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Spring 2017 Newsletter PDF
Spring 2017 Event flyer PDF
murry-sidlin-1-october-2012-photo-credit-jeff-roffman-1Jewish History Through Music: This semester, you’re invited to join us as the Center and the UNC campus host performers and speakers who will reflect on Jewish history and culture in very powerful ways.
Logo-and-TaglineJewish Food in the Global South: This two-day symposium will explore Jewish food in and of the global South, a concept that references the historic diversity of the American South and its vibrant cultural intersections with the nation and the world over time. Appealing to both public and academic audiences, this symposium will feature dynamic presentations by Jewish foodways and cultural scholars, documentarians, culinary critics, and James Beard award-winning chefs. Details.
Layout 1Spring 2017 Event Schedule: The spring semester events program begins on Jan. 30 with a lecture/performance on Yiddish songs from WWII era. Feb. 13: Yiddish Performances by Holocaust Survivors; Feb. 23: Film of Defiant Requiem; Mar. 4&5: Jewish Food Symposium; Mar. 20: Consuming Temples; Mar. 31-Apr 2: Performing Commemoration; Apr. 17: On the Study of Jews of Color; Apr. 20: Defiant Requiem performance.
Ruth von Bernuth.2014webCarolina’s Human Heart: “Zog nit keyn mol az du geyst dem letstn veg” (Never say that you are going on your final road) is one of the best-known Partisan songs. Written by Hirsh Glik in the Vilna ghetto in 1943, it became widely known in the ghetto, among Partisans and in the camps. Nowadays, the song is included in many observances around the world to commemorate the Holocaust. There are, however, many more important songs and pieces of music and thus the Center’s spring events will focus on the topic of music and the Holocaust. The performance of the Defiant Requiem is also part of the new series for the humanities—“Carolina’s Human Heart”—launched by the College of Arts and Sciences for the academic year 2016-17.
huqoq2015.fundedstudents.ericksonBrad Erickson, a graduate student in the department of Religious Studies, spent last summer creating three-dimensional models of several ancient synagogues in Israel. The project includes a 3D model of the synagogues and a high-detail image of each synagogue’s mosaic floor. Erickson’s summer work was made possible in part by a $5,000 grant from the Center’s Jack O. Spies and Family Jewish Studies Fund and the Kittner Endowment. Visit his web site to “take a walk” around these synagogues:
averyl-synagogue-in-capernaum-fb_img_1478105234136-2Student Profile: Averyl Edwards, ’17: Tikkun olam (repairing the world) has always been a guiding principle for me,” says Averyl “Avivi” Edwards, ’17. “It’s important to talk about inequality not just because we are Jews and we know what it’s like, but also because we’re commanded to take action to improve the lives of those around us.”

Edwards is currently wrapping up her double major in Religious Studies/Jewish Studies and Women’s and Gender Studies and she sees her majors as two sides of the same coin—as part of her unwavering determination to fight injustice in the world.

Faculty News:

David Lambert’s book, How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture, won the 2016 American Academy of Religion’s Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion in the category of Textual Studies.

Jodi Magness has been named an inaugural ACC Distinguished Lecturer. This honor is based on scholarly achievements, impact upon students and faculty, ability to stimulate cross-university collaborations, and the opportunity to showcase UNC-Chapel Hill’s intellectual talent. Sponsored by the Atlantic Coast Conference, ACC Distinguished Lecturers will be invited to give presentations at other ACC campuses  in the upcoming academic year.

Rosa Perelmuter was selected as a 2016 recipient of the University Diversity Award, which recognizes significant contribution to the enhancement, support and/or furtherance of diversity on the campus and in the community.

