See program descriptions.
One Friday per month, 10:30am - 2:00pm,
September 2012 - June 2013
September 14 - “Behind the Headlines in Israel and Washington”
Guest Speaker: Doug Bloomfield, Washington Lobbyist, Consultant and Syndicated Columnist
We see the newspaper, Internet and television coverage, but what is really going on Behind The Headlines? We hear what all the players are saying, but what does it really mean? Is Israel an issue in the upcoming elections? What about the rest of the Jewish agenda? How will the election results affect America’s Jews? Where do US-Israel relations stand? What”s really happening in the peace process? Are either or both sides ready to make the tough historic decisions? Is there movement in the peace process or just motion?
Douglas M. Bloomfield writes a weekly column about the Washington scene and U.S.-Mideast policy which appears in numerous American newspapers and many foreign publications, including the Jerusalem Post. In addition, Mr. Bloomfield appears frequently on national and international radio and television as a political analyst and was the host of a Washington television program on current affairs and has hosted Radio Hanukkah on XM-Satellite radio. He also delivers more than 50 public speeches and programs annually, and he has spoken before audiences throughout the United States and elsewhere.
He is the president of Bloomfield Associates, Inc., a Washington lobbying and consulting firm with a variety of domestic and international clients. He is a Capitol Hill veteran with experience in every aspect of the Congressional process, spending a decade as an advisor to Members of the House and Senate; a decade as the chief lobbyist of one of the most influential advocacy organizations in Washington, in addition to many years as a government and political affairs consultant and as a journalist writing about the Washington scene for American and foreign publications.
Mr. Bloomfield has testified before the Congress on many occasions and has used his intimate knowledge of the legislative process to assist, as well as work with, a variety of clients who have appeared before Congressional committees and dealt with the Executive Branch of the government on foreign and domestic issues.
He was a senior advisor to Congressman Benjamin S. Rosenthal of New York and a legislative assistant and speechwriter for Senator Hubert H. Humphrey.
October 19 - “Jews in Cinema: Comic Anarchy - The Marx Brothers”
Guest Speaker: Debra Griboff, Columnist and Adjunct Lecturer, SUNY Westchester
The frenetic pre-war satire of the Marx Bros., whose zany antics helped define American humor in the 20th century, is a study in verbal dexterity and social commentary. Class, war-mongering politicians and identity are just a few of the topics this classic comedy team tackled. Their personal history - and their movies - mirror the American-Jewish immigrant experience.
Debra Griboff is an adjunct lecturer at SUNY-Westchester, focusing on the image of Jews in popular culture. She has been a scholar-in-residence at synagogues and JCCs nationwide, as well as New York-area libraries. She holds an MA in Jewish Studies from Hebrew Union College and a BFA from N.Y.U.
November 16 - “Where Harry Met Sally: The Jewish Deli in Pop Culture”
Guest Speaker: Dr. Ted Merwin, Associate Professor
of Religion and Judaic Studies, Dickinson College
In New York and other cities, the Jewish deli was a gathering place on par with the synagogue, a place where the overstuffed sandwiches symbolized nothing less than the achievement of the American Dream. Over time, it also became an iconic part of American popular entertainment.
From Aaron Lebedeff’s signature song, “Rumania, Rumania” and John Belushi’s classic “Samurai Deli” sketch on Saturday Night Live to Rob Reiner’s take-off of Woody Allen films, “When Harry Met Sally,” the Jewish deli and its fare became emblematic of Jewish culture for Jews and non-Jews alike.
This multimedia, interactive lecture explores the changing representations of the deli in music, film and television to show how the deli both nurtured the Jewish community and redefined the boundaries between Jews and non-Jews in American society.
Ted Merwin is an associate professor of religion and Judaic studies at Dickinson College (Carlisle, PA), where he directs the Milton B. Asbell Center for Jewish Life. A native New Yorker, he has moonlighted for the last 12 years as theater columnist for the New York Jewish Week, the largest-circulation Jewish newspaper in the nation. His articles on Jewish culture have also appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, Moment, Hadassah, and many other newspapers and magazines.
His first book, “In Their Own Image: New York Jews in Jazz Age Popular Culture” dealt with the reflection of second generation Jewish life in vaudeville, theater and film. He is currently finishing an illustrated history of the deli, “Pastrami on Rye: An Overstuffed History of the New York Jewish Delicatessen.”
December 14 - “From the Menorah to the Microchip:
Jewish Inventors Through the Years”
Guest Speaker: Michael N. Geselowitz, Ph.D., Staff Director, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) History Center, Rutgers University
The disproportionate contributions of Jews to art, music and science are well known. Chagall, Mahler and Einstein are household names. However, as much as artists and musicians add joy to our lives, and as much as scientists open up for us the wonders of the universe, it is inventors and engineers who make life possible and comfortable, and who built the modern world in which we live. This illustrated talk is an informal historical survey of just some of the Jewish inventors who made important contributions to the world, but are perhaps not as famous as they should be.
