2019 Sondra & Howard Bender Visiting Scholar

Yiddish, English, or Maybe Both: The Evolution of an “Yidea”

Featuring poet and professor Irena Klepfisz
2019 Sondra & Howard Bender Visiting Scholar

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | 7:00 PM
*University Club, Chancellor's Silver & Gold Room | 972 Broadway, Boulder, CO 80302*
New location!

RSVP to Irena Klepfisz's Public Lecture

In her talk, Irena Klepfisz will describe some of the issues she faced when she began trying to incorporate Yiddish into her English poetry and prose. What seemed easy enough (just put it in! use it!) turned out to be more difficult and raised questions about appropriateness, intelligibility, and, perhaps most importantly, purpose. Klepfisz will illustrate her literary process and evolution through readings of her own work and the writings of other Yiddish women writers.

The Artist Manqué: Four Yiddish Stories by Four Women Writers

Student, Faculty, and Friends of Community Talks Colloquium

Thursday, February 21, 2019 | 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Location and pre-circulated reading provided upon RSVP
Lunch will be provided

RSVP to Irena Klepfisz's Colloquium

In this colloquium, Irena Klepfisz will explore the short stories of four Yiddish women writers: Fradel Schtok, Yente Serdatzky, Rokhl Brokhes, and Celia Dropkin. The writers vary in background and their stories are situated on different continents and in different communities, secular and observant. Yet directly and indirectly all four stories address the aspirations and challenges Jewish women face in expressing their inner artistic longings while fulfilling the traditional social roles assigned to them.

Irena Klepfisz

Irena Klepfisz is a poet, essayist, translator, editor, and teacher. She is serving as Jewish Studies’ 2019 Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar and will be in residence at CU Boulder February 20 - 21, 2019. She has taught at Barnard College, in the college program at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, a women's maximum-security prison, and elsewhere. Among her many other literary accomplishments, she was a founder and co-editor of the award-winning Conditions magazine, the Yiddish editor of the Jewish feminist Bridges, a major contributor to Nice Jewish Girls: A Lesbian Anthology, and co-editor of The Tribe of Dina: A Jewish Women's Anthology.

The annual Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar series is generously supported by the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund, honoring the lives of Sondra and Howard Bender.

Special thank you to the Bender Foundation and the family of Eileen and Richard Greenberg for their generous support.

Learn More about Sondra and Howard Bender

Irena Klepfisz's visit is hosted by the Program in Jewish Studies and cosponsored by the Department of Germanic and Slavic Languages and LiteraturesDepartment of Religious Studies, and the Department of English. It is part of the Community Talks Series, made possible in part by a grant from Rose Community Foundation. Community Talks features nationally and internationally renowned scholars, authors, artists, and performers for themed public events with the goal of enriching community learning and expanding access to academic programming on Jewish culture and history.  Become a Friend of Community Talks Today!

Scholar in Residence Weekend with Professor Daniel Matt

From Kabbalah to the Big Bang
Scholar in Residence Weekend

with Kabbalah Scholar Daniel Matt

March 14-16, 2019

Congregation Har HaShem, Congregation Bonai Shalom, Scientists in Synagogues, and the University of Colorado’s Program in Jewish Studies and Department of Religious Studies welcome Professor Daniel Matt, renowned Kabbalah scholar and translator, for a series of talks in Boulder. Professor Matt’s Scholar in Residence Weekend, “From Kabbalah to the Big Bang: Ancient Wisdom and Contemporary Spirituality,” will take place March 14-16, 2019.

Congregation Har HaShem will host a Kabbalah Reading Group in preparation for Professor Matt's visit to Boulder. Registration is $36 and includes the costs of books. This reading group is open to the public. The Kabbalah Reading Group will meet from 6:30 PM - 8:00 PM on January 16, January 23, February 13, February 20, and March 13. Please contact Wayne Zirkin, waynezirkin@yahoo.com, if you are interested in participating. 

