From Haggadah to Harry: Big range of books in Jewish Book Festival




From Haggadah to Harry: Big range of books in Jewish Book Festival

Steve and Cokie Roberts, authors of “Our Haggadah,” will appear at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester Sunday, Oct. 30, for an opening-night lecture and dessert reception.

Now in its 19th year, the Lane Dworkin Rochester Jewish Book Festival presents a diverse offering of books by Jewish authors to the community.

And that means books of all sorts, with subject matter ranging from interfaith families to Kosher cooking to … superheroes. And the rise of Google. And jurisprudence as seen in the “Harry Potter” universe.

“It’s very deliberate,” said Lori Harter, the new director of the festival, which opens today at the Jewish Community Festival of Greater Rochester in Brighton and runs through Nov. 16, with other events throughout the year. “We want to have a diverse program. We want to provide a diversity of subject matter and topics of interest for the community, which ranges from senior citizens to young people.”

There’s also a diversity of activity, from signings and lectures to panel discussions to a “Kosher Throwdown” cookoff Tuesday evening between “The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook” author Leah Koenig and Max Rochester owner Tony Gullace.

Harter is in her first year as director for the book festival, as well as next summer’s Ames Amzalak Rochester Jewish Film Festival. The festival’s purpose, she noted, is to provide a showcase for Jewish author and books of Jewish content, promoting community consciousness and pride in identity.

“The whole purpose of the book festival is to build community-wide cultural events, a showcase of Jewish authors, panel discussions and demonstrations for the community at large,” she said, “… and to help people celebrate their Jewish identity in ways that are meaningful to them.”

Along the way, she noted, “we also create a significant bookstore” at the JCC with the yearly festival’s featured books.

New to the festival this year is a “JCC Reads” community-reading discussion program featuring “The False Friend” by Myla Goldberg, who wrote the best-selling “Bee Season.”  Participants have been reading the book — about the scars left by a traumatic experience in which two 11-year-old girls go into the woods but only one comes out — since September. Goldberg will be on hand at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, for a lecture and discussion.

“The reviews for this book, ‘The False Friend,’ have been phenomenal,” Goldberg said. “It has lessons not only in community, but it talks about children — the scars of childhood bullies, that leave scars that never heal.

“The book has a lot of insight into how home defines us,” she added. “We felt that made it a perfect community read. One of the questions the book asks is, ‘Are we doing enough as a community? Or are we too focused on immaterial details?” Also, “How often do we as a community fail to make amends, because we want to sweep things under the rug, and get back to our picture-perfect world? It’s a deeply resonant and emotionally charged story.”

Goldberg is already looking forward to next year’s festival — its 20th anniversary — and expanding the event’s presence in the community.

“I think it promotes awareness, and acceptance and pride in the diversity of people,” Harter said. “If you can create a festival that promotes awareness and pride, that goes toward strengthening the whole community.”

Here’s the schedule of events for the festival, all at the Jewish Community Center of Greater Rochester, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton:

Sunday, Oct. 30, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.: “Rochester’s Own” featuring four local authors (no charge but tickets required):
10 a.m.: Eldred Chimowitz, a University of Rochester professor and author of “Between the Menorah and the Fever Tree,” a debut novel depicting the Jewish-African experience of “Chungle” from a Rhodesian boyhood to youth in apartheid-era South Africa to adulthood in America.
11 a.m.: Sarah F. Liebschutz, a professor emerita at SUNY College at Brockport and author of “Communities and Health Care: The Rochester, New York, Experiment,” exploring how health care is organized and financed in Rochester.
Noon: Judge Karen Morris, a Brighton town justice and professor of law at Monroe Community College, author of “Law Made Fun Through Harry Potter’s Adventures: 99 Lessons in Law from the Wizarding World for Fans of All Ages.”
1 p.m.: Cynthia Kolko, author of “Fruit of the Vine,” a novel set in the Finger Lakes that illuminates the contrast between the bucolic wine-country setting and the hard-edged people who inhabit it.

