JBuzz News March 15, 2012: Jonathan Sarna: Barach College Jewish Studies Center Presents ‘General Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews’




Jewish Studies Center Presents ‘General Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews’ with Jonathan Sarna

Source:  EON: Enhanced Online News, 3-15-12

On March 21, 2012, The Jewish Studies Center at Baruch presents a talk entitled “General Ulysses S. Grant and the Jews” with featured speaker Dr. Jonathan Sarna. The event is scheduled at 1 p.m. in Engelman Recital Hall, located on the first floor of the Newman Vertical Campus, 55 Lexington Avenue.

Ulysses S. Grant

Ulysses S. Grant

“the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil.”

Dr. Sarna is the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Chief Historian of the new National Museum of American Jewish History. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America’s 50 most influential American Jews, he was Chief Historian for the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life. Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than twenty books, including the Jews and the Civil War: A Reader and A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew. He is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History. Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year Award” in 2004, it has been praised as being “the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil.”

The discussion is co-sponsored by Baruch’s Alumni Relations Office and the Office of College Advancement. For more information, contact Jessica Lang, Director of the Jewish Studies Center, at (646) 312-3975 or jessica.lang@baruch.cuny.edu.

Carleton University Hosts Jewish Studies Conference February 9, 2012




Carleton Hosts Jewish Studies Conference

Source: Ottawa Citizen, 2-6-12

Carleton University is holding a conference entitled Jewish Spaces, Jewish Places on Thursday, Feb. 9, 2012 and launching an international travelling exhibition about prisoners of the Dachau concentration camp – Names Instead of Numbers.

The interdisciplinary graduate student conference, hosted by the Max and Tessie Zelikovitz Centre for Jewish Studies, includes a public lecture by keynote speaker Michael Meng from Clemson University, who will talk at 4 p.m. in Room 2017, Dunton Tower. Meng is the author of Shattered Spaces, which explores the postwar history of Jewish ruins in the urban landscapes of Germany and Poland.

Carleton’s Jennifer Evans will also be launching her book during the conference. It’s called Life Among the Ruins: Cityscape and Sexuality in Cold War Berlin.

The launch of the Dachau exhibition will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on the fourth floor of Paterson Hall.

On Friday, Feb. 10, media are invited to a presentation at 10:30 a.m. from exhibition curator Sabina Gerhardus in Room 303, Paterson Hall. She will be available for questions. Names Instead of Numbers will remain at Carleton through March 9.

Information about the exhibition and a full program of the conference is available here: http://ccph.carleton.ca/news/test-post-for-names-instead-of-numbers/.

See this release online: http://bit.ly/A8FPdt

For more information:

Dominique Marshall

Acting Chair, Department of History

Carleton University

613-520-2600, ext. 2846

Dominique_marshall@carleton.ca <mailto:Dominique_marshall@carleton.ca>

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 sstam@jewishrochester.org; 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; http://jcc.ticketleap.com; 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.

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.

The Forward Relaunches Jewish Daily Forward Online


Source: Business Wire, 6-14-11

Site Returns Paper Full Circle to Become the Leading Daily Jewish News Source

The Forward, America’s most influential Jewish weekly newspaper, is relaunching the Jewish Daily Forward online at Forward.com. The redesigned and expanded website provides fresh news, features, arts coverage and opinion every weekday, in addition to the blogs on arts, food, popular culture and women’s issues and the podcasts and videos that readers have come to expect and enjoy. The Forward’s content offerings also have been expanded to include:

“The new Jewish Daily Forward website completes a transformation that has been underway in our newsroom for several years, as we’ve moved from being a print-only newspaper with a website to a fully integrated news organization in print and online”

  • “Forward Thinking,” a new blog where Forward editors will discuss and analyze the most important Jewish news of the day – and other stories from a Jewish perspective.
  • “The Yiddish Scene,” a new online content channel, in English, focusing on Yiddish culture and translating the best new articles and essays from the Yiddish Forverts.
  • New columnists in print and online, including Eric Alterman, Deborah Lipstadt and David Hazony.

