CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES
“Transmitting and transforming Jewish scholarship for over 40 years”
ANNUAL MAGAZINE FALL 2021
FROM THE DIRECTOR When I wrote my remarks for the CJS Annual Magazine one year ago, I was optimistic that by Spring 2021 we could again resume in-person conferences and lectures. Because the University of Minnesota campus and most community institutions opened on only a limited basis in the fall, all our lectures and meetings were planned as online events. As we headed towards the winter, and with the pandemic still raging, we had to reschedule all our spring events as Webinars and Zoom conference meetings as well. Throughout the 2020-2021 academic year, all but a very few classes were taught online. As instructors, we not only had to adjust to the technological and methodological challenges of online teaching, but-- equally important-- we struggled to create a sense of community in the virtual classroom. This past year, however, was far from being a loss. Amid the near closure of the campus and the profound insecurities experienced by students, faculty, staff and the larger public, the CJS and our faculty members and staff have remained incredibly active and innovative. Hundreds of students took Jewish Studies classes online, offered by our diverse faculty. And while we missed the convivial atmosphere of our events at community venues, there was a silver lining in the larger number of participants attending our lecture series, ranging every time between 100 and 200, and we were joined not only from the campus and Twin Cities community, but from around the US, Europe, and Israel. The challenges of COVID-19 were further compounded by political crises on a local, national, and international level that affected all of us directly and indirectly. The CJS, represented by researchers and teachers specializing in diverse fields related to Jewish history, culture and religion from antiquity to the modern age, is a unique resource for understanding and thinking critically about many important problems of today and of the present moment: antisemitism and racism, social justice and the rights of minorities, refugees and human rights, the recent Israel-Gaza war, conflict and co-existence in the Middle East, and interreligious conflict, to name just a few. We begin the 2021-2022 year with much uncertainty as students return to campus and many in-person classes resume. The CJS is prepared as ever to revise our plans if necessary. Thanks to our dedicated staff—Associate Director Natan Paradise and Outreach Coordinator Marial Coulter—and our devoted faculty leadership, we will be able to meet the challenges as they arise and continue to thrive and fulfill our mission as a preeminent center for scholarship, teaching, and intellectual exchange in the field of Jewish Studies. I hope you enjoy reading this magazine and learning more about the events of the CJS and the activities and achievements of our faculty and students. The Magazine was beautifully written and edited by Natan Paradise, with 1 the layout design by Marial Coulter. The magazine cover is Letter From the Director adorned with the art of Katya Oicherman, a gifted Twin CitiesAssociate Director’s Report 2 based artist and visiting member of the CJS faculty. We are excited to offer a diverse program for this 3-5 year’s 19 th Annual CJS Community Lecture Series. Our fall Undergraduate Student Spotlights program will be entirely online, and we plan on resuming in5 person venues for the spring semester. We will keep you CJS Scholarship Winners posted on other events, either online or in person. We value Graduate Student Spotlights 6-8 the continued engagement with community and look forward to seeing you and learning together in the upcoming year.
IN THIS EDITION
Faculty News & Notes
With Best Wishes,
Center for Jewish Studies Donors
Daniel J. Schroeter Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History Professor, Department of History
Faculty Year in Review New Class Debut
Cover image: Oicherman, Katya. Stories of the Torn Swaddling Cloth. 2011. Hand embroidery on found cloth. Oicherman is a visiting faculty member in the CJS and has recently been named an inaugural ShUM Cities Artist in Residence.
FROM THE ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR & DIRECTOR OF UNDERGRADUATE STUDIES None of us, faculty or students, ever thought we would be teaching and learning entirely online. Last year was hard. And yet, we might have to do it again. As this magazine goes to press, daily reports of school districts sending their students home because of COVID outbreaks suggest that this year might not be as smooth for us on campus as we had hoped. We shall see. And yet, we in the CJS recognize the value of our core accomplishment this past year in our undergraduate program—educating hundreds of students in Jewish studies— and that we desperately want to do again, and again. Although the modality of instruction presented countless challenges, the substance of our instruction proved to be incredibly important. None of us has ever doubted its centrality, of course, but the events of this past year drove home how necessary and useful our curriculum is to students as they confront a complex and problematic world. George Floyd’s murder and the reckoning with racism that it provoked, countless attacks on minorities and their sense of security and belonging in the societies they call home, the relationship between past and present, inherited ideas and their lived expression, the balance between individual, national, and transnational identities and obligations, seemingly endless expressions of antisemitism (on campuses, online, in the streets, and in the halls of power), the war between Israel and Hamas—all these raise issues and questions that are at the heart of the courses we teach. And so our enrollments are strong, as students seek knowledge and answers, and we teach them what questions they might be asking. Jewish students whose identities and sense of security are being challenged as never before find that they do not have the knowledge and vocabulary to respond to the situations they face, and they also would like to learn more of the positive in the Jewish experience and not just the lachrymose, and so they take our courses. Students encounter critiques or attacks against Israel in person, on social media, or in the news, and they find they do not understand the history well enough to know how they want to respond, and so they take our courses. And similarly, non-Jewish students—the majority of our students-- who read about antisemitism or are exposed to it, or who hear reports or claims about Israel but do not have the knowledge to evaluate any of them, who increasingly hear Holocaust-related rhetoric and terminology bandied about but do not know much about the Holocaust, or who simply realize they know nothing about Jewish history and culture--these students also take our courses. Now more than ever our curriculum is vital. And so I am pleased that in the past year we were able to debut two new courses in our curriculum: Alejandro Baer’s course about Global Antisemitism, and my own new course, which is ostensibly a course about Jewish humor, but which is really a course about Jews and American ethnic and racial relations from the Civil War until today, and about antisemitism in America and the ways in which Jews in America have had to negotiate their identities. But also it’s a course about Jewish humor. Try telling jokes on Zoom, where you can’t hear if the students laugh. I began my academic career as a scholar of the early British novel, and I did this while living in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Philadelphia. Every day I would ask myself, “Does what I’m doing really matter? How can studying and teaching these early novels promote change and improvement to the world outside my window?” I never ask such questions anymore. What we teach in Jewish studies unquestionably matters to our students, changes our students, and gives them the tools they need to effect change in the world outside their windows. Thank you for your support, as we pursue our educational mission in support of our students. With gratitude and best wishes, Natan Paradise Associate Director and Director of Undergraduate Studies
UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS Kelsey Bailey Prepares for Leadership and Cantorial Roles Undergraduates decide to pursue the Jewish studies major or minor for a broad range of reasons. For some, the allure is purely academic; they find the field fascinating, and then they discover they can apply what they learn and the skills they gain to a myriad of topics, contexts, and professional trajectories. For others, the motivation to pursue Jewish studies is intensely personal, either because of a specific professional goal that is advanced by the Jewish studies curriculum or because of personal commitments to particular aspects of their identity. For recent graduate Kelsey Bailey (Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance, summa cum laude, and JWST minor) it was academic, professional, and personal. Bailey hopes to begin cantorial training in the fall of 2022, and she says she knew that for such training “any prior knowledge I had in Jewish studies would be helpful, which is why even decided to inquire about the minor in the first place.” Looking ahead to her duties as not just a cantorial vocalist but as a Jewish educator, she reports, “I have also realized that I am able Kelsey Bailey to teach people the fundamental aspects of Judaism, such as Jewish customs and observances, as well as history and the answers to ‘why.’ I feel more confident in my knowledge of Jewish studies, and I know that all that I have learned will serve me well in my future in Jewish learning.” Bailey was an active leader within the campus Jewish community during her undergraduate career, especially in Minnesota Hillel, where she served as the Maroon and Gold Shabbat Co-Chair in 2018-2019, an engagement intern during the same year, Vice President of Programming in 2019-2020, and Hillel President during her senior year. Bailey also served as the 2017-2018 President and the 2019-2021 Musical Director of Minnesota Chai Notes, a cappella choir that expanded its Jewish and Hebrew-language repertoire under her direction, and she was a Zamir Choral Foundation Fellow for the North American Jewish Choral Festival in 2019. Bailey notes, The classes I took for the Jewish Studies minor not only helped me understand different aspects of Judaism on a deeper level, but also allowed me to connect my Judaism to my leadership in college. Even after taking just the introduction to Jewish studies class [“Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures,” taught by Natan Paradise], I felt I had a much deeper understanding of Judaism. Consequently, Bailey says, “When people would have questions . . . I felt that I was able to explain and answer their questions in a way that both made sense and was credible.” One of her favorite classes, Bailey reports, was “Multiculturalism in Israel” with Renana Schneller: “I felt we had a lot of difficult but much needed discussions. As a Jewish college student, you hear a lot about Israel, both good and bad. The class I took with Renana really made me confident when discussing Israel with people who both are and are not educated on the conflict. I learned a lot about both Israeli culture as well as Israeli politics and history, which was for me multi-dimensional and unlike other classes I took in college.” Bailey also took four semesters of Hebrew with Schneller, which she says has helped her as she tutors students for bar and bat mitzvah, and Bailey discovered while working with her own students that she had learned more about Hebrew than she had anticipated: “I was able to see the connections between modern and Biblical Hebrew even though I only studied modern. This made me realize that I was truly learning so much about Hebrew beyond just learning words and grammar.” Bailey also developed a strong critical lens through her Jewish studies coursework. She asserts: I strongly believe that my Jewish studies courses have allowed me to learn both sides of every issue. From Reform to Orthodox Judaism, or Israel to Palestine, I feel that I learned so much about each aspect of Judaism and Jewish culture. I appreciated how professors would give different viewpoints, even if one was more accepted by the majority of Jewish people. In seeing so much opposition online recently to Israel, I am able to tell which of it is true and which is skewed in a biased lens for both those in support of and against the State of Israel.
