at UC Berkeley's Center for Middle Eastern Studies.