“The new Jewish Daily Forward website completes a transformation that has been underway in our newsroom for several years, as we’ve moved from being a print-only newspaper with a website to a fully integrated news organization in print and online,” said Jane Eisner, editor of the Forward. “The new Forward.com is designed for readers to come to our site every day to receive the latest news and fresh content in the Forward’s well-written, analytical style. The Forward will still produce a dynamic and relevant weekly print edition, but the new website is a response to the change in today’s media landscape, making it a ‘must read’ for anyone interested in the Jewish story.”

Samuel Norich, publisher of the Forward said, “Many Jewish websites offer some news, opinion, arts and culture, but none can come close to the breadth and depth of coverage that a fully staffed newspaper, with a wealth of tradition and experience can provide. The new Forward.com epitomizes our unique role and value as the only truly independent Jewish newspaper in the United States, unaffiliated with any branch of Judaism, unbeholden to any religious or communal authority, and free from bias or conflicts of interest. It is the natural evolution of a paper that started in the 19th Century as a daily Yiddish paper, evolved in the 20th Century into weekly English and Yiddish newspapers, and now in the 21st Century is embracing the potential of digital media channels to be a more accessible and more immediate news source, appealing to Jews and to a broader community.”

With this initiative, the new Jewish Daily Forward online will feature a new blog “Forward Thinking,” a place for timely analysis of the news and sharp meditations about the issues and trends facing the world, served up by a talented group of editors in an environment that invites lively exchange. Featured on the blog will be editor Jane Eisner, opinion editor Gal Beckerman, and editor-at-large J.J. Goldberg, whose insightful, individual blog will be folded into “Forward Thinking.” In addition, Goldberg will continue to write his popular, weekly column and Beckerman will add his own monthly commentary to the newspaper.

Also joining Forward.com will be three new columnists who will write regularly for Forward.com. They include:

  • Eric Alterman is a distinguished Professor of English, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, and Professor of Journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. Alterman will be moving his column from Moment magazine to Forward.com. He is also “The Liberal Media” columnist for The Nation and a fellow of The Nation Institute, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, D.C., where he writes and edits the “Think Again” column, and a senior fellow at the World Policy Institute. He most recently won a “Mirror Award” for excellence in media industry reporting from the S.I. Newhouse School of Communications at Syracuse University.
  • David Hazony is a writer based in Jerusalem, whose writings have appeared in Commentary, the New Republic, the New York Sun, Policy Review, the Jerusalem Post, and other publications. From 2004-2007, Hazony served as editor in chief of Azure, the quarterly journal of Jewish public thought published by the Shalem Center. Currently a frequent contributor to Commentary’s “Contentions,” blog, Hazony will now bring his conservative perspective to a monthly column on Forward.com.
  • Deborah E. Lipstadt is a professor of modern Jewish and Holocaust studies at Emory University and the author of “The Eichmann Trial,” published in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the Eichmann trial.

The new site will also feature “The Yiddish Scene,” showcasing all of the Forward’s Yiddish-related content and the best of the Yiddish language newspaper, both in English and in Yiddish. In doing so it creates a bridge between the English Forward and Yiddish Forverts’ websites, and provides an easily accessible spot for English readers to read about Yiddish and Yiddish culture, regardless of their Yiddish fluency. In addition, it provides a window onto the rich offerings published each week by the Forverts.

For more information, please visit http://www.forward.com

About The Forward:

The Forward, published weekly since 1990 with online content added daily to http://www.forward.com, is widely regarded as American Jewry’s essential, independent newspaper. The English language weekly grew out of the legendary Yiddish language newspaper, Jewish Daily Forward, founded in 1897. The Forward is committed to rigorous reporting and balanced, thoughtful commentary on news, politics, arts and culture in the Jewish world. Headquartered in New York, the newspaper is owned by the Forward Association, Inc., a not-for-profit, 501(c) 3 organization. It is published on Fridays and is available by subscription and on newsstands in selected cities nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.forward.com.

Saul Friedman Honored with Jewish Studies Scholarship at Youngstown State University

Source: Cleveland Jewish News, 6-10-11

The Youngstown Zionist District of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) created an endowment at Youngstown State University (YSU) in honor of Dr. Saul Friedman, retired YSU professor of history. The Dr. Saul Friedman Scholarship in Jewish Studies will reward YSU students focusing on Israel, the Holocaust and Jewish history.

