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Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program


Calendar of Events - Fall 2009

September 23, 2009
Jews from the Beginning, Americans in the End in the Nineteenth-Century West - Free Public Lecture

Shot of 19th century Los Angeles

THIS EVENT HAS CHANGED LOCATIONS! It will now be held in Jerome Richfield 315 at the same date and time.

Guest Speaker Karen S. Wilson, doctoral candidate in U.S. History at UCLA, curator for an Audrey National Center exhibition (2012) on the history of Jews in Los Angeles, will be delivering a free public lecture at CSUN. The topic is Jews from the Beginning, Americans in the End in the Nineteenth-Century West. Questions will be addressed such as: What was the role and the social position of Jews in the town of Los Angeles as it transitioned from being a Mexican town? How did they remain distinctive, and how did their particular identity begin a process that resulted in both marginalization and empowerment in the American West and beyond?

This lecture will take place at 12:30-1:45PM on Wednesday, September 23 in Jerome Richfield 315 on CSUN's campus. Limited seating available! Please contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu or (818) 677-4724 to RSVP or with any questions you have regarding this event.

September 29, 2009
“Increase and Multiply and Fill the Earth”: Reproduction, Jewish Population Decline, and Environmental Ethics - Free Public Lecture with RSVP

Overpopulation is a real and significant problem, but Jews represent only 0.2% of the world's population, and that number is declining through low reproductive rates, infertility problems, intermarriage, and assimilation. At this rate, within a generation or two there may be too few Jews to sustain the Jewish community and the Jewish tradition, especially the moderate and liberal forms of it. Thus despite the overpopulation problem, should Jews see it as a special duty to have at least three or four children?

Dr. Elliot Dorff

Dr. Elliot Dorff is a Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Judaism whose publications include over 150 articles on Jewish thought, law, and ethics, together with 12 books.

An internationally known philosopher and scholar of bioethics, Professor Dorff testified on behalf of the Jewish tradition on the subjects of human cloning and stem cell research before the President's National Bioethics Advisory Commission in 1997 and 1999. In 1999 and 2000 he was part of the Surgeon General's commission to draft a Call to Action for Responsible Sexual Behavior; and from 2000 to 2002 he served on the National Human Resources Protections Advisory Commission, charged with reviewing and revising the federal guidelines for protecting human subjects in research projects. He is currently working on a project on Judaism and genetics for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he is a member of that organization's Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion Advisory Committee.

This lecture will take place at 9:30-10:45AM on September 29 in the Whitsett Room (Sierra Hall 451) on CSUN's campus. Limited seating available! Please contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu or (818) 677-4724 to RSVP or with any questions you have regarding this event.

October 22, 2009
As Seen Through These Eyes - Free Film Screening with RSVP
Followed by a Q&A with filmmaker Hilary Helstein

This vividly and beautifully illustrated documentary juxtaposes historic newsreel footage of Nazi Europe with the drawings, paintings, plays, as well as interviews of artists who documented the genocide that they survived. Narrated by American poet laureate Maya Angelou, it offers a very different perspective on the rise of Hitler and showcases perspectives not typically heard. Suitable for teenagers and adults.

As Seen Through These Eyes

Poet Maya Angelou writes: “I know why the caged bird sings.” So does director Hilary Helstein, who has traveled the world over the past decade, compiling interviews with survivors who have given us something that history couldn’t; a journal of the Holocaust as seen through the eyes of the artist, through the eyes of people who by the very act of creating, rebelled and risked their lives by doing what they were forbidden to do.

As Maya Angelou narrates this powerful documentary, she reveals the story of a brave group of people who fought Hitler with the only weapons they had: charcoal, pencil stubs, shreds of paper and memories etched in their minds. These artists took their fate into their own hands to make a compelling statement about the human spirit, enduring against unimaginable odds.

7:00 PM on Thursday, October 22 (90 minute runtime)
Fallbrook Laemmle Theater
6731 Fallbrook Ave., West Hills, 91307

Co-sponsored by: Adat Ari El, Temple Ahavat Shalom, Temple Aliyah, Temple Kol Tikvah, Shomrei Torah Synagogue, and Valley Beth Shalom

Contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu or (818) 677-4724 to RSVP or with any questions you have regarding this event. In your RSVP request, please indicate if you are a member of one of the co-sponsoring synagogues (and which one).

October 29, 2009
UNDZERE KINDER (OUR CHILDREN) - Special Film Program with RSVP

Featuring a discussion with Professor Shimon Redlich, child survivor of the Holocaust and child actor in the film

This film, made in a Jewish orphanage near Lodz after the war, features the popular Yiddish comedians, Szymon Dzigan and Israel Shumakher, who survived the war in the Soviet Union, along with the surviving children, including Shimon Redlich. They present Sholem Aleichem’s Kasrilevke brent (Kasrilevke Is Burning), and the children get to perform, too. The film catches an amazing moment in history, as we witness the survival and continuation of the performative aspects of life through music, drama, and laughter. Suitable for teenagers and adults.

