Jewish Studies Program Events

Fall events to be announced. 

The Holocaust Living History Workshop Events

All events are free and open to the public. Unless otherwise noted, they are held in the Geisel Library’s Seuss room and start at 5 pm. Refreshments provided. The Holocaust Living History Workshop is an education and outreach program supported by the UC Sand Diego Library and Jewish Studies.

May 30: Against all Odds: Born in Mauthausen – with Eva Clarke (HLHW)
What does it mean to be born in a concentration camp, arguably one of the most inhospitable places on earth? Eva Clarke was one of three “miracle babies” who saw the light of day in KZ Mauthausen in Austria. Nine days after her birth, the Second World War ended. As a newborn, Eva’s chances of survival were extremely slim. Against all odds, she lived, making her and her mother Anka the only survivors of their extended family. In 1948, they emigrated from Prague to the UK and settled in Cardiff. Nowadays, Eva regularly talks to audiences, and her remarkable story has been featured in the British and American media. She and her mother are among the protagonists of Wendy Holden’s bookBorn Survivors: Three Young Mothers and their Extraordinary Story of Courage, Defiance, and Hope (Harper, 2015).

Previous Events

May 3, 2018: Ruby Namdar, "Living in English, Writing in Hebrew: An Israeli Author's Journey Through the American Experience"
11:00 a.m. at Hojel Auditorium, Institute of the Americas.
Event is co-sponsored by the Murray Galinson San Diego Israel Initiative.
Details TBA

April 24, 2018: Helen Philon, "Cultural Encounters: The Innovative Islamic Architecture of the Deccan"
4:00 p.m. at The Village, 15A
The buildings erected in the Deccan region of India belonged to a number of pre-Mughal kingdoms that reigned in the Deccan from the middle of the 14th century onwards. The monuments testify to a culture where local and imported ideas, vernacular and pan-Islamic traditions fused and re-interpreted, to create a majestic architectural heritage with exceptional buildings on the edge of the Islamic world. Many are still standing - yet outside this region of peninsular India, they remain largely unknown.
General publications on Indian Islamic architecture usually devote a single chapter to the Deccan. Even specialist monographs can only cover a portion of the region, due to the sheer number of sites. While it is impossible to encompass the full breadth of the subject in a single volume, this book aims to embrace the visual diversity of the Deccan without sacrificing the rigour of academic study. Structures of historical or architectural significance are placed in their context, as the authors discuss building typologies, civic facilities and ornamental techniques, from plaster and carved stone to glazed tiles and mural painting. A chapter is dedicated to each principal Deccan site, interweaving the rise and fall of these cities with a pictorial journey through their ruins, and each building is accompanied by an overhead plan view.

April 23, 2018: Michael Rothberg, "Inheritance Trouble: Migrant Archives of Holocaust Remembrance"
5:30 p.m. at the De Certeau Room, Room 155, Literature Department
How should we think about the transmission of Holocaust memory more than seventy years after the defeat of Nazi Germany? What lessons do the events of the Shoah bear for a moment in which far-right political movements are once again on the rise? In order to address such questions, Michael Rothberg considers immigrants’ engagement with the Holocaust in contemporary Germany. The works of art, literature, and performance that he will discuss model alternative ways of remembering the Nazi genocide in the twenty-first century and suggest possibilities for an ethically and politically engaged memory work.

April 17, 2018: Semyon Khanin, "Russian Poetry's Diaspora" with Kevin Platt
11:00 a.m. at Hojel Hall, Institute of the Americas
Bilingual and Multi-Medial: Presenting the “Orbita” group
For almost two decades, the Orbita multimedia art and poetry group has been active in Riga, Latvia. This is a unique endeavor in the literary and art world of Eastern Europe, that “leans forward” into the linguistic and cultural specificity of its time and place. In this presentation, we will discuss the cultural situation of bilingualism in present-day Latvia and the role of Russian there as a “big language” that has been cast as a minority language and the medium of a “minor literature.” Topics will include: “Russian poets” in Latvia and Russian poetry by Latvian poets; Orbita’s situation of double marginalization (“a colossus on two chairs”); technical strategies for the creative use of bilingualism (bilingual readings, bilingual books); multi-media strategies: text+photo, text+music, text+video, text+modern art. Examples will include: Sonnet from Laputa (Venice Art Biennale); the book Afloat; 3-dimensional poetry; the “FM Slow Show” performance; urban interventions including the map of city corners and pirate poetry radio broadcasting; and others. 

April 13, 2018: Gabriella Safran, "Research Methods in East European Jewish Studies"
12:00 p.m. at the Humanities and Social Sciences, Room 1054 (Invitation Only)

This paper - which will be precirculated - works to reexamine some foundational texts in Eastern European Jewish folkloristics from the methodological perspective of sound studies.

April 12, 2018: Katzin Lecture - Gabriella Safran, "Did Jewish Jokes Immigrate? Late Nineteenth-Century Yiddish Dictionaries and Jewish Dialect Humor in Russia and the United States"
7:00 p.m. wine and dessert, 7:15 p.m. lecture at the Faculty Club

Today in the United States, Jews are associated with jokes - but that was not the case always or everywhere. It appears that Jews started to appear especially humorous in Europe in the late 19th century, and only afterwards they began to seem humorous in North America. This talk explores the trans-Atlantic roots of Jewish humor.

