Jewish Studies Program at Michigan State University
FROM THE DIRECTOR
We look forward to a vital spring 2014 [view/download our Spring 2014 Calendar of Events] with a variety of planned Jewish Studies activities and events. Schusterman Visiting Israeli Scholar, Chen Bram, from Hebrew University and the Van Leer Institute, an anthropologist, will continue at MSU teaching in James Madison College. David Mendelsson from Hebrew University, an historian, will be here as a short-term Serling Visiting Israeli Fellow January 21-30 to teach a one-credit course titled “New Jews, New Israelis,” exploring contemporary Israeli diversity and how such diversity plays out across several contemporary issues. Major events on campus will include a concert by Israeli-American jazz bassist Omer Avital and his band, a visit by outstanding Israeli writer, Savyon Liebrecht, who will speak on her writing, MSU’s 9th annual Israeli Film Festival, and a brief residency by historian Wendy Lower from Claremont McKenna College, who will deliver the annual Rabin Lecture on the Holocaust.
This year’s Selma and Stanley Hollander Event in Jewish Music and Art is a concert at the Wharton Pasant theater by Israeli-American bassist Omer Avital and his Band of the East performing the “Suite of the East.” Avital is a leader in creating a new hybrid mix of Israeli, Moroccan, and Yemeni music and American jazz. Jazz Times Magazine writes: Omer Avital plays “. . . a deep organic fusion of Middle Eastern and North African music with current cutting-edge jazz . . . incantatory melodies and throbbing rhythmic patterns that are foreign until you feel their universal human celebration . . .” The concert will take place Wed., Feb. 12, 2014 in the evening, beginning at 7:30 pm; tickets will be $20.50 for adults, $17.50 for seniors, and only $10.50 for students. [Wharton gets a markup of $5.50 per ticket.] This is a joint initiative of the MSU College of Music and the Jazz Program with Jewish Studies and is made possible by the Stanley & Selma Hollander Fund for Jewish Music and Art. [Flyer for the Omer Avital Concert at the Wharton Center]
The annual Yiddishkeit lecture this year will be given by Elissa Bemporad, the Jerry and William Ungar Assistant Professor in East European Jewish History at Queens College CUNY, on February 17, who will speak on “The Most Jewish City in the Soviet Union: Minsk Before the Holocaust” based on her work on Jews in interwar Minsk. This event is co-sponsored by James Madison College and will be 6:30-8:00 pm in the early evening in the James Madison Library. Israeli writer Savyon Liebrecht, among Israel’s top writers, will be here March 18 to interact with students and lecture on “Between the Private and the Collective: Writing Fiction about Social and Political Issues in Israel.” Born to Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors after the war in Germany, Liebrecht writes about the milieu of Holocaust survivors in Israel, about women and gender issues , and about individual relations between Israeli Jews and Arabs in Israel. She is author of Apples from the Desert: Selected Stories (2000); A Man and a Woman and a Man: A Novel (2003); A Good Place for the Night: Stories (2006); and The Women My Father Knew: A Novel (2010). Finally, Evyatar Marienberg, a religious studies scholar at the U. of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and a Visiting Fellow at the UM Frankel Center, will speak on “And They Shall Become One Flesh: The History of Traditional Jewish Sexual Guidance” on March 20. This event is cosponsored by MSU Religious Studies and Jewish Studies.
The 9th Annual MSU Israeli Film Festival, Sun.-Mon., March 23-24, in 147 Communication Arts and Sciences, will feature four films: Hunting Elephants (2013), director: Reshef Levi; Prime Ministers: The Pioneers (2013), director: Richard Trank; Fill the Void (2012), director: Ramah Burshtein; and the popular TV sitcom Arab Labor (2 episodes). As in past years, the festival will be catered by Woody’s Oasis Mediterranean Deli and coordinated by Ellen Rothfeld.
Last, we are privileged to host outstanding Holocaust historian Wendy Lower, the John K. Roth Professor of History at Claremont McKenna College, for the David and Sarah Rabin Lecture on the Holocaust on April 9, 2013, 7:00 pm in the Kellogg Center Lincoln Room. Her residency is sponsored by the Rabin Fund and the Michael Brill Fund for Holocaust Education. Wendy Lower will speak on “Gender and Genocide: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields.” Her newly published book Hitler’s Furies: German Women in the Nazi Killing Fields, is nominated for a National Book Award. Earlier that day, 12:o00-1:30, supported by the Michael Brill Fund for Holocaust Education, we will host a panel discussion with Professor Wendy Lower, Professor Henry Greenspan of the University of Michigan, and Ken Waltzer on “Using Testimonies in Research on the Holocaust and other Genocides.” These events are made possible by a special gift from the Michael Brill Fund for Holocaust Education donated by his brother, Ed Brill The Rabin Lecture is co-sponsored this year by the Department of History, James Madison College, German Studies, the Center for Gender in a Global Context, and the Peace and Justice Studies Program.
Professor and Director