FROM THE DIRECTOR
“Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” Usually that phrase expresses a kind of pessimistic resignation, a sorry acceptance of immutability. But as I consider the cataclysmic changes we have lived through in the last two and a half years of pandemic and political crisis, I am relieved, encouraged, and uplifted to see that so much has, miraculously, stayed the same. Our students, both undergraduate and graduate, continue to throw themselves enthusiastically into their studies, reinvigorating us as they always have as we help them discover the wonders and riches of Jewish history and culture, Jewish texts and thought. And our faculty continue, as they always have, producing ground-breaking scholarship that garners recognition nationally and internationally. Read through the Faculty Year in Review at the end of this magazine to gain a sense of the reach and presence of our faculty through their teaching, lectures, and publications.
And so I am grateful for what we continue to accomplish through the hard work of our students and faculty. Despite the changes that continue to push the world in once unimaginable directions, in this we remain the same: we are a vibrant Center for Jewish Studies, fulfilling our mission as a premier center for scholarship, education, and dialogue about Jewish history and culture as we support the academic study of the historical, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, geographic, and religious diversity of the full range of peoples who identify themselves as Jewish. We do this while fulfilling the educational mission of the liberal arts to promote critical thought, reflection on values, and analysis of sources.
I am honored to assume this year the role of Director of the Center for Jewish Studies; I do so humbled by the confidence of the faculty and thankful for the support of the College of Liberal Arts and its Dean, John Coleman. I am joined by our Outreach Coordinator, Marial Coulter, whose talents and organizational energy are indispensable to the success of the Center. I would also like to thank Daniel Schroeter, who has completed his term as Center Director—a term that required extraordinary service and commitment as he steered us through the programmatic and financial consequences of the pandemic, helped us move our programming online and adapted to new technologies, and charted a future course in uncertain times. He has our deep gratitude.
Cover image: Jewish refugees look out through the portholes as they arrive in Haifa harbor. Circa 1950-1959. Shmuel Joseph Schweig. United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, courtesy of Dwight D. Eisenhower Library.
As productive as we have been, much remains to be done, and our calendar will be busy: a major conference on the piyyut November 14-15 to organize and host, lectures and colloquia to plan for our campus audiences and the community at large, the research of both students and faculty to support and promote, and several educational initiatives aimed at providing campus partners with vetted resources that address antisemitism and provide context and nuance with regard to the complicated identity of Jews in the U.S. and globally.
We were so busy last year, surviving a pandemic, that we forgot to notice, much less celebrate, the 20th anniversary of the founding of the CJS in 2001. A program in Jewish studies has of course existed at the University of Minnesota longer than that—some of you are looking at my name and remembering my father, Jonathan Paradise, who began teaching here in 1965. Yes, I went into the family business. (And my father continues teaching in a variety of contexts; he can’t help himself.) The CJS, however, was founded later, in recognition of the preeminent research and contributions of our faculty, and it is one of nine Collegiate Centers in CLA.Natan Paradise, Director Photo by: Lisa Miller, University of Minnesota
FROM THE DIRECTOR, continued
We will not similarly overlook that this year we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Community Lecture Series. If you did not receive a copy of the series brochure, please contact us so we can ensure you are on our mailing list. This year, conditions continuing to permit it, we return to an in-person lecture series (masks requested), and we very much look forward to seeing our friends and supporters in person once again. All lectures will be recorded, so if you cannot attend for any reason, you will still have an opportunity to learn from our speakers online.
All of these activities require resources, and we need the help of our supporters now more than ever. The pandemic inflicted a severe financial blow to the University and to the College of Liberal Arts, as costs increased while tuition revenue declined precipitously because many students decided to wait for better days. Total undergraduate enrollment in the U.S dropped by nearly 10% during the pandemic, and CLA was not immune, absorbing a huge hit to tuition revenues. The implications of that balance sheet trickle down to the Center, rendering us still more dependent on you, our supporters and donors, to help us continue our programming and the service we provide to all our constituent communities. Thank you to all our generous donors who have helped support and sustain our programs thus far, and thank you in advance to all of you who are able to step forward and join their ranks.
With gratitude and best wishes,
Director of the Center for Jewish Studies Director of Undergraduate Studies
CJS HOSTS TWO-DAY SYMPOSIUM: ANTISEMITISM & RACISM IN A MOMENT OF RECKONING
OnNovember 8 and 9, 2022, the Center for Jewish Studies in partnership with the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies hosted a two-day virtual symposium, “Antisemitism and Racism in a Moment of Reckoning,” organized by Center faculty Alejandro Baer, Leslie Morris, Natan Paradise, Riv-Ellen Prell (Emerita), and Daniel Schroeter. The conference was convened in response to national and international issues with regard to both antisemitism and racism—and the often insufficiently acknowledged link between the two—as well as in response to specific events on campus in which the complex identity and relation of Jews to White majority society was discounted in the conduct of anti-racism trainings in the College of Liberal Arts.
The symposium featured an international panel of speakers gathering in two roundtable discussions, via Zoom, to address the following:
How do racism and antisemitism overlap and where do they diverge and why? The public debate in the US and Europe alongside the widespread initiatives that underpin the current moment of reckoning with the legacies and ramifications of racism have insufficiently captured the complex relation of Jews to White majority society and the pervasive nature of antisemitism. How have different scholars, activists and educators engaged with this issue? What are constructive ways we can better deal with antisemitism in anti-racist scholarship and practice? How has antisemitism and the Jewish experience been included or excluded in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives on US campuses?
The first roundtable, “Historical, Legal, and Theoretical Perspectives,” was moderated by Jonathan Judaken (Spence L. Wilson Chair in Humanities at Rhodes College) and featured Tony Michels (History, UW Madison), Joshua Shanes (Jewish Studies, College of Charleston), Keith Kahn-Harris (Sociology, Leo Baeck College, London), and Claudia Bruns (History and Cultural Studies, Humboldt University, Berlin). The second roundtable, “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Work and Antisemitism on US Campuses,” was moderated by Malinda Lindquist (Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, College of Liberal Arts, and Dept. of History, University of Minnesota) and featured Amna Khalid (History, Carleton College), Jeffrey Aaron Snyder (Education, Carleton College), Erin Darby (Religious Studies, University of Tennessee), and Natan Paradise (Center for Jewish Studies, University of Minnesota). The first roundtable garnered 145 attendees and the second 122. Jonathan Judaken expertly conducted the first roundtable, framing it in terms of two trials ongoing at the time: the criminal trial of the murderers of Ahmaud Arbery and the civil trial of the organizers of the deadly Unite the Right Rally in Charlottesville. In the first case anti-Black racism was foregrounded, whereas in the Unite the Right Rally racism and antisemitism were prominently intermingled, and Judaken suggested that the two trials were “about the two guises of white supremacy in America.” As Judaken noted, “ Anti-Jewish and anti-Black racism are often split in how we think about them, but our goal here is to frame them together and also think about why and how they become split.” He also observed that the University of Minnesota was the perfect place to host the conversation because “in an odd way it’s the epicenter of this moment of racial reckoning”; George Floyd was murdered in Minneapolis, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minneapolis has become a lightning rod for “claims that the Democratic Party is slipping into certain forms of leftist antisemitism, especially in its attitudes toward Israel,” and Riv-Ellen Prell’s research has drawn attention to the history of anti-Black and anti-Jewish prejudice at the University of Minnesota. But, Judaken insisted, these are not merely local issues; it is a global conversation, and the symposium was organized so as to allow consideration of the issues from both a European and American perspective.
In the second roundtable, CLA Associate Dean Malinda Lindquist productively framed the conversation about diversity, equity, and inclusion work and antisemitism on U.S. campuses as an opportunity “to learn more about how and where colleges and universities are doing this work well, as well as how and where colleges and universities are stumbling in these efforts.” She noted that at the University of Minnesota (and this is true of almost all U.S colleges and universities) the centering in DEI work of “underrepresented populations who face systemic barriers that impact their experiences on campus” does not include specific attention to antisemitism, although an intersectional approach “does address issues of access and climate for individuals who might encounter barriers based on their religious expression, age, national origin, ethnicity, or veteran status.” “What is not accounted for here,” she acknowledged, “is a long history of White Christian supremacy” as “the complicated Jewish identity has been subsumed under a religious designator, and that designator wielded as a racist as well as a racial tool. That is, what is missing are the historical and contemporary contexts, specifically the powerful ways in which racism and antisemitism in this case are deeply interconnected.” The panelists in this second roundtable presented critiques of the assumptions and strategies that characterize much of the DEI and anti-racism trainings that are offered on U.S. campuses, and that consistently neglect antisemitism or misrepresent the experience and identity of Jews. They offered suggestions for engaging with the resistance in DEI efforts to including attention to the Jewish experience, and they provided both historical and conceptual explications that account for what Lindquist termed the “stumbling” in DEI initiatives with regard to Jewish students, faculty, and staff on U.S. campuses.