Currently a professor emeritus, Friedman founded the Judaic and Holocaust studies program at YSU. He’s won the university’s Distinguished University Professor Award six times, as well as honors from the Ohio Humanities Council, ZOA, and five regional Emmys for public television documentaries he produced. He has also published 10 books on Jewish history and the Holocaust….READ MORE

Jonathan Sarna: JTA Launches Jewish News Archive

JTA launches online archive with a quarter-million articles

Source: JTA, 5-5-11

The JTA Jewish News Archive features articles from the past nine
1 out of 1Other Media
The JTA Jewish News Archive features articles from the past nine decades.

NEW YORK (JTA) — JTA has launched a digital archive containing 250,000 articles dating from 1923.

The JTA Jewish News Archive, which is searchable and free for the public to use, was launched officially Tuesday evening with a celebration at the Center for Jewish History in New York.

Highlights of the archive include extensive reporting from Europe in the 1930s and 1940s — including perhaps the first article on what has become known as the Babi Yar massacre — JTA’s reportage on the founding of the State of Israel, close and sustained coverage of the Soviet Jewry movement, and decades of articles chronicling the changing roles and responsibilities of Jewish women.

“The JTA Jewish News Archive has the potential to spark an interest in the past that will transform the future,” said Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University.

Sarna, a member of JTA’s board of directors, spearheaded the effort to digitally preserve the news agency’s reporting.

JTA’s coverage of the Holocaust may be of particular interest to historians.

“There was and still is a lot of conventional wisdom that Americans didn’t know about the Holocaust while it was happening, and couldn’t have known about the Holocaust while it was happening,” said Northeastern University journalism professor Laurel Leff. “One of the values of this archive is that people can actually look at the bulletins that JTA sent out during this period and see what information was, in fact, available.”

The archive was created with the help of Digital Divide Data, a nonprofit organization that provides jobs to disadvantaged youth in Southeast Asia. Young Cambodians digitized JTA’s files, thereby completing a circle — a vital journalistic record of the Holocaust is being preserved by the next generation in a country racked by its own genocide.

Major philanthropic support for the JTA archive was provided by The Gottesman Fund; The Righteous Persons Foundation; The Charles H. Revson Foundation; Elisa Spungen Bildner and Robert Bildner, in honor of Norma Spungen; George S. Blumenthal; and the Grace and Scott Offen Charitable Fund.

A video about the JTA Jewish News Archive can be found here.

Online archives chronicle Jewish history, redress injustice

Source: Jerusalem Post, 5-5-11

JTA, JDC and Project HEART launch free services.

Three online archives have recently opened, providing widely accessible windows into Jewish history and primary and secondary sources.

The Jewish Telegraphic Agency celebrated its new Jewish News Archive (www.archive.jta.org) on Tuesday night at New York’s Center for Jewish History. The Jewish News Archive will provide online access to over a quarter million articles from the JTA dating back to the 1920s; use is free.

“With free access to nearly a century of reporting about global events affecting world Jewry, the archive will not only serve as a rich resource for both the casually curious as well as students and scholars of modern Jewish history, it will also transform the way the next generation of Jewish leaders and activists learn about their heritage,” the site reads, deeming itself “a comprehensive chronicle of modern Jewish history, as seen through the eyes of journalists.”

“The JTA Jewish News Archive has the potential to spark an interest in the past that will transform the future,” says Brandeis University professor Jonathan Sarna. Sarna, a member of JTA’s Board of Directors, chaired the project.

Originally named the Jewish Correspondence Bureau, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency was the first news agency that not only gathered but also disseminated news in every part of the world.

Also this month, the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee will make a collection of its historic records and photographs from the Holocaust period available online. The website – http://www.jdc.org/sharedlegacy – will allow the public to search through a database of more than half a million names.

The system will also allow people to view and identify photos from 14 countries where JDC operated during and after World War II. JDC client lists from operations in Barcelona, Shanghai, Kobe and Vilna, the JDC Emigration Service in Vienna and Munich, as well as Australia and South America, will be available.

