5th Annual Jewish University For A Day



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

Sunday, April 10, 2016

9:00am - 5:30pm 

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

New TO JU: Book Signing and Sale!

Letty Cottin Pogrebin, Michael Kimmel, Arlene Alda, Kenneth Wald, Arie Kaplan and Alisa Solomon will be signing books during lunch and books will be available for sale throughout the day!

Charles B. Wang Center - Stony Brook University 

* Please note that pre-registration has now ended and admission is now $50 for ALL participants including seniors.  Registration will remain free for full-time Stony Brook University students. In addition, all those who registered after March 31 will be seated in an adjacent lecture hall to view a live streaming of the plenary session. *






“The Changing Roles of Jewish Men and Women”

Michael Kimmel - SUNY Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at Stony Brook University

Letty Cottin Pogrebin - Author, Activist, and Founder, Editor and Writer for Ms. Magazine  


Workshop Topics:

'Growing Up in the Bronx'  - Arlene Alda in Conversation with Howard Schneider, Dean, School of Journalism (who grew up in Brooklyn) 

Ogden Nash once famously wrote, “The Bronx? No Thonx.”  But the Bronx has served as a spawning ground for thousands of famous entertainers, scientists, athletes, journalists and entrepreneurs, including Carl Reiner, Jules Feiffer, Colin Powell, Mary Higgins Clark, Dion, Al Pacino, Neal deGrasse Tyson and scores of others.  Arlene Alda has interviewed them all.  She shares their touching and provocative coming-of-age memories, and her own, growing up in the Bronx with her Eastern European parents, sister, brother and fox terrier, all in a one bedroom apartment.  Share your own memories, as well, as you take a timeless journey along the Grand Concourse.  


'Finding God in our DNA?' -  Dr. Geoffrey Girnun, Stony Brook School of Medicine 

Often we are faced with the classic account of creation countered by the amazing complexity of biology and the “origins of the universe." Indeed, the physical and biological sciences are often viewed as counter to biblical tradition.  Stony Brook School of Medicine Professor Geoffrey Girnun will take us on a journey back 15 billion years ago in time, help us peer into the most basic building blocks of our existence, and examine both contemporary and ancient writings in an effort to fuse science and religious thought. His goal: develop a better understanding of how the origins of the universe, science and biblical thought can be unified and give us a deeper understanding of the universe, and our own faith.


'The Passover Seder and the Last Supper: Comparing Jewish and Christian Narratives on Passover'  - Rabbi Dr. Robert Harris, The Jewish Theological Seminary 
From the earliest stages of biblical commentary, through the Middle Ages and down to the present day, Jews and Christians have engaged in creative, if often polemical, discourse about the meaning of the Seder and the Passover narrative.  Through the examination of biblical and post-biblical texts, we will discover the processes that have shaped these respective liturgies and interpretative traditions


'From Krakow to Krypton: A History of Jews, Superheroes and Comics' - Arie Kaplan

You might not know it, but iconic superheroes like Superman, Batman, and Captain America were created by Jewish writers and cartoonists. In a revealing and entertaining session,  Arie Kaplan, a comic writer and book author, will talk about the socioeconomic reasons that Jews were such a big part of the comic book boom during the industry’s “Golden Age” (1938-1950). Clips will be shown from comic book-based movies like X-Men (2000), Superman (1978), and American Splendor (2003), as well as documentaries like Comic Book Confidential (1988) and Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked (2003). Kaplan also will describe researching the book From Krakow to Krypton: Jews and Comic Books. In the process, he interviewed Jewish comic book legends from Art Spiegelman to Stan Lee.      


'Conversion: Who is a Jew and Who Decides' - Rabbi Daniel Nevins, The Jewish Theological Seminary 
Becoming Jewish has been a complicated process since the days of Ruth, but recently the power dynamics in Israel have further convoluted matters. In this session we will study classical rabbinic texts about the conversion process, contemporary procedures, and the fraught politics of deciding who is a Jew, and who is a rabbi, in our day.


'The Iran Deal: Is Verification Possible? - Dr. Les Paldy, Stony Brook University with a panel of experts from Brookhaven National Laboratory 

The debate over the Iranian nuclear deal is over, at least for the moment.  Now with implementation underway, scrutiny turns from politics to the adequacy of the deal’s monitoring and verification provisions. How does the process work? Can it succeed?  How easy will it be to cheat? A panel of experts—headed by Stony Brook Professor Les Paldy, who was a member of the U.S. Delegation to the Nuclear Testing Talks with the Soviet Union--- will provide an assessment.


'Merchants, Mah Jongg & Menorahs: A History of the Jews of Long Island' - Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, The Jewish Theological Seminary

When did Jews first settle on Long Island, and why did this area succeed in providing fertile ground for a robust Jewish communal life? Join us as we trace the route travelled by the earliest settlers, explore the evolving nature of LI Jewry in the 20th century, and reflect on the current reality. 


'Fiddler on the Roof:The Untold Story & Legacy of a Broadway Classic' - Alisa Solomon, Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism 

Its songs have been incorporated into sacred ceremonies and sampled into hip-hop hits. It has inspired religious conversion, secular satire and political symbolism. It has been lauded as one of the most finely wrought works for the Broadway stage and treated as an authentic historical document. Columbia University Professor Alisa Solomon, author of 'Wonder of Wonders,' traces how and why the story of Tevye the milkman—the creation of the great Yiddish writer Sholem-Aleichem—became a blockbuster entertainment and a universal cultural touchstone.  Along the way, she also reveals some surprising backstage stories about Zero Mostel, Jerome Robbins and the debate whether to cut the show's most famous song. 


'The Puzzling Politics of American Jewry: Why Do Jews Vote the Way They Do?' -  Professor Kenneth Wald, University of Florida

Why have Jewish voters continued to support more liberal, Democratic candidates and will they do so again in the wake of the bitter disagreement over President Obama's nuclear agreement with Iran? Why has there been widespread distrust of Obama by many in the Jewish community even while he carried the Jewish vote in 2008 and 2012? Why do Jewish voting patterns often seem to contradict their economic self-interest? One of the nation's top experts on the Jewish vote, Professor Kenneth Wald of the University Florida, will examine these questions and more in a conversation with James Klurfeld, the former editorial page editor of Newsday and a professor at Stony Brook's School of Journalism.


'A Treasure Trove of Rare Jewish Books' - David Wachtel, The Jewish Theological Seminary 
David Wachtel will share the fascinating stories behind some of the most magnificent objects he has worked with over the past quarter century. Featuring material from the Rare Book Room of JTS and some of the most important Judaica auctions of past decades, David will introduce you to his "favorites," some of the most outstanding Jewish books and manuscripts ever created.







© 2014 Hillel at Stony Brook