The Program in Jewish Studies is thrilled to welcome French senator and renowned Sephardic scholar Professor Esther Benbassa to serve as the 2018 Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar. Professor Benbassa will be in residence at CU Boulder April 18-19, 2018. During her residency, Professor Benbassa will present a public lecture on Sephardim, Thursday, April 19, 2018 @ 7:00PM in Old Main Theater.
Professor Benbassa's visit is part of the Community Talks Series, made possible in part by a grant from Rose Community Foundation.
Professor Benbassa's visit is made possible by the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund, honoring the lives of Sondra and Howard Bender.
In 2012, the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund was established to help bring leading scholars in Jewish culture, history, language and religion to CU campuses to further the curricular goals of CU’s Program in Jewish Studies. Attending lectures by leading scholars in this growing field provides students with the opportunity to learn from a broad range of academics. In addition, visiting lecturers create a unique opportunity for the Program in Jewish Studies and CU to engage both students and the local community. Public lectures catalyze discussions that include participants from a wide variety of backgrounds, enhancing students’ ability to think about issues beyond the walls of the classroom.
Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Ohio State University, Melton Chair in Jewish History
1492: Columbus, the Jews, and the Messiah in Spain
In his 2017 Bender lecture at the CU Boulder, Professor Matt Goldish focusd on three enormous events that occurred in Spain during 1492: the end of the centuries-long war to end Muslim rule in the Iberian peninsula; the voyage of Christopher Columbus; and the expulsion of the Jews. These events are intimately connected, and their intersection runs directly through Spanish expectations about the messiah. Is it possible that we did not learn everything there is to know about Columbus in school? Attendees found out from a Columbus resident.
Matt Goldish is a Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Ohio State University and holds the Melton Chair in Jewish History. He was the Program in Jewish Studies' fifth annual Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar. Professor Goldish's research interests focus on the Western Sepharadi Diaspora and the Portuguese Conversos of Amsterdam, London, and Hamburg. His book, The Sabbatean Prophets, deals with the role of prophecy in the great messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi, which swept the Jewish world in 1665-1666. Additionally, he works on the seventeenth century, and his monograph, Judaism in the Theology of Sir Isaac Newton, revolves around the impact of Jewish ideas and literature on European intellectuals at the dawn of the Enlightenment. His latest book is Jewish Questions: Response on Sephardic Life in the Early Modern Period (2008).
Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley
"Tevye's Dream, Or How Traditional Marriage Haunts Modern Romance"
Seidman's scholarship focuses on contemporary Jewish thought, gender and sexuality, and modern Jewish literature and literary theory. In her public lecture at CU-Boulder, Seidman argued that the usual reading of Sholem Aleichem's Tevye stories as well as the musical based on them, Fiddler on the Roof, as a staging of the triumph of modern romance over traditional marriage fails to take account of Tevye's dream, which demonstrates the haunting of Jewish modernity by the remembered and invented traditional past. In addition to her public lecture, Professor Seidman presented a graduate student and faculty colloquium and served as a guest lecturer in a Jewish Studies course.
Seidman received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California Berkeley (1995) and was the former director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, where she has taught since 1995. Her first book, A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish (University of California Press, 1997), examines the ways that Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, and Yiddish, the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, came to represent the masculine and feminine faces, respectively, of Ashkenazic Jewish culture. Her sophisticated history is the first book-length exploration of the sexual politics underlying the "marriage" of Hebrew and Yiddish, and it has profound implications for understanding the centrality of language choices and ideologies in the construction of modern Jewish identity.
Her second book, Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation (University of Chicago Press, 2006), reads translation history through the lens of Jewish–Christian difference and, conversely, views Jewish–Christian difference as an effect of translation. Subjecting translation to a theological-political analysis, the book explores how the charged Jewish–Christian relationship—and more particularly the dependence of Christianity on the texts and translations of a rival religion—has haunted the theory and practice of translation in the West.
Her third book, The Marriage Plot, Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature, is forthcoming from Stanford University Press this spring 2016. She is also presently working on a book about the founding of the Bais Yaakov girls' school system in interwar Poland.