To listen to recordings of the entire symposium, please visit https://cla.umn.edu/jewish-studies/news-events/antisemitism-and-racism-moment-reckoning-symposiumrecordings-available-now
Mirabai Dornfest Dives Headfirst into Jewish Studies UNDERGRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHT
WhenMirabai Dornfest enrolled in Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures last fall as a first-semester freshman, she had no idea the course would transform her academic trajectory. Now with three Jewish Studies courses completed and more in the works this fall, she is a declared Jewish Studies major and a passionate student of Jewish history and culture. The following is a version of an essay she wrote for her class with Natan Paradise last fall:
Discovering My Family History in the History by Mirabai Dornfest
Around 2016, my grandfather was contacted by an organization dedicated to returning property to the families of those displaced by the Nazi occupation. The Dornfest family had a house in Krakow, they said, and it had been empty since 1943. My grandfather immediately wanted to pack his bags for Poland but was warned by my dad that it was most definitely a scam (“Why would some random person contact a family they didn’t know to tell them to fly to another country and claim a house they’d never heard of? They’re gonna steal your bank details”), but my grandfather and my uncle went anyway. It was not, in fact, a scam.
The house they found was sturdy and utilitarian, with gray stone walls and white trim. My grandfather learned that the land under the house had been granted to the Dornfest/Himmelblau family by King Casimir III of Poland as part of a large number of diverse populations he was trying to attract to create his university. The Dornfests had lived on that land for over five hundred years, working as diamond cutters from the mid1700s right up to the 1940s. My grandfather was actually able to track each person in our family tree going back to the mid-eighteenth century!
On November 22nd, 2021, coincidentally less than an hour before my Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures class, my family was forwarded an email from my grandfather. A student from Belgium named Reinier Heinsman had found information about the Dornfest family and my great-grandparents in the Antwerp files of the museum he volunteered at. In it were unseen pictures of Isidore Dornfest and Lilian Meyerowitz, my grandfather’s parents, along with twenty-three pages of information about their immigration, careers, and extended stay in Belgium. We also learned that Isidore’s father Solomon, who disappeared without a trace when his wife died in childbirth with Isidore, had remarried into another family and was later killed in Dachau. This whole mystery was solved entirely by coincidence; Reinier Heinsman had just happened to pull the right files.
What was highlighted over the previous month or so in my history class was the state of constant insecurity and flux Ashkenazim experienced in Europe. Jews were brought in, kicked out, invited back in, killed, paid to return, removed, over and over again. I was aware of this–I think every Jew is– but until now, I did not realize the extent to which my own family’s story illustrates so many aspects of European Jewish history. The Dornfests/Himmelblaus were brought in by the king of the same country whose people helped massacre them generations later. That’s almost typical of an Ashkenazi family, and yet it feels much different when I know these people’s names and faces. There’s an extraordinary dissonance in being taught about a history I theoretically relate to and then being sent twenty-three pages of evidence that my own relatives lived that exact history.
The Himmelblaus were diamond cutters from Poland (apparently my great-great-uncle Henre Himmelblau was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for cutting one of her crown diamonds in Cape Town–right place right time, I guess), and jewel-cutting had a massive role in Jewish trade and wealth in Europe, centered in Antwerp and Amsterdam. Learning about Jews and their jobs in the Polish economy in class and then seeing that perfectly reflected in the Dornfest/Himmelblau family was…jarring? Certainly eye-opening.Mirabai Dornfest
The fact that the Dornfests ended up in South Africa almost seems like a fluke. In class we talked about how most Jews couldn’t get out of Europe during the Shoah, and the Dornfests were victims of that. When my grandfather went to Poland, he visited Auschwitz, and through talking with historians both in and out of the camp, learned that we have over 50 victims in the extended Dornfest family line. Most ended up dying in the ghettos, but several were found in Auschwitz and Dachau. My grandfather even talked about how he wandered into a memorial site in the Czech Republic and, completely by chance, found his last name carved on a Shoah memorial stone. The large majority of us had no means of escape.
Before I learned all this, I thought that my family was one of the few that were able to make it out of Europe in time. When we talked in class about how it took incredible circumstances for Jews to leave unharmed, I thought, “ Wow, how lucky that we did!” Now, I know that most of my family didn’t.
Taking Intro to Jewish History and Cultures has made me feel grateful to be here. Learning in class about Orthodox Polish Jews who were moneylenders and jewel-cutters and ended up victims of the Shoah, and then going home and seeing that pattern reflected in my own family perfectly, made me fully realize how unlikely it is that my brother and I are alive and healthy today. That seems dreary, but it’s almost comforting in a way. All it does is make me want to dive into this subject headfirst. I think that’s the best way I can honor the people I’ve learned about.
Left: The Dornfest ancestral home in Krakow
Left: Photos of Isidore Dornfest and Lilian Meyerowitz (Mirabai’s great-grandparents), found in a museum in Antwerp
JEWISH STUDIES SCHOLARSHIP WINNERS
Goldenberg Prize for Outstanding Essays in Jewish Studies
Jonathan Paradise Modern Hebrew Study Prize
Joshua Lazar, Political Science, Jewish Studies minor Nate Silverman, Human Physiology, Hebrew minor
The Leo and Lillian Gross Scholarship in Jewish Studies
Yochonon Summers, Jewish Studies and History, minors in Hebrew and German.
The Theresa and Nathan Berman Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Studies
Lori Ann Laster, PhD candidate, Department of Curriculum and Instruction (Literacy Education Track) and graduate minor in Human Rights, in support of her project, “Holocaust as Panacea?: The Affordances and Limitations of Fictional Holocaust Narratives in the Classroom.”
Jerome L . Joss Graduate Student Research Grant
Benjamin Hansen, PhD candidate, Department of History, in support of research toward his dissertation, “Between Trepidation and Hope: Christian Palestine and Religious Difference after the Arab Conquests (650-750 CE).”
Professor Riv-Ellen Prell Research in the Study of Jewish Cultures Fellowship
Sara Gardner, PhD candidate, Hispanic & Lusaphone Literature, Cultures, and Linguistics, in support of her project, “Cooking the Text: Kitchen Explorations of Medieval Sephardic Culinary Heritage and Cultural Identity.”
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, or contact CJS Director Natan Paradise parad004@umn. edu or 612-626-3149.Supporting our excellent cohort of undergraduate and graduate students is central to our mission. Congratulations to our 2022 award winners! Matthew Scaglione, History and Anthropology Paper title: “Placing the Jewish Population of Palestine within the Arab Conquests.” Sara Gardner, PhD candidate in Hispanic & Lusaphone Literature, Cultures, and Linguistics. Paper title: “Perplexing the Pork: The Navigation of Religious Identity in Maimonides’ Guide and Pedro’s Mostrador.”
GRADUATE STUDENT SPOTLIGHTS
Lori Ann Laster Researches Strategies to Combat the Erasure of Jewish Experience from the Multicultural Classroom
initiatives in educational spaces regularly erase or misrepresent the Jewish experience, as well as neglecting to include antisemitism within their purview, and the Center for Jewish Studies has been working to address this erasure on campus and in higher education generally (see p. 11). Lori Ann Laster (Ph.D. candidate, Department of Curriculum and Instruction, graduate minor in Human Rights) takes on this challenge in her dissertation, currently titled “A Question of Faith: Critical Examinations of Religious Diversity in Education.”
