Revolutions, Religion, and the Politics of Negotiating Space

by Judith Sone

When and where

August 31–September 1, 2015
DeLuca Forum, Wisconsin Institutes for Discovery

The symposium is free and open to the public. Please check back again soon for more information about the symposium program, schedule, and speakers.

Click here for 2015 TAU Symposium Poster

Click here for 2015 TAU Symposium Schedule

About the Symposium

The Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies is pleased to host a symposium in collaboration with Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. This two-day symposium is part of an innovative, multi-year collaboration that was made possible through the vision and generosity of Debra and Richard Sincere.


Jordan D. Rosenblum

“Blessings of the Breasts”: Breastfeeding in Rabbinic Literature

Breast milk is an ideal beverage for rabbinic inquiry into the ambiguous rather than the definite. Breast milk, the only quaffable bodily fluid, is only available for a limited period of time; yet, during that brief period, it is vital to an infant’s life. Further, both the producer and the consumer of milk are interstitial, since women/mothers and minors/infants are not the normative rabbinic category of Jewish adult man. Given these observations, it is equally startling: (1) how little is written about breastfeeding in rabbinic literature; and (2) how much of the small scholarship thereof treats these theoretical texts as if they are straightforward descriptions of precise lived practice. Perhaps these two tendencies are artifacts of rabbinic literature itself, as both ancient rabbis and modern scholars tend to focus on rabbinic discussions of educating children (especially sons). This paper addresses both of these concerns. First, by focusing on the subject of rabbinic views on breastfeeding, I assert the importance of investigating an essential component of infancy. With no other viable options for food available in antiquity, breast milk and how an infant ingests that vital liquid is a necessary component of any conversation about childhood in rabbinic literature. Second, my exploration of rabbinic views on breastfeeding contextualizes these conversations. Various scholastic concerns generate rabbinic discussion on this topic, and one cannot divorce text from context.


Jordan D. Rosenblum is the Belzer Associate Professor of Classical Judaism at UW–Madison. He is the author of Food and Identity in Early Rabbinic Judaism, recently published in paperback by Cambridge University Press, and co-editor of Religious Competition in the Third Century CE: Jews, Christians, and the Greco-Roman World, published in 2014 by Vandenhoek and Ruprecht. His research focuses on the classical rabbinic period, particularly on the kosher food laws. He is completing a book (under contract with Cambridge University Press) that examines justifications for the biblical food laws by ancient Jews, Christians, Greeks, and Romans.


Daniel Hummel

An “Apostle to the Gentiles”: Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum and Jewish-Christian Dialogue

This paper, which is drawn from my dissertation on Jewish-Christian relations, centers on the interfaith efforts of Rabbi Marc H. Tanenbaum, the director (1961-1982) of the American Jewish Committee’s Department of Interreligious Affairs. In the 1960s, Tanenbaum emerged as one of the foremost American Jewish proponents of Jewish-Christian dialogue. In 1970, Newsweek named him the “apostle to the gentiles” for his efforts to reform Christian theology and generate Christian support for Israel. Over the 1960s, he developed close friendships with Martin Luther King, Jr., Billy Graham, and Bishop Fulton Sheen, among other Christian leaders. He also engaged directly with Christian theologians on issues of Christian anti-Judaism and the Holocaust. Especially after 1967, Tanenbaum increasingly folded the security of Israel and its legitimacy as a Jewish state into his project. In this talk I will briefly recount Tanenbaum’s biography and indicate what compelled him to engage with Christians (often causing friction with other American Jewish leaders) and how the state of Israel fit into his interfaith agenda. This paper will argue both for Tanenbaum’s importance to postwar American Jewish-Christian relations, and show the limits of his success through a closer look at his relationship with Billy Graham in the 1970s. Much of my research on Tanenbaum comes from his personal papers at the American Jewish Archives in Cincinnati, Ohio, which I visited in 2013 while on scholarship with the George L. Mosse Graduate Exchange Program.


Daniel Hummel is a PhD Candidate in history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He studies religious and international history and is writing a dissertation on American Evangelical-American Jewish-Israeli relations before 1980.


Catherine E. Bonesho

Rabbinic Memory of Roman Betrayal in the Prohibition of Kratesis in b. ‘Avodah Zarah 8b

In m. ‘Abodah Zarah 1:3 it is forbidden to interact with Romans on Kalendae, Saturnalia, and Kratesis. Kalendae and Saturnalia are typically representative of Rome; however, Kratesis is peculiar here. According to R. Dimi, Kratesis celebrates a Roman victory made possible only because of Israel. Fritz Graf maintains that these holidays are listed to provide information on the Romans. However, the reason is more logical—to exclude those not listed. If one could not interact with Romans during all festivities, one could never interact with Romans. Why then would the rabbis include Kratesis? I propose it is because of what Kratesis represents—the rabbis’ memory of Israel’s treaty with Rome and its subsequent betrayal. The description of the treaty highlights Rome’s gratitude to Israel for its assistance, stressing the equality of Israel and Rome, obvious in the use of associating Rome with Esau, Jacob’s brother, a common rabbinic comparison. Thus the later Roman betrayal of this treaty with Israel is equivalent to betrayal done by a brother—a stab in the back after the victory that Israel helped Rome attain. No wonder Kratesis is included in the list of forbidden idolatrous holidays—to interact with Romans on Kratesis would be tantamount to being betrayed a second time and thus good rabbinic Jews should be no where near Romans on such a day.


