News & Events

The Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies
University of Delaware

 Spring 2012 Lecture Series: “Jews and Diversity”
Wednesdays 12:20 – 1:10 p.m. – Room 204 Ewing Hall

Feb  8: Orientation

Feb 15: Jay Halio
What is Jewish American Literature and Why Should We Read It?

Feb 22: Ted Merwin
When Harry Met Sally: the Deli in Pop Culture

Feb 29: Rebecca Winer
Dwelling Together, Living Apart:  Jewish, Christian and Muslim Women in Medieval Perpignan

Mar 7: Robert Gillette
The Virginia Plan: William B. Thalhimer and a Rescue from Nazi Germany

Mar 14: Steve Gonzer
Tell The World: Preserving Local Holocaust Eyewitness Testimony

Mar 21: Diane Isaacs
Memoir and the Holocaust: How to tell the story


Apr 4: Stanley Weintraub
Lionel and Charlotte Rothschild & Victorian England

Apr 11: Onn Halfon
Who is the Israeli?

Apr 18: Meredith Scott
French Jewish Activism and the Refugee Crisis of the 1930s:  A Local Perspective

Apr 25: Cathy Matson
Global Connections: The Jews of Smyrna and Anglo-American Trade in the 1700s

May 2:  Alan Iser
Kill the Best of the Gentiles: Attitudes Towards Gentiles in the Talmud

May 9: James Brophy
Jews into Germans?  Jewish Culture and Assimilation, 1770-1914

  • This course, JWST 201--Issues and Ideas in Jewish Studies--may be taken for 1 credit


(These lectures are open to the public at no charge)


Center for Jewish Studies                                                                                  Phone: 302-831-3324
30 W. Delaware Avenue                                                                                     Fax: 302-831-0107
Newark, DE 19716                                                                                            E-Mail:




Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies, University of Delaware
Spring 2010 Lecture Series:

Problems in Jewish History

Talks will take place in Gore Hall 104, on Wednesdays from 12:20-1:10. Please contact for details.

February 17:  Beth Wenger, “Narrating American Jewish History”
Dr. Wenger is an Associate Professor of History and Director of the Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania. Her talk will address the challenge of writing the companion volume to the PBS documentary, The Jewish Americans.

Please Note: In preparation for Dr. Wenger’s talk, CJS will show selections from The Jewish Americans on Monday, February 15 from 7:30-9:30 PM in Memorial Hall 127.

March 3:  JT Waldman, “A History of Judaism through Comix”
JT Waldman is the illustrator and author of Megillat Esther (2005), a graphic novel adaptation of the Book of Esther.  This novel was the focus of a recent exhibition at the Jewish Museum of Maryland and it will be showcased at the Yeshiva University Museum in NYC from February-August 2010.

March 10:      Robert Weinberg, “Stalin's Forgotten Zion: Birobidzhan and the Soviet
Jewish Homeland”
Dr. Weinberg is a Professor of History at Swarthmore College. 

March 17:       Andrew Berns, “Abraham Portaleone (1542-1612) and His Christian Correspondents: An Episode in the History of Jewish-Christian Relations in Renaissance Italy”
Mr. Berns is a PhD candidate in History at the University of Pennsylvania.

March 24:      Ken Moss, “Nationhood, ‘Secular’ Modernity, and the Idea of Jewish Culture”
Dr. Moss is an Assistant Professor of History at Johns Hopkins University.

April 7:            Isabel deKoninck, “Beyond the Gender Binary: An exploration of Jewish encounters with gender since Emancipation”
Ms. deKoninck is a rabbinical student at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College.

April 14:          Theodore Lewis, “Magic in Ancient Israel? Incantations in the Hebrew Bible and Archaeology”
Dr. Lewis is the Blum-Iwry Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Johns Hopkins                      University.

April 21:          Vera Moreen, “The Book of Esther in the Artistic and Literary Imagination of
Dr. Moreen is an Associate Editor of the forthcoming Encyclopedia of Jews in the Islamic World (Brill, forthcoming).

April 28:          Bryan Schwartzman, “Kaddish for the Front Page? Dispatches from a Jewish
Newspaper in the Digital Age”
Mr. Schwartzman is a staff writer for The Jewish Exponent.

May 5:              Lila Corwin Berman, “A Jewish Marilyn Monroe: How American Jews
Talked about Intermarriage, Conversion, and Themselves”
Dr. Berman is an Associate Professor of History and the Murray Friedman Professor and Director of Feinstein Center for American Jewish History at Temple University.