For her capstone project in music, Bailey applied this critical lens to the musical canon she had been studying in her music major, pushing back against the predominating presence of white, Christian culture and its music in the School of Music curriculum. She therefore chose to write her summa thesis, “From the Shtetl to Tin Pan Alley and On to Broadway: The Influences of Jewish Prayer Music on the Secular American Society” in order to document the “impact and the influence Jewish prayer music has on the music of secular American society.” In her thesis, written with guidance from CJS Associate Director Natan Paradise, Bailey argues that “the use of Jewish prayer modes in secular music has allowed Jewish musicians to have a voice in the dominant culture, all while maintaining and enhancing the unique role that music plays in Jewish culture.” Asked what advice she has for future students pursuing a program in Jewish studies, Bailey replies readily. “First off,” she says, I would tell them to start taking Hebrew as soon as they have time for it in their schedule as I feel that even a basic knowledge of the language has made me appreciate aspects of my Jewish studies courses a lot more than if I had not taken Hebrew. I feel that the Jewish studies minor goes hand in hand with the Hebrew classes. Secondly, I would tell them to question everything they think they know about Judaism while taking the classes in order to really dive into the content. As someone who came into the Jewish studies minor with a background in Jewish education, I quickly learned that a lot of what I thought was right or wrong was proven to be different with the more in-depth classes I took. Good advice from a future cantor and educator. We look forward to incoming students in the Jewish studies program as eager to learn as Kelsey Bailey.
Katy Berg Interns at the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest
Talk about getting sucked in. Halfway through her sophomore year, prompted in part by a course she had taken fall semester on the history of Eastern Europe, history major Katy Berg found herself in two Jewish studies courses, “The Holocaust: Memory, Narrative, History” with Leslie Morris and “Jewish Humor: Seriously Funny from Text to Stage to Screen” with Natan Paradise. Next thing you know, Katy had declared the minor in Jewish studies. Given Katy’s interest in history and in public history (the practice of historical research and interpretation outside of academia, making the past accessible, intelligible, and relevant to the general public), a summer internship with the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest seemed the next logical step. JHSUM Executive Director Robin Doroshow proved an enthusiastic collaborator and internship host, and the Barbara D. and Lee Bearmon Internship Award in Jewish Ethics and Practice made it affordable for Katy Berg Katy to spend her summer helping to preserve and elucidate local Jewish history. Katy’s internship project for the JHSUM involves researching the history of a stained glass window from the third Mount Zion Temple building, which was located at Holly and Avon in St. Paul (1904-1954). The window is currently in the possession of the JHSUM, which is trying to find an appropriate home for it, and part of that process requires understanding the story of the window’s creation in 1904 and why it was not incorporated into the current building on Summit Avenue. The 1904 building’s architect was not Jewish, and Katy argues that his choices were largely informed by his experience with churches; to her eye, the window’s depiction of the marriage of Isaac and Rebecca looks like the stained glass one might find in any Midwestern Lutheran church. Commenting on her research, Katy notes: We’re left with this window that is an important part of Mount Zion’s history, but it isn’t reflective of their current values or identity, and to me that raises a lot of interesting questions. I know we discussed this so much in class, but what makes something Jewish? This window was in Mt. Zion but isn’t necessarily Jewish in any way besides that. And also, what deserves to be preserved? Ultimately, Katy suggests, “the story of the window could be a really interesting examination of how Jewish identity in the Twin Cities has changed over time.”
There are many benefits to completing an internship, including the ability to learn about the broader workings of an organization. For Katy, that has meant learning about other ongoing projects at JHSUM, and she has found herself particularly engaged by the three-part series, “Shared Experiences: Jewish Women in Small Communities”(https:// www.jhsum.org/post/2-dates-added-shared-experiences-jewish-women-and-small-communities). This project aims to tell the stories of Jewish women from Midwestern towns with very small Jewish communities. Katy is particularly excited by this project because she grew up in Crookston, MN (pop. ~ 7800). She reports that when her parents moved to Crookston in the 1980s, there was “famously” one Jewish family in town—and they moved away. Reflecting on this project, Katy observes, “These women were from incredibly small Jewish communities but in some ways had stronger Jewish identities than those from larger communities. They were forced to educate their towns about their beliefs and holidays and become the spokesperson for an entire group of people.” Katy concludes, “These women carried a lot of responsibility in keeping their traditions and communities going while they were in these small towns. These women had to do much more for their communities than someone from a larger place simply because there was no one else for the responsibility to fall to.” The Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest is dedicated to using the “passion for history to expand our knowledge of the ways Jewish history intersects with and informs the culture around us.” We are pleased to see Katy using the background she has gained in the CJS curriculum to help Photo: Jewish Historical Society advance that goal.
JEWISH STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
Supporting our excellent cohort of undergraduate and graduate students is central to our mission. Congratulations to our 2021 award winners! Goldenberg Prize for Outstanding Essays in Jewish Studies Crystal Kolden, History. Paper title: Maimonides and Thomas Aquinas: Jewish and Christian Reactions to Islam During the High Middle Ages Cassidy Mosity, PhD candidate, Religions in Antiquity. Paper title: Apocalypse Against Intermarriage: The Interpretation of Genesis 6:1-4 in the Book of the Watchers Jonathan Paradise Modern Hebrew Study Prize Leah Greenberg, Developmental Psychology The Leo and Lillian Gross Scholarship in Jewish Studies Ellie Rogers, Sociology, minors in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Barbara D. and Lee Bearmon Internship Award in Jewish Ethics and Practice Katy Berg, History, in support of an internship at the Jewish Historical Society of the Upper Midwest The Theresa and Nathan Berman Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Studies Jeffrey Cross, PhD candidate, Religions in Antiquity, to help fund travel to Israel to study Dead Sea Scrolls fragments in support of his dissertation on “Rule Texts Reimagined: Scribal Rewriting in Serekh ha-Yahad and the Damascus Document.” Julian Gillilan, PhD candidate, Germanic Studies, to support his study of Yiddish through the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. Jerome L. Joss Graduate Student Research Grant Walter Francis, PhD candidate, History, in support of an academic conference presentation based on his research at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. If you would like to contribute to any of these established scholarship funds or create a fund of your own, please contact Peter Rozga in the CLA Office of Institutional Advancement, email@example.com or 612-624-2848.
GRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS Walter Francis Researches Tunisian Jewish Experiences of WWII at USHMM Walter Francis (PhD candidate, History), having completed a master’s degree at Columbia University in which he examined Egyptian Jewish memoirs for encounters between Egyptian Jews and French imperialism, came to the University of Minnesota to study under CJS Director Daniel Schroeter with the goal of continuing his investigations of historical memory and its effect on the construction of Jewish identity in North Africa. Ultimately, Francis is motivated by the desire to continue broadening the geographic and historiographical limits of the Holocaust to include the experiences of Jews in North Africa and the Middle East at the hands of the Nazis and their collaborators—a need first impressed upon him in a 2018 lecture by Yad Vashem researcher Irit Abramski while he was interning at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. Francis’s research agenda gained support this summer through the Walter Francis award of a prestigious 2021 Summer Graduate Student Research Fellowship at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. Through his research at USHMM, he says, “It is my goal to first supplement the memoiristic accounts of Tunisian Jews with archival evidence of governmentsanctioned Vichy antisemitism from October 1940 to November 1942, to create a firmer connection between Vichy and Nazi policy toward the Jews.” During World War II, as Francis explains, “Tunisia, as a French protectorate under the administration of the collaborationist Vichy regime, implemented antisemitic laws similar to the Third Reich— most notably the ‘Aryanization’ of Jewish businesses, property, and financial assets, the exclusion of Jews from government professions, and quotas limiting Jews in the liberal professions and the number of Jewish students in public schools.” Eventually, Vichy France established a network of forced labor camps across Tunisia. Francis hopes to use the archival evidence of Vichy and Nazi antisemitic activity in North Africa to “excavate from the archive an account of Tunisian Jewish experiences of World War II and break the historical silences on the topic.” The silences he refers to, Francis notes, are historical silences as defined by Michel-Rolph Trouillot in Silencing the Past, whereby silences are inherent in history because any single event enters history with some of its constituting parts missing, and they are missing according to Trouillot because “inequalities experienced by the actors lead to uneven historical power in the inscription of traces”; the sources built on those traces in turn privilege some events over others. By using the USHMM archives to compare government records (from the French protectorate, the fledgling Tunisian state, and the various embassies and international governments documenting the actions of the Vichy administration in Tunisia) against records from Jewish organizations working in North Africa (such as the World Jewish Congress), as well as the published memoire literature and the written and oral testimonials from Tunisian Jews recounting their experiences during the war and in its aftermath, Francis aims to help scholars understand why Tunisian Jews initially downplayed the extent of their persecution under Vichy in favor of detailing the six-month ordeal of Nazi occupation. Viewing this period within its colonialist and later decolonizing context, Francis argues that “by placing the trauma of grappling with the Nazis at the forefront of Tunisian-Jewish memory of World War II, the Jewish community was able to distance themselves from the antisemitism they faced from French protectorate officials and protect the embattled French aspect of their Tunisian-Jewish identities.” He hopes to account, moreover, for how the North African Jewish memory of the Holocaust emerged out of the twin postwar realities of Zionism and decolonization. As he suggests, “the historical memory (or in this case, historical amnesia) of the Tunisian Jews reveals the tenacity of Jewish affiliation with the French culture and language. Thus, Tunisian Jews, with variegated political inclinations—whether Zionist, Tunisian nationalist, or culturally French— found life in independent Tunisia tenuous, and ultimately untenable, sparking an exodus to France and Israel.” The research Francis conducts at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum will form part of his dissertation, and with support from the Jerome L. Joss Graduate Student Research Grant, awarded by the Center for Jewish Studies, he will be presenting his findings in a paper titled “Breaking Silences: Tunisian Jewry During Vichy Rule and Nazi Occupation” at the upcoming Association for Jewish Studies conference in Chicago.
Sara Gardner Explores Sephardic Culture and Identity through Food When Sara Gardner (PhD candidate, Spanish and Portuguese Studies) began her undergraduate studies at Tufts, she found herself assigned, entirely by chance, to the course “Aspects of Sephardic Tradition” taught by Gloria Ascher, renowned scholar of Ladino language and culture. That class introduced Gardner, who has always loved cooking, to Sephardic food, which in turn set her on the path whereby she is laying the groundwork for a dissertation on the culinary heritage and cultural identity of Sephardic Jews, under the supervision of CJS faculty member Michelle Hamilton. Gardner comes to the University of Minnesota having already completed a year as a Fulbright Scholar in Spain, where she researched medieval Sephardic cuisine and identity under the guidance of Paloma Díaz-Mas, author of the authoritative history, Sephardim: the Jews from Spain. Gardner says of her educational journey, “I’ve always loved to cook, and I was thinking, why can’t we talk about food the way we talk about film, the way we talk about literature, the way we talk about all of these other forms of cultural expression that have very well-founded disciplines around them—why can’t we talk about food that way?” And so she does, using food as a way to understand the journey of the Sephardic Sara Gardner Jews as they went from being a deeply rooted culture on the Iberian Peninsula to experiencing one of the farthest reaching diasporas within the overall Jewish diaspora. Although she has just completed her first year of graduate study, and therefore has yet to submit her dissertation proposal, Gardner hopes to research the transition of the medieval Sephardic community from its context in Spain to its diasporic context, exploring how food functions culturally in that transition. “In the early days of the Sephardic diaspora,” she argues, “food is this thing that exists like an anchor to Jewish identity when the Sephardic community at that point doesn’t have synagogues, it doesn’t have the well-ensconced institutions that they had in Spain or that they will come to have later on.” But at the same time, she suggests, for those who had been alienated from their Jewish identity, the conversos, “arriving in the Netherlands or whichever country they landed in and reclaiming their Jewish identity, food becomes this really interesting way of literally re-ingesting this religious identity that for some people, for up to one hundred years, they had not had but still felt strongly related to.” Gardner hopes to show, therefore, the simultaneous preservation and reinvention of identity through food. Gardner is also interested in the literary sources surrounding the medieval Sephardic community, which she emphasizes existed in both a Christian and Muslim context. She says, “There’s a lot in the poetry and literature of the time that specifically uses food to indicate either a sense of Muslim identity or a general non-Christian identity pointing towards Muslim, but definitely also towards Jewish identity.” Gardner notes that historians argue over how much contact there was between Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors, and that medieval polemics argue against contact between communities. She argues, however, that the food history suggests there was a lot of interaction between communities. In some towns, she points out, there was only one communal oven: “What does that mean when somebody who is not of your faith community is probably touching your food, which at the time according to rabbinic commentators, according to Christian commentators, according to Muslim commentators was a big deal, and was probably a big no-no.” The food history suggests, Gardner argues, that “the boundaries that I think a lot of those documents show as being very strong, or wanting to be very strong, were actually a lot more porous.” While completing her Fulbright research, Gardner became deeply connected to the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid. The relationships she formed there led to her editing a cookbook, The Rosh Hashanah Seder Cookbook: Stories & Recipes from the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid (2018), for which she also translated, recipetested, and provided the photography.