Sunday, Oct. 30, 7:30 p.m.: Authors, journalists and political commentators Cokie and Steve Roberts — an interfaith couple who met 45 years ago — have hosted a Passover seder in their Maryland home for years. They’ve written “Our Haggadah: Uniting Traditions for Interfaith Families,” and will appear at the JCC tonight for an opening-night event to talk about their approach to the holiday and the lessons they’ve learned as an interfaith couple. A dessert reception will follow.
($12, $10 JCC members)

Tuesday, Nov. 1, 7:30 p.m.: A Kosher “Throwdown” pitting Leah Koenig, author of “The Hadassah Everyday Cookbook: Daily Meals for the Contemporary Jewish Kitchen” and monthly food columnist for The Forward, against Max Rochester owner Tony Gullace. The audience, of course, gets to judge.
($10, $8 JCC members)

Wednesday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.: Myla Goldberg, author of “The False Friend,” appears for a community-read discussion of her novel. ($10, $8 members)

Thursday, Nov. 3, 7:30 p.m.: Technology reporter Steven Levy, author of “In the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works, and Shapes Our World.” He takes readers inside Google headquarters to show how the company works. ($10, $8 members)

Friday, Nov. 4, noon: 10th annual fiction panel luncheon featuring Wayne Hoffman, author of “Sweet Like Sugar”; Sharon Pomerantz, author of “Rich Boy”; and Adam Schwartz, author of “A Stranger on the Planet.” ($18, $15 members)

Sunday, Nov. 6, 2-4 p.m.: Kids “Mitzvah-Thon,” a PJ Library event featuring a readathon, jumpathon, bounceathon, snackathon and more, based on Ann Koffsky’s “Noah’s Swim-A-Thon” and Ellen Bari’s “Jumping Jenny.” Each child who completes the Mitzvah-thon will design a personalized book plate to be placed to a children’s book to be donated to the Rochester Jewish Coalition for Literacy. (No charge, RSVP required by Nov. 4 to Shelly Stam at; please bring non-perishable food item for Brighton Food Cupboard)

Sunday, Nov. 6, 7:30 p.m.: Longtime New York Times sports columnist Robert Lipsyte, author of “An Accidental Sportswriter,” looking back at his career as something of an outsider in the press box. ($10, $8 members)

Monday, Nov. 7, 7:30 p.m.: Rabbi Simcha Weinstein, who chronicles the origins of the most famous superheroes (Superman, Batman, the Hulk, Spider-Man and more), many of whose creators were Jewish. His book is called “Up, Up and Oy Vey: How Jewish History, Culture and Values Shaped the Comic Book Superhero.” ($10, $8 members)

Wednesday, Nov. 16, 7:30 p.m.: Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole, author of “Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza,” an exploration of an Egyptian geniza, or repository for worn-out Jewish texts and manuscripts. ($10, $8 members)

Tickets to all events are available at (585) 461-2000;; and at the JCC, 1200 Edgewood Ave., Brighton, during operating hours. Walk-in tickets, if available, will be sold 30 minutes prior to the event, though there’s no guarantee there will still be some available.

Professor’s ‘Death to Israel’ Rant Sparks Controversy at Kent State University




Professor’s ‘Death to Israel’ Rant Sparks Controversy at Kent State University

Source: Fox News, 10-28-11

Kent State Professor IsraelKent State University history professor Julio Pino, right, shouted “Death to Israel” at a presentation by Israeli consulate official Ismael Khaldi, seen in this flyer for the event.

A Kent State University professor allegedly with former ties to a jihadist website shouted “Death to Israel” at a public lecture delivered on the Ohio campus by a former Israeli diplomat.

The outburst came during a presentation this week by Ismael Khaldi, a former deputy counsel general at the Israeli consulate in San Francisco. During the question and answer period, KSU history professor Julio Pino launched a series of provocative questions at Khaldi.

At some point, the professor shouted “Death to Israel” and then stormed out of the building. The event was first reported by the KSU student news site KentWired.

KSU president Lester Lefton, who is Jewish, denounced Pino’s outburst, calling it “reprehensible and an embarrassment to our university.”

At the same time, he defended Pino’s free speech rights.

