Spring 2016 Newsletter
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]
|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.
|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 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.|
|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.
|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.
|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.|
|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).|
|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.|
|Reconsidering Antisemitism: Past and Present –
April 10-12, 2016This 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].
|Professor Christopher Browning, distinguished professor and researcher of the Holocaust, retired this summer. To formally recognize his dedication and contributions to the field and to Carolina, the Center has created a new research grant for undergraduate and graduate students working in the field of Holocaust studies. The Christopher R. Browning Research and Travel Grant will be awarded for the first time this academic year. The new research grant will be funded through private gifts, including the Director’s Discretionary Fund and donations made specifically to support the grant.|
|Andrea Cooper joins the Center and Carolina’s Department of Religious Studies this semester as the Leonard and Tobee Kaplan Fellow in Modern Jewish Thought. She holds a Ph.D. from New York University. Joseph Lam has been promoted to a tenure-track assistant professor position in Classical Hebrew, Department of Religious Studies. He holds a Ph.D. from University of Chicago and joined Carolina in 2011 as lecturer for Classical Hebrew. Three of our faculty members— Ruth von Bernuth, Evyatar Marienberg, and Yaron Shemer— have recently gained tenure and have been promoted to Associate Professors.|
|My “director’s desk” is currently a virtual one, since I am writing this while on my way to Chelm, the town in southeastern Poland whose inhabitants enjoy such notoriety in Jewish literature for their bottomless foolishness. But I am by no means the only member of the Center on the move this summer. Some of my colleagues are in Israel to give talks or to conduct research. Other Carolina faculty are in Europe, and elsewhere around the globe, Martin Sueldo is in Argentina, exploring the possibility of setting up a UNC summer program on South American Jewish culture in Buenos Aires.|
|Directed by Professor Jodi Magness, excavations in the Late Roman (fifth century) synagogue at Huqoq, an ancient Jewish village in Israel’s Lower Galilee, have brought to light stunning mosaics which decorated the floor. In 2012, a mosaic showing Samson and the foxes (Judges 15:4) was discovered in the synagogue’s east aisle. In summer 2013, a second mosaic was found which shows Samson carrying the gate of Gaza on his shoulders (Judges 16:3). This summer, a third mosaic was discovered in the synagogue’s east aisle, which includes a scene of soldiers and elephants. The identification of the figures in this mosaic is unclear because there are no stories in the Hebrew Bible involving elephants. A group of seven students, shown at left, participated in the dig with the assistance of research and travel grants from the Center, including, from left to right: Lauren Garrett, Austin Andrews, David Culclasure, Daniel Schindler, Brian Coussens, Bradley Erickson, and Jocelyn Burney. Photo by J. Haberman.|
|Undergraduate Student Profile: Liliana Gregory, ’15: “What drove me to declare the Jewish Studies minor was Professor Ewa Wampuszyc’s 20th Century Polish Literature and Culture course. It showed me how integrated Central European Studies and Jewish Studies are. I wanted to take this academic knowledge and somehow turn it into practical experience. This led me to an internship at the Galicia Jewish Museum in Kraków, Poland during summer 2013.”|
|Graduate Student Profile: Guy Shalev: After earning undergraduate and graduate degrees in Israel, Shalev developed a commitment to an anthropological study in healthcare settings. This directed him to the medical anthropology Ph.D. program at Carolina.|
|The Hidden Jews of Ethiopia, By Hannah Nemer, ’14: “I spent this past spring break traveling through Ethiopia, visiting with members of the Beta Avraham Jewish community to record their stories of faith, oppression, and resilience. The funding I received from the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies has proven invaluable during this process.”|
|Graduate Student Recruitment: This past spring the Center offered recruitment grants and “top-up” grants to prospective outstanding graduate students with an interest in a field related to Jewish Studies. Applicants to Carolina were nominated by their academic departments. This fall, Carolina welcomes Tine Rassalle, in the Department of Religious Studies, who received the Tau Epsilon Phi Graduate Student Fellowship in Jewish Studies, which includes a stipend, full tuition, fees, and health insurance for the first and fifth year of study, and Robin Buller and Max Lazar, both in the Department of History, who received $7,000 top-up grants.|
|The Edible South: Marcie Cohen Ferris. associate professor, Department of American Studies, has a new book being published this fall titled: The Edible South: The Power of Food and the Making of an American Region. For more information, visit the UNC press.|
|Jewish Studies Faculty News: Flora Cassen, the JMA and Sonja van der Horst Fellow in Jewish History and Culture and assistant professor, Department of History, will serve as faculty liaison to the Center’s advisory board for this coming academic year. David Lambert, assistant professor, Department of Religious Studies, will serve the Center as curriculum advisor this year. Joseph Lam, shown at left,will serve as undergraduate student liaison.|
|Archival Work at the National Library of Israel, Jerusalem, By Samuel J. Kessler, graduate student, Department of Religious Studies: “For anyone who spends even a little time in Jewish studies, one quickly learns that the National Library in Jerusalem is full of characters and an endless number of anecdotes about them. What I came to the NLI to find is contained in 82 folders spread over three boxes. To start my work each morning I sit at a desk and am handed a folder—I began with number one and will end with number 82. The excitement of this life is in the minutia: I never quite know what I will find when I open each new folder.”|
July 2014: A team led by our archaeologist Jodi Magness has discovered a third mosaic in ongoing synagogue excavations at Huqoq, in Lower Galilee. This new mosaic is the first time a non-Biblical story has been found decorating any ancient synagogue. UNC students participated in the dig, including seven who were supported by grants from the Center, shown at right.
Summer 2014 interviews with Professor Magness:
A new IMAX film featuring our own Jodi Magness is coming to Raleigh’s Marbles Museum. Filmed in 3D for the giant screen, Jerusalem immerses audiences into one of the world’s most beloved cities. Discover why this tiny piece of land is sacred to three major religions through the stories of Jewish, Christian and Muslim families who call Jerusalem home. Join renowned archaeologist and UNC Distinguished Professor, Dr. Jodi Magness, as she travels underground to solve some of this city’s greatest mysteries. Unprecedented access to the city’s holiest sites, as well as rare and breathtaking aerial footage of the Old City and the Holy Land, combine to make Jerusalem a unique and stunning cinematic experience. The Raleigh opening: Saturday, February 22, 2014. Length: 40 minutes. Visit Marbles Museum for screening details. On March 2nd, the alumni association is hosting a talk by Professor Magness and film screening. For details, and to register, please visit the alumni association.