Laster traces her motivation for this project both to her own experience in the public schools, where her family had to petition to have absences for the Jewish holidays approved without penalty, where abstention from the school’s annual Christian holiday observances was viewed with confusion, and her desire to write a class essay about the Holocaust was deemed inappropriate, as well as to her own experience as an instructor of multicultural children’s literature at several universities. Many of these courses tended to emphasize racial identity, relegating religiously marginalized, ethnoreligious diversity to only one unit. As Laster revised these courses about diversity to be more inclusive, and in particular to be more representative of religious minorities, she discovered that the “embedded ideological misconceptions and assumptions” that shaped her students’ readings of the assigned texts reflected their lack of religious literacy.Lori Ann Laster
“Deliberately acknowledging religion as a category of cultural difference in the multicultural classroom,” Laster argues, “could not be more urgent.” But religion, she notes, has been marked as inappropriate to discuss in educational contexts because of inaccurate and insufficiently nuanced assumptions about secularized public schooling. However, she observes, “While religion may have been explicitly erased from public school curricula, it remains embedded in its ethos and in the practices of mainstream culture,” a culture that still labels non-Christian identities as “other,” and that often labels them as un-American and a threat to the public good. Laster insists that even as White Christian Nationalist ideologies gain traction in American legislative and judicial activity, “Educators are uniquely situated to engage in transformative pedagogies that facilitate intercultural understanding, combat discrimination, and disrupt oppressive discourses.”
Holocaust literature would seem to offer opportunities to engage in multicultural pedagogies that center the Jewish experience and engage directly with antisemitism. Laster’s current research, therefore, focuses on popular and award-winning Holocaust narratives for youth, setting their literary representations of Jewish figures alongside pre-service teachers’ written reader-responses to these Holocaust texts. Laster notes, however, that such Holocaust narratives suffer from a long history of having their Jewish particularity stripped away in the service of broader multicultural or universalist messages, beginning with The Diary of Anne Frank, where both Otto Frank (Anne’s father) and the original Dutch publisher questioned whether postwar Christians could read the diary as relevant to them, and concluded that Jewish particularity would not sell well to the general public. These concerns, Laster says, influenced the editing of the manuscript, its subsequent adaptations, as well as both the marketing and teaching of the book as a redemptive tale, making it an “ahistorical icon of optimism in American consciousness.”
Similarly, Jane Yolen’s 1988 middle-grade Holocaust novel, The Devil’s Arithmetic, was retitled and revised under the guidance of her publisher, Laster discovered in her archival research of the Yolen manuscripts in the Kerlan Collection housed in the Children’s Literature Research Collection at the University of Minnesota, in order to appeal to a mainstream audience. By contrast, Laster observes, Art Spiegelman’s Maus: A Survivor’s Tale, is less susceptible to such treatment, which she thinks helps explain why Maus was recently banned in a Tennessee school district whereas The Diary of Anne Frank, with its many erasures, continues to hold pride of place in the American classroom.
Under the mentorship of her graduate minor advisor, Bruno Chaouat, Laster hopes to discover through her analysis of pre-service teacher reader-responses the potential that Holocaust literature might hold in centering Jewishness and the distinctiveness of antisemitism in the multicultural classroom, disrupting prejudicial discourses, even as she tries to determine the role it might have in actually affirming or perpetuating prejudicial discourses and antisemitic tropes. Is Holocaust literature an effective tool, she asks, in broadening the scope of multiculturalism, or is it yet another instance in which religious particularity and “otherness” is stripped away in the service of more conventionally acceptable multicultural messaging? Under what conditions does the teaching of Holocaust literature “whitewash history to make it palatable for mainstream consumption, and, in the process, reconfigure the Jew as the universal victim, erasing the particularity of their Jewishness, which is precisely ‘the difference’ that qualified Jews as hostile enemies and made them targets for systematic extermination by the Nazis”?
Laster presented part of her dissertation research at the Children’s Literature Association Annual Conference in Georgia this past June, speaking on “The Affordances of the Fantastic to Legitimize Marginalized Faith-Based Identity and Cultivate Religious Literacy.” She will be presenting her research on Holocaust literature, “Holocaust Literature as Panacea: The Representation of the Destruction of European Jewry in Children’s Books,” at the Midwest Jewish Studies Association Conference in September.
Walter Francis Receives Research Fellowship at Joint Distribution Committee Archives
WalterFrancis (PhD candidate, History) has received one of only seven research fellowships awarded at the Joint Distribution Committee Archives for 2022-2023. As a recipient of the Ruth and David Musher/JDC Archives Regional Fellowship, Francis will conduct research toward his project, “Rebuilding Synagogues, Building Memory: Jewish Communal Reconstruction, Historical Memory, and Identity Formation in Postwar Tunisia, 1945-1967.” His aim is to investigate how Tunisian Jewish community leaders, after WWII, used JDC funding as well as JDC connections to other global Jewish institutions to rebuild spaces such as libraries, synagogues, cemeteries and war memorials in the hopes of carving out a space for Jewish life in independent Tunisia. He will be presenting his findings at the JDC headquarters in New York.
The Joint Distribution Committee Archives hold records of Jewish activity in over 90 countries, from 1914 to the present, making it one of the most significant collections in the world for the study of modern Jewish history. Visit https:// archives.jdc.org/ to view galleries, exhibits, and topically arranged content, or conduct online research in the archives database of nearly 600,000 names linked to historic documents and client lists, as well as 77,000 digitized photographs.Walter Francis
Jeffrey Cross Examines Dead Sea Scroll Fragments in Jerusalem
JeffreyCross (PhD candidate, Religions in Antiquity) traveled to Jerusalem this summer to study Dead Sea Scroll fragments at the Shrine of the Book (Israel Museum), as well as in the Israel Antiquities Authority Conservation Lab. He conducted his research there with the support and advice of Jonathan Ben-Dov, a senior scholar at Tel Aviv University and an expert on several of the Dead Sea Scroll fragments most relevant to Cross’s dissertation.Jeffrey Cross
In his dissertation, Cross examines the practice of scribal rewriting in the Second Temple period, focusing on two works found among the Dead Sea Scrolls: the Community Rule and the Damascus Document. Both of these texts contain the regulations for the halakhah and ritual observance of a Jewish community in Judaea during the Second Temple period. As Cross explains, “The intertextual and hermeneutical practice of scribal rewriting reveals the dynamism of Jewish literary culture in the Second Temple period and its ability to transform its inherited traditions to meet contemporary demands.”
In essence, rewriting is a type of intertextuality by which a scribal author puts two or more texts with varying claims to authority in dialogue with one another. A scribe can rewrite an older text or incorporate parts of that text into a new composition to clarify the older text, to subvert its message, to offer further support of its claims, or to expand or contract its scope of application in new circumstances.
Since the settings in and for which these texts were produced were enmeshed in the political, cultural, and religious debates of the Second Temple period, the study of rewriting has much to contribute to an understanding of Second Temple Jewish social, cultural, and intellectual history.
A key challenge Cross faces in making his argument, which depends on being able to identify where manuscript versions are identical and where they diverge, lies in the material condition of the Dead Sea Scrolls he is studying. The manuscripts have disintegrated into fragments whose original arrangement must be hypothesized on the basis of damage patterns and the remaining discernable text, in those instances where there are no obvious points where the fragments can be rejoined. Cross emphasizes, “As an interpreter of these texts, I must constantly make judgments regarding how fragments should be positioned in relation to one another, how the surviving ink on the writing surface should be read, and what letters might have filled the gaps or small ink traces now present.” Hence the need to travel to Israel to examine them in person: “The most recent high-resolution photographs often prove sufficiently clear for me to confirm initial judgments without hesitation. But on many occasions the decay and fragmentation of the manuscript make even good photographs indecisive or ambiguous. In such cases in-person examination is essential because it can allow viewing from multiple angles or variation in modes of lighting and magnification.”
Cross was supposed to travel to Jerusalem in summer 2021, with the support of the Theresa and Nathan Berman Graduate Fellowship in Jewish Studies, but the COVID Delta variant rendered travel impossible. He planned to go instead in January 2022, but the Omicron variant hit. He has now finally been able to conduct this crucial aspect of his dissertation research, research which is already being noticed within the scholarly community. In August Cross presented part of his findings at the 11th Congress of the International Organization for Qumran Studies (IOQS), held in Zurich, where he delivered his paper, “Paratextuality, Law, and History in the Cave 1 Rule Scroll.”
Noam Sienna (PhD History, 2020) has been named a 2022-2024 Junior Fellow in the Andrew W. Mellon Society of Fellows in Critical Bibliography. According to the Fellowship announcement, the Society (a program of Rare Book School, which is hosted at the University of Virginia) was formed “for the purposes of advancing the study of texts, images, and artifacts as material objects through capacious, interdisciplinary scholarship, and enriching humanistic inquiry and education by identifying, mentoring, and training promising early-career scholars.” The Society’s members “endeavor to integrate methods of critical bibliography into their teaching and research, to foster collegial conversations about historical and emerging media across disciplines and institutions, and to share their knowledge with broader publics.”