“It may have been professor Pino’s right to do so, but it is my obligation, as the president of this university, to say that I find his words deplorable and his behavior deeply troubling,” his statement read.

Pino, who is originally from Cuba and a convert to Islam, did not return calls for comment.

A Kent State spokesman confirmed the professor was once investigated by federal authorities. The university said they were also aware of allegations that Pino wrote stories for a now-defunct jihadist website.

And according to the Akron Beacon Journal , the professor eulogized an 18-year-old Palestinian suicide bomber in the Daily Kent Stater, the student-run newspaper.

And yet, the tenured history professor still remains employed by the university….READ MORE

Joshua S. Parens: Scholar explores Talmudic law, Jewish tradition




Joshua S. Parens: Scholar explores Talmudic law, Jewish tradition

Joshua S. ParensDr. Joshua S. Parens, professor at the University of Dallas presented “ and Philosophy: ’ Revolution” on Wednesday in the Memorial Drawing Room.
Ambika Kashi Singh | Lariat Photographer

The brought a Jewish scholar to campus Wednesday to give a lecture on how the 12th-century philosopher Maimonides helped incorporate philosophy into the Jewish theological tradition.

The speaker, Dr. , professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas, highlighted how Maimonides codified an enormous body of Talmudic law and introduced 13 principles of Jewish faith that were controversial at the time but have become foundational for the Jewish tradition in the centuries since.

Among the most significant of these principles, Maimonides wrote that God was a spiritual being, rather than one with a body, a belief that was not universally accepted before his time.

“This, in the end, is the moment where we start to see what is truly revolutionary about Maimonides: that he affirmed the Jews must believe that God is incorporeal,” Parens said. “Now, this will strike most of you, as Christians, as a little bit strange. After all, you have been raised with the notion that there is another life, and that other life is wholly incorporeal and spiritual.”

Before Maimonides, Parens said, the Jewish community had little interest in engaging in religious philosophy.

Maimonides, however, changed that by introducing the 13 principles and stressing the incorporeality of God and his existence as an eternal being, which Parens argued opened the door for philosophy in the Jewish life.

“In short, then, in Maimonides’ time, theology was nothing but defense of the faith against philosophy,” Parens said. “Consequently, what Maimonides then does by making a kind of home for philosophy within Judaism is incredibly radical and shocking.”

Parens also contrasted Maimonides’ contribution to Jewish theology with that of the 17th century Dutch philosopher , whose religious philosophy was far less particular to the Jewish scriptures than that of Maimonides and the orthodox Jewish community.

Dr. , professor of philosophy and faculty master of the Honors Residential College, said he thought the event was well-attended and the subject discussed was relevant for Christians, as well as the Jewish community.

“The importance that a talk like this has for Christianity,” Buras said, “is to be able to compare the way [the Jewish community] put it all together — philosophy and the Bible — with the way other traditions have.”

Several Jewish Baylor faculty members and other members of the Waco Jewish community were in attendance for the lecture including Stanley Hersh, president of the of Waco, and Rabbi of the in Waco.

They said they were pleased that Baylor, as a Christian institution, offered this forum and were also pleased at the turnout, which was standing-room-only by the time the lecture began in Memorial Hall Drawing Room and consisted mostly of students.

Annelise Orleck: Historian reflects on tragic Triangle Fire at Brooks Memorial Library




Annelise Orleck: Historian reflects on tragic Triangle Fire at Brooks Memorial Library

Source: Common News, 10-26-11

Originally published in The Commons issue #124 (Wednesday, October 26, 2011).

Dartmouth College professor Annelise Orleck will discuss the tragic Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire in a talk at Brooks Memorial Library on Nov. 2.

Her talk, “100 Years since Triangle: The Fire that Seared a Nation’s Conscience,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7 p.m.

On March 25, 1911, a fire at the factory in Greenwich Village killed 146 young workers, most of them young immigrant Jewish and Italian women.

With exits locked, women leapt to their deaths while thousands watched. Half a million New Yorkers lined the funeral route, and politicians vowed to change workplace safety laws.

Orleck will talk about these events and their historical significance.