“I cannot express the profoundly deep connection I felt to my past and now to JDC when out of nowhere my young face popped up on the screen,” Claus Hirsch, a German- born Shanghai Ghetto survivor, told the JDC. Hirsch found a photo of himself in Shanghai on the website.

Hirsch’s family was helped by JDC in China during the war, and he found two lists on which his family members’ names appear. He now lives in Manhattan.

“For six decades, the vast majority of this data has been available only to professional researchers,” JDC CEO Steven Schwager said in a statement.

“Now, thanks to technology, survivors and their descendants can directly engage with our shared history.”

JDC is inviting the public to tag people they know in more than 1,500 photos from Austria, Belgium, China, Cyprus, Czechoslovakia, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Morocco, Lithuania, Portugal and Spain.

“Whether you were a little Jewish child we aided in Barcelona or one of the Jews we supported in Displaced Persons camps after the war, by putting faces, names and stories together, you will benefit generations to come,” Schwager said.

JDC plans to launch its Global Archives website this spring, making available huge collections of newly digitized documents and its significant photo collection from the organization’s founding in 1914.

And third, Project HEART (the Holocaust Era Asset Restitution Taskforce) launched a large, publicly available and searchable database (www.heartwebsite.org) of more than 650,000 Holocaust era property records on Wednesday.

The records were compiled and made on the initiative of the Jewish Agency, with support from the Israeli government, to help Jewish families identify personal property confiscated by the Nazis and to help victims seek restitution.

MK Leah Nass, deputy minister for pensioner affairs, said on Wednesday, “We sincerely hope that restituting Holocaust assets will assist survivors that were unable to receive proper redress until today, and allow them to live out their lives with greater peace of mind despite the unspeakable losses they were forced to endure.”

The Project HEART database will be composed of of property addresses, insurance policies, lists of homeowners, professions, lists of known confiscated properties, business directories, and other archival information that can help potential applicants in their research.

HEART’s database will be the international community’s largest single-source database of lost Jewish property assets from the Holocaust era.

“Israel’s very strength and national determination is derived from those who were forced to experience the very worst of humanity,” Project HEART’s Executive Director Bobby Brown said. “It is therefore incumbent upon the Jewish nation to do our utmost to give them some measure of justice which they have been denied for so long.”

“The Holocaust was not only genocide of the Jewish people, but the greatest robbery in history,” Natan Sharansky, chairman of the Jewish Agency, said.

“These new technological tools together with the official involvement of the State of Israel in this process give us the hope that this time things will be different. As a former Prisoner of Zion, I remember the difficulty that existed in transferring information in the Soviet Union. In the age of the Internet, Google and Facebook allow us to create magnificent revolutions.

Project HEART’s website has received more than 700,000 hits during its first few weeks.”

Project HEART unveiled a set of archival records on Wednesday in an event attended by leaders of the American Jewish community, including former secretary of state Lawrence Eagleburger and Jewish community leader James Tisch.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahuaddressed attendees by video and said, “This is an initiative of great importance and offers us the promise that we can finally achieve the justice so long denied to the victims of the Holocaust and their heirs.”

Melvin I. Urofsky: Lecture to explore legacy of Justice Brandeis

Source: University of Florida News, 1-24-11

Professor Melvin I. Urofsky will deliver a lecture on the diverse life of Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis, at noon Feb. 2 at the University of Florida Levin College of Law, Holland Hall Room 180.

Urofsky is a professor of law and public policy and a professor emeritus of history at Virginia Commonwealth University and was the chair of its history department.

Brandeis, the namesake for Brandeis University in Massachusetts and the law school at the University of Louisville, helped establish the concept of right-to-privacy, championed labor laws and fought against public corruption throughout his influential career as a practitioner in Boston. He was also an influential leader of the American Zionist movement before and during his years on the Supreme Court.

