JBuzz January 15, 2012: Brazil approves Jewish studies agreement with Israel




Brazil approves Jewish studies agreement with Israel

Source: JTA, 1-15-12

Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff approved an agreement to allow students, teachers and researchers in Brazil to teach and research the Holocaust, anti-Semitism and other Jewish-related subjects.
Under the agreement, Hebrew-language and Jewish themes such as the Holocaust, anti-Semitism, racism, xenophobia and intolerance will be part of curricula in some schools, universities and other educational institutions in Brazil.

As part of an inter-country exchange, Portuguese will be taught in academic circles in Israel. Several scholarships will support the exchange.

The agreement is the result of a longtime effort by Osias Wurman, Israel’s honorary consul in Rio and ex-president of the Rio de Janeiro State Jewish Federation.

“Teaching the Holocaust in Brazilian schools is key in a moment when revisionist waves grow, notably from the Iranian government, which try to wipe the memory for future generations,” Wurman told JTA. “We must shed light on the past in order to clear the future.”

The Brazilian-Israeli agreement was signed initially in 2008, approved by the Brazilian Congress in 2010, and eventually sanctioned by the presidency this week to aid in “developing and strengthening the friendship ties between both countries.”
Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president, attended a Holocaust Remembrance Day ceremony less than one month after she started her term one year ago.

“The Holocaust is not and will never be just a historic moment. The duty of the memory should not be mistaken for passiveness of the ordinary remembrance,” she said at the time.
“Memory is the human weapon to prevent the repetition of the barbarism. We must not allow any kind of human rights violation in any country, and especially in Brazil. The Jewish tradition and dignity integrate the Brazilian nationality in a special way.”

Israel Studies Fellows learn, create, disseminate



Source: Brandeis Now, 7-1-11

Photo/Mike Lovett

Dr. Yang Yang, associate professor and director of the Hebrew Program at Shanghai International Studies University and Julie Grimmeisen, lecturer in Jewish-Islamic studies, faculty of Jewish history and culture at the Ludwig-Maximilian University in Munich, Germany.

Yes, there are disagreements, but they are always civil, says Professor Ilan Troen, director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. Now in its eighth year, the Summer Institute for Israel Studies (SIIS) draws scholars from around the globe who come to learn and create Israel Studies programs to bring back to their own universities.

Fellows spend two weeks on the Brandies campus, participating in seminars taught by Israel Studies scholars from around the world, focusing on the state’s society, history, politics, economics, culture, foreign affairs and diplomacy.  An additional week is spent in Israel where the group meets with Brandeis faculty along with representatives of Jewish and Arab communities — writers, artists, academics and public officials to hear authentic voices. The number of fellows is capped at 24 in order maintain a seminar atmosphere.

While the objective of the program is to assist the fellows with their teachings, no curriculums or syllabi are supplied for them to bring back; these must be individually designed and tailored to meet the needs of their institutions…. READ MORE

Rivka Halperin: Hebrew, Rediscovering a Jewish Past

Rediscovering a Jewish Past

Source: NYT, 5-6-11

When a Franciscan priest first contacted a Hebrew-language professor in New York about teaching the language of the Bible at a new Hebrew college in this Polish city, her first reaction was “Turin — Italy, great!”

“I had no idea what Torun was,” confesses Rivka Halperin, a longtime resident of New York who previously taught at the Jewish Theological Seminary and at Princeton University. “I did not understand why they needed Hebrew here.”

She could be forgiven.

Where exactly does Hebrew, not to mention Jewish history studies, fit into this medieval city, a three-hour drive north of Warsaw that is best known as the birthplace of Copernicus and for its gingerbread.

That there should be a Copernicus University here and a Copernicus Museum, as well as a Copernicus café, Copernicus taxis and Copernicus bakery is to be expected. But a Hebrew school?

The spanking new building that is home to the Higher School of Hebrew Philology, a three-year college for the study of Hebrew and the history of Judaism, lies adjacent to a Franciscan monastery that runs the school. In fact, before the ultramodern Hebrew school building opened last autumn, the studies took place in the monastery itself, with a crucifix and menorah at the back of the classroom.

“For a long time, I did not understand what I was doing here, what the students were doing here, and what was the connection between the church and the school,” Halperin, who serves as the school’s director of Hebrew language, said. Indeed, none of the college’s 35 students are Jewish, which is not a surprise in a predominantly Catholic country whose Jewish population was decimated by the Nazis.

But following the fall of Communism more than two decades ago, a new generation of young Poles is growing up with a newfound interest in their country’s Jewish past, some because of Jewish ancestry, others because of interest in Israel, Jewish culture, religion — or reasons they can’t define…READ MORE