Daniel Matt is now teaching Zohar online. Learn more here:

Public Lecture at CU Boulder

God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Religion

University of Colorado Boulder Public Lecture

Thursday, March 14, 2019 | 7:00 PM
Benson Earth Sciences, Room 180, 2200 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309
Free and open to the public
The theory of the Big Bang serves as the scientific creation myth of our culture. What does it have to do with God? How can it help us discover a spiritual dimension in our lives and recover a sense of wonder? In this talk, Daniel Matt will explore these questions, drawing on the insights of the Kabbalah as well as contemporary cosmology. He suggests several parallels between these two schools of thought, e.g., between what physicists call “broken symmetry” and what Kabbalah calls “the breaking of the vessels,” but his purpose is not to demonstrate that medieval kabbalists knew what scientists now know about the universe. Rather, he will show how we can appreciate each approach in light of the other and deepen our understanding of both.

Full Schedule of Events

The Feminine Half of God
Friday, March 15, 2019 | 6:00 PM
Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder 30075

Professor Matt will give a brief talk during services. Services are free and open to the public. After services, he will give a larger presentation during dinner. Registration for dinner is $25 per person, RSVP on Congregation Har HaShem's website.

One of the boldest contributions of Kabbalah is the idea that God is equally female and male. Daniel Matt will briefly trace the development of Kabbalah and then focus on the concept of Shekhinah (the feminine aspect of God) from its rabbinic origins to its full flowering in the Zohar, where Shekhinah is identified with the Sabbath Bride.
The Mystical Meaning of Torah
Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 9:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder 30075

Free and open to the public.

How does the mystical approach to Torah differ from a literal approach? From a midrashic approach? How can a mystical approach enrich our lives today? Daniel Matt will explore these questions with us by teaching several passages from his award-winning translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.
The Zohar: Masterpiece of Kabbalah
Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 11:30 AM (during services) and 1:00 PM (during lunch)
Congregation Bonai Shalom, 1527 Cherryvale Road, Boulder 80303

Professor Matt will give a d’var Torah during services which are free and open to the public. After services, he will give a larger presentation during the kiddush lunch. For non-members, $10 (per person) donations for lunch are requested. RSVP to info@bonaishalom.org.

The Zohar emerged in 13th-century Spain. How exactly did it originate and what is its significance for us today? How does this mystical masterpiece interpret and reimagine the Torah? Scholar-in-residence Daniel Matt will explore these questions with participants by teaching several passages from his award-winning translation, The Zohar: Pritzker Edition.
Raising the Sparks: Finding God in the Material World
Saturday, March 16, 2019 | 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Congregation Har HaShem, 3950 Baseline Road, Boulder 30075

Free and open to the public. Limited seating, RSVP on Congregation Har HaShem's website.

How can God be encountered in our daily life? Daniel Matt will explore this question with participants by teaching passages from Kabbalah and Hasidism on the nature of God, the act of Creation, and the challenge of discovering God in the material world.

Professor Daniel Matt headshot

Daniel Matt is one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalistic texts, especially the Zohar. He taught at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley for twenty years. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah (translated into seven languages) and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality.

Recently Professor Matt completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar, the masterpiece of Jewish mysticism. This work, consisting of nine volumes was published by Stanford University Press and is entitled The Zohar: Pritzker Edition. This annotated translation has been hailed as “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.”

Daniel Matt's scholar in residence weekend is hosted by Congregation Har HaShem, Congregation Bonai Shalom, Scientists in Synagogues, and CU Boulder's Program in Jewish Studies and Department of Religious Studies.

5th Annual CU-DU Week of Jewish Philosophy

Religion & Feminism

Fifth Annual CU-DU Week of Jewish Philosophy with Professor Mara Benjamin
April 10 & 11, 2019

The Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder and the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Denver are pleased to welcome Professor Mara Benjamin as the 2019 visiting scholar for the annual CU-DU Week of Jewish Philosophy. Benjamin will present two events on the CU Boulder and DU campuses on the theme Religion and Feminism.

