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Lecture Series

Transcending Tradition – a lecture series presented in conjunction with the exhibition on Jewish mathematicians at Crerar Library. The opening of the exhibit on October 4, 2012, was accompanied by a lecture from Silvan Schweber, Professor of Physics and Koret Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, Brandeis University, entitled, “The Bethes and German Jewish Culture.” The second lecture was given by Hanna Holborn Gray, President Emerita and Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the Zar Room of Crerar Library on November 5, 2012, and was entitled, “European Emigre Scholars and the American Academy after 1933.” The third and final lecture on December 3 was given by Sander Gilman, Distinguished Professor of the Liberal Arts and Sciences and Professor of Psychiatry at Emory University, and was entitled, “Smart Jews and Science: The Science of ‘Smartiness’ and Jews.”

The Trouble with Prophets, Prophecy, & Prophetic Literature of the Hebrew Bible. A series of four lectures exploring how the study of Israelite prophecy has developed in recent decades with respect to comparative aspects, gender theory, relationship to magic, and post-biblical legacy. Co-sponsored by the Divinity School, the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion, and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies with the help of the Aronberg Endowment. Lectures presented: Wednesday, October 10, 2012,  4:30 pm,  Robert Wilson, Yale University, “Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel: Thirty Years Later”; Thursday, November 15, 2012, Ronnie Goldstein, The Hebrew University Jerusalem, “Aspects of the Development of Prophetic Books”; Wednesday, January 16, 2013, Esther Hamori, Union Theological Seminary, “Prophecy and Gender in Ancient Israel”; Thursday, February 7, 3013, Alex Jassen, University of Minnesota, “The Legacy of Prophecy in Early Judaism.

Jews and Politics. Sponsored by the undergraduate Student Alliance for Jewish Enrichment (SAJE) with the support of Student Government and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies. The initial lecture was given on Thursday, November, 15, 2012, by Dr. David Flatto, assistant professor of law, religion, and history at Penn State, entitled, Sovereignty & Law: Early Jewish Attitudes in Comparative Perspective.  The second lecture was presented on February 18, 2013, by Prof. Zvi Gitelman, professor of political science and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan and was entitled, “Was Communism a Jewish Conspiracy?”

Endowed Lectures

“Other Voices in Modern Israeli Literature.” This year the Horvitz Lectureship was a series of two lectures given by acclaimed, non-traditional Israeli writers of modern literature. November 29, 2012, Ronit Matalon, author of “The One Facing Us,” “Sarah, Sarah (Bliss),” and “The Sound of Our Steps,” for which she was awarded the 2009 Bernstein Prize, spoke about her experiences as an Egyptian Jewish immigrant to Israel and its influence on her writing. Ms. Matalon also gave a creative writing workshop the next day entitled, “Reading Memory and Autobiography.” On March 5, 2013, Arab-Israeli author, newspaper columnist, and creator/writer of the hit Israeli television show “Arab Labor,” Sayed Kashua, gave a noon creative writing workshop entitled, “The Step-Mother Tongue,” followed by an evening lecture “Second Person Singular” based on his recent book of the same title.

February 5, 2013. Eyal Chowers, “Violence and the Hebrew Language: Israel’s Inner-struggles.” This year’s Goldberg lecture was presented by Dr. Eyal Chowers, author of The Philosophy of Zionism and The Modern Self in the Labyrinth: Politics and the Entrapment Imagination. The event was co-sponsored with Newberger Hillel. Dr. Chowers also gave a talk entitled, “Denizens or Citizens? Jewish National Thought Revisited,” for the Political Theory Workshop on February 4.

Individual Lectures and Workshop Presentations

October 4, 2012. Holger Zellentin, University of Nottingham, “Rabbinic Historiography as a Response to Christian Triumphalism: The Destruction of the Temple in Aramaic, Syriac and Greek Discourse.” Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop and the Medieval Studies Workshop.

