High Holidays 5776/2015

4th Annual Jewish University For A Day



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

Sunday, March 22, 2015

9am - 5pm 

(Registration and breakfast begin at 8:30am)

Charles B. Wang Center - Stony Brook University 


Plenary Sessions:

'The U.S. Press and Israel: How Fair is the Coverage?'

Ethan Bronner - Managing Editor of International News, Bloomberg, Former Deputy Foreign Editor, New York Times
John Daniszewski - Senior Managing Editor for International News, Associated Press
Allen Alter - Producer, CBS News


'Jews and Evangelicals: An Uneasy Alliance'

Dr. Stephen Spector - Stony Brook University
Reverend Robert Stearns - Evangelical Leader
Dr. Yaacov Ariel - University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill


Workshop Topics:

'New Strategies for Predicting and Preventing Breast Cancer' - Dr. Lea Baer and Dr. Alison Stopek - Stony Brook Medicine

Breast cancer strikes tens of thousands of women every,year, a disproportionate number of whom are Ashkenazi Jews. Two leading researchers describe the latest developments in preventing the disease and mitigating an individual’s risk. Dr Alison Stopek, Associate Director for Translational Research, Stony Brook Cancer Center, and Dr. Lea Baer, Assistant Professor of Medicine.


'Independent Jewish States Before the State of Israel' - Rabbi Aaron Benson - North Shore Jewish Center

Throughout history and around the world there have existed or there have been attempts to create sovereign Jewish states.  Discover their history and how they shaped Jews and Judaism in ways big and small even into our own times.


'Marking Ourselves for God' - Rabbi Dr. Eliezer Diamond - The Jewish Theological Seminary

Judaism has much to say about the way in which we can and cannot mark our bodies.  On the one hand, traditional Jewish law does not permit tattoos, while on the other, Jewish men are commanded to be circumcised. How does the way in which we mark ourselves inform the relationship we have with our body and with God?  What are some of the unique forms of expression afforded to us through the marking of our bodies?  What are some of the alternative ways in which we are encouraged to mark ourselves under Jewish law?                 


'The Book Brigade: How Jews Rescued Jewish Cultural Treasures from the Nazis' - Dr. David Fishman - The Jewish Theological Seminary

In Vilna, “the Jerusalem of Lithuania,” a group of Jewish writers and intellectuals risked their lives to rescue Jewish books, manuscripts, and art from the Nazis. While working as slave laborers for the Nazis’ main looting agency, they “stole” Jewish cultural treasures, smuggled them into the ghetto, and hid them in underground cellars and bunkers. The few members of this group who survived the war returned to their city after its liberation, and led an operation to retrieve the treasures. Learn about this inspiring story of Jewish “spiritual resistance,” and reflect on what it means for us today.


'The Politics of Xenophobia, Anti-Semitism, and the Extreme Right in Europe:  Will it Grow?' - Dr. Gallya Lahav - Stony Brook University and Dr. R. Amy Elman -Kalamazoo College

This course will conduct a brief survey of the politics of the extreme-right in post-WWII Europe.  Considering historical, demographic, societal and political factors, we will examine some of the broad conditions and constraints relevant to the rise of the extreme-right in Europe today.  This includes the role of immigration, alienation, unemployment, ideological radicalization, globalization and Europeanization, identity politics, and diffuse public attitudes towards all religious minorities in secular Europe.


'Tel Aviv-Jaffa in Text and Image' - Dr. Barbara Mann - The Jewish Theological Seminary

What makes Tel Aviv a "Jewish space"?  This dynamic presentation uses images and modern Hebrew poetry to address this question and more about contemporary Israeli culture and identity.  Moving from historical photographs and paintings related to the city's founding in 1909, through the emergence of the Bauhaus (International) style architecture of the 1930's, and to current projects of gentrification in Jaffa, students will enter the imagined and actual urban space of this most Israeli of cities.  Material will consist of a short handout of excerpts in Hebrew and English, and powerpoint presentation of diverse illustrated images.


'Seeing the World Through the Eyes of a Kabbalist' - Rabbi Steven Moss - B'nai Israel Reform Temple

Rabbi Steven Moss will share some of the lessons Kabbalah teaches as to how we are to live our lives. He will also teach some meditations on the names of God.


'American Jews and the Shylock Syndrome' - Dr. Edna Nahshon - The Jewish Theological Seminary

Since the early years of the 19th century American Jews endeavored to combat the common perception of Shylock as the iconic Jew. They tried to destabilize the Shylock stereotype and to minimize what they regarded as the negative impact of The Merchant of Venice on their social and economic standing. They did so individually and collectively by deploying various strategies that included the positioning of bookish arguments, the composition of artistic re-renderings of the Shylock story, and the flexing of political and organizational muscle. We will examine these different strategies and together we will discuss where we stand today vis-à-vis this historically troublesome issue.  


'The Bible and the Quran: Perspectives on Religion from the Two Traditions' - Dr. Raymond P. Scheindlin - The Jewish Theological Seminary 

We will be examining the basic doctrines and rituals of Islam and comparing them to the doctrines and rituals of Judaism. We will take as our starting point a historical sketch of the origins of Islam and the life of Muhammad. Along the way, we will read a few passages from the Quran, the fundamental scripture of Islam.


'Whose Life is it Anyway? Biomedical Ethics and Jewish Law' - Rabbi Sharon Sobel - Temple Isaiah 

Modern medical advances have created many opportunities for us as individuals and many dilemmas for us as a society. Often, we find ourselves in the middle of a moral dilemma? How do we make decisions for ourselves and our loved ones based on what Judaism teaches? What happens when society and Judaism clash? We will examine these and other issues during our discussions.


'Quarantines and Ghettos: Disease, Disaster and Daily life in Premodern Europe' - Dr. Joshua Teplitsky - Stony Brook University

In this class we explore the relationship between Jews and one form of natural disaster: disease.  Reaching back to the eighteenth century, we will examine the different responses of Jews (and Christians) to the outbreak of disease-- as a health and safety concern, as a message from God, as a source of panic, violence, and death.  We will explore personal memoirs, prayers, and the practices of governments and regular people in coping with this endemic feature of human societies.


'When it Matters to the Military: Jewish Identification and Jewish Identity' - Rabbi Joseph Topek - Stony Brook University

Serving in the armed forces represents a nexus of Jewish and American identity.  When have Jews self identified and for what reasons, and when has the military identified them as Jews?  This will examine the development of formal religious identification of Jewish personnel by the U.S. military and its impact on Jewish soldiers, sailors, and airmen.


'The Writing on the Wall: Early Modern Broadsides from the Valmadonna Trust Library' - David Wachtel - The Jewish Theological Seminary

Originating almost as early as printing itself in the West, broadsides—single sheets of paper printed on only one side and posted where passers-by might read them—served as sources of public information in a time before newspapers. For Jews living within the confines of close-knit communities, these sheets were especially suited to pedagogical, devotional, or instructional uses as well as a distinctive mode of communicating governmental decrees emanating from non-Jewish authorities to the Jews who lived under their control. The texts of these often unique documents address many of the same issues of day-to-day life that consume our own thoughts: war, politics, religion, love, health, careers, and even the weather. We will view broadsides that date from the 16th through 20th centuries and hail from communities as far afield as Italy and India, Jerusalem and Vienna and discuss what they reveal about the time and places from which they originate.  







© 2014 Hillel at Stony Brook