University of Colorado Boulder Symposium

Embodiment in Jewish Feminist Theology

University of Colorado Boulder Symposium
Wednesday, April 10, 2019 | 11:30 AM to 1:00 PM
Space is limited; location provided upon RSVP

RSVP to Mara Benjamin's Symposium at CU Boulder

Can human bodies be holy? Can they help us understand the divine, or only separate us from it? In contesting the denigration of both corporeality and women in Western thought, feminist theologians have identified the embrace of embodiment as a central task. In the eyes of Jewish feminist thinkers, rabbinic texts and practices offer a mixed legacy for embarking on the project of reclaiming the role of the body. Professor Mara Benjamin's talk will examine embodiment as both obstacle and path to God, using Rachel Adler’s “Tumah and Taharah: Ends and Beginnings” (1976) and her later recantation of that essay, “In Your Blood, Live: Re-Visions of a Theology of Purity” (1993).

University of Denver Symposium

From Embodiment to Intersubjectivity: Rethinking Feminist Views on Maternity

University of Denver Symposium
Thursday, April 11, 2019 | 4:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Space is limited; location provided upon RSVP

RSVP at cjs@du.edu; seats are limited with priority given to students.

Childbearing and childrearing hold a complicated place in feminist thought: motherhood anchors the identification of women with embodiment in Western philosophy; at the same time, maternity offers untapped resources for rethinking bodies, intersubjectivity, ethics, and other fundamental questions. In this seminar, Professor Mara Benjamin will draw on Judith Plaskow’s “Woman as Body: Motherhood & Dualism” to assess the risks of and rewards of giving maternity a central role in feminist thought.

Professor Benjamin's visit marks the fifth annual Week of Jewish Philosophy, a joint initiative presented by DU's Center for Judaic Studies and CU's Program in Jewish Studies.

Professor Mara Benjamin headshot

Mara Benjamin is Irene Kaplan Leiwant Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity (Cambridge, 2009) and The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought (Indiana, 2018). She holds a Ph.D. in modern Jewish thought from Stanford University and has taught at the University of Washington, Yale University, and St. Olaf College.

2019 Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics Program

Bioethics in a Violent World: Health Professionals in Times of War, Genocide and Political Conflict

Public Lecture with Professor Len Rubenstein and Dr. Zaher Sahloul

Monday, April 29, 2019 | 7:00 PM - 9:00 PM
Eaton Humanities Building, Room 250 | 1610 Pleasant Street, Boulder, CO 80302

Nearly 80 years after German physicians and other health professionals carried out some of the most heinous Nazi war crimes, health professionals today continue to practice during times of war and political conflict. While some work on behalf on authoritarian dictatorial governments to inflict harm, many others work to protect human rights and to treat soldiers and civilians with dignity and respect, even in the most extreme conditions imaginable. These latter health professionals – whether they recognize it or not – have absorbed critical lessons from the Holocaust about the necessary roles of health professionals in wartime. 

The 2019 Holocaust Genocide and Contemporary Bioethics (HGCB) program will pay homage to the past while discussing important ethical considerations for health professionals and communities today. How did our core ethical principles of justice, autonomy, beneficence, and non-maleficence grow out of the legacy of health professional involvement in the Holocaust? What is the role of health professionals in human rights law and the international laws of war that arose following World War II? And how should our ethical principles apply today in situations of mass casualties, inadequate facilities, documented human rights violations and scarce supplies? The 2019 HGCB program will address head-on the many ethical challenges faced by health professionals working during times of war and political conflict, including the ethical challenges faced by health professionals and the larger society in meeting the medical needs of refugees, asylum seekers and other displaced persons. 

Additional programs will be held at the Anschutz Medical, Colorado Springs, and Downtown campuses.

Featured Speakers

Len Rubenstein, JD​, from Johns Hopkins University, is a lawyer and the former Executive Director and President of Physicians for Human Rights, an organization that carries our forensic documentation of war crimes and advocates for the protection of health workers in war zones. Professor Rubenstein has broad knowledge about the origins of human rights laws and the laws of war that arose out of the experiences in WWII.  ​

Zaher Sahloul, MD​, is a critical care specialist at Christ Advocate Medical Center in Chicago and the immediate past president of and a senior advisor to the Syrian American Medical Society (SAMS), a humanitarian and advocacy organization that provides medical relief to Syrians and Syrian refugees. Dr. Sahloul is the founder of the American Relief Coalition for Syria, a coalition of 14 US-based humanitarian organizations working in Syria. He also is a former medical school classmate of Bashar al-Alssad.