The cookbook is based on the Sephardic Rosh Hashanah seder tradition, a major gathering moment for the community, but the cookbook is adapted to the practices of the Reform community in Madrid, which is a multinational community, and the it therefore includes Sephardic, Ashkenazi, Mizrahi, and Spanish-cuisine inspired recipes—a diversity that Gardner’s research suggests has always been typical of Jewish food. All proceeds from the sale of the book go to benefit the Reform Jewish Community of Madrid. Just as Gardner became an active contributor to the Madrid community, so she hopes to contribute to the local Minnesota community, on campus and off. Indeed, even though the pandemic led her to complete her first year of graduate study remotely while living in Boston, where she teaches cooking classes at Hebrew College and other area Jewish institutions, Gardner joined Professor Hamilton’s Workshop in Premodern Food Cultures and organized with them, sponsored by the Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World and co-sponsored by the Center for Jewish Studies, an online series last spring on Sephardic food connected to the spring holidays. Gardner, who has considerable experience teaching cooking classes, hopes to continue such offerings in future years, both in-person and online. Many of us share Gardner’s love of cooking, and we all love to eat, so monitor the Center for Jewish Studies events page in the upcoming years for future classes on Jewish food and cooking with Sara Gardner. And stay tuned for future lectures and publications, as Gardner’s scholarship contributes to our knowledge of Sephardic Jewish culture.
Kathryn Huether Awarded Postdoctoral Fellowship at American University / USHMM Kathryn Huether (PhD, Musicology) has been named the American University and Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies Postdoctoral Fellow, a postdoctoral fellowship in Jewish Studies at American University in conjunction with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Huether, who previously completed a Summer Graduate Student Research Fellowship at the USHMM, defended her dissertation, Centering the Sonic: Sound Mediation in Holocaust Memory, Memorials, and Museums (supervised by Karen Painter, with Leslie Morris on the committee) via Zoom on June 21, 2021. The postdoctoral fellowship is offered to emerging scholars in Holocaust studies who demonstrate evidence of a promising scholarly trajectory and potential for excellence in teaching. In addition to teaching one course each semester at American University, Huether will be joining the 2021-2022 cohort of fellows at the USHMM, conducting research in the USHMM’s collections, and participating in the ongoing activities, including the weekly fellows’ seminar, of the Mandel Center for Kathryn Huether Advanced Holocaust Studies. In addition, she is working on a chapter for the edited volume, Visitor Experience at Holocaust Memorial Sites (Routledge, forthcoming 2022). Huether’s project this year at USHMM continues her research on USHMM’s First Person program. First Person is notable because individual Holocaust survivors have been interviewed multiple times for the program, now in its 22 nd season, and Huether is studying both the consistency and variation within each retelling as individuals share their stories, with particular attention to the qualities of the human voice as we hear the aging of the survivor from one interview to the next.
FACULTY NEWS & NOTES Scholarship in Progress: Shir Alon on Modern Hebrew and Arabic Literary Cultures How does one write the present, which Shir Alon (Assistant Professor, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) names “a speculative point in time that has no volume or substance of its own”? In her book-in-progress, “Static: Middle Eastern Literatures and the Problem of the Present,” Alon observes that
the present is all that we have. The past is gone, the future not yet known, the present is all that there is. Anything we have of the past or the future exists solely in the present, in the form of experience, memories, ruins, hopes, projections, and expectations. We need the fullness of the present to mediate those other times that do not actually exist. Within this frame, Alon explores in her forthcoming comparative study a representational crisis that she argues modern literatures in both Hebrew and Arabic had to address: “the simultaneous necessity and impossibility of writing the present.” Shir Alon In Alon’s analysis of these twentieth century literatures, writing the present is not so much a crisis of narrative mediation or authenticity as of “knowing what to do with the present once it is given to us as an overburdened sociopolitical site.” The overburdening that Alon traces begins, she says, “with reinventions and revivals of ‘national heritage’ through engagements with Orientalist archives and epistemologies, and continues in parallel histories of modern institution-making across the Middle East: revolutionary, socialist, and colonialist/paternalist projects of nation-building and state formation, the consolidation of post-independence and post-colonial state bureaucracies, and a radical crisis of political legitimacy.” This forms the sociopolitical context for what Alon names “the parallel transition narrative of modern Hebrew and Arabic literary cultures” into modernity. Alon argues, however, that “transition” for these cultures must be viewed within the broader but still particularly European narrative of modernity, understood to be a “self-declared break with the past” but which Alon insists must also be understood as a set of global economic and political relations. Such a break with the past, and its concomitant privileging of the present, posed a problem for languages written from the “global periphery” such as Arabic and Hebrew, whose associated cultures were deemed by colonializing Europe to be out of step with the times. In this analysis, Alon relies on Dipesh Chakrabarty’s account in Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton University Press, 2000), whereby, as she summarizes, modern capitalism imposed on its subjects a global “transition narrative”: a homogenizing narrative of transition from a medieval period to modernity. The politics of modern time, underlining imperialist expansion, placed a large segment of the world’s population “in the waiting room of history”; deemed primitive, retarded, or simply “backwards,” global communities had to actively strive to achieve coevalness with Europe. If such cultures did not authentically inhabit the present, Alon asks, how were they to write it? She argues, in this context:
Both Arab and Jewish processes of modernization were conceived as an awakening from a period of stagnant slumber, a return to history, as Amnon Raz Krakotzkin has called it, and to time itself. The reformist projects which championed the revival of Arabic or Hebrew literatures were often grounded in the premise that Arabs and Jews were somehow inhabiting the present wrongly: their contemporary suddenly appeared to be non-contemporaneous with modernity as such. For both Arabs and Jews, in other words, a break with the past necessitated a specifically revivalist breaking from the past. As Alon explains, “the movement for the Revival of the Hebrew Language (t’hiyat ha-safa ha-`ivrit) was part of broader Jewish modernization trends spanning Western and Eastern Europe, as well as smaller communities in the southern Mediterranean. These are conventionally divided to two roughly consecutive chapters known generally as haskala (‘education,’ but often glossed as ‘enlightenment,’ late eighteenth to late nineteenth centuries) and t’hiya (‘revival,’ late nineteenth to mid twentieth centuries).” Occurring at nearly the same time, she says, was the Arab nahda, a term literally meaning ‘rising up’ but usually glossed as revival or renaissance, “a similarly dispersed set of cultural, social, and intellectual processes, extending between the late eighteenth and mid-nineteenth centuries, irreducible to one distinct program or ideology.” Just as the haskala was linked to changing circumstances of Jewish segregation and persecution, so “the origins and development of the nahda were profoundly linked to the political circumstances of foreign rule and colonial domination, from the Ottoman Empire’s weakened position vis-a-vis Europe, through Napoleon’s invasion of Egypt, to the British colonization of Egypt nearly a century later, as well as to the intensified integration of the western Mediterranean and Egypt into capitalist circuits.” As Jews debated possible formulations and contexts of their national identity, she says, “the nahda’s intellectual and cultural activity was increasingly directed towards the formation of Arab national selfhood.” Though Alon acknowledges the political weight of reading Hebrew and Arabic literatures side by side within the context of the Israel-Palestine conflict and its shaping of Palestinian and Jewish lives, her framework “posits the two literary cultures within the comparative context of global processes”; Alon’s focus is on “developing a framework for reading modern Arabic and Hebrew as two literary cultures sharing a similar narrative of integration into the modern world-system, the narrative of revival modernity.” Indeed, Alon insists that “reading the history of modern literary form in Arabic and Hebrew together is necessary in order to wrench the two traditions out of parochial national or regional scholarly debates, in which particular roles andrelations have become predetermined, and to allow them to take their place as central elements in the scholarship of global modernism’s emergence.” And that global narrative, Alon explains, is not necessarily the one typically associated with modernism, a narrative “of novelty shock, of speed, or of limitless horizons of expectations,” but rather, she insists, it is a narrative characterized by impasse: “In the global periphery the narrative trope of modernity is often experienced as ‘narrative fissures,’ which appear when the emergent conditions of globality grate against the expectations.” When viewed from a non-Western perspective, in Alon’s analysis, the experience of modernity gets transformed into “a structure of repeatedly thwarted expectations, a memory of a future to which one has no access,” narrated as what she calls moments of “stuckness” or “static forms – literary forms that confine themselves to a plotless present.” In her book, Alon hopes to demonstrate, through a series of comparative readings of Hebrew and Arabic writers such as S. Y. Agnon, Y. H. Brenner, Yitzhak Shami, Mahmud al-Mas`adi, Sonallah Ibrahim, and Elias Khoury that “the predicament of finding a genre for the present in modern Arabic and Hebrew literatures has produced a host of new static aesthetic forms – forms governed by repetition, timelessness, or movement going nowhere.” These aesthetic forms emerge, she argues, “against and alongside the temporalities of the historical present, from the capitalist demand for cumulative productive futurity, to the repetitive, circular temporality of the nation-state.” By emphasizing the problem of the present, moreover, Alon hopes to critique the assumption that future aspirations are the ineluctable trajectory of every narrative, or that identity is always a dynamic process of becoming when in the literatures she analyzes, identity “is at times in a state of static being.” The lesson in both the Hebrew and Arabic literatures may be, Alon suggests, that “by insisting that the present is all that is, static narratives ask what a justice of the present would look like, rather than a justice to come.”
