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We are now moving into the final weeks of the semester that I have begun describing as certainly strange and strangely uncertain. The instructors and students have been truly extraordinary throughout all of this, not to mention all of the ways in which faculty and staff have been rising to the challenges that continue to emerge as we navigate our way forward. 

We have asked Joshua Kravitz, Jewish Studies minor and Ronald Filler Scholarship recipient, to provide us with some updates from Jewish Studies students who are completing the academic year remotely. He has prepared a brief update about how they are faring, which will be posting on our website and Facebook soon. 

As we move through particular milestones on our calendars, I can’t help but indulge a moment or two of melancholia about all of the exciting events that we had planned for the remainder of the semester. In just the next few weeks, we were scheduled to host Kevork Mourad, Yossi Klein Halevi, and Mohammad Darawshe and convene a symposium on Caribbean Jews in early May. The good news is that we have begun to identify dates for those programs. We are hoping to be able to organize Kevork Mourad’s visit to Chicago and Urbana in late April 2021, to preserve its connection with the commemoration of Armenian Genocide on April 24th. We are targeting April 11-13 for “Next Year in the Caribbean: Race, Religion, and Roots in the Jewish Atlantic World.” Given the scale and what we are hoping to achieve with the Yossi Klein Halevi and Mohammad Darawshe’s visit, we are holding off until this is greater clarity about when the majority of students will be back on campus. We hope to have additional details within the next few months. 

In the meantime, we are finding ways to stay connected and continue to fulfill our core mission. As regular readers of these messages know, we have been including a Virtual Kallah that highlights select materials from the Program’s archives. On Monday, we held our first real time event, during which we had a lively and engaging discussion of Etgar Keret’s work, centering on the presentation he gave during his 2010 visit. A huge thank you and yasher koach to Brett Kaplan for co-hosting the session and to our friends who joined us. 

We are now gearing up for an exciting new Virtual Kallah on the Netflix mini-series Unorthodox. Given the general level of interest in the series, we decide to convene a group of experts to participate in a virtual panel about the show and the communities represented therein. We have asked Rachel S. Harris and Liat Maggid Alon to lend their respective expertise to the conversation. Last year, David Myers visited our campus. In addition to his lecture on Jewish history, David participated in a workshop during which he shared some of his work on the Satmar community, Kiryas Joel. Through the reading and the discussion, we learned about the field work that David and his wife, Nomi Stolzenberg, had conducted. We therefore have asked David and Nomi to join the conversation to share their insights about the series and how it represents the Satmar community of Williamsburg. We hope that many of you will join us for this exciting event (via Zoom) on Thursday, May 7th, at 7PM Central. See below for additional details. 

I am also pleased to announce that we will be hiring a new Hebrew instructor to teach beginning and intermediate level classes. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of our donors and with the support of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the European Union Center, we have been able to secure a position for a Hebrew instructor, who will teach two courses per semester. You can find additional details about the position below. If you have any questions, are interested, or know someone who might be a candidate for the position, please contact the Program. 

Virtual Kallah

For this week's Virtual Kallah, we have selected the 2010 Einhorn lecutre by Sara Abrevaya Stein, "Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews, and a Lost World of Global Commerce." Her presentation draws from her award-winning book of the same title in which she traces the extraordinary history of the ostrich feather trade and what it reveals about the relationship between transnational ostrich feather markets, the trajectories of specific Jewish families, and the historical development of Jewish cultures. 

You can view the lecture here

poster from the CAS/MillerComm lecture by Krouse Visiting Scholar Masha Gessen

In 2016, Masha Gessen visited Illinois as the Krouse Family Visiting Scholar in Judaism and Western Culture. During her visit, she conducted a workshop and delivered a riveting lecture, "Retrofitting Totalitarianism in Putin’s Russia" which continues to resonate. You can read more about her lecture on the Program website. We also wanted to share the article on Gessen's visit that Associate Director and Tobor Family Scholar Eugene Avrutin wrote for the PJCS/HGMS annual newsletter.  You can access the text here.


UP NEXT, on May 7th, we will feature a virtual panel discussion about Unorthodox. See below for additional details. 

Other News and Events

The Program in Jewish Culture & Society invites you to a virtual panel discussion of the mini-series: Unorthodox.  Featuring Rachel S. Harris (U of Illinois), David Myers (UCLA), and Nomi Stolzenbeerg (USC), Professor Dara E. Goldman (Director, Program in Jewish Culture & Society) will be moderating and Dr. Liat Maggid Alon (Israel Institute Visiting Scholar, U of Illinois) will be participating as a discussant. 

