JBuzz News March 1, 2012: Lila Corwin Berman: Collaboration enriches professor’s exploration of the American Jewish experience at Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History

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JEWISH ACADEMIC & UNIVERSITY NEWS

Collaboration enriches professor’s exploration of the American Jewish experience

Lila Corwin Berman, shown at the 227-year-old Congregation Rodeph Shalom on North Broad Street, examines the American Jewish experience from a historical perspective, bridging religion, politics and questions about identity.

Lila Corwin Berman always has her eyes on bridges, both constructing and deconstructing them. But she’s not an engineer — she’s an historian.

As the new director of Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History, Berman explores the bridges between academics and practitioners, the past and present, history and politics, religion and identity, and the city and suburbs.

“At the center, we strive to make academic work meaningful by not only serving the scholarly community but also engaging with the public,” said Berman.

Founded in 1990, the Feinstein Center brings together scholars and lay people interested in the American Jewish experience. To that end, the center collaborates regularly with external institutions, such as the Gershman Y and the National Museum of Jewish American History. It also sponsors conferences, fellowships and public events all devoted to new approaches to understanding the many dimensions of Jewish experience in the United States….READ MORE

Arriving at Temple just three years ago from Penn State, Berman spent her first year getting acclimated, but an upcoming symposium titled “The Art of Being Jewish in the City: Aesthetics, Politics and Power” will be the grand finale of a full two years of conferences, events and even a performance focused on Jews and urbanism.

“Temple’s Department of History is an ideal place to locate this type of exploration,” said Berman. “It is full of top-notch urban historians, and a lot of forces in the department intersect around urban questions.”

According to Berman, as Jews were leaving American cities during the post-war period, they were also grappling with being middle class and suburban, and there was a part of them that was staying behind.

“Many of them never left cities in their minds,” she said.

“Through these two-years of programming and upcoming conference, we are asking, ‘How did Jews retain their investment in cities both as part of their identity but also materially, politically and economically?'”

The Art of Being Jewish in the City

How are Jews imagining, funding and creating urban arts and culture for the future?

As the culmination of two years of programming, Temple’s Feinstein Center for American Jewish History is hosting “The Art of Being Jewish in the City,” a day-long symposium exploring arts-led urban development and the role that Jews play in envisioning new forms of urban life.

The symposium invites the public to join in conversation with some of today’s most important urban thinkers.

Thursday, March 15, 9 a.m.- 5:30 p.m.
The Edward H. Rosen Hillel Center for Jewish Life
1441 Norris St. (at corner of N. 15th St.), Philadelphia

The conference is free, but registration is required. Visit www.temple.edu/feinsteinctr/symposium, email feinsteincenter@temple.edu or call 215-204-9553.

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