Orleck is professor of history at Dartmouth College, where she teaches U.S. political history, women’s history, and the history of race, ethnicity, and immigration, as well as Jewish studies. She is author of Common Sense and a Little Fire: Women and Working Class Politics in the United States (1995) and Storming Caesars Palace: How Black Mothers Fought Their Own War on Poverty (2005). She is co-editor of The Politics of Motherhood: Activist Voices from Left to Right.

The Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May, featuring speakers of national and regional renown. Talks in Brattleboro are held at Brooks Memorial Library.

Upcoming Brattleboro talks include “American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era,” with Race and Reunion author David Blight on Dec. 7; “An Evening with Ken Burns,” with acclaimed PBS filmmaker Ken Burns on Jan. 4 (to be held at Latchis Theater); and “Willa Cather’s Prairie Landscapes” with Amherst College professor Michele Barale on Feb. 1.

For more information, contact Brooks Memorial Library at 802-254-5290 or contact the Vermont Humanities Council at 802-262-2626 or by email.

Joseph Cedar, Yehezkel Dror: Israeli film director & Hebrew U. professor awarded for promoting Jewish unity




Cedar, Hebrew U. professor awarded for promoting Jewish unity

Source: JTA, 10-26-11

Award-winning Israeli film director Joseph Cedar and Hebrew University professor Yehezkel Dror were recognized for their work in promoting global Jewish unity.

Cedar, whose film “Beaufort” was nominated for best foreign film at the 2008 Oscars, and Dror, professor emeritus of political science at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and one of the world’s leading analysts in policy planning and management, were awarded the 2011 NADAV Jewish Peoplehood Award at a ceremony Oct. 23 in Jaffa.

The award, presented by businessman and philanthropist Leonid Nevzlin, founder of the NADAV Foundation, was given to Cedar for his “enhancing Jewish pride and strengthening Jewish identity, particularly within the young generation,” and to Dror for his “life’s work to promote Jewish leadership in Israel and around the world.”

The NADAV Foundation works to support initiatives that advance an understanding of Jewish peoplehood, build Jewish collective identity and create lasting connections among the world’s Jews.

Last year the recipients of the NADAV award were Angelica Berrie, president of the Russell Berrie Foundation and chairman of the Hartman Institute in North America, for her contribution in raising new and pluralistic voices within the Jewish tradition and promoting dialogue among Jews of different backgrounds, and the Latma Group for the video “We Con The World” following the 2010 flotilla incident. The video garnered more than 2 million views on YouTube.

Dan Michman: Historians, educators forgetting about Jews in framing Holocaust, Bar-Ilan professor says




Source: The Jewish Tribune, 8-16-11

There is “a battle for memory” taking place in the way historians and educators understand and frame the Holocaust, and a trend in which the “centrality of the Jews” is being neglected, Professor Dan Michman, Department of Jewish History, Bar-Ilan University, and head, International Institute for Holocaust Research, Yad Vashem told the Jewish Tribune during a recent visit here. “The emphasis has moved in another direction: the laudable issue of preventing genocide,” Michman said.  “When you look to the future, the past – the memory – becomes less important. All that matters is what you can learn from the past to prevent genocide and, to prevent genocide from happening (in any place) on earth, the Jewish aspects of the Holocaust are perhaps not helpful…. Within these trends of (emphasizing) human rights, comparing all genocides and preventing future genocide, the special dimension of the Shoah doesn’t come forward enough, because of the (resulting) need to put the Holocaust into a certain broader framework.”

Scholarly and public discourse on the Holocaust is being over-generalized in the service of examining, for example, commonalities shared by perpetrators of genocide and mass murder or the experiences of lone individuals outside the context of  their local community or larger society.

“An understanding of what was lost in Jewish society and Jewish culture is hardly mentioned. It goes above murder and the motivations of the perpetrators and the suffering of individuals – which are both important aspects – but the special aspect of Jewish society and culture is of no importance for this method of interpretation.

“We’re not speaking about the gravity of murder as such.  It was not just Jewish individuals (targetted by the Nazis): it was the ruining, the erasure, the exorcism of any trace of Jewish existence.”

