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Judaic Studies 101 – Inviting the community into the lecture hall

Connecticut’s colleges and universities offer a wealth of informal learning opportunities to the general public, and departments of Jewish, Judaic, and Israel studies are no exception. Through lectures, films, conferences, and cultural events, the community becomes an integral part of these academic programs, adding their perspectives to the audience and interacting with students in an informal educational setting.

Here are the highlights of the fall semester Judaic studies programs offered by Connecticut’s colleges and universities that are open to the community. Not all programs were available at press time. Visit the schools’ websites for more information.


Fairfield University
Carl & Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies
Dr. Ellen M. Umansky, director
(203) 254-4000 x2066,


Galeet Dardashti & Divahn at Fairfield University.

All the events are free, except the Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture by Charles Best.
Thursday, Oct. 1, 7:30 p.m.
“American Jewry’s Historical and Contemporary Scoreboard”
Scholar-in-Residence Lecture
Jeffrey S. Gurock, Ph.D., Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History, Yeshiva University, takes a look at pivotal moments in American Jewish history through the lens of sports.

Tuesday, Oct. 20, 7:30 p.m.
Daniel Pearl
World Music Days Concert
“Galeet Dardashti and Divahn — An Evening of Middle Eastern and Sephardic Music”
Eclectic Indian, Middle Eastern, and Latin percussion, lush string arrangements and vocals spanning Hebrew, Judeo-Spanish, Persian, Arabic, and Aramaic.

Monday, Nov. 2, 7:30 p.m.
“Making America Harmonious: The Jewish Contribution to Popular Music”
Stephen J. Whitfield, Ph.D., Max Richter Professor of American Civilization, Brandeis University, explores how American musical taste was unified from World War I through the Vietnam War by the contributions of Jewish songwriters.

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 8 p.m.
“Donors Choose: Expanding the Possibilities of Education”
Jacoby-Lunin Humanitarian Lecture
Charles Best, Founder and CEO, DonorsChoose.org, talks about the origins of DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit organization that provides a simple way to address educational inequity by helping public school teachers. Tickets: $45. For tickets call (203) 254-4010.

Tuesday, Dec. 1, 7:30 p.m.
“Germans Who Stood Up to Hitler: The Resistance Movements of Nazi Germany”
Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Lecture in Judaic Studies
Anne Nelson, author of Red Orchestra: The Story of the Berlin Underground and the Circle of Friends Who Resisted Hitler, adjunct faculty member of Columbia University, discusses how the history of anti-Nazi Germans was sadly distorted by Cold War politics, obscuring their deeds and their sacrifices.


UCONN Stamford 
Center for Judaic & Middle Eastern Studies
(203) 251-9525
stamfordcjmes@uconn.edu or stamfordjudaicstudies@uconn.edu
Professor Nehama Aschkenasy, founding director
Rebecca Isenstein, program manager

Four Thursdays, noon – 1:30 p.m.
Oct. 15 – “Counterhistory: Anti-Semitism in Contemporary British Drama”, with Dr. Liora Brosh, professor of English, UConn-Stamford
Oct. 22 – “From the Brink of Christianity to the Renewal of Judaism: Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929) and the Reinvention of Jewish Life and Thought in Pre-War Germany”, with Dr. Paul Franks, professor of philosophy, Yale.
Oct. 29 – “Home and Homelessness: Paradigms of the Jewish Experience in Literature,” with Dr. Nehama Aschkenasy.
Nov. 5 – Prayer for the Government: Jews and Citizenship, Dr. Jeffrey Shoulson, director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life, UConn.

“From Enmity to Friendship: The Remarkable Transformation of Christian-Jewish Relations Since Vatican II (1965)”
Tuesday, Nov. 10, 7 – 9:30 p.m.
7:15 p.m. – “From the Catholic
Perspective,” Dr. James Bernauer of Boston College
8:05 p.m. – “From the Jewish Perspective,” Dr. Susannah Heschel of Dartmouth College
9 p.m. – Q&A session with Bernauer and Heschel, moderated by Rev. Dr. Blaine Edele, pastor of Union Memorial Church, Stamford


UCONN Storrs
The Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life
(860) 486-2271
Prof. Jeffrey Shoulson, director
Prof. Stuart S. Miller, academic director

Wednesday, Sept. 9, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m.
“Little White Lie: A Film about Dual Identity and Family Secrets”
Lacey Schwartz’s personal documentary about growing up in a typical middle-class Jewish household in Woodstock, N.Y. with loving parents and a strong sense of her Jewish identity — that is, until she discovers that her biological father is actually a black man with whom her mother had an affair. A Q&A discussion will follow the film.

Wednesdays, 1 – 2 p.m. Sept. 30, Oct. 21, Nov. 18
Yiddish Tish Luncheon discussions in the Yiddish language. Bring a bag lunch; complimentary coffee, tea, and cookies provided.
Public Lecture, 5 – 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, Oct. 14
Prof. Barry Kosmin, Trinity College
Faculty Colloquium, 1 – 3 p.m. Topic: “Anti-Semitism and today’s campus environment: methodological challenges and substantive findings.” 
All are welcome to attend. Lunch will be provided.
Topic: “La trahison des clercs: Accounting for the persistence of anti-Semitism and Judeophobia in the university and among the intelligentsia.”