Fall 2016 Newsletter PDF

Fall 2016 Event flyer PDF

EventsFlyer.Fall2016.finalwebEvent Schedule for 2016-2017

Fall 2016 Semester:Sept 19: “Women in Ancient Israel and Hebrew Bible,” with Susan Ackerman, DartmouthNov 1: “Antisemitism in France in 2016: A Survey,” with Jean-Yves Camus, Institut de Relations Internationales et StratégiquesNov 3: “The Cultural Significance of the Ghetto of Venice for Jewish History,” with David Ruderman, UPennNov 7: “Rosenwald” film screening and discussion with Aviva Kempner
teterpanel2.apr11webThe Center’s First Major, International Academic Conference: Reconsidering Antisemitism: The April 2016 Reconsidering Antisemitism: Past and Present conference gathered a group of 19 leading experts—which included scholars, journalists and a politician—in Chapel Hill for three days of intensive discussion. Several hundred students, scholars and community members participated in the conference. The discussion topics were chosen from different historic epochs in order to show the complicated history of anti-Judaism and antisemitism starting in antiquity and resurfacing in recent events in Europe, South America, the Middle East, and the United States. 
Berlinger.exhibit.may16webMajor Gift Supports Academics, Research and Community Outreach: A new endowment, funded by anonymous donors, was established last academic year to support the capstone course in Jewish Studies. Funds will be utilized to assist faculty in developing new course content, to provide the financial means to arrange for class field trips and visits to historical and cultural sites, to cover expenses with the professor’s academic department, and to bring in visiting lecturers to enhance the course curriculum. The same donors also provided two other new endowment funds—to support a lectureship for the campus community and general public focused on Sephardic Judaism, and to provide support for faculty and student research and projects in Jewish Studies and Sephardic Judaism.
Ruth von Bernuth.2014webFrom the Director’s Desk: A Stellar Review: The last academic year of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies was filled with several major events and activities, but perhaps most notable for the Center was our first external review. The review committee was on campus for two days in February and met with more than 30 faculty members, administrators, and students who are involved with the Center. We are very proud of the results. The review stated that the committee members were “extremely impressed by the Center’s intellectual vibrancy, collegiality, and overall contributions to the university, as well as its service to the public through curricular enrichment and innovative public programming.”
ao.web.vsmMay 2016 graduates: Two of our graduate students were hooded in May: Samuel Kessler and Annegret Oehme.

Annegret, who came from Germany in 2010 to enter the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies in order to study Old Yiddish, will soon start a faculty position at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Sam is now headesamk.2016.croppedd to Virginia Tech as a postdoctoral fellow in Judaic Studies. Both of them will teach future generations in Jewish studies and will share their experiences from taking courses in Jewish studies at UNC and participating in the Center’s interdisciplinary group of graduate students.
berlinger.webFaculty Profile:  Gabrielle A. Berlinger: Jewish Folklore at Carolina:

“Believe it or not, my interest in Jewish ritual life and material culture has its roots in Vietnam,” said Gabrielle Berlinger. “While studying abroad in Vietnam as an undergraduate, I conducted a project on ancestor worship, specifically around the ancestor altars that families construct in their homes. There, I became interested in the intersection of sacred and domestic space—how ritual practice can transform ordinary space into extraordinary space.”

Unc undergraduates, from l to r, Devan Haddock, Timothy Walker,Faculty and Student Grant Awards: Thanks to generous private support, in 2015-2016 the Center was able to offer numerous funding awards to undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty.
YIVOinstitute.tesla.webvsmUndergraduate Research By Tesla Lee: I had the unique privilege of traveling to New York City this winter, after receiving a generous research grant from the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies, to complete some archival research for my undergraduate senior honors thesis.
News Briefs:
tine2.june2016Tine Rassale, graduate student in the department of Religious Studies, has a summer internship at the Oriental Institute Museum in Chicago. She is working at the registration department to digitalize collections from several archaeological sites, for example, Megiddo in northern Israel.
Huqoq-mosaic-fish--300x210Excavations this summer in the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee, have revealed stunning new mosaics that decorated the floor. The excavations are directed by Jodi Magness, a professor in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill College of Arts and Sciences, along with Assistant Director Shua Kisilevitz of the Israel Antiquities Authority.The mosaic panels decorating the floor of the synagogue’s nave (center of the hall) portray two biblical stories: Noah’s Ark and the parting of the Red Sea. The panel with Noah’s Ark depicts an ark and pairs of animals, including elephants, leopards, donkeys, snakes, bears, lions, ostriches, camels, sheep and goats. The scene of the parting of the Red Sea shows Pharaoh’s soldiers being swallowed by large fish, surrounded by overturned chariots with horses and chariot drivers.