October 15, 2012.  Erik Dreff, Ph.D. Student, “Rosenzweig’s Star as a System of Philosophy.”Presented by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

October 15, 2012. Liane Marquis, Ph.D. Student, “The Composition of Numbers 32: A New Proposal.” Presented by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

October 15, 2012. Eran Shalev, Senior Lecturer, Haifa University, “The Debate on Slavery and the Decline of the Old Testament as a Political Text.” Sponsored by the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

October 22, 2012.  David Gottlieb, Ph.D. Student, “Rupture, Reflection and Renewal: Mimesis and the Transformation of Meaning in Leviticus Rabbah.” Presented by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

December 3, 2012.  Tamar Merin, “So Did I Write All That is Written in this Book”: The Dialogic Rise of Israeli Women’s Prose Fiction.” Dr. Merin, author of “So did I write all that is written in this book”: Inter-Sexual Dialogue and the Rise of Israeli Women’s Prose, is fulfilling a post-doctoral appointment at Northwestern University. Presented by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

January 15, 2013. Arkady Kovelman, Director of Jewish Studies, Lomonosov Moscow State University, “The Legacy of Russian Humanities from the Perspective of a Professor of Jewish Studies.” Presented by the Jewish Studies Workshop and co-sponsored with the Center for Easter European, Russian, and Eurasian Studies and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

January 16, 2013. Consul General Roey Gilad. As part of the Diplomatic Encounters Series, this lecture presented the opportunity to meet and hear from Israel’s highest ranking official in the Midwest. Presented by the International House Global Voices Program and co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

January 28, 2013. Charles Huff, Ph.D. Student, “Sabbath and Death.” Presented by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

February 8, 2013. Rebecca Scharbach Wollenberg, Ph.D. Candidate, “Written Torah as an Ambivalent Descriptor: Imagining the Text of the Hebrew Bible after the Rise of Christianity.” A response was given by Lisa Scott, Ph.D. Student. The lecture was presented by the Medieval Studies Workshop.

February 20, 2013. Yakir Englander, “The Problem of the Body: Ultra Orthodox Strategies for Formulating an A-feminine Public Sphere in Israel.” Yakir Englander is a post-doctoral fellow in Israel studies and a visiting professor of religious studies at Northwestern University. He is a specialist in modern Jewish philosophy with a focus on gender issues. Presented by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

February 21, 2013. Bernard Wasserstein, Harriet & Ulrich E. Meyer Professor of Modern European Jewish History, University of Chicago, “Hitler’s Little Helpers: Arab and Jewish Axis Agents in British Mandatory Palestine, 1939-1945.” This was the  2013 Nicholson Faculty Lecture sponsored by the Nicholson Center for British Studies at the University of Chicago with the support of the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

February 22, 2013. John Tolan, Professor of History, Universite de Nantes, “Western European Jewry in the First Age of Expulsion: 1182-1306.” Response by David Frankel, PhD student in the History of Judaism. Presented by the Medieval Studies Workshop and co-sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

February 28, 2013. Berel Lang. “Primo Levi as Philosopher.” Berel Lang, formerly of Wesleyan University, is the author of Act and Idea in the Nazi Genocide  (1990), The Anatomy of Philosophical Style (1990), Holocaust Representation: Art within the Limits of History and Ethics (2000), Philosophical Witnessing: The Holocaust as Presence (2009), and other books.Co-sponsored by the Literature and Philosophy Workshop and the Center for Jewish Studies.

March 8, 2013. Jaqueline Vayntrub, PhD Candidate, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, “The Idea of Mashal: Aesthetics and Biblical Poetry.”Sponsored by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

March 21, 2013. Lev Luis Grinberg, Professor, Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben Gurion University, “Were the Elections in 2013 the Big-Bang of Israeli Politics? Shaping and Reshaping the Political Arena after the J14 Occupy Movement.” Lev Grinberg is a political economist and sociologist, senior lecturer in the Dept. of Sociology and Anthropology, and the former director of the Humphrey Institute for Social Research (1998-2003), Ben Gurion University. His fields of specialization are the history of the Zionist Labor Movement, Israel’s political economy, and the sociology of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. His most recent book, Politics and Violence in Israel/Palestine: Democracy vs. Military Rule, appeared in 2009. Sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

April 10, 2013.  Daniel Sperling, S.J.D., Federmann School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, “Organ Transplantation and Organ Donation in Israel: Recent Ethical and Policy Challenges.” This lecture is part of the 31st Annual Interdisciplinary Faculty Seminar Series, sponsored by The MacLean Center and University of Chicago Medicine – The Transplant Center.

April 10, 2013. Guy Ben-Ner. Lecture and presentation. One of the world’s foremost video artists, Guy Ben-Ner gained international fame with a series of low-tech shorts, starring his family in absurdist settings carved out of their home and immediate environment. Most famous among them, Stealing Beauty (2007) was filmed entirely in Ikea stores, Ben-Ner’s clan taking up (illegal) residence in plain view of stunned staff and shoppers. His visit to Illinois coincides with a solo show at Chicago’s Aspect/Ratio Gallery. This event is sponsored by The Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Open Practice Committee, and the Department of Visual Arts.

