6th Annual Jewish University For A Day


This program is made possible by a generous grant from the Skolnick Family Charitable Trust 


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Registration | Additional Information | Faculty Bios 


Study with scholars who are enriching the landscape of contemporary Judaism. 

Sunday, April 23, 2017

9:00am - 5:30pm

(Registration and a light breakfast begin at 8:30 am)

 Book Signing and Sale!

Authors will be signing books during lunch and books will be available for sale throughout the day!

Charles B. Wang Center - Stony Brook University 

 Pre-registration is $54, $50 for Seniors, if you sign-up on line by April 19th. After that, registration is $60 for all including seniors.  Registration will remain free for full-time Stony Brook University and JTS students. 






Main Plenary:


“The Six Day War 50 Years Later”

David Makovsky

Ziegler Distinguished Fellow, Washington Institute for Near East Policy

Yossi Klein Halevi

Author, Like Dreamers: The Story of Israeli Paratroopers Who Reunited Jerusalem and Divided a Nation


Additional Plenary:


"Jews of Color"

Rabbi Capers Shmuel Funnye, Jr. - Spiritual leader of Beth Shalom B'nai Zaken in Chicago, one of the largest black congregations in the country. Rabbi Funnye will discuss his congregation, his cousins the Obamas, and his role as an emissary to Jews of color all over the world.

Interviewer/Moderator: Dr. Marci Lobel, Professor of Psychology, Stony Brook University.




"As If the Jews Had No Lord: Reflections on the Political and Theological Security of the Jewish People"

Dr. Benjamin Gampel, Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History, The Jewish Theological Seminary

The most devastating attacks on the Jews of medieval Christian Europe took place in the kingdoms of Castile and Aragon during ten months from June 1391 to April 1392, and left a trail of deaths, forced conversions, and communal destruction.  While the rulers of these kingdoms believed it their mandate to protect the Jews, they did not see the Jews’ safety as their highest priority.  That the safety of a minority people cannot be assured is not simply a banality of Jewish history, but a truth about the fate of all people and of all groups whose security is dependent on others.


“From Mishnah to Microsoft”

Dr. Jonathan Milgram, Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, The Jewish Theological Seminary

In antiquity, Talmudic texts were memorized and transmitted orally by Jewish sages. In the medieval period, these same texts were copied by scribes on parchment. For 500 years, printing was the dominant method of transmission. Today, members of the Talmud faculty of JTS have pioneered creating databases to preserve and transmit these texts in the prevalent medium of our age, computerization. Dr. Milgram will explore the encounters between the holy texts of ancient Judaism and the history of technological change.


"Bob Dylan's Judaism"

Seth Rogovoy, Author of "Bob Dylan: Prophet, Mystic, Poet"

In “The Kabbalah of Bob Dylan,” author Seth Rogovoy explores the Jewish influences on Bob Dylan’s life and music.  Along the way, the program examines the Nobel Prize-winner’s deeply religious and cultural upbringing, his commitment to Jewish practice and causes, and his decades-long connection to the Orthodox Jewish outreach group Chabad. 


“What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life”

Rabbi Mychal Springer, Director of the Center for Pastoral Education and the Helen Fried Kirshblum Goldstein Chair in Professional and Pastoral Skills, The Jewish Theological Seminary

What Matters: Caring Conversations About End of Life is a new advance care planning initiative which enables individuals in the Jewish community to think about, plan for, and take steps to ensure that when the time comes, their end-of-life wishes will be respected and honored. Rabbi Springer will lead a conversation around some of the core ideas in this program and discuss some of the Jewish values we can engage with as part of this important process.


"Handwriting on The Wall: The Curious Tradition of Graffiti on the Kotel Ha-Ma’aravi"

David Wachtel, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Centuries before anyone ever thought of placing a prayer-filled note within the crevices of the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Jews who visited this sacred site had other means of marking their presence. These included a variety of actions that we would consider unthinkable today, but were common in years past. They included chiseling in the wall, writing and painting upon it, and even driving nails into it. Come and explore the evolution of these unusual practices.


"Between Hospitality and Hostility: Jewish Responses to the Global Refugee Crisis"

Rabbi Daniel Nevins, The Jewish Theological Seminary

Over the course of our long history, Jews have been both refugees and refuges for others in need of help. While the Torah exhorts us to “love the strangers,” we are aware that things are not always so simple. Tensions between Jewish immigrant and resident communities have frequently been noted, from North Africa after the Spanish expulsion, to Manhattan as German Jews reacted to the arrival of their Eastern cousins, to Israel, where each generation of immigrants has had to prevail upon the recently established establishment. What does our own history have to offer America as our nation convulses over issues of “law and order” versus compassion and appreciation for the gifts brought by strangers?


"Why King Solomon Was Not Very Wise"

Allan Sloan

Noted Washington Post business columnist and frequent public radio contributor Allan Sloan analyzes the most interesting business deals in the Bible, from the prism of today’s free market and regulatory environment. A fresh and provocative look at the Bible’s wheelers and dealers.


"Judaism and the Afterlife"

Rabbi Stephen Karol, Rabbi Emeritus, Temple Isaiah (session 3)

Dr. David Kraemer, The Jewish Theological Seminary (session 4)

What should contemporary Jews know and more importantly believe about what Judaism teaches regarding reward and punishment, heaven and hell, ghosts, and the afterlife?  Come find out in this course which will survey Jewish thinking on these topics.


"Dark Mirror: The Medieval Origins of Anti-Jewish Iconography"

Dr. Sara Lipton, Stony Brook University

In this course we will examine the origins and subsequent elaboration of medieval anti-Jewish imagery.  Surveying a wide range of objects, from luxuriously illuminated manuscripts to bejeweled altarpieces, created over the course of five hundred years in seven different countries, we explore when, how, and why Christian art came to associate Jews with an unprecedented set of incriminating characteristics.  I argue that anti-Jewish visual stereotypes were neither an inevitable outgrowth of Christian theology nor a simple reflection of medieval prejudices.  The image of the Jew in medieval art was not a portrait of actual neighbors or even imagined others, but a cloudy glass into which Christendom gazed to find a distorted reflection of itself.


"Collecting Judaica: Jewish History in Your Hands"

Dr. Ira Rezak, Stony Brook University

This session will explore the collection of Judaica such as religious articles, ethnographic materials, historic mementos, personal keepsakes, memorabilia and souvenirs (aka Tchotchkes) of all sorts. By examining actual artifacts and pictorial visual aids we will direct our attention to the character and range of such categories and on their significance for Jews past and present. We may also try to keep in mind the potential personal, familial and religious resonances of these remnants of Jewish material culture.


“We Knew:  The American Press and the Holocaust”

Ron Hollander

“JEWS SLAIN TOTAL 200,000.”  This headline across the front page of The Seattle Daily Times early in 1942 is part of the evidence that the American public had ample opportunity to know of the Holocaust even as it unfolded.  Drawing on archival newspapers and contemporary news accounts, this course examines what the U.S. press reported and when, and whether the public believed what it read and why.