Many of us have watched the mini-series, Unorthodox, loosely based on Deborah Feldman's memoir--which has generated numerous threads on social media in addition to informal conversations among family workers and friends. The Program in Jewish Culture & Society wanted to take this opportunity to convene a virtual panel discussion about the show and about the communities represented therein. Along with Rachel S. Harris, who specializes in Jewish and Israeli literatures and cultures, we have invited David Myers and Nomi Stolzenberg to share their expertise on Haredi Jewish traditions, Satmar communities, and the complexities of leaving such communities. Liat Maggid Alon, who works on women and families in the Middle East, will also join us to help facilitate the discussion. 

Advanced registration is required. Click on the title (above) or click here to access the registration page. 


This Yom Hashoah, the Simon Wiesenthal Center and Museum of Tolerance are proud to highlight the Holocaust survivors. Witness To Truth is a photographic series on permanent display in the Museum photographed over the last 15 years by Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Marissa Roth. 

Click here and watch to experience how this powerful exhibition pays homage to the over 100 Holocaust survivors who have volunteered their time sharing their personal stories with Museum visitors. Over 50,000 visitors a year meet and hear a Holocaust survivor who speak up to four times a day, six days a week at the Museum.

Study Jewish Studies at Illinois!

If you’re interested in learning about the world through the study of Jewish cultures, history, literatures, and religion, consider applying to the Program in Jewish Culture & Society at the University of Illinois.

Our program, populated by award-winning faculty, will help you study the richness and multiplicity of the Jewish worlds past and present. Diverse and scintillating public programs—from Klezmer to Israeli cinema—engage students, faculty, and community while fostering dialogue about a range of concerns.

The core faculty are consistently listed on the list of teachers ranked as excellent and are all dedicated professors.  Apply Here!

Visit here to see the University Course Catalog with Jewish Studies or Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies content. All of them count toward the requirements for the major and minor in the Program in Jewish Culture and Society and/or the Graduate Certificates in Jewish Studies or HGMS.

Below are a few courses we offer for FALL 2020.

JS 212, CWL 212 and SAME 212

Professor Rachel S. Harris

Examination of Israeli cinema from its documentary beginnings to its internationally award winning feature films. First established as a way to record the developments of the Jewish community in Palestine, after Independence in 1948, it became a way to explore the ideals and values of the new state. Trapped between Eastern and Western cinematic tradition, we will view heroic cinema, new wave, and bourekas films. Through lectures, readings and film screenings this seminar examines the diversity of Israeli society, including religious/secular divisions, the Arab-Israeli Conflict, the Holocaust, gay cinema and the country's ethnic diversity including Palestinian, Russian, and Mizrachi identity. All films are subtitled and no previous knowledge of cinema or Israel is required. 


YDSH 320, CWL 320, ENGL 359, JS 320, and REL 320.

Professor Rachel S. Harris

Course introduces a variety of Jewish literary responses to the Holocaust written during and after the Second World War (from 1939). The discussion of Holocaust memoirs, diaries, novels, short stories, poems, and other texts will focus on the unique contribution of literary works to our understanding of the Holocaust. In addition, the works and their authors will be situated in their Jewish cultural historical context. Taught in English translation. 

JS 120, HIST 168 and REL 120

Association Professor Dov Weiss

Examines the social, political, economic, and intellectual history of the Jews from Abraham to the present-day, with particular attention to Jewish thought and society. 

JS 209, CWL 209 and ENGL 222

Instructor: Lizy Mostowski, M.A. 

How does Jewish American Literature compare with/influence/be influenced by other U.S. Minority Literatures? What can we say about the similarities and differences between the Jewish American experience and that of many other US minority literatures? What does the dialogue between them sound like? By looking at some examples of Jewish American Literature and comparing and analyzing the dialogue between Jewish American Literature and myriad U.S. Minority literatures this course aims to grapple with these and other questions. We will explore the experiences, conditions, and perspectives of the U.S. Minority literatures we are able to peruse. We will encourage comparison across these different contexts while also preserving the distinctions inherent in each minority group. 

JS 211, CWL 211, SAME 211

Dr. Liat Maggid Alon

Conflict has been a constant shadow over the lives of Israelis and Palestinians. We will examine the historical circumstances of the conflict, the images of it in the media and the attitudes to war and peace in both societies. Based on historical documents, memoirs, political statements, poetry, film and short stories we will acquire a more expansive understanding of the complex realities in which the Israelis and Palestinians live. The course explores the plurality of voices and experiences of different political groups, genders, ethnicities, religions and communities

Congratulations and Yasher Koach to PJCS and HGMS faculty and affiliates

The Program in Jewish Culture & Society and the Initiative in Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies would like to congratulate our faculty, affiliates, and graduate students who have--once again--secured prestigious awards and distinctions. 