Alejandro Baer Invited to Speak at Jewish Gopher Graduation The last year and a half saw many losses, and amongst them was cancellation of University of Minnesota graduation ceremonies because of the pandemic. The last year and a half also saw many creative successes, as people and organizations stepped up to find ways to still meet community needs. Amongst these was the Jewish Gopher Graduation, organized by graduating students and Chabad at the University of Minnesota. The event was held outdoors on May 13, 2021, and CJS faculty member and Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Alejandro Baer was invited to address the graduates. We are pleased to share with you his remarks: Can everybody hear me out there, or am I muted? Pinch me if this is real, it is such a joy not to be fussing with a screen, the sketchy lighting, the Zoom crashing. No, you’re not dozing off in your bed, you’re actually here. It’s no mirage! Savor this moment…this the first time for some of us where we have gathered in any significant numbers since March of 2020. I am honored by your invitation and overjoyed to be celebrating with you all. You reached the finish line. There were numerous hurdles, adverse circumstances, and you will probably remember your senior year, pierced by the pandemic, for the rest of your days. But you persevered and worked hard; you dug in deeper, demonstrating resilience and determination. And…you found support, you were motivated and inspired along the way. Your parents, peers, advisors, and professors believed in you and cheered you on as you tapped into your potential and flourished. I graduated in 1995 with a BA in Sociology from the Universidad Complutense in Madrid. Those were years when the student population hit historical heights in Spain. Classes were huge and impersonal, resources scarce, and professors had very little time for us beyond the big lecture halls. We received our grades at the end of each term: Outstanding, Good, Pass, Fail…. It sometimes could feel cold, clinical and anti-climactic. We all had that thirst for knowledge and craved something more from the experience. We were there to be mentored and guided. What I found is that with effort and ingenuity you could break through some of that stuffy artifice and find the daylight, the humanity, the core rationale that informs higher education: the drive to better people’s lives. One of my instructors, Prof. Sanchez Perez, not just a beloved maestro—teacher—but also a true mensch, took great pains in returning our papers and exams with insightful comments, and he beckoned students to his office to discuss their work. He was a harsh grader, but his remarks were never cruel and always constructive. He considered it his duty to encourage, support, and improve his students. His ultimate aim was to help us grow, not demolish our confidence. He wanted to prepare us for life beyond the halls of academia. Sanchez later became my dissertation advisor, and today he is a good friend. Why am I telling this story? I will intrude for a moment in Rabbi Yitzi Steiner’s jurisdiction. With your permission rabbi…. The Torah portion Tazria-Metzora, from only a few weeks ago, discusses lashon hara (evil speech) but also its opposite, lashon hatov (good speech). In a commentary on the parasha, British Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, of blessed memory, mentions a passage from the Talmud that tells how disciples of a great sage became giants by their own merits. How? Through lashon hatov, and more specifically, through the transformative power of praise. The sage has a crucial task, just like my beloved teacher Sanchez in Madrid, showing each of his pupils where their particular strength lay. One had a good memory, the other a creative mind, a third was tenacious and worked hard. Our tradition says that God created the world with words. We sociologists (and also sociolinguists and social anthropologists) use to say that our social world is constructed through language, through words. Words build, sustain, nurture. And words destroy. By recognizing the positive in people and saying so, we help bring people’s potential to fruition. “Bad speech diminishes us; good speech can lift us to great heights,” writes Rabbi Sacks in his commentary.
Take a deep breath, savor the words on your diploma, soak in its meaning, let it transform you, build upon these experiences you have had here as you move beyond the University of Minnesota, But stay true to your roots, your dreams, keep learning and growing, and also remember to share your wisdom with others and lift their spirits. Your trajectory is only limited by your imagination. We are all excited for you and all the amazing things that you will do. Now go forth and make a difference. And please always remember that the right kind of praise changes lives. Congratulations. Mazal Tov.
Leslie Morris Named Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts 2020-2023 Congratulations to Leslie Morris who was named the Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts from 2020-23! This endowed chair is intended to advance the extraordinary teaching, research, and creative work of faculty who are making exceptional contributions in their field. The fund helps advance the frontiers of knowledge by enabling Beverly and Richard Fink Professors in Liberal Arts to take intellectual risks, integrate different forms of knowledge, and take on challenging projects that spark and nurture breakthrough discoveries that reshape the understanding of the human condition. Leslie Morris is the author, most recently, of The Translated Jew: German Jewish Culture outside the Margins (Northwestern University Press, 2018), and the co-editor of the recently published special issue on Czernowitz for the Journal of Austrian Studies. She is currently writing a hybrid, experimental memoir about a buried Holocaust family history and a mysterious illness. As part of this new project, she and Professor MJ Maynes (History) initiated a multi-year collaborative project funded by the Institute for Advanced Study on Narrative/Medicine. For a full list of Morris’s current accomplishments, see the Faculty Year in Review. Leslie Morris
Rick McCormick Retires After 34 Years of Service Rick McCormick (Professor Emeritus, German, Nordic, Slavic and Dutch) began his career at the University of Minnesota in 1987 and spent his entire academic career at the U of M, with the exception of a one-year visiting appointment at NYU after he finished his PhD at Berkeley. In addition to his extensive service to his home department, where he served as chair for six years on top of stints as Director of Undergraduate Studies and Director of Graduate Studies, and in addition to his work as Director of the CLA Honors Program for six years, McCormick was a valued member of the Center for Jewish Studies. A fixture at CJS colloquia, he delivered talks in our Community Lecture Series as well as on campus, served on CJS committees, and enriched the collegial life of the Center with both his knowledge and good humor. Rick McCormick McCormick’s affiliation with the CJS was intimately tied to the research that went into his recently published book on Ernst Lubitsch, “Sex, Politics, and Comedy: The Transnational Jewish Cinema of Ernst Lubitsch—From Berlin to Hollywood (Indiana University Press, 2020), out of which grew his course, “Fleeing Hitler: German and Austrian Filmmakers Between Europe and Hollywood,” as well as a graduate seminar on transnational German Jewish cultures that he team taught with Leslie Morris and Ofer Ashkenazi at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. McCormick wrote this latest book after having already established himself as one of the major film scholars of the Weimar era, with numerous articles, three co-edited volumes, and an earlier monograph, Gender and Sexuality in Weimar Modernity: Film, Literature, and New Objectivity (Palgrave, 2001). McCormick’s first book, Politics of the Self: Feminism and the Postmodern in West German Literature and Film (Princeton University Press, 1991), is considered a classic in the field. At McCormick’s retirement event, conducted via Zoom due to the pandemic, longtime colleague Leslie Morris, former CJS Director and current Chair of the Department of German, Nordic, Slavic and Dutch, honored McCormick, saying, “You are truly the embodiment of a mensch, as a teacher, scholar, colleague, and friend. You have brought a deeper sense of humanity and also a deep egalitarianism to everything that you do.” It is with gratitude for his many contributions that we wish Rick much joy in his retirement, knowing that the relationships he is so skilled at nurturing will continue despite his departure from the active faculty.