As one of only ten fellows chosen annually, Sienna will participate in Rare Book School classes, attend special workshops and seminars, and co-organize a symposium on book history. After two years of membership in the Society, Junior Fellows in good standing become Senior Fellows. Sienna is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion at St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Sienna will also be teaching “History of Modern Israel/Palestine” at the University of Minnesota this fall.
Adey Almohsen (PhD History, 2021) won the University of Minnesota Graduate School Best Dissertation Award in the “Arts & Humanities” category for 2022. His dissertation, “On Modernism’s Edge: An Intellectual History of Palestinians after 1948,” was supervised by Daniel Schroeter. In addition, Almohsen won the Jerusalem Quarterly’s 2022 Ibrahim Dakkak Award for Outstanding Essay on Jerusalem for his essay, “The Print Culture and Literary Journalism of 1960s East Jerusalem.” The essay will be published in a forthcoming issue of the Jerusalem Quarterly. As a follow-up to his award winning essay, Almohsen was featured on the podcast, “Jerusalem Unplugged” (June 8, 2022). Almohsen is an Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor at Grinnell College.
Serena Mauro-Brown (BA Art History, minor in Jewish Studies, 2021) has been admitted to the graduate program at the University of Edinburgh to pursue a master’s degree in Biblical Studies, where she hopes to apply her background in Jewish studies and her training as an art historian to the elucidation of ekphrasis (the use of detailed description of a work of art) in biblical narrative. We wish Serena Mauro-Brown the best of luck and look forward to learning of her future accomplishments.
Left: Spice container, c. 1950. Dabbah Judaica. Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia), https://collections.artsmia.org/art/60506/spicecontainer-dabbah-judaica.
FOSTERING A MORE EQUITABLE AND INCLUSIVE CAMPUS
TheCenter for Jewish Studies exists “to foster a new understanding of Jewish culture and history.” Recent years have made it clear that on this campus and most others, a more accurate understanding within the broader community of Jewish identity, experience, culture, and history is urgently needed in the interest of a more equitable and inclusive campus. And so the CJS has committed resources and expertise, as part of its educational mission and commitment to deepening ties with the University, to addressing misrepresentations or erasures of Jewish identity, experience, and history, including within multicultural and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives.
In addition to hosting a two-day Symposium, “Antisemitism and Racism in a Moment of Reckoning” (see p. 3), the CJS has worked with the Gopher Equity Project (Office of Undergraduate Education) to update the Project to include faculty-vetted resources about the Jewish experience and about antisemitism, and we have similarly worked with the UMN Office of Equity and Diversity to update their educational materials. Such initiatives, and this is broadly true and not just on this campus, routinely neglect to include antisemitism under the category of racism, including it, if at all, only under the rubric of religion. CJS faculty have been alert to identifying this problem in campus resources and getting it addressed.
In an example of our off-campus work on this issue, we discovered an instance of the faulty categorization of antisemitism in a major resource database created by a division of Cengage, one of the largest educational companies in the world. Gale, which bills itself as a “global provider of research and learning resources,” launched this past year the “Gale Resources to Support Higher Education Diversity & Inclusion Initiatives on Campus,” a digital archive of resources intended to provide “inclusive learning materials that empower progress and combat ignorance.” Gale included resources on antisemitism and the Holocaust under “Ethnicity & Area Studies” but not at all under its database category, “Racism and Social Injustice.” With the help of our UMN library liaison, Brian Vetruba, we communicated our concerns to the publisher, and Gale updated its resource website to include this content under both “Ethnicity & Area Studies” and the rubric of “Racism and Social Injustice.”
In related work, the CJS established an ad hoc committee that met repeatedly with CLA Dean John Coleman and other College leaders to establish an agenda for responding to erasure, misrepresentation, and antisemitism on campus and within the Big Ten. One outcome of these meetings was an invitation by Alexander Hines, CLA Director of Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, to conduct a three-hour educational session on antisemitism for CLA undergraduate advisors and staff, which Natan Paradise taught in March. Hines has also invited the CJS to provide input on an update of the required CLA first-year experience courses to include material on antisemitism and the Jewish experience in America.
Paradise was also appointed by University President Joan Gabel to the President’s Task Force on the Academic Calendar, which is charged to assess the current process for setting the academic calendar and to recommend a framework for setting future academic calendars that enhance inclusion and belonging. An outgrowth of the Task Force’s work has been a broader recognition that faculty and administrators often make assumptions about religious holidays and observances that come out of the dominant Christian framework, and these assumptions regularly disadvantage non-Christian students, including of course Jewish students and staff. As a consequence, Paradise has worked with the Provost’s office to draft communications to faculty about accommodating religious observances during the semester, and he has been invited to serve on a future committee that will review the equity of University absence and make-up policies. He has also been appointed to the CLA Equity Lens Policy Review Committee.
The College of Liberal Arts has as part of its mission statement the assertion that “The core values of the College of Liberal Arts include freedom of thought and expression; respect, diversity, and social justice”; this CLA mission is embedded within the broader University of Minnesota mission, which includes “applying scholarly expertise to community problems,” guided by a commitment to providing “an atmosphere of mutual respect, free from racism, sexism, and other forms of prejudice and intolerance,” and “conscious of and responsive to the needs of the many communities it is committed to serving.” It is part of the mission of the Center for Jewish Studies to do its part to help the College and the University fulfill their mission.
Scholarship in Progress: Sheer Ganor on the Transnational Diasporic Network of Jewish Refugees from Nazi Germany and Its Annexed Territories
More than 400,000 German-speaking Jews fled antisemitic violence in Central Europe between Hitler’s rise to power and the end of the Second World War.
Much of the historiography of these refugees, according to Sheer Ganor (Assistant Professor, History), focuses on the study of refugee communities in particular geographies, or on particular professional groups or intellectual communities, or on the story of individual refugees. Still other studies take a comparativist approach, looking at two or three locales and their respective refugee communities. By contrast, Ganor’s bookin-progress, “In Scattered Formation: Displacement, Alignment and the German-Jewish Diaspora,” takes a more explicitly transnational approach, and rather than focusing on limited timeframes associated more immediately with the experience of dislocation and displacement, she takes the long view, stretching her analysis into the postwar decades, following the experience of refugees and their families into the more recent period “when the experience of displacement transitioned from a lived experience to a commemorated one.”
“Rather than an event susceptible to description by clear starting and ending points,” Ganor argues, “displacement is a condition that permeates across life spheres well beyond the physical act of forced removal. After transience and mobility, in settlement and aging, the displaced carried the condition within themselves.” Although it is estimated that no more than 5% of German-speaking Jewish refugees returned to live in Central Europe after the Second World War, Ganor asserts that “it would be wrong to assume, based on these numbers, that German-speaking Jews disavowed their previous homelands and severed their attachment to them.” Rather, the low rate of return suggests that “German-speaking Jews were longing for something that they did not believe could be attained again . . . the defeat of Nazism could hardly return what was already gone.” Instead, Ganor explains, “displaced German-speaking Jewry actively invested in carving out spaces where it could maintain a collective particularism rooted in German culture and informed by the historical experience of a Jewish minority group.”
Ganor’s study relies on primary and archival sources originating from private collections of former refugees, official German records from the Nazi period and the postwar era, government records of recipient countries, and the records of various refugee aid organizations. Her source base, gathered from archives throughout the U.S., England, Mexico, Israel, South Africa, and Germany, includes private diaries and correspondences, family photo albums and home videos, emigration and asylum papers, household objects, legal records from reparations courts, reunion memorabilia, music albums, published and unpublished manuscripts, restaurant menus, and more. As she notes, “The archives of the German-Jewish diaspora are filled with collections . . . where routine instances of the everyday are kept alongside evidence and chronicles that testify to the grave reality of genocide and forced migration.” Ganor weaves together these sources, wherein physical possessions act as “multidimensional currency for the displaced, providing a material safety net as well as physical remnants from a vanishing world,” in order to uncover “an everyday history of displacement and of diaspora-making.” Reflecting on her methodology, Ganor observes of her sources that “this seemingly contradictory duality, wherein quotidian normalcy remains an integral component of crisis, provided a conceptual drive in the realization of this project.”