Michman quoted from the 1946 testimony of Dieter Wisliceny, a Nazi official in Adolf Eichmann’s Department of Jewish Affairs, who was hanged for his crimes in Czechoslovakia in 1948:  “Antisemitism was one of the foundations of the platforms of Nazism. It stemmed in practice from two outlooks: (1) the pseudo-scientific biological statements of Prof. Günther and (2) the mystical-religious view that the world is directed by forces of good and evil. According to this view, the principle of evil was embodied in the Jews.”

Yet today, Michman said, “they all use the term ‘holocaust’ because it has become a brand name.”

Dr. Robert Rozett, libraries director, Yad Vashem, also expressed concern about this trend. He told Canadian journalists, who were on a visit to Israel sponsored by the Canadian Society for Yad Vashem and the Adelson Family Charitable Foundation, that the Holocaust is being trivialized, banalized and diminished as a result of the current politicized “tussle.”

“The Holocaust has become our main anchor, the main way we understand evil,” Rozett said.  “It’s the reference point for understanding man’s inhumanity to man.” Perhaps as a result, “people are using the Holocaust to frame their own tragedies” and are using the name “holocaust” to describe events such as the potato famines in 19th century Ireland, the persecution of Christians in 16th century Japan, the deaths of millions in the Soveit Union under Stalin’s regime, as well as to abortion statistics.

“What makes the Holocaust singular versus other genocides is the idea that Jews are evil simply because they exist and that by murdering them you are doing something good for mankind.”

Gabriel Barkai: Israeli archaelogists claim Palestinians attempting to rewrite Jewish history




Palestinians are using archeology to advance their statehood bid. Prominent archaeologist Gabriel Barkai called it “cultural Intifada.”

The PA will seek World Heritage status for the birthplace of Jesus, Bethlehem, once the UN’s cultural agency (UNESCO) admits them as a full member. Hamdan Taha, the Palestinian Authority minister who deals with antiquities and culture, also listed Nablus and Hebron among 20 cultural heritage sites which he said could be nominated as World Heritage Sites….

Taha’s bid at UNESCO is supported by the Vatican Custody of the Holy Land, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Church. As th UN bid brings the Palestinians closer to an independent state, the historical and archeological claims are playing an increasingly prominent role in the building of the national consciousness.

Taha, who did his undergraduate work in Berlin, worked in Jericho with Paolo Matthiae, an Italian scholar who discovered Ebla, the Syrian site that is most famous for the “Ebla tablets.” In Herodion (Herod’s fortress in the Judean hills), Taha worked with Michele Piccirillo, a Fransciscan priest who has been one of the most famous Italian archaeologists. Taha gets funds and support from UNESCO, European governments and societies like the Studium Biblicum Franciscanum, a major Catholic association in Jerusalem….READ MORE

Joseph Massad: U.S. Department of Education Investigating Columbia University for Discrimination Against a Jewish Student at Barnard




U.S. probing bias allegation at Columbia

Source: JTA, 10-5-11

The U.S. Department of Education is investigating Columbia University for allegedly discriminating against a Jewish student.

The probe by the department’s Office for Civil Rights concerns an Orthodox student at the Columbia-affiliated Barnard College who was “steered” by an academic adviser away from a course taught by Professor Joseph Massad because she would be made uncomfortable, according to the complaintant, Kenneth Marcus, the director of the Initiative on Anti-Semitism at the Institute for Jewish Civil Rights. Marcus served as the head of the Office for Civil Rights in 2003-04.

Massad, a sharp critic of Israel, was cleared of accusations of anti-Semitism by a Columbia committee some years ago.

“Steering” is a legal term typically used in housing discrimination cases, such as when a black family might be steered away from a white neighborhood.

Columbia President Lee Bollinger said in a statement that the university has strong policies against discrimination and treats such allegations “very seriously.” He also noted that the complaint appears to relate to academic advising and it was unfair to cite Massad because he played no part in the matter.

In 2004, Marcus instructed the Office for Civil Rights to be vigilant about campus anti-Semitism.