Stein is one of the most important authors and scholars of her generation. Her most recent book, Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria (University of Chicago Press, 2014) explores the history of a small community of Jews who lived in the M’zab valley in colonial French Algeria. Joshua Schreier, of Vassar College, describes Saharan Jews, as “fascinating…extremely well-researched book, and imaginative.” Benjamin C. Brower, from the University of Texas at Austin, writes that “this wonderfully told story breaks new ground in the history of North Africa . . . and like the very best work of historians it gives rise to a critical interrogation of the present.” In 2014, Stein and co-editor Julia Phillips Cohen published Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014), which won a 2014 National Jewish Book Award, the most prestigious and largest prize for Jewish literature. Stein’s previous books include A Jewish Voice from Ottoman Salonica: The Ladino Memoir of Sa’adi Besalel a-Levi (Stanford University Press, 2012), co-edited with Aron Rodrigue and translated by Isaac Jerushalmi; Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce (Yale University Press, 2008), 52nd Annual New England Book Show Winner and Winner of the Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature; Making Jews Modern: the Yiddish and Ladino Press in the Russian and Ottoman Empires (Indiana University Press, 2004), winner of the Salo Wittmayer Baron Prize for Best First Book in Jewish Studies for 2003 and Koret Jewish Book Award Finalist, 2004.
Stein, an elected member of the American Academy for Jewish Research, received her A.B. from Brown University in 1993 and her doctorate from Stanford University in 1999. Her scholarship has ranged across the Yiddish and Ladino speaking diasporas and the British and French imperial, Russian, American, Ottoman and wider Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African settings, but is always engaged with the reasons for and manifestations of Jewish cultural diversity in the modern period.
Shaul Magid, Professor of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies at Indiana University Bloomington served as the 2014 Sondra D. Bender Visiting Scholar, giving a lecture entitled “After Multiculturalism: Postethnicity and Judaism in America” March 6, 2014 on the CU-Boulder campus. The lecture opened with words from Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi and was followed by roundtable conversation with Elias Sacks, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Deborah Whitehead, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, and Rabbi Zvi Ish-Shalom, Assistant Professor of Religious Studies at Naropa University. Magid’s lecture, based on his book American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society, explored contemporary American Jewish life and Jewish Renewal.
“Shaul Magid's point is that the old paradigms for thinking about Jews and Judaism--specifically the ethnically inflected, assimilation-phobic, chosen/one God model--are dead. But all is not lost. He is optimistic that if Jews redefine the terms of Jewish survival, they will see just how much they have gained in these transformations.” ~Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University
Shaul Magid is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Chair, Jewish Studies in Modern Judaism at Indiana University, Bloomington. He is the editor of God's Voice from the Void: Old and New Essays on Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav, co-editor of Beginning Again: Toward a Hermeneutic of Jewish Texts and author of Hasidism on the Margin: Reconciliation, Antinomianism, and Messianism in Izbica and Radzin Hasidism. His book From Metaphysics to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbala was awarded the 2008 American Academy of Religion Award for best textual studies book in religion. Magid is also a regular contributor to Tikkun Magazine, Zeek Magazine, Religion Dispatches, and Occasional Religion. His current research explores the work of Meir Kahane, a American Jewish religious and Israeli nationalist activist who founded the Jewish Defense League (JDL).
We are excited to have welcomed Deborah E. Lipstadt, the Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies at Emory University in Atlanta, as the Sondra. D. Bender Inaugural Visiting Scholar. Professor Lipstadt presented her keynote lecture, “The Impact of the Eichmann Trial: A Perspective after 50 Years,” as part of CU”s Holocaust Awareness Week on Friday, January 25, 2013 at 9:30AM on the Boulder Campus in UMC 235. Her award-winning book, The Eichmann Trial, was called by Publisher’s Weekly, “a penetrating and authoritative dissection of a landmark case and its after effects.” The book was first finalist for the 2012 National Jewish Book Award.
Lipstadt's keynote lecture examined the impact of the Eichmann Trial. Fifty years ago, Israel shocked the world when it announced that it had captured Adolf Eichmann, one of the main organizers of the Final Solution. His trial in Jerusalem is considered to have caused a major change in the world’s knowledge of the Holocaust. How much of an impact did it really have? Did it really get survivors to speak about their experiences in a way that they had never spoken about before? Does it have relevance for us today in terms of war crimes and the punishment of their perpetrators?
In addition to her vast scholarship, Lipstadt is known widely as the defendant in the David Irving vs. Penguin Books/Deborah Lipstadt case. Following the publication of her critically acclaimed 1993 book, Denying the Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory, the first full length study of those who attempt to deny the Holocaust, Lipstadt and her British publisher were sued by David Irving for identifying him as a Holocaust denier. The judge found David Irving to be a Holocaust denier, a falsifier of history, a racist, and anti-Semite. According to the New York Times, the trial “put an end to the pretense that Mr. Irving is anything but a self-promoting apologist for Hitler.” Her 2006 book, History on Trial: My Day in Court with A Holocaust Denier, is the story of that trial. The book won the 2006 National Jewish Book Award and was first runner up for the Koret Award.