April 5, 2018: Gershon Shafir, "Occupational Hazards: Israel in the West Bank" with Rabbi Philip Graubart
5:00 p.m. at the Faculty Club Library
This talk raises the two burning questions in the wake of the 50th anniversary of the 1967 War. First, “Is the presence of Israel’s military and settlers in the West Bank an occupation?” The search for an answer leads us to both international and domestic legal conundrums and the everyday life experience of Palestinian inhabitants. Second, by focusing on issues of demography, geography, and internal diversity, I inquire “Is the Israeli settlement enterprise reversible?”

February 20, 2018: Eddy Portnoy, "The Strange Stories of Yiddishland: What the Yiddish Press Reveals about the Jews?"
5:00 p.m. at the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club Library 

An underground history of downwardly mobile Jews, Eddy Portnoy's new book, "Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press," mines century old Yiddish newspapers to expose the seamy underbelly of pre-WWII New York and Warsaw, the two major centers of Yiddish culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One part Isaac Bashevis Singer, one part Jerry Springer, this irreverent, unvarnished, and frequently hilarious compendium of stories provides a window into an unknown Yiddish world that was.

February 22, 2018: Gideon Avni, "The Archaeology of Religious Interaction in Late Antique Palestine - Jews, Christians and Moslems"
4:00 p.m. at the Dolores Huerta Phillip Vera Cruz Room (Old Student Center)
The seventh century CE has witnessed one of the most dramatic changes in global history: the collapse of the Byzantine and Sassanian Empires and the rise of a new political and religious entity, the Arab Muslim Caliphate.  This event marks also a significant milestone in the life of Jewish and Christian communities in the Near East.
In the light of this constitutive event, the lecture addresses the Interaction between Jewish, Christian and Muslim communities, based on a plethora of recent archaeological discoveries related to Byzantine and Early Islamic Palestine. Particularly significant is the evidence of renewal and expansion of Jewish communities under Muslim rule, including the re-establishment of Jewish presence in Jerusalem after 500 years of Pagan and Christian rule on the city.   
The archaeological findings highlight some longue duree aspects in the religious interactions and change between Jewish and Christian communities, and address some methodological issues concerning  the identification of religious change through archaeological material.

March 8, 2018: Linor Goralik, "The Migrating Writer: A Russia-Israel-Ukraine Circuit" with Ainsley Morse
11:00 a.m. at the Ledden Auditorium
Details TBA

March 13, 2018: Marci Shore, "The Ukrainian Night"
11:00 a.m. at the Ledden Auditorium
“This is a civilization that needs metaphysics,” Adam Michnik told Václav Havel in 2003.  A decade later, on 21 November 2013, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych unexpectedly reversed the course of his own stated foreign policy and declined to sign an association agreement with the European Union. Around 8 p.m. that day a thirty-two year-old Afghan-Ukrainian journalist, Mustafa Nayem, posted a note on his Facebook page: “Come on, let’s get serious. Who is ready to go out to the Maidan”—Kiev’s central square—“by midnight tonight? ‘Likes’ don’t count.” No one then knew that “likes don’t count”—a sentence that would have made no sense before Facebook—would bring about the return to metaphysics to Eastern Europe. The months that followed saw an unprecedented overcoming of hitherto-existing boundaries: the Maidan brought together parents and children, workers and intellectuals, Ukrainian-speakers and Russian-speakers, Poles and Ukrainians, Christians and Jews. While the world watched (or did not watch) the uprising on the Maidan as an episode in geopolitics, those in Kiev during the winter of 2013–14 lived the revolution as an existential transformation: the blurring of night and day, the loss of a sense of time, the sudden disappearance of fear, the imperative to make choices.

January 29, 2018: Tony Michels, "The East Side Jew that Conquered Europe: Leon Trotsky in America"
5:00 p.m. at the Ida and Cecil Green Faculty Club Library 

In early 1917, Leon Trotsky burst onto the New York scene as a forceful, uncompromising proponent of revolutionary socialism. He propagated ideas and advanced political positions that radicalized the city’s immigrant Jewish community and the political left in which they predominated.  Ten weeks after Trotsky’s arrival, he returned to Russia and eventually rose to the upper echelon of the Soviet government.  His stay in America was brief, but Trotsky made a lasting impact.  In the eyes of many immigrant Jews, Trotsky—the leader of the victorious Red Army—was a hero:  an intellectual genius and world revolutionary, a man of both ideas and action, a Russian by cultural attainment but still a Jew in some essential sense.  Many other Americans, however, viewed Trotsky as a dangerous subversive:  the foremost leader of an international Jewish conspiracy.  Considered positively or negatively, Trotsky could not be easily ignored.  He seemed to personify the revolution.

