First Endowed Professorship in Israel/Palestine Studies
Since 2015, we have been the home of North America’s first endowed Professorship in Israel/Palestine Studies. Held by Professor Hilary Falb Kalisman (Jewish Studies and History), this professorship reimagines what it means to study the Middle East, build bridges between academic fields, and foster meaningful conversations with scholars, artists, and members of the public.
Visiting Scholars and Artists
Our Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar series, International Holocaust Remembrance Day programs, Embodied Judaism symposia, and Israel/Palestine Studies events make CU Boulder a “go-to” location for visiting scholars and artists to share their work with faculty, students, and members of the public. All of our public programming is supported by the David Shneer Fund for Community Programming, Public Scholarship, and the Arts, honoring the memory of our beloved friend and colleague, Professor David Shneer z”l.
Know Your Nosh: Food, Jewishness, & Identity
Monday, November 14, 2022
There’s an old joke about Jewish holidays — they tried to kill us, we survived, let’s eat! While there’s some truth to this description of Jewish holidays, this joke also reveals a connection between Jewish food, Jewish politics, Jewish identity, Jewish culture, and even Jewish survival that has taken many forms. Food has been used to create, maintain, and reimagine boundaries in Jewish communities. The borrowing and appropriation of foods from other cultures have helped shape new Jewish identities. Different groups of Jews have navigated diverse majority cultures, using food both to solidify ethnic identities and to challenge—or reinforce—narratives of tolerance and inclusion. Jewish farmers are growing food with ecologically sensitive methods and educating their communities in response to the climate crisis.
This symposium brings together scholars working on the significance of food for Jewish religious, cultural, national, and political identities, focusing on the United States and Israel/Palestine. In our conversations, we will explore how food, so often seen as simply bringing people together, can be, in the end, far more complicated.
Ari Ariel is an Associate Professor of Instruction in History and International Studies, and the director of the International Studies Program, at the University of Iowa. Born in New York City to a Yemeni father and Ashkenazi mother, most of his academic work is semi-autobiographical: he focuses on Middle Eastern Jewish communities, particularly Yemeni Jews, and writes about migration, identity, and changes in cultural practice, especially foodways.
Ariel's publications in this field have included work on: the transformation of Middle Eastern Jewish foodways in Israel under the pressure of the Ashkenazi melting pot, and later the creation of New Israeli Cuisine; the “ethnicization” of Yemeni food and identity in Israel, a process through which various pre-migration local practices were reimagined as parts of a single Yemeni ethnic culture; and the “Hummus Wars,” a conflict over the national ownership of hummus, “fought” primary between Lebanon and Israel.
Adrienne Krone is an Assistant Professor of Environmental Science and Sustainability and Religious Studies at Allegheny College. She has a Ph.D. in American Religion from Duke University, and her research focuses on religious food justice movements in North America. Her current research project is an ethnographic and historical study of the Jewish community farming movement.
Krone researches the contemporary Jewish Community Farming movement, which began with the founding of Adamah in 2004 and now consists of about twenty innovative and pluralistic organizations spread throughout the United States and Canada. The Jewish Community Farming movement organizations are joined by their shared values which include sustainability, stewardship, food justice, and building community. These organizations run programs that vary widely for individuals and groups of all ages and last anywhere from a couple hours to months long fellowships and apprenticeships. Through these programs Jews get their hands dirty planting, weeding, harvesting, and eating food while learning about Jewish environmental values, traditions, and laws. Across these organizations, hundreds of farmers, educators, administrators, and program participants have discovered, built, and/or deepened their Jewish identities by reconnecting to their local environment and foodways through their engagement in this movement.
Ronald Ranta is a Senior Lecturer in Politics and International Relations at Kingston University London and a former chef. His research focuses on the intersection of food, identity, security, and politics. He is the co-editor of the Palgrave book series Food and Identity in a Globalised World, and the co-editor of the recently published volume Going Native?: Settler Colonialism and Food (Palgrave 2022).
In the context of Israel/Palestine, Ranta uses food as a prism to bridge the gap between how Israeli, and to a lesser extent Palestinian, nationalism and national identity have been and are produced and experienced in daily life, and the historical, political and social developments that brought about and maintain the Israeli nation-state. He is particularly interested in understanding the relationship between Israeli and Palestinian identities and food cultures; the ways in which the latter impacts the former; and the meaning of decolonization in the context of food.