April 15, 2013.  Keith Jeffery, Professor of British History, Queen’s University, Belfast, “Exodus and Operation Embarrass: British Covert Operations and Jewish Immigration into Palestine, 1947–48.” In writing his recent book, “MI6: The History of the Secret Intelligence Service, 1909-1949,” Keith Jeffery became the first historian allowed full access to the archive of the British Secret Intelligence Service or MI6. His talk will focus on the controversial attempts by MI6 to block Jewish immigration to Palestine following World War II. Lecture presented by the Nicholson Center for British Studies, co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

April 22, 2013. Tova Ganzel, Bar-Ilan University,  “Ezekiel’s Vision in the Babylonian Context: Preliminary Thoughts.” Sponsored by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

April 23, 2013. Shaul Magid, Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies, Indiana University. Prof. Magid presented a chapter from his manuscript in progress, “Hasidim Incarnate: Hasidism and the ‘Christianization of Modern Judaism.” Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

April 24, 2013. Sam Berrin Shonkoff, PhD student, Divinity School, “Unmediated Bodies: Buber’s Pursuit of the Unmittelbar and His Turn to Embodiment.” Presented by the Philosophy of Religions Workshop.

May 6, 2013.  Avi Faust, Bar-Ilan University. A lecture was given by Avi Faust, director of the Institute of Archaeology and associate professor at the Martin (Szusz) Department of Land of Israel Studies and Archaeology, Bar-Ilan University with a response by David Schloen, Associate Professor, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, University of Chicago. Sponsored by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

May 7, 2013. Davi Strauss Bernstein, PhD student will present. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

May 20, 2013. Joey Cross, PhD student, Dept. of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, “Psalm 45: Lineation Through Manuscript Analysis and Notes Toward an Interpretation.” Sponsored by the Hebrew Bible Workshop.

May 24, 2013. Francesca Consolaro, Visiting PhD student from Universita degli Studi di Verona, “Law in Rosenzweig’s Star of Redemption: The History of a Difference.” Sponosred by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

May 28, 2013. Tsafi Sebba, Visiting Scholar at Indiana University. Dr. Sebba presented his current work on “The emergence (and concealment) of the Jewish joke in Alter Druyanow’s Sefer ha-Bediha ve-ha-Hiddud (The Book of the Joke and the Witticism, 1922).” Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

Conferences and Symposia

September 10. 2012.  Judaism, Medicine, and the Formation of Clinicians. This symposium gathered leading scholars of Judaism and medicine to consider how best to introduce traditional halachic Jewish scholarship regarding medicine to healthcare professionals and particularly to physicians-in-training. Speakers included Rabbi J. David Bleich, Rabbi Yossi Brackman, Baruch Brody PhD, Daniel Eisenberg MD, Benjamin Gesundheit MD PhD, Shimon Glick MD, Azgad Gold MD PhD, Kenneth Prager MD FACP, Avraham Steinberg MD, Laurie Zoloth PhD, HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz shlit”a. Registration $30; $50 for dinner with speaker HaRav Gedalia Dov Schwartz, shlit”a.

November 10, 2012.  Conference on Women’s and Children’s Health in the Middle East. This conference focused on the status of health and the delivery of healthcare services for women and children in the Middle East, where healthcare issues take a unique form due to various cultural, religious, and financial factors. Presenters included: Marcia Inhorn (Yale University), Daphna Carmeli (University of Haifa), Beth Kangas (Oakland University), Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good (Harvard Medical School), Kylea Liese (Trinity College), Angel Foster (University of Ottawa), Zeynep Gurtin-Broadbent (University of Cambridge).

November 19-20, 2012. Bruno Schulz, 1892-1942: Interdisciplinary Reassessments. Presenters included Bozena Shallcross (University of Chicago), Agata Bielik-Robson (University of Nottingham and Warsaw University), Adam Lipszyc (Warsaw University), Na’ama Rokem (University of Chicago), Kris Van Heckelom (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), Kato Ariko (University of Tokyo), Karoline Thaidigsmann (University of Heidelberg), Karen Underhill (University of Illinois at Chicago), Piotr Pazinski (Midrasz, Warsaw), Benjamin Paloff (University of Michigan), David Goldfarb (Polish Cultural Institute, New York), Michal Pawel Markowski (University of Illinois at Chicago). Co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Maria Kuncewicz Fund at the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures, and the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies.