Jewish Studies Speakers Series
Spring, 2009
Room 220, Smith Hall
Tuesdays 12:30 - 1:45 pm

February 10
Daisy Braverman
University of Pennsylvania
"Ladino: An Overview of the Language and Culture of Eastern Sephardim"

February 17
Joel Hecker
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
"Die Another Day: Madonna, The Kabbalah Center and the Question of Authenticity in the Study of Jewish Mysticism"

February 24
David Shyovitz
University of Pennsylvania
"Science, Magic, and the Occult: Attitudes Toward Nature in Medieval Jewish Culture"

March 3
Aaron Koller
Yeshiva University
"Languages, Linguistic Ideologies, and Self Perception in Ancient Judaism"

March 10
Judith Abrahamson
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
"Jewish Education: Vision and Reality"

March 17
Rabbi Eliezer Sneiderman
Chabad of Newark
"Free Will"

March 24
Josh Jeffers
University of Pennsylvania
"The Origins of Genesis 1, 5, and 7 - 9: Mesopotamian Literary Texts and Their Biblical Genesis"

March 31
No Class. Spring Recess.

April 7
Matthew LaGrone
University of Delaware
"The Inhibition of Morris Joseph: How English Jews Dealt With Heresy"

April 14
No Class. Pesach (Passover).

April 21
Stuart Kaufman
University of Delaware
"Causes of the Al Aqsa Intifada"

April 28
Riva Brown
Master Hand Calligrapher and Water Color Painter and Owner of Living Letters Studio, Wilmington, DE
"New World ... Old Skills: A Calligrapher in the Modern Jewish Community"

May 5
Stephen Kim
University of Pennsylvania
"Eye for an Eye in the Bible"

May 12
Chava Weissler
Lehigh University
Topic To Be Announced

May 19
Danielle Lefebvre
University of Toronto
"Jew-Bu, Bu-Jew, and Buddhism: The Synthesis of Judaism and Buddhism in Contemporary North American Culture"


Ilene Bloom has been selected as the first recipient of the Vivian Klaff Memorial Award. The award goes to a student who has demonstrated a commitment to and excellence in Jewish Studies, and is in memory of Dr. Klaff who long served the Jewish Studies program as its director.

Ilene is graduating this Spring with a major in Communications and minors in Jewish Studies and Leadership. Next year she will be participating in the OTZMA program in Israel which is a service-based leadership development program. The award carries a $500 cash prize.


On Monday, April 14th there will be two separate events concerning Jewish-Muslim relations.

The first will take place at 6 p.m. in Memorial Hall. (Room to be determined) The topic is “Brotherhood of Abraham: Islam as an Humanitarian Faith.” Josh Snyder, the Hillel Rabbinic Intern, and Rizwan Khalid, graduate student in Physics and Muslim Student Association member, will teach about the basic beliefs, practices, and sacred texts of Islam. They have been studying each other's religions together during the semester. All are encouraged to attend. Refreshments will be provided, Q & A will follow.

The second event takes place from 7-9 p.m. in which an Imam and a Rabbi will speak on Muslim-Jewish relations. The speakers are Imam Muhammad Magid, the Vice President of the Islamic Society of North America and Rabbi David Kalender, Senior Rabbi of the Olam Tikvah congregation in Fairfax, VA. The event will take place at Purnell 115.


Jewish Studies Speakers Series
Spring, 2008
Room 220 Smith Hall
12:30 to 1:45

February 12
Rela Geffen
Baltimore Hebrew University
"Kehillah: Maintaining Jewish Identity in the Open Society"

February 19
Rabbi Avraham Reisner
Congregation Chevrei Tzedek, Baltimore, MD
"Tikum Olam: Conservative Judaism Facing the Challenge of Living a Holy Life"

February 26
Michael Cohen
Brandeis University
"How Solomon Schechter's Students Created Conservative Judaism"

March 4
Jordan Rosemblum
Brown University
"Jews, Pork and Identity: From Antiquity to Sen. George Allen"

March 11
Matthew Lagrone
University of Toronto
"The Creation of Conservative Judaism: The Kohut-Kohler Dispute"

March 18
Rebecca Klein-Pesjova
Columbia University
"Relocating Jewish Loyalty, Nationality, and Citizenship in Interwar Slovakia"