Nora Rubel is the Jane and Alan Batkin Professor in Jewish Studies and Chair of the Department of Religion and Classics at the University of Rochester. Rubel teaches and writes on a wide variety of topics related to gender, race and ethnicity in American religion, particularly in relation to food and popular culture. She is the author of Doubting the Devout: The Ultra-Orthodox in the Jewish American Imagination (Columbia University Press 2009), co-editor of Religion, Food and Eating in North America (CUP 2014) and the in-progress Transparent: Queering the Jewish Family on TV. She is also completing a monograph entitled Recipes for the Melting Pot: The Lives of The Settlement Cook Book.
Rubel teaches and writes on religion and foodways. At the University of Rochester, she teaches “Kitchen Judaism: Jewish Food Beyond the Bagel and the Bible” and “Culinary Conversions: Religion, Food, and Eating in America.” In her scholarship, Rubel takes cookbooks as an entry point to her study of religious identities. She has written about the ways that cookbooks both reflect and reinforce religious and cultural practices. Her current book project, Recipes for the Melting Pot: The Lives of The Settlement Cook Book, is a cultural biography of a book that while originally meant as a way to Americanize new Jewish immigrants, in successive acculturated generations became a nostalgic means of connecting to a traditional Jewish past. Rubel examines the cookbook as an influential example of Jewish—but not necessarily Judaic—material culture and discusses twentieth century Jewish Americanization through a lens of culinary pluralism.
This symposium is part of our ongoing Embodied Judaism and Israel-Palestine Studies series, and is supported by the David Shneer Fund for Community Programming, Public Scholarship, and the Arts.
2021 Webinar Series
The Promised Lands? A Film Series on Israel/Palestine and the United States
Hilary Falb Kalisman in conversation with Ahmed Mansour, the director of Brooklyn Inshallah, and Dan Chyutin, a director and scholar of Israeli film, on the relationship between the United States, Israel, and Palestine, as well as Israeli and Palestinian film.
Mon, Oct 18, 2021
Two documentaries – Brooklyn Inshallah (2019), covering the candidacy of a pastor from Palestine attempting to become the first Arab American to win a seat in the New York City Council, and ‘Til Kingdom Come (2020), exploring the relationship between American evangelicals and Israeli politics – were made available for streaming, free of charge, during the two weeks before the event.
Ahmed Mansour, a New York-based filmmaker, is a NYU Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute - News and Documentary Program - graduate. Ahmed was born and raised in a refugee camp in Gaza Strip, Palestine. He worked as an organizer, translator, and guide for international journalists covering the 2014 war. He made a series of short films highlighting the humanitarian crisis in Gaza Strip after three successive wars. He has also worked as a reporter for the Washington Report on the Middle East Affairs in Washington DC. He runs his own production company specializing in short videos, and is skilled in all aspects of filmmaking. He is a graduate of an extensive course in storytelling form Storywise Center. Ahmed has received residencies and fellowships from Duke University and the Paths to Peace Leadership Program.
Dan Chyutin graduated from Tel Aviv University’s Film and Television Department (BFA) and New York University’s Cinema Studies Department (MA), earning a PhD in Critical Cultural Studies and Film from the University of Pittsburgh. His academic work has been awarded grants by, amongst others, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Israel Institute, and the International Association for Media and History. He has essays published or forthcoming in peer-reviewed journals and edited collections, and is the co-editor (with Rachel S. Harris) of Casting a Giant Shadow: The Transnational Shaping of Israeli Cinema (Indiana University Press, 2021). Dan served as Artistic Director of the EU-funded initiative “Another Look: The Restored European Film Project” (2013-2017), and also offered curatorial support to the Pittsburgh Jewish Israeli Film Festival, New York’s Museum of the Moving Image, and the French Institute-Israel (Tel Aviv). He is also an avid photographer and trained filmmaker, whose short subject fiction and experimental films have been screened in various venues worldwide, including the Zebra Poetry Film Festival (Berlin), Tirana International Film Festival, Brooklyn International Film Festival, ARTFilm Slovakia, Invideo Milan, and the International Festival of Short Films on Culture (Jaipur, India).