New Charge Over Hostile Columbia Classroom

U.S. reportedly probing whether Jewish student was ‘steered’

Source: Tablet Mag, 10-4-11

It’s possible Morningside Heights has found its annual autumn incident. A U.S. Department of Education committee is investigating whether a Columbia University department head “steered” a Jewish student away from taking a class on the Mideast taught by Professor Joseph Massad due to the perception that she would be “uncomfortable” because of the professor’s pro-Palestinian tilt, according to the Institute for Jewish & Community Research’s Kenneth L. Marcus, the complainant in the case. According to Marcus, Judith Jacobson, an epidemiology professor at Columbia’s Mailman School of Public Health who is also active in campus politics, informed him of the alleged incident. He also said that Education’s Office for Civil Rights, which he headed for a time during the Bush administration, informed him it had granted its request to launch a probe.

“The University has strong policies against discrimination and we treat allegations of discrimination of any kind very seriously,” Columbia President Lee C. Bollinger said through a press officer. “It is important to note that the individual complaint appears to relate to academic advising at Barnard College and in no way involves Professor Joseph Massad. Based on these facts, therefore, it is extremely unfair for Professor Massad to be cited in a matter in which he played no part whatsoever.” Added Barnard Vice President for Communications Joanne Kwong: “We do not tolerate discrimination by any member of the College community, so we are carefully exploring and reviewing the claims made about this alleged incident. As this is a pending investigation, it would be inappropriate and premature to comment any further at this time.” OCR has not replied to a request for comment.

Massad was one of a few members of Columbia’s Middle Eastern Studies faculty who came under fire in 2005 in a film produced by the David Project, a pro-Israel advocacy group. The documentary, Columbia Unbecoming, featured several students alleging that Massad and others had cultivated classrooms hostile to pro-Israel voices. Maybe most memorably, Massad was accused of asking one student, who had identified himself as a former Israeli soldier, how many Palestinians he had killed. Massad disputes the story. (He has not replied to a request for comment.) A subsequent investigation by Columbia did not lead to any of the professors leaving, prompting critics to call it a whitewash.

Technically, “Barnard’s Middle East studies department chair” (Barnard is an all-women college at Columbia) is accused of encouraging the student, who was dressed as an Orthodox Jewish woman would be, not to take a particular class in January 2011, in violation of federal civil rights law. (In the spring 2011 semester, Massad’s class was a seminar on “Contemporary Culture in the Arab World”; this fall, he is teaching an open lecture on “Palestinian-Israeli Politics and Society.”) But Marcus’ actual beef is not with the act of steering by the individual department head. It’s with Columbia’s alleged failure to address the perception that Massad’s classes might make Jewish students unduly uncomfortable.

“The big question is whether Massad is violating students’ rights too,” Marcus wrote. “If there is a problem in Professor Massad’s classroom, as the Barnard chair may believe, then steering Jewish students away is not the solution. Nor is it the biggest problem. The biggest problem may be the failure of some universities to take anti-Semitism allegations seriously, especially when academic freedom is frivolously invoked.”

In an interview this morning, Marcus said that he looked forward to the investigation itself and for the potential for Columbia to negotiate a voluntary settlement. “We would want to see Columbia take firm actions to ensure not only that the steering problem is addressed, but more importantly that Jewish students are not facing a hostile environment in Middle East studies classes,” he told me. When asked if that meant he wanted Massad’s resignation, he demurred, slightly: “We would like for Columbia to look into what’s going on, especially in Professor Massad’s class, and reconsider whether the investigation they did a few years ago is really adequate,” he said. “If it turns out as a result of the investigation that there’s a hostile environment for Jewish students in any Columbia classes, then the instructors need to be dealt with.”

In addition to working at the OCR, as assistant secretary of education for civil rights, Marcus was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. That independent commission has a mandate to examine all charges of civil rights violations, although on its Website, the most prominently trumpeted specific issue is, “Ending Campus Anti-Semitism.” According to Marcus, he issued a guidance for the OCR to police campus anti-Semitism, which, he said, it not do since he left the office, in 2004, until last year, when, partly after the lobbying of several Jewish groups including the Anti-Defamation League, the Obama administration adopted an anti-bullying policy that reinstated that mandate.