Ganor’s book aims to depict the process by which the displaced population of German-speaking Jews reconstituted itself as a global diaspora, capturing the contours of life in the aftermath of forced migration, their efforts to preserve a cultural identity threatened with extinction, and the lived tensions that emerged over time as a result of these developments. Spanning five continents and the period from 1933 to the end ofSheer Ganor
the twentieth century, her study examines how this displaced community grappled with its collective identity-in light of violent persecution, dislocation, and genocide--as both German and Jewish. In doing so, she defines displacement as a dynamic field, illuminating the ways in which diasporic communities evolve across time. Her scholarship is guided by three key analytical threads. The first insists on viewing displacement as a lived experience: “It compels us to see displaced people as multidimensional subjects with a past and a future beyond the immediate moment of removal.” In the second thread, Ganor explores the consequences whereby
Forced migration and genocide created unique circumstances wherein far more German-speaking Jews lived outside of their native homelands than within them. Decades after National Socialism, German-speaking Jewry remained in its essence a diaspora; and unlike most dispersed populations, this diaspora had no metropole and no existing space to yearn for as a home. Displacement and dispersion, I argue, were the defining characteristics of German-speaking Jewry during the majority of the twentieth century.
The third thread elaborates the coherence of the German-Jewish diaspora. Diasporas by nature operate as complex and variegated networks, Ganor explains, but “they are also built around a set of ideas that bind their constituents together – a shared history, culture and a claim to values that become amplified in the process of diasporic formation.” In her study, Ganor argues that this coherence was born out of the pressures of balancing Jewishness and Germanness in light of and in the aftermath of the Holocaust:
Isolated and banished, the displaced nevertheless resisted denouncing their affinity with German culture, language, and history. Although they had been forcibly removed from a geographic landscape, they remained embedded in a mental one that continued to play a crucial role in shaping their postmigration lives. The tension between German-speaking Jews’ continued attachment to their lost homes and the irreparable sense of grief and betrayal that was unleashed in these places echoes throughout the study, as it resonated across the German-Jewish diaspora.
Ganor’s research this fall, archival work that was put on hold for two years because of the pandemic (which similarly slowed progress on the book because of the increased demands pandemic conditions imposed on teaching and supporting her students), will focus on analyzing the cultural spaces that emerged across the diaspora: “In these spaces – cafés, vacation resorts, youth clubs and others – exiled communities found a network of material and emotional support that was crucial to navigating life after removal.” While these spaces fostered an atmosphere of familiarity, continuity and belonging, she suggests, “they simultaneously developed a routinized sociability that ultimately helped embed displaced people into their new surroundings.” In highlighting this latter aspect, Ganor hopes “to push against a common understanding of such spaces as cultural enclaves that keep immigrant communities isolated and insulated.”
Ganor plans to travel this fall to Berlin to review the private collection of Valeska Gert who, after escaping German in 1938, founded a popular bar in Manhattan, the Beggar Bar, an establishment “simultaneously meant to preserve the threatened European cabaret culture and to offer a home base for the bohemian clientele of Greenwich Village.” She will also travel to the Pestalozzi School in Buenos Aires, Argentina, which was established in 1934 and is still active today. Although it was founded by a German immigrant of a previous generation and not by Nazi-era refugees, German-Jewish refugees were attracted to the Pestalozzi School for its explicit opposition to Hitler, while other German-speaking schools in Argentina often promoted Nazi ideology. Children of Jewish refugees became the largest group of students in the school. During her visit, Ganor plans to view the school’s archive and to conduct interviews with former students and staff.
Ganor’s book, as currently planned, ends with the children, or rather with the interfamilial relationships between migrant parents and their children, and with the parents’ “realization that German-Jewish culture, as they had come to know it, might be lost to posterity.” If all that is left are communicated memories and possessions, the latter moving from the home to museums, Ganor asks, “Does the shift from a lived experience to a commemorated experience mark the end of the German-Jewish story?” She observes, “Children are a tangible link to the future. But what happens when raising children confronts parents with the possible dissolution of their own pasts?”
MARKS THE 20th ANNIVERSARY OF THE COMMUNITY LECTURE SERIES
The first year the Center for Jewish Studies was founded, Leslie Morris, the inaugural director, and then CLA Dean Steven Rosenstone met with the goal of developing strategies to fulfill the Center’s educational mission as broadly as possible as well as build a positive and active relationship between the CJS and the local community. Thus was born the UMN Center for Jewish Studies Community Lecture Series, established to bring to campus and to the local community some of the most exciting names from the full range of scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies. The initial slogan was “Bringing the U to You.”
The CJS underwrote the cost of the lecture series for the first few years, with support from the College of Liberal Arts, after which a donor who was committed to the CJS, to Jewish education, and to service to the community stepped forward. Ever since the lecture series has been made possible by a generous gift in memory of Julia K. and Harold Segall.
Over the past twenty years, the Lecture Series has featured over 120 scholars, speaking on topics ranging from “Sharing Sacred Spaces in Jerusalem” to “Sephardic Food and Identity in Medieval Spain” to “Contemporary Writing in Israel” to “Debbie Friedman and the Crucial Era in American Jewish Liturgical Change” to “Perfectionism in Rabbinic Judaism.” Beginning nine years ago, an increasing number of lectures have been recorded; you may view them on the CJS YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/ JWSTumn/videos.
We are grateful to our generous donor, as well as to all of you who have attended the lectures and contributed financially to their continued viability. And we are grateful to all those organizations who have hosted our lectures—local congregations, the JCCs, MN Hillel, and a range of campus partners—without whom we would not be as able to meet our goal of bringing the most exciting scholarship in Jewish Studies out into the community.
If you did not receive a brochure for the upcoming 20th Annual Center for Jewish Studies Community Lecture Series, please contact us to get on our mailing list. We look forward to seeing you this year, and we look forward to the next twenty years of shared learning in the vibrant field of Jewish Studies.
CENTER FOR JEWISH STUDIES DONORS
Award winners. International scholars. Graduate researchers. Conferences and Symposia. Community Lectures and educational outreach. The accomplishments, events, and contributions you are reading about in this magazine are made possible with the help of our donors. They form the core of our growing community and have our enduring gratitude. Stephen & Patricia Ahearne-Kroll, Dr. Howard J. Ansel, Diane F. & Ivan E. Arenson, Diane & Ivan Arenson Hesed Fund, Allan J. Baumgarten & Marilyn S. Levi-Baumgarten, A Baumgarten & M Levi-Baumgarten Philanthropic Fund, Barbara D. Bearmon, Lee & Barbara D Bearmon Family Charitable Fund, Michael L. & Susan Blehert, Beverly W. Fink, Richard & Beverly Fink Family Fund, Norman A. Greenberg & Beth Silverwater, Greenberg and Silverwater Fund, Jonathan R. Gross, Gross Donor Advised Fund, Amy W. Gunby, Dr. Anna C. Hampton & Kenneth R. Hampton, Linda Hulbert/Kent Rissman Charitable Fund, Sheldon & Delores Levin, Rachel G Levitt, Carol F Lichterman, Minneapolis Jewish Federation/Community Foundation, Jonathan & Ruth Paradise, Natan Paradise & Barb Curchack, Rev. Dr. Gary & Pam Reierson, Alan K. Rissman & Linda A. Hulbert, Lesli M. Rosenberg, Sharon A. & Stephen A. Segal, Sharon and Stephen Segal Family Fund, Dr. Miriam Segall, Dr Erica B Stern, Laura E Weber, and several anonymous but still generous and valued donors.
Tzedakah (charity) box,
1920. Unknown artist, Israel. Image courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Mia). https://collections.artsmia.org/art/5556/ tzedakah-israel
YOUR SUPPORT MATTERS:
The Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Minnesota is a premier center for scholarship, education, and dialogue about Jewish history and culture. For over 50 years, the Jewish Studies faculty at the University of Minnesota have provided the foundational education that has launched the careers of Jewish educators, community professionals, rabbis, cantors, and prominent academic scholars across the U.S. and in Israel. We provide educational resources to campus programs and student organizations with a broad range of missions, as well as to units within the university administration. Our faculty also provide off-campus expertise in a range of topics and serve as a contextualizing resource for campus, regional, national, and international news media, in addition to providing lectures to local synagogues, churches, mosques, and community educational programs.