For more information

Faculty News: Jonathan M. Hess, Malkin Distinguished Professor of Jewish History and Culture, has been appointed chair of the department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures. David Lambert, department of Religious Studies, has been granted tenure and was promoted to associate professor. Danielle Christmas was recently promoted to assistant professor in the department of English & Comparative Literature. Yaron Shemer, department of Asian Studies, received a 2016 Academic Excellence Award from the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. Ruth von Bernuth’s newest book, “How the Wise Men Got to Chelm: The Life and Times of a Yiddish Folk Tradition,” is due out in November with NYU Press. Hanna Sprintzik, department of Asian Studies, received a grant to convert her First Year Seminar “Israeli Popular Culture – The Case of Music” into an online summer course to be offered in summer 2017. The course will be open to Carolina students and also non-students.
Academic News: This semester, the academic requirements for the B.A. degree program have been updated to better meet the goals of the program. To learn more about the requirements for the major in Religious Studies/Jewish Studies or the minors in Modern Hebrew or Jewish Studies, visit our web site at
Advisory Board News: On July 1st, Daniel Singer,’05, VP of Finance for FairWarning, Inc., joined the Center’s Advisory Board. The Center extends its thanks to Alan Fields, ’60, ’65, who completed his term of service to the Advisory Board on June 30th.
Berlinger.exhibit.may16webOn Wednesday, May 4, students in Dr. Gabrielle Berlinger’s JWST 697: The Material Life of Jewish America (Jewish Studies Capstone Seminar) opened the exhibition “From T-Shirts to Tattoos: Jewish Material Culture at UNC-Chapel Hill“.The student-curated exhibition is housed at the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies.
PrintThank you to all who attended the conference. We have recently added the following: program guide, photos and videos and student research posters from the conference.

Reconsidering Antisemitism: Past and Present
April 10-12, 2016, UNC Friday Center
The Center hosted a conference on Antisemitism, which was free and open to the general public. This three-day conference featured academic panel discussions, two keynote lectures, and student research.

Maymester 2016 course: Beyond Hostilities: Israeli-Palestinian Exchanges and Collaborations in Cinema, Literature, and Music

Monday to Friday 11:30 – 2:45 with Professor Yaron Shemer

It should come as no surprise that, for most, the mention of Israel and Palestine conjointly conjures up conflict, wars, and hostility. Yet, this course focuses on various collaborations and exchanges between Israelis and Palestinians in the realm of culture. These connections involve literature and language (Israeli-Jewish authors writing in Arabic and Palestinian writers who choose Hebrew as their language of expression), music, filmmaking, and joint educational initiatives. Maymester.Shemer.

eli.classroom.2015webDistinguished Service: For more than a decade, Eli Evans, ’58, founding chair of the Center’s advisory board, has been visiting Professor Marcie Cohen Ferris’ classroom to meet with her students. This month he combined the classroom visit with receiving the Dean’s Award for Distinguished Service in the College of Arts and Sciences, which recognizes individuals who have served the College through exceptional vision, commitment and leadership.


Spring 2016 Newsletter

07KevinGuskiewicz_lrg-200x300Kevin Guskiewicz named College of Arts and Sciences dean

Kevin Guskiewicz, a neuroscientist and internationally recognized expert on sport-related concussions and a senior associate dean in the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s College of Arts and Sciences, will become the College’s 22nd dean. Guskiewicz was selected after an extensive nationwide search led by Executive Vice Provost and Chief International Officer Ron Strauss, and succeeds Dean Karen M. Gil, who will return to the College’s department of psychology and neuroscience after serving as dean for more than six years.  Read more.


View the event flyer for 2015-2016.

Learn more about the Antisemitism conference.