Urofsky, whose lecture is entitled “The Five Lives of Louis Brandeis,” is a leading Brandeis scholar whose most recent book on the associate justice, “Louis D. Brandeis: A Life,” was published in 2009 by Pantheon Books. Urofsky is the editor – with David W. Levy – of a five-volume collection of Brandeis’ letters as well as the author of “American Zionism from Herzl to the Holocaust” and “Louis D. Brandeis and the Progressive Tradition.”…READ MORE

First Annual Sephardic Jewish Book Fair – July 25, 2010 in NYC

Source: PRWeb, 7-16-10

The first annual New York Sephardic Jewish Book Fair will take place on Sunday July 25, 2010 with book readings, author signings, book sales and tours at the Center for Jewish History. Hosted by the American Sephardi Federation (ASF), the book fair will bring together authors and book lovers that write about and enjoy books relating to the culture, history, philosophy, religion, languages and experiences of the Sephardic Jews, past and present….READ MORE

Jim Joseph Foundation gives $33 million to Jewish rabbinical seminaries

Jim Joseph Foundation gives $33 million to Jewish rabbinical seminaries

By Jacob Berkman Source: JTA, 5-24-10

The Jim Joseph Foundation announced that it has given $33 million to the rabbinical seminaries of the Reform, Conservative and Modern Orthodox movements to help them train more Jewish educators.

The grant – which comes on top of an initial $12 million in emergency funding the foundation gave the seminaries last year – is aimed at helping the Hebrew Union College, the Jewish Theological Seminary and Yeshiva University work together to help train more Jewish teachers.

According to the foundation, “the funding provides financial aid for students pursuing education degrees or certification in programs that prepare them to work with Jewish youth and young adults. The grants will also assist each institution in planning, staffing and implementing new and enhanced programs designed to attract more educators to the field.”

Jim Joseph, which has now given out nearly a quarter of a billion dollars since opening its doors in 2006, estimates that the money will help the schools train more than 1,000 teachers…. READ FULL ARTICLE

Exhibition: Taking the A Train to ‘The Fourth Reich’ German Jews Who Fled to Washington Heights

Taking the A Train to ‘The Fourth Reich’

A Munich Exhibit Looks at the German Jews Who Fled to Washington Heights

Source: Forward, 7-8-09

In 2008, the German city of Munich celebrated its 850th birthday amid much fanfare, and various cultural institutions were asked to mark the occasion. When the recently opened Jewish Museum was approached, it reacted with ambivalence. Indeed, for nearly half the history of Munich — more than 400 years — Jews were excluded from taking part in the life of the city.

This is where Bernhard Purin, the museum’s director, stepped in. Last September, the museum unveiled its contribution to the festival year, City Without Jews: The Dark Side of Munich’s History, a stark and effective exhibition about the various persecutions and expulsions that formed the bedrock of Munich’s history of antisemitism long before the Holocaust. The exhibit runs until the end of August.

Opened in May 2007, the Jewish Museum Munich is the youngest Jewish museum in Europe. The contrast to Jewish Museum Berlin — Germany’s most famous such museum — could hardly be more striking.

Where the Berlin museum attempts an exhaustive history of the Jewish experience in Germany, starting with the Middle Ages and leading up to the present day, the approach favored by Munich is to represent the history of Jews in that city via a compact and thoughtful permanent collection that combines interactive installations, artwork and a few well-chosen ritual objects and historical artifacts. A visitor can take in the exhibit in less than an hour, before making his way upstairs to view the changing exhibitions.

The same impulse for compression characterizes City Without Jews, which tells its story through a dozen small displays of representative objects and video interviews.

For instance, the pogrom of 1285, sparked by accusations of ritual murder, where between 68 and 187 members of Munich’s first Jewish community were locked inside their burning synagogue, is signified by a 19th-century edition of the Nuremberg Memorbuch, the 1296 commemoration of prominent community leaders and martyrs compiled by the Nuremberg Jewish community.

The 1349 accusation of host desecration — a common medieval accusation that the Jews abused the consecrated host in order to repeat the suffering of Christ — is represented through a 1624 painting, which was displayed for nearly 200 years in Munich’s St. Salvator Church. The old folklorist legend of the Wandering Jew inspired artists from Heinrich Heine to Richard Wagner before the Nazis twisted it to embody all the degenerative traits they ascribed to the Jews. This phantomlike figure that has, over time, emblemized the internal experience of Jews in the Diaspora is represented by a coat stand with an umbrella and an old edition of the newspaper Frankfurter Zeitung; it is a reference to a Lion Feuchtwanger story in which the Wandering Jew is spotted in Munich’s famous Odeon Café, reading a newspaper.