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FACULTY YEAR IN REVIEW 2020-2021
Our faculty members come from a broad range of departments, and in any given year not all of their research and other activities necessarily relate to the field of Jewish Studies. We include here a sampling of faculty accomplishments that may be of interest to supporters of the Center for Jewish Studies.
Patricia Ahearne-Kroll (Associate Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) published Aseneth of Egypt: The Composition of a Jewish Narrative. Early Judaism and Its Literature series (Society of Biblical Literature, 2020). She also participated in a conference session devoted to discussing the issues that emerge from her monograph, in which she responded to panelists and outlined the future of Aseneth studies: “The Future of Aseneth Studies: Some Preliminary Thoughts” sponsored by the Pseudepigrapha Section at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (December 2020). In addition, she has accepted an offer from the Hermeneia Commentary series (Fortress Press) to write a commentary on “Joseph and Aseneth” under a new format the editorial board approved for her contribution, in which she will be translating three particular tellings of this story from three Greek manuscripts to demonstrate their shared storyline but also their particular differences in narration, differences that demonstrate how flawed creating a reconstructed text can be. This past year she taught “The Bible: Context and Interpretation,” “Sex, Murder, and Bodily Discharges: Purity and Pollution in the Ancient World,” and the graduate seminar “Readings in Religious Texts: Second Temple Judaism.” This year Pat Ahearne-Kroll was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor.
Stephen Ahearne-Kroll (Associate Professor and Chair, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) is the editor of the forthcoming The Oxford Handbook of the Synoptic Gospels, as well as co-author (with Joshua Reno) of one of its essays, on gender in the Synoptic Gospels. Taken as a whole, the essays in the volume revisit the nature and status of Matthew, Mark, and Luke by careful attention to their Jewish, Greek, and Roman contexts. In addition, he has completed his next monograph, “A Chord of Gods: Corinthian Reception of Paul’s God and the Origins of the Jesus Movement.” It is now under review with Oxford University Press. Stephen Ahearne Kroll Shir Alon (Assistant Professor, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) participated in a panel on the film You Need to Be Ready to Let Go of What the Eye Sees, directed by Ari Teperberg, as part of the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival (Oct 2020). She delivered two papers, “Rethinking Modes of Dissent with Ronit Matalon’s Surrealist Turn” and “Minor Details: Narrating the Past and Present Nakba” at the Modern Language Association annual conference (online January 2021). Alon was invited to present a chapter titled “Housework as Form: Reproductive Labor and the State in Sonallah Ibrahim and Yishayahu Koren” at the Feminist Literary Studies Collaborative, University of California Irvine, and she participated in a panel on “Arab-Jewish Intersecting Identities: Gender, Protest, and Politics” hosted by the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies at Northwestern University. She was also a respondent for “Claiming Shir Alon My Egypt” a lecture by Prof. Rhona Seidelman at the Oklahoma University Arts & Humanities Forum. Her scheduled talk at the Modernist Studies Association conference was canceled due to the pandemic. Alon published an essay on Adania Shibli’s novel, Minor Detail, titled “The Ongoing Nakba and the Grammar of History” in the Los Angeles Review of Books (June 3, 2021), and she has an invited book review forthcoming in the Journal of Arabic Literature, on Nadia Bou Ali’s Psychoanalysis and the Love of Arabic. Alon is currently concluding a book manuscript (see feature article) titled “Static: Modern Middle Eastern Literature and the Problem of the Present.” Alejandro Baer (Professor, Sociology; Stephen C. Feinstein Chair & Director of the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies) gave an online presentation for Centro Sefarad Israel (Madrid) on his book (co-authored with Natan Sznaider), Memory and Forgetting in the Post-Holocaust Era. The Ethics of Never Again. (September 2020). He co-organized the online panel, “The European Far-Right in Transatlantic Perspective,” at the University of Minnesota conference, “Threats to Democracy in Times of Populism and Racial Nationalism” and participated with a paper titled “A ‘Jewish Question’ 2.0? Philo/Anti-Semitism and Pro-Israel Politics among the European Far-Right” (March 2021). He was also invited to present at a virtual roundtable, “Antisemitism and the Holocaust: Historical Perspectives” organized by Yad Vashem Spain on the occasion of Yom Hashoah (April 2021). Baer was the guest speaker at Mount Zion’s online program, “Yom HaShoah in an Increasingly Hateful World” (April 9. 2021) and he participated in a panel discussion, “Comparing and
Bridging across Genocides: Scholarly and Political Dilemmas,” presented by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and the Arsham and Charlotte Ohanessian Chair (April 2021). He also taught
a session on “Raphael Lemkin and the Concept of Genocide” at the CHGS K-12 Educator Workshop, “Teaching About Genocide: Causes, Cases & Challenges” (July 2021) and he was invited to participate in a roundtable discussion,
“Balance histórico y nuevos paradigmas en la gestión pública del pasado,” at the summer course “Las políticas públicas de memoria democrática. origen, evolución y retos, “Universidad Internacional Menéndez Pelayo (Santander,Spain, July 2021). Due to the pandemic, the panel he organized, “Holocaust Remembrance in the Periphery: Cosmopolitan Memory Politics and National Translations,” which was to have been held at the 2020 Lessons and Legacies conference, was postponed to fall 2021 and now again to fall 2022, along with his presentation on that panel, “Holocaust Remembrance Day in Spain and the Franco Question.” Baer published a contextualizing article about the January 6 Capitol Uprising, “After shocking assault on U.S. Capitol, don’t overlook the rage-filled gathering at Minnesota’s own” (Minnpost, January 11, 2021), and his invited article, “Antisemitism in Spain,“ appeared in a dossier on Antisemitism in Europe compiled by the German federal government agency, Bundeszentrale fur Politsche Bildung (February 2021, https://www.bpb.de/politik/extremismus/antisemitismus/328588/spain). Baer is currently working on a research project titled “The New Jewish Question(s) in Europe and the US,” in which he is looking comparatively at data about perceptions and experiences of antisemitism, survey data of attitudes and opinions about Jews, and media coverage of incidents considered antisemitic. This past year he taught a new course, “’Jews will not replace us’: Global Antisemitism from its Origins to the Present,” and he supervised a capstone thesis on antisemitism and coronavirus conspiracy theories by Jewish Studies major Leigh Bojan. Natalie Belsky (Assistant Professor, History, UMD) published “ ‘Am I a Jew?’: Soviet Jewish Youth and AntiSemitism on the Soviet Home Front during the Second World War,” in Holocaust & Genocide Studies vol. 34, no.2 (Fall 2020). This past May, in place of her study abroad course in Poland (Jews & Poles: Entangled Lives) which was cancelled due to the pandemic, she co-created and co-taught (with colleague Deborah Peterson-Perlman, also at UMD), “Virtual Eastern Europe & The Holocaust.” Natalie Belsky Sheer Ganor (Assistant Professor, History) presented an invited paper for a virtual, interdisciplinary panel discussion, “The Holocaust: An Introduction from 4 Perspectives,” sponsored by the Upper Midwest Consortium for Holocaust and Genocide Education and Research (November 2020). She also delivered an invited paper, “‘Hilde Scott Diskutiert’: Advice for the Displaced Family,” at the Shared History Conference organized by the Leo Baeck Institute in collaboration with the German Federal Agency for Civic Education and the Jewish Museum Berlin (December 2020). She was also invited to present at “Family Secrets: A Panel Discussion of The Flat,” organized by the Minnesota Jewish Genealogical Society (virtual, December 2020), and for the panel organized by University of Minnesota Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, “Beyond Exile: German-Jewish Encounters in Latin