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.


Alex_CicelskyThursday, October 30th (4:00 pm and 8:00 pm). Two lectures by Alex Cicelsky. A founding member of Kibbutz Lotan and one of the leaders of their Center for Creative Ecology (CfCE), Alex Cicelsky will give a presentation on the Kibbutz Lotan and its environmental sustainability mission. The CfCE, established on Kibbutz Lotan in 1996, is one of Israel’s premiere environmental education, conservation, and research institutes. Mr. Cicelsky is an expert in designing hand-built and energy-efficient structures with recycled and natural materials like car tires, straw bales, and clay-earth. Co-sponsored by Jewish Studies, RCAH, Department of C

“Judaism and Environmental Ethics”ommunity Sustainability in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and the MSU Hillel Center.

4:00 pm at the MSU Hillel Student Center (360 Charles St, East Lansing)

“Kibbutz Lotan: Environmental Sustainable Community in the Desert”
8:00 pm at the RCAH Theater, Snyder Hall lower level
Zero Motivation 2014 poster


Saturday, November 1st (9:00 pm in Wells Hall B-115) – Screening of the film “Zero Motivation” (Free for MSU students with student ID, otherwise $5 for general admission and $3 for non-MSU students) – Told through the zany story of female Israeli soldiers stationed at a remote desert base, “Zero Motivation” provides a comic-tragic glimpse into Israeli society, depicting a realistic, surreal, humorous, and gloomy journey inside a maze of military bureaucracy. This film is shown as part of the East Lansing Film Festival and is co-sponsored by Jewish Studies. Click here for additional info about the film “Zero Motivation”


Wednesday, November 5 (6:30 pm in Studio C! in Okemos) – Screening of the film “Zero Motivation” (see description above). Ticket prices vary; visit the East Lansing Film Festival website for details.


Benjamin PollockFriday, November 14th (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 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 hi

s 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.


Cary NelsonThursday, November 20 (7:00-9:00 pm in Case Hall) – Cary Nelson, Professor Emeritus of English at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the former President of the American Association of University Professors, will speak on “Bait and Switch: The Purpose of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement.” He is currently co-editing a book with Gabriel Brahm on The Case Against Academic Boycotts of Israel. He is also author of Anthology of Contemporary Poetry (2014), No University is an Island (2011), and of Manifesto of a Tenured Radical (1997).


Yael Aronoff - MSU Jewish Studies Director

Friday, December 5th (10:00-11:20 am in Wells C-742) – Professor Yael Aronoff 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.