Fall 2015: Click here to read the fall 2015 newsletter [PDF]

travis.alexander2.2015web Investing in Students… and their Exceptional Research: Research topics explored by Carolina students have ranged from Jewish communities in Moldova, to Jewish-American composer Kurt Weill, Jewish and Islamic schools in North Carolina, Holocaust survivors in Lithuania, and Israeli medical centers. Their research topics and travel destinations are as diverse and individualized as the students themselves, but one thing remains constant—they need funding to pursue these projects. Read more about how our students spent their summer.
casualpimichaelf Michael Figueroa grew up surrounded by music and knew he wanted to base his life around it in some way or another. Regarding his new course, offered in spring 2015, he said, “I created the ‘Hearing the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict’ course because studying the region’s music allows students to learn about the various cultures involved in the conflict from a much different perspective than mainstream outlets, such as cable news, print, and social media. It is important to me that students grasp the human side of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and learning Israelis’ and Palestinians’ musical cultures is a powerful way to accomplish this.”    Read the profile.
Sarah outside LOC 2 Sarah Workman’s first semester at Carolina found her, begrudgingly, in a fantasy literature class. She enrolled in the course simply to meet a requirement for a 20th Century American Literature credit, but as it turns out, the class laid the foundation for her dissertation. Workman’s project examines how enchantment mediates history in contemporary Jewish American literature. She is exploring fantasy genres, magic, a return to the folkloric, whimsical nature of Yiddish storytelling, and how these elements frame the reader’s relationship to the past. Read the profile.
HuqoqTheater Mask.web Under the direction of the Center’s Jodi Magness, excavations this summer, in the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, have revealed stunning new mosaics that decorated the floor.  Read more about this year’s discoveries.

CCJS.huqoqfunded.june2015web The Center is providing essential, multi-year sponsorship support to the Huqoq dig as well as research and travel grants to individual students. Grants were provided by the Center for these students to participate in the dig at Huqoq. Read more about how our Huqoq students spent their summer.
Ruth von Bernuth.2014web Supporting graduate students makes a lasting impact on research in the field of Jewish studies and on teaching Jewish studies, not only when the students are at Carolina, but also as they move along in their careers. Their work helps to broaden our ideas of Jewish history and culture and it brings fresh ideas into the classroom. We now have about 20 graduate students at Carolina who have research interests in the field of Jewish studies, and with this expanding number comes more responsibility for supporting their studies and projects.
lilianagregory.may2015web Congratulations to our May 2015 graduates: Collin Davis (BA degree), Liliana Gregory (Minor in JS) (shown at left), Emma Woelk (PhD, Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies) and Elisssa Sampson (PhD, Graduate Certificate in Jewish Studies).
berlinger.web Joining us this semester is a new faculty member in the department of American Studies – Gabrielle A. Berlinger, the Babette S. and Bernard J. Tanenbaum Fellow in Jewish History and Culture [shown at left]. Her research interests include Jewish folklore and ethnology. Jonathan Hess, department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and Literatures, has been named co-editor of AJS Perspectives, the magazine of the Association for Jewish Studies which is published biannually. David Lambert, department of Religious Studies, has book appearing in October with Oxford University Press: How Repentance Became Biblical: Judaism, Christianity, and the Interpretation of Scripture. Marcie Cohen Ferris was recently promoted to full professor in American Studies. She is serving a two-year appointment as co-chair of the University’s Food for All: Local and Global Perspectives steering committee.
CCJSblock3 Reconsidering Antisemitism: Past and Present –
April 10-12, 2016
This April, the Center is hosting a three-day international conference titled, “Reconsidering Antisemitism: Past and Present,” a topic which is unfortunately timely in the U.S. and around the world. This event will address the modern day, worldwide issue of antisemitism while also providing a historical and academic evaluation of what antisemitism is and was.  “Reconsidering Antisemitism” will bring together a diverse group of scholars of antisemitism for in-depth discussions with students, educators, members of the media, and the community at large. The conference will offer two public keynote evening lectures, and throughout the three days there will be a series of five in-depth panel discussions. On April 9, the UNC Program for the Humanities will hold the annual Uhlman Family Seminar for the general public and K-12 educators on “Facing Antisemitism through the Ages,” which will feature speakers from the antisemitism conference and will study antisemitic material from the medieval period to the contemporary world. We will add details to our conference web pages during the fall semester.
 New Course: FOLK 490.001 – Traditions in Transition: Jewish Folklore and Ethnography
Wednesdays. Instructor: Gabrielle Berlinger
Jewish stories, humor, ritual, belief, dress, food, and more! This course explores the great diversity of folkloristic expression in today’s Jewish American communities and the ethnographies that document this expression. We will focus on Jewish storytelling, humor, ritual, custom, belief, dress, and food, among other genres of folklore, within the historical context of Jewish folklore and ethnology. Through the lens of ethnographic studies, personal narratives, historical documents, literary studies, films, and field trips, we will look at what makes these forms of vernacular expression Jewish, how source communities interpret them, and how ethnographers document them, to investigate such issues as representation, identity, memory, and tradition. Students will learn ethnographic skills to conduct a hands-on community-based fieldwork project. Multimedia projects are welcome!
Event Schedule for 2015-2016:
Aug 31 – Academic Lecture with Jack Sasson, 5:30 p.m.
Oct 12 – Community Lecture with Shaye Cohen, 7:30 p.m.
Oct 28 – Academic Lecture with Veronika Fuechtner, 12:00 p.m.
Nov 16 – Community Lecture with Aviva Ben-Ur, 7:30 p.m.
Mar 7 – Community Lecture with Sarah Stein, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 1 – Community Lecture [co-host: Duke Jewish Studies] with Anita Norich, 7:30 p.m.
Feb 15 – Community Lecture with Jodi Magness, 7:30 p.m.
Apr 10-13 – Uhlman Family Seminar and Antisemitism Conference
Please visit our events page for details. We look forward to seeing you in the fall semester!