January 22, 2013. Symposium and reception held in honor of the publication of Volume 3 of the undergraduate journal, Makom.

February 25, 2013. The Arts of Jewish Memory Conference. The winner of last year’s competition for the best conference proposal by graduate students facilitated an inter-disciplinary space for the discussion of the arts and Jewish memory practices with a special interest in understanding contemporary constructions of Jewish identity through the intersecting modes of memory in history. Professor Marianne Hirsch, William Peterfield Trent Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, delivered the keynote address. Co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Department of Music, and the University of Chicago Arts Council.

March 1-2, 2013. Translations, Translators, and Converts: Transmission of Knowledge in the Seventeenth Century Ottoman Lands. This conference focused on translations as a mode of intellectual and cultural exchange during this important period in the cultural life of the Ottoman Empire. Sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies, the Franke Institute for the Humanities, the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory, the Center for International Studies, and the Center for East European and Russian/Eurasian Studies.

April 8, 2013. Translation of the Hebrew Bible: Philology, Philosophy & Identity. Organized by Simeon Chavel and Jeffrey Stackert. Co-sponsored by the Divinity School and the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion.

May 23, 2013. The Cultural Worlds of a Medieval Translator: The 800th Anniversary of Samuel Ibn Tibbon’s Hebrew Translation of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed.  Organized by James Robinson. Co-sponsored by the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion.


Transcending Tradition presented the life and work of Jewish mathematicians in Germany. Spanning a period of 150 years, it documents their emergence from segregation into the academic limelight, recalls their emigration, flight, or death after 1933, and illuminates their lasting legacies. Monday – Saturday,  9am-5pm. Thursday, October 4  Opening Reception.  5:30­-6:30 p.m.  The John Crerar Library. Speakers included: Judith Nadler, Director and University Librarian; Robert J. Zimmer, President, The University of Chicago; Silvan Schweber, Professor of Physics and Koret Professor of the History of Ideas, Emeritus, Brandeis University. “The Bethes and German Jewish Culture”; Robert A. Fefferman, Dean, Division of the Physical Sciences, The University of Chicago; Christian Brecht, German Consul General to the Midwest; Moritz Epple, Professor of History of Science, Goethe University Frankfurt am Main. 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. Reception and Exhibition Viewing.

Arts, Music, and Film

October 21, 2012.  Filmmaker Joseph Cedar, “Beyond Hollywood: The Ascendant Israeli Film Scene.” The lecture was followed by a free screening of Cedar’s film “Footnote,” 7:30 pm, Doc Films. Presented by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies in conjunction with the Chicago Humanities Festival and the University of Illinois.

October 22,  2012. Workshop for students by Joseph Cedar. Light breakfast served.

February 25, 2013. Galeet Dardashti performing Monajat. In conjunction with the Arts of Jewish Memory conference, Middle Eastern vocalist and composer Galeet Dardashti, supported by an ensemble of four musicians, an electronic soundscape, and live video art, defied temporal limits through digital technology to perform Persian liturgical songs (piyutim) and other musical settings of non-liturgical Hebrew and Persian poetry with her grandfather, Yona Dardashti, a master Persian classical vocalist.

February 28, 2013. Refugees in Cinecittà/ Profughi a Cinecittà: An Evening with Marco Bertozzi. Cinecitta, the great movie studio built by Mussolini, became universally known as “Hollywood on the Tiber.” But under the Nazi occupation of Rome it was a transit camp for deportees and later was transformed by the Allies into one of the largest displaced persons camps in Italy. This documentary explores the fortunes of the Cinecitta camp and its inhabitants. The film was introduced by director, professor, and author Marco Bertozzi and researcher and scholar Noa Steimatsky (UC). Co-sponsored by the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures, the Department of History, the Human Rights Program, and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.

March 5, 2013. Sayed Kashua, the Leo and Sarah (Bunny) Horvitz Memorial Lectures. Co-sponsors: the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations; the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality; the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

April 10, 2013. Guy Ben-Ner. Lecture and presentation. Co-sponsor: the Open Practice Committee of the Department of Visual Arts.

Social Events

October 18, 2012.  Annual Reception for Faculty and Graduate Students.

November 12, 2012, Divinity School Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, “Reflections on the Teaching of Jewish Studies.” This session for students took place in the home of Prof. Mendes-Flohr.  Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Workshop.

May 22, 2013. Spring meeting of graduate students.

June 3, 2013. Launch party for vol. 4 of the undergraduate journal Makom.