The Nazi persecution and mass murder are metonymically represented by an empty trunk with the initials of its last owner, Rosa Picard. A businesswoman from Munich, Picard filled the trunk with valuables and entrusted it to a Christian family before she and her family perished.

A counterpoint to this decidedly downbeat exhibition is the three-part series of temporary installations, Places of Exile.

“We wanted to answer the question:Where did the Jews of Munich live when they were not allowed to live in Munich? So we looked for three places of exile,” Purin explained.

After exhibits on Istanbul and Tel Aviv, the final installment, on display until August 30, looks at New York City’s Washington Heights, which became the center of Munich’s exiled Jewish community during World War II.

In particular, the exhibit focuses on Beth Hillel Synagogue, a Conservative congregation founded in 1940 by the chief rabbi of the Munich Jewish community, Leo Baerwald, who had fled Germany. The first services, held on Rosh Hashanah of that year in the Paramount Hall on 183rd Street, attracted 800 people.

Initially, services were held in German and followed the tradition of southern German Jews, known as Minhag Schwaben. German Jews were such a prominent minority, and so much German was spoken on the streets of Washington Heights in the 1940s and ’50s, that they ironically nicknamed the neighborhood “Das Vierte Reich” — or the Fourth Reich.

In the first decade, the congregation grew to 750 families from 200 and moved into a former post office at 571 West 182nd Street, just south of Yeshiva University. As members became more assimilated and prosperous, services were increasingly held in English. Throughout the 1960s and ’70s, the congregation was in steady decline caused by suburbanization and the new waves of immigrants from the Dominican Republic, which changed the demographic of the neighborhood.

In 1980, Beth Hillel merged with the Orthodox Congregation Beth Israel and, despite ever-shrinking numbers, managed to survive until 2000, when it finally closed its doors. Today, the building on 182nd Street is home to a department store.

Purin’s co-curator for the project is Celia J. Bergoffen, an urban archeologist who excavated the Eldridge Street Synagogue mikveh in 2001. Together with Purin, she conducted interviews with members of the community and tracked down pertinent artifacts.

“It was funny to see that they were very professional in talking about their childhood in Germany, because that’s what they are doing in schools and for the [Steven] Spielberg video project, but they never were asked about the other 80% of their lives, which started in 1939 or 1940, when they were teenagers in Washington Heights,” Purin explained.

Among the surviving congregants of Beth Hillel is Eric Bloch, a professor emeritus at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, who was born in Munich in 1928. In an interview with Bergoffen, he discusses the role that the congregation played in easing the transition to America: “I think the importance of Beth Hillel and the other Jewish congregations was to help immigrants establish themselves in the new country. They were a very important source of support.” The interview is published in the exhibition brochure, which can be ordered, free of charge, from the museum.

Among the items installed in the exhibition are two memorial stones from Munich’s destroyed main synagogue and a yellow Jewish star that wound up at a synagogue in Paramus, N.J. Another relic is the parochet (ark curtain) from Beth Hillel, which was found in 2002 at a Berlin flea market.

“It is in some ways a little bit funny that the history of this congregation in Washington Heights will now be kept in Munich,” Purin mused.

City Without Jews: The Dark Side of Munich’s History and Places of Exile 3: Munich and Washington Heights are on view at the Jewish Museum Munich until August 30.

A.J. Goldmann is a writer based in Berlin. His articles on art and culture have appeared in various publications, including The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and The Christian Science Monitor.

Lee Shai Weissbach: “Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History” at the University of Scranton

Source: Wilkes Barre Times-Leader, PA, 5-12-09

May 14: 2009: Lee Shai Weissbach, Ph.D., professor of history at the University of Louisville, Ky., will discuss “Jewish Life in Small-Town America: A History” at the University of Scranton’s Weinberg Institute of Judaic Studies’ spring lecture Thursday at 8 p.m. in the Ann and Leo Moskovitz Theater of the Patrick and Margaret DeNaples Center, Mulberry Street.