Hilary Falb Kalisman holds a B.A. from Brown University and a Ph.D. from the University of California Berkeley. Her research interests include education, colonialism, and state and nation building in Israel/Palestine as well as in the broader Middle East. Her forthcoming book, Teachers as State Builders: Educators and the Making of of the Modern Middle East, uses a collective biography of thousands of public school teachers across Israel/Palestine, Iraq and Transjordan/Jordan to trace how the arc of teachers’ professionalization correlated with their political activity, while undermining correspondence between nations, nationalism, and governments across the region. Her research has been supported by the American Council of Learned Societies, the National Academy of Education, the American Academic Institute in Iraq as well as the International Institute of Education, among other organizations. She has recently begun a new project analyzing the history of standardized testing in Israel, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq. For the 2019-2020 academic year, she was also a non-resident fellow at the Middle East Initiative, part of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School. Her teaching comprises Jewish and Middle Eastern History, with specializations in the history of Israel/Palestine, as well as the history of childhood.
2020 Webinar Series
Plague and Quarantine: Past and Present
Immigrants and Disease at Israel's Gate
Rhona Seidelman, Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and Assistant Professor of History, University of Oklahoma
Thursday, October 22, 2020
Under Quarantine tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, a central immigrant processing camp that opened shortly after Israel became an independent state. This historic gateway for Jewish migration was surrounded by a controversial barbed wire fence. The camp administrators defended this imposing barrier as a necessary quarantine measure - even as detained immigrants regularly defied it by crawling out of the camp and returning at will. Professor Seidelman will explore the history of Shaar Ha’aliya and the remarkable experiences of the immigrants who went through it. The focus on the conflicts surrounding the medical quarantine at Shaar Ha’aliya will allow us to explore how this history can be of value during the Covid-19 pandemic, as we live through this critical moment in quarantine history.
Rhona Seidelman is the Schusterman Chair of Israel Studies and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Oklahoma. Her research is on the history of immigration, the history of medicine/public health and the history of Israel. Originally from Canada, Professor Seidelman has a B.A. and an M.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a Ph.D. from Ben Gurion University of the Negev. Before moving to Oklahoma, she taught at Ben Gurion University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her book Under Quarantine: Immigrants and Disease at Israel’s Gate (Rutgers, 2020) tells the story of Shaar Ha’aliya, Israel’s “Ellis Island” during the mass immigration that followed the establishment of the state in 1948. Seidelman’s book focuses on the conflicts surrounding the camp’s medical quarantine of Israel’s new immigrants. Currently Professor Seidelman is working on two new projects. Claiming My Egypt explores questions of identity among the children of Egypt’s Jewish diaspora. Zionism, Tuberculosis and the Making of the 20th Century is a book on patients’ experiences with tuberculosis in Palestine/Israel from 1882 until today. Dr. Seidelman’s articles have been published in The American Journal of Public Health, The Journal of Israeli History, AJS Perspectives, and Ha’aretz.
"The End of the Tunnel is Dark": Reflections on the Covid-19 Pandemic Under Occupation
Weeam Hammoudeh, Assistant Professor, Institute of Community and Public Health, Birzeit University
Tuesday, October 27, 2020
Despite early and (then) effective measures to contain the coronavirus pandemic, today the occupied Palestinian territory is witnessing one of the most rapid increases in covid-19 cases globally. This spike comes at a time of a convergence of structural weaknesses in public institutions, a weakened Palestinian Authority, ongoing siege, occupation, and colonial expansion. Where Arundhati Roy famously stated that "the pandemic is a portal," one of our interlocutors aptly pointed out that when it came to covid-19, "the end of the tunnel is dark." The convergence and interactions between these factors have, however, brought to light the challenges and complexities of responding to a pandemic under occupation. This presentation will focus on the implications of the response to the pandemic in the occupied Palestinian territory, and their impacts on the lives of people and communities.
Weeam Hammoudeh is an Assistant Professor at the Institute of Community and Public Health, where she teaches in the MPH program and is also the coordinator for the mental health unit. She holds a PhD and MA in Sociology from Brown University, and an MPH from Birzeit University. She has an academic interest in understanding how political and social transformations impact health, psychosocial wellbeing, and population processes, particularly in conflict areas, as well as how health systems and social institutions develop and shift in relation to political, economic, and structural factors. She is currently involved in research project on a range of topics, including the health of adolescent refugee girls, deprivation and mental health, uncertainty, and health system preparedness in the COVID response.
The Israel/Palestine Webinar Series is co-sponsored by the History Department.