America,” she presented “A Warning Sign? The Latin-American Challenge to the German-Jewish Diaspora” (virtual, March 2021). Ganor published a chapter, “Generation in-flux: Diasporic reflections on the future of German-Jewishness,” in The Future of the GermanSheer Ganor Jewish Past: Memory and the Question of Antisemitism, edited by Diana Franklin and Gideon Reuveni (Purdue University Press, 2020). Her book review of Germany on Their Minds: German Jewish Refugees in the United States and Their Relationships with Germany, 1938–1988 by Anne C. Schenderlein appeared in AJS Review, vol. 45, no. 1 (April 2021), 201-203. She also co-wrote a blog post with Rebekka Grossmann, “Displacement in Stills: GermanJewish Photographers on the Move,” Migrant Knowledge blog, May 14, 2021. This past year she taught ‘History of the Holocaust” and a graduate seminar, “Genocide: The History of a Crime and a Concept.” Sheer Ganor has been awarded the Gerald Westheimer Career Development Fellowship from the Leo Baeck Institute for the academic year of 2021-2022. Michelle Hamilton (Professor, Spanish & Portuguese; Director, Center for Medieval Studies) is a founder and participant in the Workshop in Premodern Food Cultures, sponsored by the University of Minnesota Consortium for the Study of the Premodern World, and she organized as part of the Workshop, with graduate student Sara Gardner, an online series on Sephardic food. She is also part of a group at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid working on questions of Jewish and converso thought and identity. The working group sponsored two online, international conferences, one on “Abraham Ibn Daud: History, Philosophy and Political Theology in Sepharad” at which Hamilton delivered a paper, “On Earth as it is in the Heavens: Angels and Peoples in Ibn Daud’s Thought” (March 2021), and a second conference, “Lindos, conversos y alboraicos: Conflicto de identidades en el espacio ibérico,” at which she spoke on “Humanismo y judaísmo en el siglo XVI” (June 2021). As editor of La corónica: A Journal of Medieval Hispanic Languages, Literatures, and Cultures, Hamilton organized and hosted a virtual panel, “Iberian Travelers in the Mediterranean,” at Michelle Hamilton the International Congress on Medieval Studies at the Medieval Institute of Western Michigan University, and also in her role at La corónica, she published a forum on 2019 La corónica International Book Prize winner S.J. Pearce’s monograph, The Andalusi Literary Intellectual Tradition: The Role of Arabic in Judahibn Tibbon’s Ethical Will (open access: https://muse.jhu.edu/issue/43443). Her chapter, “Carnal, Carnival and Purim in the Libro de Buen Amor,” appeared in A New Companion to the Libro de buen amor, edited by Ryan D. Giles and José Manuel Hidalgo, Brill’s Companions to Medieval Literatures and Cultures, vol. 2 (2021) This past year Hamilton supervised a capstone thesis by Mica Belton, “The Poet’s Wife,” an imaginative rendering of the pre-expulsion Sephardic Jewish experience.
Hanne Loeland Levinson (Associate Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) received a University of Minnesota Imagine Fund for the Arts and Humanities grant to support her research for a project entitled “The Bible and the Dystopia World: Use and Interpretation of the Bible in Octavia E. Butler’s novels Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents.” This project is part of a larger investigation into the use and reuse of the Bible in contemporary dystopian literature.
She also received a second Imagine Fund grant for her project, “Reading Bible in Gilead.” She published “The Never-Ending Search for God’s Feminine Side: Feminine Aspects in the God-Image of the Prophets” in Prophecy and Gender in the Hebrew Bible, edited by Irmtraud Fischer and L. Juliana M. Claassens. The Bible and Women: An Encyclopaedia of Exegesis and Cultural History, vol. 1.2. (Society of Biblical Literature Press, 2021). A Spanish version of this essay appeared as “La Interminable Búsqueda del lado femenino de Dios: Aspectos femeninos de la imagen de Dios en los profetas” in Profecía, edited by Irmtraud Fischer and L. Juliana M. Claassens. Translated by Lourdes Calduch-Benages. La Biblia y las Mujeres: Colección de exégesis, cultura e historia (Editorial Verbo Divino, 2020). Her new book, The Death Wish in the Hebrew Hanne Loeland Bible: Rhetorical Strategies for Survival has just been published by Cambridge University Press (August 2021). Levinson This past year she taught “Death and the Afterlife” and developed and taught a new graduate seminar, “Bible and Narrative.” This year Hanne Loeland Levinson was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor. Bernard Levinson (Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) served as respondent on a panel about incorporating new voices into doctoral program reading lists in biblical studies, The Biblical Colloquium, Princeton, NJ (November 2020). He published “At the Intersection of Scribal Training and Theological Profundity: Chiasm as an Editorial Technique in the Primeval History and Deuteronomy” in BYU Studies Quarterly 59 (2020): 85–106. Special issue: Chiastic Reflections: The State of the Art. Edited by John W. Welch and Donald W. Parry. His essay, “The Significance of Chiasm as a Structuring Device in the Hebrew Bible” appeared in Word & World 40:3 (2020) 271–80. He also has forthcoming “Neglected Contributions to the Study of Kingship in the Pentateuch and the Deuteronomistic History,” in The Formation of Biblical Texts: Chronicling the Legacy of Gary Knoppers edited by Deidre Good, Margaret Cohen, Jonathan S. Greer, and Ken Ristau. (Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, forthcoming 2021). This past year Levinson Bernard Levinson taught Beginning Biblical Hebrew and “Scripture and Interpretation.” For the upcoming academic year, Levinson has been awarded a research fellowship in the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, as part of their research group, “Rethinking Premodern Jewish Legal Cultures.” He will be working on a project, “Imagining Sinai: Revelation and Textuality in Ancient Israel.” Leslie Morris (Professor and Chair, German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch) organized and facilitated a three-part seminar series (with Karen Remmler), “Genealogies of Self-Reflection: Writing in the Wake of Trauma,” at the German Studies Association Virtual Conference (October 2020). She also organized a series of four seminars held in January, February, April, and May, sponsored by the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (University of Massachusetts/Amherst), in which ten German historians and Germanists presented ongoing projects on writing family histories; Morris presented at the April meeting. She was also invited to speak at a SUNY Buffalo symposium on the poet Anne Blonstein, reconfigured to be online, where she delivered “Anne Blonstein and the Unconcealed:‘could outdream mental abstraction’” (April 2020), and Leslie Morris she was invited to present a paper and participate in two seminars as part of book project edited by Irene Kacandes: “On Being Adjacent to Historical Violence” (Dartmouth College via Zoom, July and August 2020). On April 4, 2020, a large-scale experimental contemporary choral and orchestral piece based on She Did Not Speak, composed by Isaac Roth Blumfield and performed by Alinéa, entitled I See You, (from a line in my piece) was to premiere at the New England Conservatory of Music’s Plimpton Shattuck Black Box Theater, followed by a performance in New York City (DiMenna Center) on April 24, 2020. Both performances were cancelled due to COVID. Morris edited (with Joseph Moser) a special issue on Czernowitz, Journal of Austrian Studies (53.3: 2020); she also co-authored the introduction with Moser. She published the invited essay, “German Jewish lengevitch: A Plurilingual Poetics of Meddling,” in Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies, edited by Eric Downing and Ruth von Bernuth (Volume 5, 2021). She has also written the invited essay, “The Unconcealed: Family Secrets as Family History,” to appear in On Being Adjacent to Historical Violence, edited by Irene Kacandes, Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies (Walter De Gruyter, forthcoming 2021). Her invited essay, “Can Outlive Mental Abstraction. On one line of poetry by Anne Blonstein,” will appear in Paideuma: Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, edited by Benjamin Friedlander and Keaton Studebaker (Forthcoming, 2021). And the invited essay co-authored with Meyer Weinshel, “Decolonizing German Jewish Studies?” will appear in an MLA volume on German Studies, edited by Bali Venkat Mani and David Kim, MLA series on Teaching (Forthcoming 2022). This past year Morris taught “The Holocaust: Memory, Narrative, History.” In Fall 2020, Leslie Morris was named the Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts 2020-2023. Karen Painter (Associate Professor, School of Music) participated in an online panel “Strategies of Holocaust Survival in German Jewish Music Culture,” hosted by the Jewish Music Forum, A project of the American Society for Jewish Music (February 2021). She spoke on “Mourning after Kristallnacht.” Painter’s doctoral advisee, Kathryn Huether, was awarded the Postdoctoral Fellowship in Jewish Studies at American University, in connection with the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Mandel Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies. Karen Painter