As the Center begins a new academic year, we thank you for your help in sustaining these vital activities. We also invite you to join in our vision for expanded opportunities for students, scholarship, and deeper service to our community. Our priorities for growth include:
• Endowed funds to ensure the operational vitality of the Center for future generations of scholars and students.
• Funds to host lectures by the most prominent scholars in the field, including a named annual lecture or workshop.
• A post-doctoral fellowship to provide support to emerging scholars in the field while also expanding our curricular offerings.
Whether designated for a specific purpose or for discretionary use, every gift is valuable and underscores your faith in our mission. I welcome conversations and questions about matching the Center’s needs with your philanthropic interests and resources. In addition to annual gifts, there are numerous ways to make donations, such as recurring monthly gifts, IRA charitable contributions, and estate commitments through a bequest or beneficiary designation.
If you would like to make a contribution to the Center for Jewish Studies, including establishing a named fund to support a designated goal within the Center for Jewish Studies, please contact Peter Rozga in the CLA Office of Institutional Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-624-2848, or contact CJS Director Natan Paradise, email@example.com or 612-626-3149. You may also give immediately to an existing fund by scanning the QR code below.
Thank you for your support, for your advocacy, and for being part of our community of learning.
If you would like to make a contribution to the Center for Jewish Studies, including establishing a named fund to support a designated goal within the Center for Jewish Studies, please contact Peter Rozga in the CLA Office of Institutional Advancement, firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-624-2848.
FACULTY YEAR IN REVIEW
Our faculty members come from a broad range of departments, and in any given year not all of their research and other activities 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) presented “Teaching Religions, Race, and Whiteness: Issues, Challenges, and Commitments in Biblical Studies” at the Religious Studies Program Summer Workshop, “Teaching Religion, Race, Whiteness: A Two-day Interdisciplinary Workshop on Pedagogy and Methods” (June 2021). She served as a respondent to the Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures Colloquium presentation by Christopher Saladin (PhD Candidate, Department of History), “The City of Caelestis: Cult and Memory at the Roman Tophet” (November 2021), and she was a featured speaker in the CJS Annual Community Lecture Series, presenting “Jewish Novelistic Literature before the Mishnah: Narrative Challenges to Empire” (Beth Jacob Congregation, February 2022). Ahearne-Kroll published “Aseneth of Egypt” in Biblical Archaeology Review (Summer 2021) and (by invitation) published “Joseph and Asenath” in TheTorah.com (December 2021, https://www.thetorah.com/article/ joseph-and-asenath). She currently has under contract Joseph and Aseneth: A Commentary (Hermeneia Series. Fortress Press) by invitation of the editorial board. In addition, she has been invited by Eerdmans Publishing to write an endorsement for the second edition of James C. VanderKam’s An Introduction to Early Judaism (Eerdmans, 2022). For the National Humanities Center 2022 Faculty Podcasting Institute, in partnership with the Digital Humanities Center at San Diego State University, Ahearne-Kroll collaborated with 42 faculty and post-docs to provide materials and training in producing podcasts in the humanities (June 2022). This past year she taught the graduate course, “Reading in Religious Texts: Theoretical Methods in the Study of Ancient Religion,” created in conjunction with CNRC’s “Future of the Past” series that addresses biases in the study of the ancient Mediterranean and Near East, as well as “Sex, Murder, and Bodily Discharges: Purity and Pollution in the Ancient World” and “Ancient Greece: Alexander and the East.”
Stephen Ahearne-Kroll (Associate Professor and Chair, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures; Sundet Family Chair of New Testament and Christian Studies) presented “Narrative Catachresis in the Gospel of Mark: Making Sense of Royal Depictions of Jesus” at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (November 2021). He published “Jesus’s Death as Communal Resurrection in Mark Dornford-May’s 2006 Film Son of Man” in Religions, vol. 13, no. 7, 2022, p. 635., https://doi.org/10.3390/rel13070635. In addition, he secured funding and helped organize a key initiative of the Department of Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures, the series “The Future of the Past: Rethinking Legacies of Injustice in the Study of Antiquity, in which the department hosts conversations with small groups of scholars from around the world to discuss the systems of power embedded in the histories of the fields represented within CNRC, systems that have favored particular dominant perspectives, interrogating how these systems are perpetuated today in the undergraduate and graduate curricula and within scholarship, and exploring how systems and practices can be changed to remove barriers for under-represented individuals and world views in order to engage in more just ways of educating students and performing research. The inaugural year of the series included a panel on Biblical Studies, and this upcoming fall will feature a panel on Ancient Israel and Judaism (Oct. 14, 2022) and Ancient Near Eastern Studies (Nov. 11, 2022).
Shir Alon (Assistant Professor, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) served as respondent to a talk by Vencat Mani, “Future Sense and Refugee Time,” organized by the Department of German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch (November 2021). She was invited to present at the Foundations and Trans/ Formations of Arabic Literary Theory Conference at Columbia University, where she (virtually) presented a talk titled “Literature, Labor, Extraction” (December 2021). An article based on
this talk was solicited by the Journal of Arabic Literature. In addition, Alon organized and chaired a panel on “Cultures of Neoliberalism” at the Modern Languages Association Annual Convention in Washington, D.C. (January 2022), and she was invited to present at the “Jewish Literatures and their Neighbors” symposium at UC Irvine, where she presented a talk titled “Neighborhood Watch: Hebrew Literature after the Abraham Accords” (May 2022). Alon was also interviewed by the Brazilian literary magazine Quatro Cinco Um, alongside Israeli authors Ayelet Gundar-Goshen, Rutu Modan, and Etgar Keret, for an article about Israeli literature, “Literatura Israelense: Imperativo politico,” which appeared in May 2022. Alon organized a panel about resilience and contemporary Israeli and Palestinian culture for the annual conference of the Middle Eastern Studies Association (MESA), but it and the paper she was to present have been postponed to November 2022. Similarly, the CJS international conference on the piyyut, for which Alon is the lead organizer, was postponed to November 14-15, 2022. Alon has been awarded a University of Minnesota Imagine Fund Special Events Grant towards the November Piyyut conference. Alon’s article, “The Ongoing Nakba and the Grammar of History” came out in the Los Angeles Review of Books in June, and her book, Static: Middle Eastern Modernisms and the Form of the Present (featured in last year’s CJS Annual Magazine as scholarshipin-progress) is currently under review at Northwestern University Press. This past year Alon taught a new course, “Reorienting Hebrew Literature,” in which she hosted both Edwin Seroussi and Sayed Kashua. She also taught the large introductory course for her department, “Modern Arab Cultures and Societies,” which includes attention to Arab-Jewish cultures.
Alejandro Baer (Professor, Sociology) 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). He was invited to serve as a respondent to the presentation by Gunther Jikeli (Indiana University), “Jews and Muslims in Contemporary Europe,” at the Arizona State University conference, “Jewish-Muslim Relations through the Ages: Coexistence and Conflict” (October 2021). Baer was also invited to give the keynote lecture at the symposium, “Holocausto y memorias compartidas: una mirada desde España,” University Francisco de Vitoria, Madrid (November 2021). At the Universität Bayreut he taught a week-long lecture series as the William James Visiting Professor for the Study of Religion: “Jewish Memory and Memory of the Jews: Cultures, Identities, Politics.” (May-June 2022). He published “Wannsee: Modernidad y Barbarie”in El País, January 20th, 2022 and “La memoria europea ante el reto de Ucrania” (with Carlo Tognato), El País, March 28th 2022. He also published “La lección de Auschwitz. Preguntas para pensar el Holocausto en España,” an invited article for the first issue of the journal, EducaShoah (Madrid).
Natalie Belsky (Assistant Professor, History, UMD) participated in “Evacuation, the Soviet Union, and the Jews: Problems, Assessments and Evidence,” an International Online Conference (Israel) in which she presented her paper, “Anti-Semitism as the Culmination of Anti-Evacuee Sentiment on the Home Front” (December 2021). In addition, she participated in two events about the war in Ukraine: “Truth, Memory and Solidarity with Ukraine,” sponsored by the Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (March 2022), and “Spotlight on the Ukraine/Russia Conflict,” at the University of Minnesota, Duluth (March 2022). Belsky was also interviewed for a TCJewFolk podcast (March 2022) and was invited to speak on “History as a Weapon: Russia’s Aggression against Ukraine” for the Cook County Higher Education Organization (March 2022). Belsky published “Contested Memories: Soviet and Polish Jewish Refugees and Evacuees Recount their Experience on the Soviet Home Front,” in Polish Jews in the Soviet Union (1939–1959). History and Memory of Deportation, Exile and Survival (Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2021), 200-214.