Marcus has also served as head of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Office of Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity. Indeed, the legal notion of “steering” primarily comes out of that jurisprudence; “It is similar,” Marcus wrote of what allegedly happened to the student, “to what happens when a realtor tells a young African American couple that they would not be ‘comfortable’ living in a particular white neighborhood.” He told me that applying steering in this context was “a somewhat novel theory, but,” he added, “it fits exactly.”

Historical Museum in Lodz: Polish museum opens exhibit October 2 on Warsaw Ghetto Uprising leader Marek Edelman




Polish museum opens exhibit on Warsaw Ghetto Uprising leader

Source: JTA, 10-5-11

A Polish museum has opened a section dedicated to Marek Edelman, one of the commanders of the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto Uprising against the Nazis.

The exhibit at the Historical Museum in Lodz opened Oct. 2, two years after Edelman died at the age of 90.

Edelman, a cardiologist by profession, lived and worked in Lodz after World War II, and the exhibition is arranged to evoke his home and office. The display uses his furniture, books, photographs and other objects.

A longtime human and social rights activist, Edelman joined the anti-Communist Solidarity movement in 1980 and was interned by Poland’s Martial Law authorities. After the fall of communism, he served as a member of Parliament and was awarded Poland’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the White Eagle, as well as the French Legion of Honor.

Alex Joffe: Israel Studies 101




Source: Jewish Ideas Daily, 10-3-11

The modern American research university is a house of many rooms.  The field of Israel Studies, which has emerged in the past decade, occupies one of the newest—and smallest—of those rooms.  Israel Studies programs are meant to address a serious problem and take advantage of a large opportunity on campus.  What happens to them in the coming years will tell us something significant about Israel as a topic of study and about the American university itself.

Studying Israel  Jan Jaben-EilonJerusalem Post.  The growth of interest in Israel as a field of serious academic study is not just American but worldwide.

Multicultural Israel in a Global Perspective  Association for Israel Studies.  The Association for Israel Studies, in existence since 1985, plans its 2012 conference in Haifa.

Follow the Money  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Between 1995 and 2008, Arab Gulf states gave $234 million in contracts and about $88 million in gifts to American universities. What has their money purchased?

Jewish Studies in Decline?  Alex JoffeJewish Ideas Daily.  Retiring faculty are not replaced, less research money is allocated, and fewer students enter the field. Is there a future for the academic study of Judaism?

In American universities over the past 150 years and more, academic programs and departments have come and gone.  One reason is that increasing specialization is, to some extent, intrinsic to the pursuit of knowledge.  Departments such as physics and chemistry broke off from one another as their disciplines grew too large and complex to be confined within a single intellectual and administrative space.  There have been fractures in disciplines like anthropology, where scholars of culture and scholars of biology discovered that they could no longer bear one another.

More recently, specialization has also been fueled by demands, from the subjects of study themselves, for inclusion on the academic menu.  Since the 1960’s, we have seen a proliferation of ethnic and gender studies programs meant to bring the narratives of ignored or excluded groups into the larger discussion.  Jews and Jewish Studies programs in American universities have been among the leaders of this drive for inclusion through separation.

At their best, such efforts have created true and valuable diversity—in the sense of new streams of thought—within American universities.  They have also created walled-off compartments in which faculty can preach to choirs of student disciples (or simply to themselves) and the politicians among them can clamor for more resources, often by claiming past or present discrimination.  Unlike Jewish Studies programs, which are largely funded by Jewish donors, most ethnic and gender studies programs are paid for by the host universities themselves.  Such programs can perhaps best be characterized as having produced some scholarship and much politicking.

Israel Studies programs have a different provenance.  After World War II, U.S. universities saw the rise of “area studies,” in which scholars crossed the boundaries of disciplines like history, economics, and political science in pursuit of ‘useful knowledge’ about a geographic region or cultural area.  Middle Eastern Studies departments emerged as part of this trend.  They are long awash in funds from, among other donors, Arab governments.  Predictably, these departments have been dominated by scholars of the Arab and Muslim worlds.  As their subjects have increasingly become the focus of world conflict, these scholars have—perhaps inevitably, in light of the current university climate—become advocates…. READ MORE

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.