Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University


I am enthusiastic about starting my five-year tenure as Director of Jewish Studies. I am looking forward to working with faculty, staff, students, MSU administrators, the Board of Directors, and community members to strengthen our Jewish Studies program. We continue to offer co-curricular lectures, research seminars, and films in coordination with other units on campus, to fundraise for the development of a new endowed Chair in Holocaust Studies, to host our Visiting Serling Israeli Scholars, and to build the number of students minoring in Jewish Studies as well as faculty whom are affiliated with Jewish Studies. This fall alone we are sponsoring thirteen lectures, many of them are co-sponsored with at least one of eight other units. I am excited that Professor Alon Tal, a leading environmental historian and activist from Ben-Gurion University, will be offering two classes at James Madison College this spring as the Serling Visiting Israel Scholar.


BENJAMIN POLLOCK: NEW DATE! Friday, November 21st (10:00-11:20 am in Wells C-742)

Professor Benjamin Pollock will give a talk and lead a discussion titled “Writing about Franz Rosenzweig ‘s Life and Thought” as part of the Jewish Studies Faculty and Student Seminars. Dr. Pollock re-examines Franz Rosenzweig’s near-conversion to Christianity in 1913 and his decision to return to Judaism that same year. He offers a radically new account of this personal and intellectual transformation in Rosenzweig’s life, arguing that both Rosenzweig’s decision to convert to Christianity, and his later about-face, were rooted in Rosenzweig’s long-standing perplexity over a web of metaphysical questions concerning the relation between the self and the world.


Yael Aronoff - Michigan State Jewish StudiesYAEL ARONOFF: Friday, December 5th (10:00-11:20 am in Wells C-742)

Professor Yael Aronoff, director of the Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University, will give a talk and lead a discussion on, “The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard-Liners Opt for Peace.” Dr. Yael Aronoff examines decision-making by six Israeli prime ministers over the past twenty-five years, going beyond simply arguing that “leaders matter” by analyzing how each prime minister’s particular belief systems and personalities ultimately made a difference to Israel’s foreign policy. This is the last of the semester’s Jewish Studies Faculty and Student Research Seminars.