Michael Geselowitz holds S.B. degrees in Electrical Engineering and in Anthropology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees in anthropology from Harvard University. His research interests are in the history and social relations of technology. Following receiving his Ph.D. in 1987, he held a series of postdoctoral teaching and research positions relating to the social study of technology at M.I.T., Harvard, and Yale University. In 1994 he joined Eric Marder Associates, a New York market research firm, where he applied anthropological techniques to market analysis for Fortune 500 high-tech companies. He is also a registered Patent Agent.
In 1997, he became Director of the IEEE History Center, where he manages the operations and supervises three Ph.D. historians and related support staff. In addition, he serves Rutgers as an Adjunct Professor of History of Technology and of Science, Technology and Society, and is the Director of the Rutgers School of Arts and Sciences’ undergraduate, interdisciplinary Program in Science, Technology and Society.
January 18 - “A Jewish Journey Into The Twilight Zone”
Guest Speaker: Rabbi Raphael Adler, Woodbury Jewish Center
Jewish angels, dybbuks, golems and ghosts populate the world of motion pictures and television. We will view some fascinating features and discuss the uncanny convergence of Science Fiction and Jewish Mysticism through the lens of media.
Rabbi Raphael C. Adler has served as spiritual leader of the Woodbury Jewish Center since 2005. Previously, he led congregations in Rochester and East Northport. Rabbi Adler is an active member of the Rabbinical Assembly and the New York Board of Rabbis, where he has served on the Board of Governors. He is a passionate Zionist and an activist for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). His interests include interfaith outreach and the innovative Chai Mitzvah Program on Long Island. In addition, Rabbi Adler lectures on Kaballah at the Institute of Adult Jewish Studies.
February 15 - “Primo Levi and the Holocaust in Italy”
Guest Speaker: Stanislao G. Pugliese, Ph.D., Professor of Modern European History and Professor of Italian and Italian American Studies, Hofstra University
More than twenty years ago, the Italian chemist, writer, and Holocaust survivor Primo Levi fell to his death from the stairwell of his apartment building in Turin. Within hours, a debate exploded as to whether his death was an accident or a suicide and, if the latter, how this might force us to reinterpret his legacy as a writer and “survivor.” Many weighed in with thoughtful and sometimes provocative commentary, but the debate over his death has sometimes overshadowed the larger significance of his place as a thinker “after Auschwitz.”
'I became a Jew in Auschwitz,” Levi once wrote, comparing the concentration camp to a “university” of life. Yet he could also paradoxically admit, in an interview late in life, “There is Auschwitz, and so there cannot be God.” Rather than seek to untangle these contradictions, Levi embraced them.
Stanislao G. Pugliese is professor of modern European history and Queensboro Unico Distinguished Professor of Italian and Italian American Studies at Hofstra University. Dr. Pugliese is a former research fellow at Columbia University, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Oxford University and Harvard University. A specialist on the Italian anti-fascist Resistance and Italian Jews, he is the author, editor or translator of a dozen books on Italian and Italian American history. He is the editor of The Most Ancient of Minorities: The Jews of Italy; as well as The Legacy of Primo Levi and Answering Auschwitz: Primo Levi’s Science and Humanism After the Fall. Other books are Desperate Inscriptions: Graffiti From the Nazi Prison in Rome, 1943-1944 and an anthology, Fascism, Anti-Fascism and the Resistance in Italy.
March 15 - “The Ten Lost Tribes”
Guest Speaker: Marcia Haddad Ikonomopolous, Director, Kehila Kedosha Janina Museum
Over 2700 years ago, the 10 Tribes of Northern Israel were taken into captivity and sent into exile. What happened to them? Do any still exist? This lecture will discuss the fascinating story of the Lost Tribes of Israel and separate myth from fact; accompanied by power-point presentation.
Dr. Marcia Haddad Ikonomopoulos has lectured extensively throughout the New York metropolitan area on subjects of Jewish interest. She acts as a liaison between the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece and the Greek Jewish Communities in the United States. Dr. Ikonomopoulos is also President of the Association of Friends of Greek Jewry, is the former Director of Special Projects at Sephardic House and currently is a member of the Editorial Committee for Publications of Greek Holocaust Memoirs.
Dr. Ikonomopoulos is a Judaic Studies teacher and translator of Greek Jewish Holocaust Memoirs, as well as an author. Among her publications are: Remembering the Jews of Corfu, Your Guide to Jewish Greece, Your Guide to Jewish Italy and The Names of the Jews of Ioannina as well as the article “The Romaniotes,” which appeared in Viewpoints.