Spring 2015: Click here to read the Spring 2015 newsletter [PDF].

 collindavis.vsm After earning his Associates Degree, Collin Davis, ’15, was looking into schools with religious studies and Hebrew programs. “Carolina clearly had the best programs, and once I started here I was able to become even more focused on Jewish studies.” This May, he completed the undergraduate B.A. degree program in Jewish Studies.
 Woelk.vsm As a Junior at Vassar, Emma Woelk intended to build a career in the biological sciences, but a study abroad experience in Germany served as the wake-up call that changed the course of her life. This May she became the first graduate of the Carolina-Duke Graduate Program in German Studies and one of the first students to earn the graduate student Certificate in Jewish Studies.
Andrea Cooper.2014web Andrea Dara Cooper, the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought, has already begun to shape Jewish studies on campus by creating four new courses within her first few months at Carolina.
cassen.web Flora Cassen, the JMA and Sonja van der Horst Fellow in Jewish History and Culture, created a new course titled: Antisemitism: History, Causes, Consequences. The undergraduates learned about the history of antisemitism from the middle ages to today and wrote in-depth research papers on a wide range of topics.
HSprintzik2014web Hanna Sprintzik, lecturer in Modern Hebrew in the Department of Asian Studies, taught a new First Year Seminar this semester which introduced undergraduates to the field of Israeli popular culture.
maxlazar.vsm In January, Max Lazar, a first year graduate student in the Department of History, traveled to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to learn about the Holocaust in the Soviet Union and materials available at the Museum’s library and archive. Lazar’s thesis examines Jewish immigration from the Soviet Union to Germany after WWII.
 CCJSblock3 This May, Elissa Sampson and Emma Woelk both  earned the graduate student Certificate in Jewish Studies. Sampson’s dissertation explored “Tenement Tales: The Fashioning of 97 Orchard Street” and Woelk’s research was titled “Folk Fiction: Yiddish and the Negotiation of Legacy in Germany after 1945.”
 Gil-Karenhigh-res.vsm On behalf of the College of Arts and Sciences, I want to thank you for your commitment to the work of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies. Your support has contributed to its being a vibrant place for learning, discovery and engagement.
Ruth von Bernuth.2014web Nearly 1,300 students enrolled in 34 Jewish studies courses this academic year. For many students, it is their first encounter with aspects of Jewish culture, religion, and history, but for some others, it is their second, third, fourth, or maybe even tenth course.
CCJSblock3 This year, thanks to generous private support, the Center provided research and travel grants to undergraduates, graduate students and faculty, in addition to faculty course development grants, graduate student summer stipends, the graduate fellowship for dissertation completion, and several graduate student recruitment grants.