Sunday, Nov. 15, 2 – 4 p.m. 36th Anniversary Event
Keynote speaker David Ruderman; ceremony and reception in public lounge

yiddish art trio

Yiddish Art Trio at UConn Storrs.

Saturday, Dec. 12, 7:30 p.m.
The Yiddish Art Trio
Three of New York’s most celebrated contemporary klezmer musicians (Michael Winograd, Benjy Fox-Rosen, and Patrick Farrell) will perform.
Tickets: $10 ($8/students)


University of Hartford
Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies
(860) 768-5018
(860) 768-4964
Prof. Richard Freund, director
Prof. Avinoam Patt, associate director

All programs are free. Reservations suggested.

fierce entanglementsWednesday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m.
The N. Richard Greenfield Jewish Ledger Lecture on Jewish Journalism “Fierce Entanglements: Communication and Ethnopolitical Conflict,” presented by Dr. Donald G. Ellis
Dr. Ellis is a professor of Communication in the University of Hartford School of Communication.

Thursday, Sept. 17, 10 a.m.
Children’s Book Reading and Signing
Avi’s Choice, a new Jewish children’s book illustrated by Janice Hechter. Reservation required.

Sunday, Oct. 18
“It Was Paradise: Jewish Rhodes”
1 p.m.: Judaic Studies Alumni Award ceremony. Recipient: Rabbi Jennifer Schlosberg ’02.
2 p.m. Museum of Jewish Civilization, Morensen Library, Harry Jack Gray Center
7 p.m.: “Ladinofest” concert performed by Susan Feltman Gaeta and Cantor Sanford Cohen at The Emanuel Synagogue, 160 Mohegan Dr.

Monday, Nov. 9, 7 p.m.
“And You Shall Tell Your Children”
A special Kristallnacht program featuring video interviews with the children of Holocaust survivors from the “In Our Own Words” interview project. Moderated by Avinoam Patt, professor Modern Jewish History, University of Hartford.

Thursday, Nov. 19, 7 – 9 p.m.
“The Genius: Elijah of Vilna and the Making of Modern Judaism” with author Eliyahu Stern, associate professor of Modern Jewish Intellectual and Cultural History at Yale University.
“The University of Hartford’s Great Synagogue of Vilna Project” with Dr. Richard Freund.

Monday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m.
Chanukah Celebration
Screening of the 2014 Israeli film “Cupcakes,” and celebration featuring a dreidel-spinning contest.


Trinity College Department of Jewish Studies
Dr. Samuel Kassow, Director
(860) 297-2472

Program information unavailable at press time


Wesleyan University
Israeli Voices
Dalit Katz, director, Jewish & Israel Studies
(860) 685-2297
Programs are all held at 8 p.m.
Admission is free.

Thursday, Sept. 17
Shimon Adaf,: Adventures in the Unreal: On Judaism, Identity and Writing (Winner of SapirLiterary Prize)
Poet and novelist Shimon Adaf is the 2012 winner of Sapir Literary Prize for: Adventures in the Unreal: On Judaism, Identity and Writing. He has published three collections of poetry and seven novels, for which he won the Ministry of Education Award for Debut book (1996) and the Prime Minister`s Prize (2007). His third collection of poetry Aviva-No won the Yehuda Amichai Poetry Award in 2010, and his novel Mox Nox won the Sapir Prize in 2013.

Monday, Sept. 28
Yitzhak Gormezano Goren
Novelist, playwright and stage director: Cosmopolitan Alexandria: An Enchanting Ship of Fools Multi -media presentation includes short clips from the films “The Year 66 Was Good for Tourism” and the “Prince of the Transit Camp,” as well as reading segments from Alexandrian Summer.

Thursday, Nov. 12
Asaf Gavron
Writer and translator, The Tel Aviv Magic: History, Literature, and Murder.
Gavron has published five novels and a collection of short stories. He has won numerous international awards such as the Prix Courrier International in France, Buch fur die Stadt in Germany, the DAAD artists in Berlin residency, and the Bernstein Prize in Israel. His fiction has been translated into ten languages and adapted for the stage. Four of his books have been optioned for movies.



Rahel Musleah at Conn College.

Connecticut College 
Religious Studies Department
Connecticut College does not have a Judaic studies department or center. However, the school’s Religious Studies Department is hosting two lectures this fall of interest to the Jewish community that are both open to the public.
For more information, contact: Prof. Sharon Portnoff, associate professor of religious studies; sportnof@conncoll.edu

Thursday, Oct. 29, 4 – 7 p.m.
Melrod Lecture: Yehudah Mirsky, Associate Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, Brandeis University

Wednesday, Nov. 18, 4 – 7 p.m.
“The Jewish Rhythms of India: Spirit, Song and Story.” with Rahel Musleah


Yale University
Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism
Dr. Maurice Samuels, director
At press time, YPSA had not yet released its full list of lectures and events. Keep checking the YPSA website for updated information.

Thursday, Oct. 29, 5 p.m.
“War and the Fabric of Israeli Democracy”
Dr. Ran Halévi
Ran Halévi is a political historian, directeur de recherche at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (France), and a professor at the Centre de Recherches Politiques Raymond Aron, EHESS in Paris. He is author of books on the origins of democratic sociability in 18th-century France, on the first French revolutionary Constitution, on François Furet, and of numerous articles on the politics of honor, the genesis of constituent power, and, more recently, on Israeli democracy.

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