Bruno Chaouat (Professor, French & Italian) was invited to deliver the keynote address, “Understanding Antisemitism: Philosophy, Psychoanalysis, and Religion,” at the international workshop, “Defining Antisemitism between History and Politics,” The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute (June 2022).
Sheer Ganor (Assistant Professor, History) is a co-organizer for the research group “In Search of the Migrant Child”. She is also a member of the collaboration’s International Standing Working Group. As part of this effort, she participated in a workshop, “‘Extra’Ordinary Sources of Child Migrants’ Past Lives” and moderated the panel, “Globalization & Visualization” (May 2021), chaired the Final Discussion at the workshop, “Pieces and Bits From The Past: Children’s Agency in Migration” (December 2021), and for the workshop, “Not Mere Objects: Uncovering Children’s Subjectivities in Migration,” she chaired the roundtable, “Giving a Voice to Children’s Subjectivities – Interdisciplinary Perspectives,” delivered the closing remarks to the first day’s session, and chaired the session, “Not Mere Objects: Case Studies on Children’s Subjectivities in Migration II” (May 2022). Ganor is also co-organizer of a transnational doctoral seminar on the topic of “Reparations: A Global German Affair.” The seminar is part of the TransAtlantic Summer Institute of the University of Minnesota Center for German and European Studies (July 2022). This past year Ganor taught “History of the Holocaust,” “History of Human Rights,” “Global History of Genocide,” “The Weimar Republic,” and “Global History of WWII.”
Michelle Hamilton (Professor, Spanish & Portuguese) was invited to speak about the figure of the alcahueta, or matchmaker, in Spanish literature, explicating its roots in Hebrew Literature from Spain: “ Las otras Celestinas en la literatura española: ‘Madres de necedades,’” at ‘Contarte he maravillas’: Congreso internacional de Estudios Medievales Hispánicos en honor a Joseph T. Snow. Biblioteca Nacional, Madrid. Universidad de Alcalá (October 29, 2021, sesión de mañana, https://heres.web.uah.es/agenda/snow/ ). Hamilton has forthcoming, “’On Earth as it is in Heaven’: Prophecy and Class in the Works of Ibn Daud.” Anales del Seminario de Historia de la Filosofía (Madrid).
Bernard Levinson, (Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures; Berman Family Chair in Jewish Studies and Hebrew Bible) presented “The Utopian Vision of Legal Rewriting in the Jubilee Legislation of Leviticus 25” for the Utopian Constructions of Law in Ancient Judaism panel, Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, San Antonio, TX (November 2021, via Zoom). He served as respondent to Guy Darshan, “Pork Consumption as an Identity Marker in Ancient Israel: The Textual Evidence,” at a Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Seminar (November 2021) and he co-organized “Ancient Laws Ancient Contexts: Situating Israelites and Jews in Normative Discourses,” an international symposium at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies (December 2021). Levinson also presented the plenary address, “Transforming Law into Gospel: Gerhard Von Rad’s Response to the ‘DeJewing’ of the Old Testament in Nazi Germany (A Case Study in Social Location of Biblical Scholarship),” at the Upper Midwest American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature Meeting (April 2022). He spoke on “The Reconceptualization of Kingship in Deuteronomy” at a conference in Rome, Tra Alessandria E Roma: Dinamiche Etnico-Religiose e Prospettive Politiche della Proposta Culturale de Filone Alessandrino (May 2022). Levinson published “The Founding of Israel’s Judicial System” in TheTorah.com, https://thetorah.com/ article/the-founding-of-israels-judicial-system (2021), and he has forthcoming The Betrayal of the Humanities: The University during the Third Reich, co-edited with Robert P. Ericksen (Indiana University Press, September 2022). Within this publication, Levinson’s “Index of Paramilitary and Military Roles Held,” a chart showing the collusion of important German academics in the Nazi war effort with their ranks and professional history, also appears. This past year Levinson was an Ellie and Herbert D. Katz Distinguished Fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, University of Pennsylvania.
Hanne Loeland Levinson (Associate Professor, Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) delivered two papers at the Annual Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature in San Antonio: “Reading Bible in Gilead: The Bible in Margaret Atwood’s Novels, The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments” and “The Bible in Octavia E. Butler’s Novel Parable of the Sower” (November 2021). She also gave a public lecture on “Bible in the Dystopian World” for Brunch and Learn: Adult Education at Har Zion Temple, Penn Walley, PA. (online, February 2022), as well as “Bible in the Dystopian World: The Use of Bible in Contemporary Dystopian and Post-Apocalyptic Literature,” MF CASR Lunch (March 2022). Loeland Levinson published The Death Wish in the Hebrew Bible: Rhetorical Strategies for Survival. Society for Old Testament Study Monographs (Cambridge University Press, 2021) and “The Never-Ending Search for God’s Feminine Side: Feminine Aspects in the God-Image of the Prophets” in Prophecy, 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). Her short essay, “Gender of God,” appeared in Bibleodyssey.org, an online resource of the Society of Biblical Literature (https://www.bibleodyssey.org/people/main-articles/gender-of-god). She also published “Still Invisible after All These Years? Female God-Language in the Hebrew Bible: A Response to David J. A. Clines” in Journal of Biblical Literature (Volume 141:2, 2022). This past year Loeland Levinson was a visiting scholar in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Saint Joseph’s University, Philadelphia.
Michael Lower (Morse Alumni Distinguished University Teaching Professor and Professor of History) is working on a history of Hakoah Vienna, an all-Jewish sports club that in the 1920s grew to be the largest of its kind in the world. For more on this topic, attend Lower’s CJS Community Lecture at the St. Paul JCC on March 14, 2023. This past year he co-taught (with Daniel Schroeter), “Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle Ages.”
Leslie Morris (Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts, Professor and Chair, German, Nordic, Slavic & Dutch) was invited to speak on “Family histories, unconcealed: Psychoanalysis and the Task of the Critic,” a roundtable presentation on “Thinking After: Writing as Reckoning” at the Memory Studies Association Conference (Warsaw, Zoom, July 2021). She was also invited to speak at the UMN Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies Summer Institute, where she delivered her paper, “From Peter Weiss to Michael Rothberg: Memory Debates in Germany 1960s to the Present” (July 2021). Morris also served as co-organizer of a series of four seminars in 2021-22 at the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies (University of Massachusetts/Amherst) in which ten German historians and Germanists presented current projects on writing family histories. She organized a two-day seminar gathering of the group in Amherst in April 2022. Morris’s invited essay, “German Jewish lengevitch: A Plurilingual Poetics of Meddling,” appearing in Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies, edited by Eric Downing and Ruth von Bernuth (Volume 5, 2021), has been translated into German for a volume:“Deutsch Jüdische lengevitch: Eine plurilinguale Poetik der Verflechtung.” Martin Hainz, ed. Paul Celan: ‘sah daß ein Blatt fiel und wußte, daß es eine Botschaft war. Berlin: Frank und Timme, 2022. Her invited essay, “The Unconcealed: Family Secrets as Family History” was published in On Being Adjacent to Historical Violence, edited by. Irene Kacandes, part of the series, Interdisciplinary German Cultural Studies (Amsterdam: Walter De Gruyter, 2022). Morris has forthcoming the invited essay, “Can Outlive Mental Abstraction. On one line of poetry by Anne Blonstein,” in Paideuma: Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics (eds. Benjamin Friedlander and Keaton Studebaker, forthcoming 2023), as well as the invited contribution, “Teaching in Jewish: Multilingualism, Translation, and the Place(s) of German Jewish Studies,” co-authored with Meyer Weinshel and appearing in Teaching German Studies in the 21st Century, edited by B. Venkat Mani and David Kim for the MLA series on Teaching (forthcoming 2023). In addition, there is forthcoming a translation of sections of Morris’s She Did Not Speak into Hungarian: “Aki nem beszélt. Imago Budapest,” translated by Szylvie Weil with commentary by Dr. Agnes Piszker, forthcoming in Magyar Pszichoanalitikus Egyesület (2022). This past year Morris taught “German and Jewish Writing at the Margins: Race, Multilingualism, Memory” and “The Holocaust: History, Memory, Narrative.” She also served on the external review committee to evaluate Emory University’s Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.