Natan Paradise (Associate Director, Center for Jewish Studies) presented his paper, “A Category Twice Mistaken: Religion and the Double Erasure of Jews on Campus,” as part of “Religion, Public Education, and Diversity: A Pre-Conference Colloquium” organized by the Religion and the Public University Collaborative in conjunction with the 2021 spring meeting of the Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion (April 2021). He also presented “‘This You Call Chosen?’ Jewish Humor in an Incongruous World” at Beth Jacob Congregation (April 2021) and again at Beth Jacob, “Jewface, or Oy! What is that Supposed to Mean?” (July 2021). This past year he taught “Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures” and an Honors Seminar, “Jewish Humor: Seriously Funny from Text to Stage to Screen.” He supervised a capstone thesis on the history of antisemitism on U.S. college campuses by Zachary Shartiag and a summa Natan Paradise thesis, “From the Shtetl to Tin Pan Alley and On to Broadway: The Influences of Jewish Prayer Music on the Secular American Society,” by Kelsey Bailey. Renana Schneller (Director of Hebrew Language Instruction, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) delivered a paper June 20, 2021 at the international conference of The National Association of Professors of Hebrew, hosted virtually by the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies at York University in Toronto. She spoke about using content-based instruction in advanced-level Hebrew courses, focusing on teaching controversial topics in the classroom. In addition, she continued her inter-university collaboration between the University of Minnesota and the University of Michigan, preparing advanced-level Hebrew courses and teaching them to students at both institutions. Via the CourseShare collaborative of the Big Ten Academic Alliance, she also provided beginning Hebrew Renana Schneller instruction to students at the University of Iowa; the University of Iowa has asked to secure future seats in her beginning and intermediate level courses, and the University of Illinois has asked to secure seats in her advanced level Hebrew course. This past year she taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew, and “Multiculturalism in Modern Israel.” She has created a new course, “The Israeli Mossad: History, Narrative and Ethics,” which will be taught for the first time in the upcoming academic year. For the summer Schneller was again invited to conduct graduate level courses in the summer Hebrew language program of Middlebury Language Schools, teaching “Theories and Methodologies in Second Language Teaching” and “Assessment in Second Language Teaching.” Daniel Schroeter (Professor, History; Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History), presented with Aomar Boum “Transport Companies, Southern Rural Jews, and the Moroccan Liberation Army, 1930s-1950s” at a virtual workshop on “Jews in the Muslim World: Histories, Memories and Narratives,” hosted by Penn State University, the University of Chicago, and Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (February 2021). He moderated a book talk with Amos Goldberg and Bashir Bashir, The Holocaust and the Nakba, for the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies and Center for Jewish Studies (October 2020). At the Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference (December 2020), he moderated a roundtable, “Rethinking ‘Sephardi’/’Mizrahi’ Migrations: a Global Outlook” and chaired a session, “Mediterranean Jews, Imperialism and Nationalism: Micro-Histories and Big Histories.” He published “Demographic and Economic Foundations of the Maghreb Jews” [in Hebrew], in The Jews of Libya and Their Environment: The Ethno-Historical Studies of Harvey Goldberg, edited by Orit Abuhav, Yoram Bilu and Hagar Saloman (Jerusalem: The Ben-Zvi Institute and the Hebrew University of Daniel Schroeter Jerusalem, 2020). He also published “Moroccan Jews and the Idea of Moroccan Exceptionality in Israel” [in Hebrew], in The Long History of Mizrahim: New Directions in the Study of Jews from Muslim Countries. In Tribute to Yaron Tsur, edited by Aviad Moreno, Noah S. Gerber, Esther Meir-Glizenstein, Ofer Shiff (Sede Boker: The Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism, The Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, 2021). He coauthored with Aomar Boum, “Moroccan Jewish History and Culture in Public Discourse: Historians, Journalists and Gatekeepers of Memory,” in Histoire contemporaine du Maroc, passé et Temps present: Mélanges en l’honneur de Mohammed Kenbib, ed. Khalid Ben Srhir (Rabat: Université Mohammed V, Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines, 2021). This past year he taught “Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle Ages” and “History of Modern Israel/Palestine: Society, Culture, Politics,” and he co-taught “Global History of World War II.” Schroeter’s doctoral advisee, Adey Almohsen, successfully defended his dissertation, “On Modernism’s Edge: An Intellectual History of Palestinians after 1948,” via Zoom on August 24, 2021; Almohsen has been awarded a two-year Mellon postdoctoral fellowship at Grinnell College. Rachel Trocchio (Assistant Professor, English) published “Lost Tribes East and West” in The New England Quarterly 93.3 (Sept. 2020). For next year, she is developing a unit on Jewish magic for her spring 2022 class, “Witchcraft, Possession, Magic: Concepts in the Atlantic Supernatural, 1500-1800.”
NEW COURSE DEBUT “Jews will not replace us!” Global Antisemitism from its Origins to the Present In spring semester 2021, CJS faculty member Alejandro Baer, who also directs the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, debuted a new course in our curriculum, “‘Jews will not replace us!’ Global Antisemitism from its Origins to the Present.” The course explores the history and cultural logic of antisemitism, and its relation to other forms of exclusion tied to race, religion, and citizenship in modern times. Starting with the history of Jewish emancipation in Europe and the subsequent debates about the “Jewish Question,” students work with primary documents to identify the key features of political and racial antisemitism and engage with the explanations of anti-Jewish prejudice and violence from multiple disciplinary angles. The course examines the differences and continuities between older theological forms of anti-Judaism and modern antisemitism, the connections between antisemitism, nativism, and xenophobia in the US and globally, and current debates regarding a correlation between anti-Zionism and antisemitism.
UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES College of Liberal Arts 251 Nicholson Hall 216 Pillsbury Drive S.E. Minneapolis, MN 55455 email@example.com 612-624-4914 Staff Daniel Schroeter, Professor and Director Natan Paradise, Associate Director & Director of Undergraduate Studies Marial Coulter, Outreach Coordinator Magazine Credits Editor: Natan Paradise Assistant Editor and Designer: Marial Coulter
Advisory Board Center Director: Daniel Schroeter Board Chair: Allan Baumgarten Sally Abrams Stuart Bear Frank Berman Bruno Chaouat Holly Brod Farber Bernard Goldblatt Steven Hunegs Erwin Kelen Ronald Krebs Steve Lieberman Leslie Morris Riv-Ellen Prell Rev. Dr. Gary Reierson Tom Sanders Dr. Miriam Segall Rabbi Adam Stock Spilker Ruth Usem
Mary Ann Wark ex officio: Rabbi Alexander Davis Rabbi Max Davis Rabbi Harold Kravitz Rabbi Michael Latz Rabbi Adam Rubin, PhD Rabbi Sharon Stiefel Rabbi Marcia Zimmerman
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