  • Diana Sacilowski (Slavic Languages and Literatures): “Strategies of Silence: Representations of Jewish Poles in Polish Literature since the 1980s”,Advisor George Gasyna

The Summer Institute for Languages of the Muslim World (SILMW) is an annual intensive language program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Students are invited to join the 9% of Americans who choose the unique and meaningful experience of learning a Less Commonly Taught Language (LCTL).  SILMW believe that learning these languages will allow students to gain new global perspectives and set them apart as highly qualified individuals for international work and engagement.  Many of these languages can assist students in securing international positions in governmental, development, and academic sectors.    

This summer SILMW will take place from June 15 to August 8, 2020, and will be offering Arabic, Persian, Swahili, Turkish, and Wolof.  The program is 8 weeks and is divided into two, 4-week semesters. The institute will be offered in an online format, consisting of activities such as language practice, conversation tables, movie nights, and more!  

When you complete the program, not only will you be able to hold a conversation in a new language and have earned up to 10 credits, you will have had fun!   

For more information, visit our website at https://linguistics.illinois.edu/languages/summer-institute-languages-muslim-world.  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact them at silmw@illinois.edu.   Hope to see you this summer!


Teaching load is 2 courses per semester. The successful candidate should be able to offer proficiency-based language instruction and demonstrate professional level proficiency in Hebrew and English. 

The University of Illinois is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action employer. Minorities, women, veterans and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply. For more information, visit http://go.illinois.edu/EEO.

Candidates must have a Masters degree (Instructor title) or Ph D (Lecturer title) in Jewish Studies, Linguistics, Education, or related field.  Preference will be given to individuals who have advanced graduate work in Hebrew and/or a closely related field, have a record of effective language teaching at the college level, or have a substantial record of teaching and curricular/program development in a non-college setting. Ability to teach Yiddish is also preferred.

Candidates who have a demonstrated commitment to diversity are especially encouraged to apply.

This is a part time, non­-tenure track position, renewable yearly subject to enrollments, funding, and positive performance evaluations. Starting salary is $30,150. Proposed starting date is August 16, 2020.

To ensure full consideration, submit all required application materials by May 10, 2020. Applicants should submit a letter of application addressing the criteria described above, a CV, and the names and contact information for three professional references at http://jobs.illinois.edu. References will be contacted after an initial review of the applications. Only electronic applications submitted through HireTouch will be accepted. For more information, please write to jewishculture@illinois.edu.

The University of Illinois conducts criminal background checks on all job candidates upon acceptance of a contingent offer. As a qualifying federal contractor, the University of Illinois System uses E-Verify to verify employment eligibility.

Resources for Distance Learning


During these unprecedented times, the Museum remains committed to supporting learning and teaching about the Holocaust, confronting hatred, and preventing genocide. The Museum offers a variety of digital resources and research tools that provide access to primary sources, videos, and lesson plans. These materials are easily adaptable for online instruction.

Utilize tools such as Experiencing History, History Unfolded, the Holocaust Encyclopedia, and a virtual reality field trip in your digital classroom. They provide a variety of ways to learn and teach about how and why the Holocaust happened.

Use the Museum's collections and unique resources, including survivor testimonies, archival film footage, primary sources, and online exhibitions to learn about the Holocaust.

Find adaptable lessons, digitized collections, and online exhibitions for teaching about the Holocaust. Most lessons include PowerPoint presentations and PDF files for easy distribution and instruction.

Introduce students to the Holocaust with The Path to Nazi Genocide or One Survivor Remembers, explore unique Museum collections with short Curators Corner videos, or explore topical themes like early warning signs.

To the CRL Community:
UNESCO - The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization


Given the increased value of electronic access during the COVID-19 pandemic, CRL has approached a few vendors with the goal of opening access to key primary source collections for CRL members for the remainder of the academic year.  CRL reached out to EBSCO Information Services regarding several of its collections. After speaking with partners, EBSCO was able to gain rights to offer CRL members access to the following collections from April 1, 2020 through June 30, 2020. 

More information about these EBSCO resources can be found on eDesiderata in our COVID Response list:https://edesiderata.crl.edu/resources/special-access/ebsco .

They have worked with EBSCO to enable access to these collections through your institutional IPs. Many members have already seen the availability of these resources in their EBSCOhost accounts, though if your institution does not allow EBSCO to add access to resources automatically, you may need to remove that restriction. If there are questions on setup, contact EBSCO support (support@ebsco.com, 1-800-758-5995) or your EBSCO representative. You may opt out if you prefer not to receive access to any of these resources.  