Shimon Redlich
Shimon Redlich

In 1945, after the end of World War II and the slaughter of the European Jews, some 250,000 Jewish survivors temporarily returned to Poland, where actors Shimon Dzigan and Yisroel Schumacher, director Natan Gross and producer Shaul Goskind teamed up to make Our Children. In this last Yiddish-language feature made in Poland, part docudrama, part melancholic comedy, famous Yiddish comedians Dzigan and Schumacher visit the Helanowek orphanage near the city of Lodz to perform for an audience of Jewish orphans who survived the Holocaust. Their theatrical performance, however well-intentioned, stirs up painful memories of recent events, but also offends the children by the sentimentalized and naïve depiction of wartime conditions. Having all lived through the reality of separation and loss, the children take over the stage, outdo the performers, and tell their stories…

The little actors in Our Children were all residents of the Helanowek orphanage, many of them the sole survivors of their families.

Shimon Redlich is Professor Emeritus of History at Ben-Gurion University in Israel. His Ph.D. is from New York University. He was born in 1935 in Lwów and survived the Holocaust in hiding in nearby Brzezany. After World War II he lived in Łódź from 1945 to 1950 and then immigrated to Israel in 1950. He has been at Ben-Gurion University since 1970, where he served as Director of the Rabb Center of Holocaust Studies. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of East European Jewry and the Holocaust, including the acclaimed book Together and Apart in Brzezany: Poles, Jews, and Ukrainians, 1919-1945 (2002).

6:00 PM on Thursday, October 29
Chaparral Hall 5124 Auditorium at CSUN
Admission by RSVP only

Presented by the CSU Northridge Provost’s Office and the Jewish Studies Program

Contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu or (818) 677-4724 to RSVP and receive your confirmation. Seating is very limited!

November 18, 2009
Jews in Uganda: Celebration, Survival, and Sustainability - Free Public Event with RSVP

JJ Keki

Joab Jonadav Keki, or "JJ," is one of the outstanding leaders of the Abayudaya and the neighboring community, and he is a very experienced speaker and musical performer. You may be familiar with his composing and singing skills on the latest Abayudaya CD, Lecha Dodi. His music has been honored by a Grammy nomination in Traditional World Music. JJ's work with the award-winning "Delicious Peace" interfaith coffee coop was written up in the Oprah Magazine, "Not Just A Cup but a Just Cup." He has been leader of the Abayudaya youth movement in the 70's, chairperson of the Abayudaya community in the 90's and early in this decade, elected chairperson of the subcounty council for several years starting in 2002 (population 30,000), and founder and leader of the Delicious Peace interfaith coffee coop in recent years. He was honored, along with Kulanu, with an award from Tufts University's Global Leadership Institute for his work on the coffee coop.

Also featured will be Professor Jeffrey Auerbach from the History Department at CSUN. Jeffrey Auerbach is the author of The Great Exhibition of 1851: A Nation on Display (Yale University Press, 1999) and co-editor (with Peter Hoffenberg) of Britain, the Empire, and the World at the Great Exhibition of 1851 (Ashgate, 2008). He was also a contributor to Empire Online (accessible through the CSUN Library), and founding World History Editor of History Compass, an e-journal for history. During the 2001-2 academic year, he coordinated a world history speaker series funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities under the title "Global Encounters." An occasional consultant for the History Channel and the BBC, Prof. Auerbach is currently writing a book about the British Empire. A complete listing of publications and papers may be found on his curriculum vitae.

Cantor Michael Stein

Additionally, music will be performed by Cantor Michael Stein of Temple Aliyah. Michael Stein has performed in a Broadway Musical, released an album entitled Shabbat in Swing Time, and has received acclaim for his innovative Shabbat services at Temple Aliyah.

Co-Sponsored by CSUN Distinguished Visiting Speaker’s Program, College of Humanities, History Department; Temple Ramat Zion, and the Global Village Forum

This event has two programs and will take place at 12:30-1:45 PM and 2:00-3:15 PM on Wednesday, November 18 in the Flintridge Room at the University Student Union on CSUN's campus. Please contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu with any questions or to RSVP for the event.

December 1, 2009
"Reflections on Spirituality and Nature in the Teachings of Abraham Joshua Heschel" - Rabbi Ed Feinstein, Valley Beth Shalom - Free Public Lecture with RSVP

Rabbi Ed Feinstein

Abraham Joshua Heschel was one of the leading Jewish theologians and Jewish philosophers of the 20th century -- and among the few Jewish theologians widely read by Christians. Among his most influential works was The Sabbath, a work reflecting on Judaism's sanctification of time, rather than space. But does Heschel negate the theological significance of natural space, the physical environment? Rabbi Feinstein will address these and other facets of Heschel's thought. Biography of Abraham Joshua Heschel at www.myjewishlearning.com.

Rabbi Ed Feinstein is senior rabbi of Valley Beth Shalom in Encino, California. He serves on the faculty of the Ziegler Rabbinical School of the American Jewish University, the Wexner Heritage Foundation, the Whizen Center for the Jewish Family, and the Synagogue 2000 initiative. He is a columnist for the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles and lectures widely across the United States. His book, Tough Questions Jews Ask--A Young Adult's Guide to Building a Jewish Life, published by Jewish Lights in 2003, was one of the American Library Association's Top Ten Books on Religion for Young Readers and a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award. His stories have been published in a number of anthologies, including Sacred Intentions and Restful Reflections, both edited by Kerry Olitzky and Lori Forman.

This lecture will take place at 9:30-10:45 AM on Tuesday, December 1 in Whitsett Room (Sierra Hall 451) on CSUN's campus. Limited seating available! Please contact the Jewish Studies Program at jewish.studies@csun.edu or (818) 677-4724 to RSVP or with any questions you have regarding this event.