April 19 - “Holocaust Rescuers: Exemplary Acts of Compassion and Moral Courage”
Guest Speaker: Rabbi Shira Leibowitz, Ph.D., Author, Lower School Principal,
Solomon Schechter School of Westchester
Holocaust rescuers, representing a mere 1/2 of 1 percent of the Nazi-occupied world, found ways others could not, to behave with extraordinary compassion and moral courage. Yet, typically these humble, ordinary on-the-surface individuals, refute the title “hero”, explaining that they simply did what was required under the circumstances. Understanding what distinguished the rescuers offers us the opportunity to deliberately cultivate such character in our communities, ourselves, our children and our grandchildren.
Rabbi Shira Leibowitz, Ph.D is Lower School Principal at Solomon Schechter Westchester in White Plains, New York. Rabbi Leibowitz was ordained as a rabbi and completed a Master of Philosophy and a Ph.D. in Education from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. She has expertise in the area of values and character education and has conducted extensive research on Holocaust rescuers as moral exemplars.
May 24 - “100 Years Ago: A Tour of Jewish Life in Eastern Europe”
Guest Speaker: David E. Fishman, Professor of Jewish History, The Jewish Theological Seminary and Director of Project Judaica in Moscow
This lecture will examine Jewish life and culture in Eastern Europe in 1912-1913. Themes will include: Jewish life in the city and town (shtetl); Jewish relations with Russians, Poles and other Christians; Jewish political movements such as Zionism and the Jewish Labor Bund; Jewish literature, press and theatre in Yiddish and Hebrew.
Dr. David E. Fishman’s academic scholarship focuses on the history and culture of Jews in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union; modern Jewish political movements (Zionism and Jewish socialism); Yiddish culture; and the Holocaust. Dr. Fishman is director of Project Judaica, The Jewish Theological Seminary’s program in Moscow, based at Russian State University. He directs its Jewish Archival Survey, which publishes guides to Jewish archival materials in the former Soviet Union and he recently coedited a guide to Jewish collections in the previously top-secret “Special Archive” in Moscow.
Dr. Fishman is the author of numerous books and articles on the history and culture of East European Jewry. His books include Russia’s First Modern Jews and The Rise of Modern Yiddish Culture. Dr. Fishman is the coeditor (with Burton Visotzky) of From Mesopotamia to Modernity: Ten Introductions to Jewish History and Literature, which also appeared in a revised Russian edition called Ot Abrama do sovremenosti. From 1988 to 2003, Dr. Fishman was editor in chief of YIVO-Bleter, the Yiddish-language scholarly journal of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research. He serves on the editorial boards of Jewish Social Studies, Jews in Russia and Eastern Europe, and Polin.
A native New Yorker, David Fishman has taught at Brandeis University, Bar Ilan University, Russian State University in Moscow, and Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. He has been a fellow at the Hebrew University’s Institute for Advanced Studies and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Advanced Judaic Studies and is a senior research fellow at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
June 14 - “Common Misconceptions About Judaism”
Guest Speaker: Dr. David Kraemer, Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics,
The Jewish Theological Seminary
Many of us have learned a variety of “common wisdoms” or truisms about Judaism and what makes it unique. Many of these wisdoms are central to our Jewish identities - telling us what we stand for and what makes us different from our non-Jewish neighbors. But some of these wisdoms are more common than they are true, and what they teach us about ourselves may mask what Judaism truly has been or believed through the ages. In this lecture, Professor Kraemer will address some of these “common wisdoms” (such as “Judaism cares about this world; caring about the next world is Christian,” “the synagogue is the center of Jewish life,” etc.) and ask what Judaism could be like - and what its relations with other faiths could be - if some of these common misconceptions were corrected.
Dr. David Kraemer is the Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary. In his scholarship, Dr. Kraemer is particularly interested in literary analysis of rabbinic literature, rabbinic ritual, and the social and religious history of Jews in late antiquity.
His articles have appeared in a wide variety of journals, ranging from the popular to the academic. He is the author of several books, including The Mind of the Talmud: An Intellectual History of the Babylonian Talmud, Responses to Suffering in Classical Rabbinic Literature, Reading the Rabbis: The Talmud as Literature, The Meanings of Death in Rabbinic Judaism, and Exploring Judaism: The Collected Essays of David Kraemer. He is also the editor of a volume on the history of the Jewish family titled The Jewish Family: Metaphor and Memory. Dr. Kraemer’s most recent work, Jewish Eating and Identity Through the Ages, a book on the evolution of Jewish eating practices through the centuries. He has also served as a consultant for The Jewish Museum’s permanent exhibition.
Please Note: Jewish Experience programs are subject to change or cancellation.
Limited registration may be available at the door.
Registration at the door does NOT include lunch.
Fees at the Door (If space is available):
Y Members - $13 Chai Members - $14 JASA and Non-Members - $15
No Refunds or Exchanges