This arrangement is specifically for CRL members. They encourage you to add these resources to your COVID-19 response pages and to alert your users to their availability during this period. There are additional resources that EBSCO has made available to the library community at large, which you can find at: https://www.ebsco.com/covid-19-resources

available library materials for faculty and students
  • HathiTrust Emergency Temporary Access: we now have access to a large body of copyright-protected materials in HathiTrust. See https://www.hathitrust.org/ETAS-Description. Many of you probably use HathiTrust frequently for public domain works; the emergency access provision allows readers at member institutions to “borrow” copyrighted works if a print copy is owned by the reader’s institution. To see availability, make sure you log in to HathiTrust, https://www.hathitrust.org/ (log in button in upper right corner of screen).
  • Cambridge ebook purchase: the Library was able to purchase en masse 1400+ Cambridge University Press ebook titles, including many titles in the humanities. These have all been added to the library catalog.
  • Oxford Scholarship online temporary access: we have temporary access (to May 15) to Oxford University Press titles in Oxford Scholarship Online via this link: http://www.library.illinois.edu/proxy/go.php?url=https://www.oxfordscholarship.com. These ebooks are NOT in the library catalog. (Please note that this collection includes titles published by a group of academic publishers, but only the Oxford titles are available at this time.)
  • The Library administration is attempting to develop a safe protocol for delivering print materials from the library collections, if needed for continuity of instruction. I’ll share more information when available. In the meantime, please continue to let me know if there are titles you need, and I will purchase online access if possible.
  • The History, Philosophy, and Newspaper Library’s Guide to Library Resources during the shutdown, https://guides.library.illinois.edu/shutdown, is updated regularly. We’re available for virtual office hours Monday through Friday, 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm Central Time via Zoom, https://illinois.zoom.us/j/373350705 and by request. Please send questions and requests for virtual meetings to hpnl@library.illinois.edu.

CALL FOR PAPERS, ABSTRACTS, AND PANEL PROPOSALS: Midwest Pop Culture Association / Midwest American Culture Association Annual Conference, Friday, Oct. 2 – Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 Minneapolis, MN

The Jewish Studies area of the Midwest Popular Culture Association / Midwest American Culture Association is now inviting anyone with a fascination for Jewish life and culture to submit their proposals for the 2020 conference in Minneapolis, MN. In a time when Jewish issues and concerns have enhanced visibility in American life – both in cultural and sociopolitical spaces – we are looking for original research that explores these themes.

Potential topics for paper and panel proposals include, but are not limited to:

  • • Media coverage of Jewish political figures and activists
  • • Contemporary representations of Jewish women and intersectional feminism
  • • Changing portraits of Jewish male identity and masculinity onscreen
  • • Fictionalizing the Holocaust and anti-Semitism (e.g., Jojo Rabbit, Hunters)
  • • Experiences of Jewishness and queerness
  • • Class warfare and Jewish identity • Depictions of faith and religious ritual in popular media
  • • The Israeli-Palestinian conflict in American media (e.g., Our Boys, The Spy)
  • • Shifting aesthetic representations of Jewish trauma and memory
  • • New understandings of the Jewish immigrant experience
  • • Early images of Jewish life on stage and screen
  • • Subversive Jewish comedy and performance in popular entertainment

Please submit a paper, abstract, or panel proposal (including the title of the presentation) to the “Jewish Studies” area on the MPCA/ACA submissions website (http://submissions.mpcaaca.org)

Individuals may only submit one paper.

Please do not submit the same paper to more than one area.

The submission deadline is April 30, 2020.

Please include the name, affiliation, and e-mail address of each author. A preliminary version of the conference schedule will be posted on our website around August 2020.

Message from Association for Jewish Studies

In these unexpectedly difficult and challenging times, we remain committed to supporting Jewish Studies scholars. In this message, you'll find online classroom and educational resources shared by your fellow AJS members, new and ongoing professional development opportunities, and a statement endorsed by the AJS regarding higher education faculty.

Online Classroom & Educational Resources

Instructional Guides

Online Resources

AJS 52nd Annual Conference
December 13-15, 2020 ● Washington, DC

Call for Papers
Deadline: Thursday, April 30, 2020

We are seeking proposals for individual papers, panels, seminars, roundtables, lightning sessions, and performance/scholarship in 23 divisions. 

Renew your Membership

Before you begin the submission process, please renew your membership. We require that all participants be current AJS members to submit a proposal. Renew your membership now.

Conference registration now open:
Register for the Conference, and book hotel and meals now.

Upcoming Chicago events

The lecture with Brett Kaufman has been postponed. 

Brett Kaufman, Archeology of Israel and Jerusalem

Date Apr 19, 2020
Time 9:30 am - 11:00 am
Location Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue, 1224 Dempster, Evanston, Il 60202
Registration Registration
Sponsor Program in Jewish Culture & Society, Beth Emet: The Free Synagogue

Recent archaeological discoveries across Israel and the Near East have resulted in a greater understanding of the Bronze and Iron Ages in the region. Archaeological remains dating to these periods provide the backdrop for the biblical histories, in some cases confirming specific events, at other times leading scholars to question received wisdom. Dr. Kaufman will review some of the major debates within the field as well as present some of his ongoing research.


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