January 30, 2018: Tony Michels, "The Russian Revolution and the American Left: A Long View from the Twenty-First Century"
12:00 p.m. at the Humanities and Social Sciences, Room 3027 (Invitation Only)

The Russian Revolution inspired visions of equality and justice in the minds of nearly all Americans who called themselves socialists in 1917.  Over subsequent decades, however, the revolution became a source of nearly constant conflict on the American left:  a hopeful example of revolutionary possibility for some, a reminder of the horrific damage wrought by grand programs for others, and, for still others, some ambiguous combination of the two. One hundred years after the fact, it is an opportune moment to ask, what were the Russian Revolution’s legacies and how have they affected the American left?  

Jan. 17: The Holocaust Litigations: Defining Guilt, Extracting Reparations – with William Lerach (HLHW)
Eliminationist antisemitism may have been the main reason behind the Nazis’ lethal assault on European Jews, but there was also a profit motive: for some, the Holocaust was an opportunity for economic exploitation. This is the story of a small band of American lawyers who, 50 years after the fact, exposed the widespread complicity of major Swiss banks and multi-national German corporations in the Holocaust. Among the lawyers involved in this long-overdue attempt at Wiedergutmachung was William Lerach, a leading securities lawyer in the US. In this lecture, Lerach discusses the litigations that recovered stolen property worth several billion dollars. A member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, Lerach is the recipient of the prestigious Legacy Laureate award from the University of Pittsburgh. Patrick Patterson, a professor of history at UC San Diego, will provide an introduction and comments.

Oct. 10: Jewish Film Festival Premiere of Saving Neta, Directed by Nir Bergman (JSP)
Sponsored by The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative
Followed by Q&A with Nir Bergman
7:00pm at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Garfield Theatre
$15.25 Ticket Price; Students and Faculty Free with UCSD I.D.
Purchase tickets here

Oct. 17: Nir Bergman at UC San Diego (JSP)
Sponsored by The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative

Campus-wide event, no charge
6:00pm at UC San Diego's Faculty Club, Atkinson Pavilion
RSVP: Please contact Mitchell Price at or 760.730.2401

Oct. 31: Yossi Sucary (JSP)
Sponsored by The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative
Class lecture, limited seating open to other UCSD students by RSVP approval only:
11:00am-12:20pm at UC San Diego, Pepper Canyon Hall (PCYNH) 109

Nov. 1: Israel's Changing Attitude to the Lost Story of the Holocaust of North African Jews - with Yossi Sucary (JSP)
Sponsored by Beth El's Israel Committee and The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative
6:00pm at Congregation Beth El

Nov. 2: What Muslims and Jews Need From Each Other with Yossi Klein Halevi (JSP)
Time: 3:00 - 5:00pm
Location: Cross-Cultural Center - Communidad Room

Nov. 3: Yehuda Amichai, “National” Poet in Translation by Sheera Talpaz (JSP)
Although critics have long hailed Haim Nahman Bialik (1873-1934) as the national poet (of, variously, the Jewish people, Israel, and modern Hebrew), some have also described poets of later generations, including Yehuda Amichai (1924-2000), as Israel’s “national” poet. In this presentation, I argue that Amichai’s status as “the most widely translated Hebrew poet since King David” has positioned him as a “national” poet primarily outside of Israel. The recent eruption of a small  ontroversy surrounding the poet’s literary status sheds light upon the ways scholars conceptualize the term “national poet,” as well as the role that translation plays in influencing reception.
12:00pm at the UC San Diego, Literature Building, Room 310

Nov. 15: San Diego Jewish Film Festival Featuring "In Between" with David Ofek (JSP)
Presented in partnership with The Murray Galinson San Diego-Israel Initiative
Save the date for a special screening of "In Between", a new film by one of the leading filmmakers in Israel, and current Visiting Israeli Artist at San Diego State University, David Ofek. After graduating from the Sam Spiegel Film & Television School in Jerusalem, Ofek continued devoting his talent and energy to creating films that depict unique Israeli scenes and dilemmas. Featured at over 80 international film festivals, Ofek is known for his unique ability to draw a fine line between documentary and drama, presenting the complex picture of Israeli reality. 
7:00pm at the Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center Garfield Theatre
Price: $15.25; JCC Member Price: $13.25; UCSD Students and Faculty Price: Free (with valid ID) 
Box Office: (858) 362-1348
Purchase tickets here

Nov. 15: Tales Retold: Holocaust Survivors on Schindler’s List - with Jeffrey Shandler (HLHW)

Sponsored by Daniel and Phyllis Epstein 

How are Holocaust survivors’ life stories informed by other narratives with which they are familiar? Among the thousands of interviews conducted by the Shoah Foundation Institute’s Visual History Archive between 1994 and 1999, there are dozens in which survivors discuss Schindler’s List, the actual rescue list as well as Steven Spielberg’s popular feature film of 1993. In the course of relating their life histories, survivors mention the film both in regards to their own story of survival and as they reflect on the differences between experience of the past and its narration. Jeffrey Shandler is a professor in the department of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University and a leading authority on Jewish culture past and present. His works include the groundbreaking monograph While America Watches: Televising the Holocaust; Jews, God, and Videotape: Religion and Media in America; and, most recently, Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age: Survivors’ Stories and New Media Practices.