March 25
Elliot Ratzman
Swarthmore College
"From Socialism to Peter Singer: Messianic Politics and Radical Jewish Social Ethics"

April 8
Muqtedar Kahn, David Silver
University of Delaware
"Islam and Judaism"

April 15
Asaf Romirowski
Kings College, London
"The Relationship between Israel and the Palestinian Authority"

April 22
Rebecca Davis
University of Delaware
"Family First: How American Jews Put Marriage in its Place

Wednesday, April 30
Laura Levitt
Temple University
"American Jewish Loss After the Holocaust"
*** This talk will be held from 12:20 to 1:10 in Room 116 Gore Hall.
Co-Sponsored with the Race, Ethnicity, and Culture Lecture Series

May 6
Monkia Shafi
University of Delaware
"A Biographical Portrait of the German-Jewish Poet, Gertrud Kolmar"
*** This presentation will begin at 12:45

May 13
Julie Nemeth
University of Delaware
"Jewish Women's Psychological Well-Being: Attachment, Separation, and Jewish Identity"


UD to add to Jewish offerings
New courses to cover law, culture, religion, history

Choosing courses each semester to fulfill his Jewish Studies minor is often a challenge for University of Delaware sophomore Rotem Peretz.
It's not because there are too many classes to choose from - usually it's just the opposite.
"They don't really offer too much right now," Peretz, 19, said. "I think they maybe offer one or two Jewish Studies classes every semester, other than the Hebrew language itself."
Beginning next fall, Peretz and other students with an interest in the subject will have more options. The school's Frank and Yetta Chaiken Center for Jewish Studies program was awarded a two-year, $80,000 grant that will find a postdoctoral teaching fellowship dedicated to classes in Jewish history, religion, culture and law. Leaders of the Jewish Studies program are hoping more classes will lead to greater interest in the minor and enough support to create a permanent teaching position.
"Here's a way of providing Jewish students with a connection to their heritage. This is a way for Jewish students to be engaged in addition to Hillel, in addition to other student groups on campus," said David Silver, an associate professor of philosophy and director of UD's Jewish Studies program. "This is a way of meeting students intellectually."
The new faculty member will teach four courses a year and organize a lecture series that students take for academic credit. Currently, the program relies on faculty in other disciplines offering courses that relate to Jewish Studies.
"What the program really needs is someone who envisions him or herself a Jewish Studies scholar, who says, 'This is what I do,'" said Silver, who is in the process of reviewing applicants for the position, which begins in fall, 2008. "My interest as director is making sure we offer courses that appeal to a wide range of students."
During the grant application process, Silver said, he asked students about the types of courses they would like to see. They mentioned a wide range of topics, he said, but the consensus was mostly that they wanted to see more variety in the types of courses offered. Silver hopes there will be enough interest in the UD and Delaware Jewish communities to gain funding to continue the teaching position beyond the two-year grant.
The grant was awarded by the Foundation for Jewish Culture and the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation as part of a nation-wide initiative to improve and expand Jewish studies curriculum at the nation's colleges and universities. UD was one of six schools, including American University in Washington, D.C. and Towson University in Maryland, to be awarded funding.
"We're hoping to kind of make the argument for Jewish studies on campus and maybe down the line lead to raised awareness of Jewish studies and kind of ignite a spark at the school to help with fundraising efforts," said Paul Zakrzewski, director of the organizations' Jewish Studies Expansion Project and a program officer at the Foundation for Jewish Culture.
Zakrzewski said organizers were searching during the grant application process for colleges that already had significant Jewish populations and active Jewish student groups. But he said increasing the number and type of Jewish studies classes offered is directed at all students.
"If you look at Jewish studies today, the programs run the gamut. There are Jewish kids, there are non-Jewish kids and they're getting somewhat different things out of it but they are both very important," Zakrzewski said. "the Jewish kids are connecting to their roots a little bit and the non-Jewish kids are learning about Judaism."

-The News-Journal, December 27, 2007
Rachel Kipp


The Jewish Studies Program welcomes Professor Rebecca Davis as the newest member of our affiliated faculty. Professor Davis will join the History Department beginning in Fall, 2007 and will be periodically teaching courses in American Jewish History. We very much look forward to having her on campus.

The Jewish Studies Program is investigating the possibility of a study trip to Israel during Winter Session in 2009. Please contact the Jewish Studies Center at 302-831-3324 if you think you might be interested in participating.

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