Katya Oicherman (Visiting) was one of three international artists chosen as the first ShUM Cities Artists in Residence. The ShUM Cities project seeks to highlight the heritage and importance of the medieval Jewish communities of Speyer, Worms, and Mainz, which in 2021 were named UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Oicherman spent six weeks in Worms, where she focused on an extended reading of Juspa Schammes’s Customs of the Holy Community of Worms (17th c.), and on a mapping of the book onto the contemporary city of Worms through her embroidery.
https://www.oicherman.art/k-art-index/in-shammess-footsteps-shum-residency. A film documenting the residency is forthcoming. Oicherman also has forthcoming an entry about embroidery and remembering, based on the residency, for the Bloomsbury Encyclopedia of World Textiles.
Karen Painter (Associate Professor, School of Music) delivered a paper on “Political trauma in Beethoven’s Legacy: From the concert hall to Lieux de mémoire” at the conference, “Beethovens‚ Geistiges Reich‘: Symbole des Vortrefflichen‘ in der Kunst und die kulturelle Politik des Widerstandes” in Bonn, Germany (October 2021). Painter was also awarded a course development grant from the UMN Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies. This past year she taught a Freshman Seminar, “Music in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust.”
Natan Paradise (Director, Center for Jewish Studies) delivered a public lecture, “Jewface, or Oy! What is That Supposed to Mean?” at Beth Jacob Congregation (July 2021). He was a panelist in the roundtable presentation, “Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion Work and Antisemitism on US Campuses,” part of the University of Minnesota CJS Symposium: “Antisemitism and Racism in a Moment of Reckoning” (November 2021). He also developed and delivered a three-hour educational seminar on antisemitism, “Antisemitism: Then, Now, Out There, and in Our Hallways,” for advisors and other student support staff in the College of Liberal Arts (March 2022). This seminar is available upon request to other units in the University. For the Diversity Community of Practice, an initiative of the Office of Equity and Diversity, Paradise spoke at “Diversity Data Deep Dive 9” (with co-presenters Stacey Tidball, Associate Vice Provost of Academic Support Resources and University Registrar, and Marlo Welshons, Assistant to the Provost) about “Religious Accommodations: Case Studies for Consideration” (April 2022). Paradise was also appointed to the President’s Taskforce on the Academic Calendar, formed in response to the Rosh Hashanah start date of 2021, and he is a member of the Religion and the Public University Collaborative. Paradise also served as an expert consultant for the Minnesota Daily, the StarTribune, USA Today, the Washington Post, and Fortress Press. This past year he taught “Introduction to Jewish History and Cultures,” the Honors Seminar “Jewish Humor: Seriously Funny from Text to Stage to Screen,” and he supervised a directed study and served as outside advisor for the honors thesis, “The Social Dynamics of Israeli Jews and Arabs living in Israel,” by Ellie Rogers, in addition to supervising a capstone project by Noa Appelsies about Birthright Israel. This summer the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Leadership team awarded Paradise, along with the rest of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation Jewish Education Committee, the Helena & Berek Bigos Volunteer of the Year award.
Renana Schneller (Director of Hebrew Language Instruction, Department of Classical and Near Eastern Religions and Cultures) delivered a presentation at the University of Chicago, “Language for Special Purpose (LSP) and the 21st century Learner: A Content-Based Instruction Approach to Curriculum Structuring.” She also delivered an online presentation hosted by the University of Kansas and the University of Texas, “In the beginning--the creation and implementation of an open source Hebrew language minor.” Schneller is a member of the Less Commonly Taught and Indigenous Languages Partnership, hosted by Michigan State University; with her colleague in the Partnership, Adi Raz (University of Michigan), she received a Mellon Foundation grant to develop lesson plans and scaffolding materials for an intermediate low/mid Hebrew reading curriculum that would accompany the regular Hebrew curriculum of college level Hebrew courses. Schneller also continues her service in the graduate curriculum at the summer
Hebrew language program at Middlebury Language Schools, teaching “Theories and Methodologies” and “Developing Assessment Tools.” This past year at the University of Minnesota, Schneller taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced Hebrew (for which she developed a new topics course, “Israel Inside and Out”), as well as her new course, “The Israeli Mossad in Film and Literature: History, Narrative, and Ethics.” Schneller also worked with a student from the University of Illinois, helping her to meet the needs of the Foreign Language and Area Studies (FLAS) fellowship.
Daniel Schroeter (Professor, History; Amos S. Deinard Memorial Chair in Jewish History) gave a presentation for a virtual symposium on “The Long History of the Mizrahim: New Directions in the Study of Jews from Muslim Countries,” held by Ca’ Foscari University of Venice (October 2021). For the KIVUNIM Institute, a gap year program for students in Jerusalem, he helped plan a unit on Moroccan Jewish history and culture and gave a guest zoom lecture in November 2021. Schroeter published, “The Modern Diaspora of Jews from the Arab Middle East and North Africa” in The Oxford Handbook of the Jewish Diaspora, ed. Hasia R. Diner (New York: Oxford University Press, 2021); “Jews and the Moroccan Monarchy in the Age of Imperialism,” Jews and Muslims in Morocco: Their Intersecting Worlds, ed. Joseph Chetrit, Jane S. Gerber, Drora Arussy (Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2021), 39-72; “Entre cosmopolitisme et protectionnisme: essor et déclin d’Essaouira,” in Pour une Maison de l’Histoire du Maroc (Rabat: Académie du Royaume du Maroc, 2020), 173-186 ; “Reflections on the Jews of Iligh,” The House of Illigh: A Historic Crossroads Between Timbuktu, Morocco and Europe (Amsterdam: Cultural Heritage Publications; Marrakech: La Maison de la Photographie, 2021), 64-69 ; and a book review of Les Juifs d’Afrique du Nord face l’Allemagne nazie, ed. Dan Michman and Haïm Saadoun, in The Journal of North African Studies (2021). This past year Schroeter co-taught (with Michael Lower) “Christians, Muslims, and Jews in the Middle Ages,” an undergraduate seminar on “Jerusalem: Jews, Christians, & Muslims in the Contested City,” and co-taught (with Hiromi Mizuno) “Global History of World War II.” In June Schroeter completed his term as director of the Center for Jewish Studies. He is on leave in Fall 2022 with a fellowship awarded by the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He will be joining a group of scholars in Ann Arbor conducting research on the theme, “Mizrahim and the Politics of Ethnicity,” and will be working on the project, “The Global Politics of Moroccan Jewish Ethnicity During the Era of King Hassan II.”
Center for Jewish Studies
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The Center for Jewish Studies, in collaboration with the Department of Asian & Middle Eastern Studies and the School of Music, will host an international symposium on the piyyut, organized by Shir Alon (Assistant Professor, Asian & Middle Eastern Studies) on November 14-15, 2022. The symposium, “The Contemporary Piyyut: Global Networks of Middle Eastern and North African Music,” will feature academic panels, workshops to include live demos and communal singing, and a free concert open to the public at the Cedar Cultural Center.
Piyyutim are Jewish liturgical poems sung or performed in religious services, ceremonies, and gatherings, a tradition that began in the 4th century CE and that now makes up an archive of thousands of poems and melodies, composed and performed by Jewish communities around the world. In the past twenty years, the Middle Eastern and North African piyyut tradition has become the object of wide interest and unprecedented creative evolution. The piyyut now circulates in new virtual media, and it bridges, sometimes uneasily, between diverse communities--secular and religious, Hebrew and Arabic, Mizrahi and Ashkenazi, or conservatives and progressives. This symposium is dedicated to appearances of piyyutim in contemporary culture and in what has sometimes been called “the piyyut revival movement.”
Bernard Bachrach, emeritus
Michael Cherlin, emeritus
Gary B. Cohen, emeritus
Rabbi Ryan Dulkin, visiting Sheer Ganor
Michelle Hamilton Amy Kaminsky, emerita Ronald R. Krebs
Manuscript page from collection of piyyutim. Morocco, 1859.
Hanne Loeland Levinson Bernard M. Levinson Michael Lower Alex Lubet
Leslie Morris Rick McCormick, emeritus
Katya Oicherman, visiting Karen Painter
Jonathan Paradise, emeritus
Riv-Ellen Prell, emerita
Melissa Harl Sellew, emerita
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