Catherine E. Bonesho is a PhD Candidate in the Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies department at University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her primary interest is in the use of holidays in rabbinic, biblical, and non-Jewish literature to ascertain identity, specifically holidays and festivals that demarcate Roman and Jewish identities. She holds a Master’s degree in Hebrew and Semitic Studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and earned a BA in Classical Hebrew and Latin from Macalester College. Catherine grew up in Milwaukee, WI and hopes to continue contributing to the Wisconsin Idea throughout her career.


Chad Alan Goldberg 

Modernity and the Jews in Western Social Thought

The presentation will include some key ideas from my forthcoming book, which compares the portrayal, symbolism, and meaning of the Jews and Judaism in French, German, and American social thought from the late nineteenth century through the early decades of the twentieth century. My primary focus is not on the role of Jews as producers of social thought but rather on Jews as objects of social thought. During this time period, the Jews served as a major point of orientation and reference in debates about what it meant to be modern and what it meant to be French or German or American. One chapter investigates the relationship of the Jews to the French Revolution as it was conceived within the French sociological tradition, particularly in the work of Emile Durkheim. A second chapter examines the perceived relationship of the Jews to modern industrial capitalism in the German sociological tradition. A third chapter turns to the work of the Chicago School of American sociology, where the key metaphor of modernity was neither democracy nor industrial capitalism, but the city; it argues that the Chicago sociologists conceived the city and its new modes of social control in part by reference to the Jewish immigrants concentrating there. A final chapter highlights the relevance and implications of the study for the present.


Chad Alan Goldberg is Professor of Sociology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he is also affiliated with the Center for German and European Studies, the George L. Mosse/Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies, and the George L. Mosse Program in History. A specialist in comparative and historical sociology, political sociology, and social theory, his work has been published in the American Sociological Review, Social Science History, Sociological Theory, and Theory and Society. His first book, Citizens and Paupers: Relief, Rights, and Race, from the Freedmen’s Bureau to Workfare (University of Chicago Press, 2008), won the 2010 Outstanding Book Award from the Theory Division of the Society for the Study of Social Problems and Honorable Mention for the 2010 Barrington Moore Book Award from the American Sociological Association’s Comparative and Historical Sociology Section.


Patricia A. Rosenmeyer

Translation as Cultural Strategy: Shaul Tschernikovsky and the Stybel Press

In the early 20th century, as European Jews imagined a new homeland in which they would speak their own language and articulate their own national culture, the Moscow Hebrew newspaper Ha-am (March 10, 1917: Aaron Litai) published an article calling for the creation of a publicly-funded program to translate “the famous works of the great figures of the nations of the world” into Hebrew. The same year saw the founding of the Stybel publishing house in Moscow, with the writer David Frischmann as its editor-in-chief. Frischmann’s vision was for a cosmopolitan Hebrew culture centering on humanistic conceptions of art. According to the historian Kenneth Moss (2007: 197), this was Jewish high culture in an idealized European mold: “humanistic, historicist, essentially secular, shot through with Romantic conceptions of language and nationhood…”. In this spirit, the Stybel Press published hundreds of translations, including works from Ancient Greek, Latin, English, French, German, Russian, and Polish. These translations were particularly popular among the Hebrew-speaking residents in Palestine. My work in progress explores 1) the role of translation as a cultural strategy in this context; 2) the appeal of a romanticized version of ancient Greece to the educated Jewish population; and 3) the specific translation strategies used by one of Stybel’s star poets, Shaul Tschernikovsky, as he translated ancient Greek poetry into Hebrew.


Patricia A. Rosenmeyer (B.A. Harvard; M.A. King’s College, Cambridge; Ph.D. Princeton) is Professor of Classics  in the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  She came to Madison in 1997 after teaching previously at Michigan and Yale.  Her areas of specialization are Ancient Greek poetry, epistolary narratives, imperial Greek literature, and reception studies (including Hebrew translations of Ancient Greek poetry). She is affiliated with the Department of Comparative Literature and the Center for Jewish Studies, and is a past recipient of ACLS and NEH awards.  Her main publications include The Poetics of Imitation:  Anacreon and the anacreontic tradition (Cambridge 1992); Ancient Epistolary Fictions: the Letter in Greek Literature (Cambridge 2001); Ancient Greek Literary Letters:  Selections in Translation (Routledge 2006); and (as co-editor) Epistolary Narratives in Ancient Greek Literature (Brill 2013).  She is currently finishing up a book on inscriptions in Egypt from the Roman imperial period: The Language of Ruins:  Greek and Latin Inscriptions of the Memnon Colossus (forthcoming, Oxford).


Valeria Navarro-Rosenblatt

Memory and Politics of Silence in the Jewish-Chilean Community: Remembrance of the Jewish victims of State Repression.

On December 2013, 40 years after the coup d’état that overthrew the government of Salvador Allende in Chile, the Jewish community inaugurated a memorial at the local Jewish cemetery. It aimed provide a space of remembrance for those who had lost a loved one in the context of political violence that rocked Chile after the Coup d’état of 1973. An additional commemorative plaque was inaugurated in late December by another group of Jewish-Chilean at a repression site in Santiago. The question lingers:  why do the Jews in Chile inaugurate two memorials in the same month?   In this presentation I will explain the context of the memorial at the cemetery and the political contrast to the second commemoration ceremony, and the conflicts in the organization of these two spaces of remembrance. By combining this analysis with a close look at the division and conflicts inside the communal organizations after the coup d’état in 1973, I will present a broader picture where the inauguration of these two memorial speaks to the silences, differences, and challenges that the Jewish organizations and individuals experienced during the Chilean dictatorship, as well as how the memory of those years have been integrated into different parts of the Jewish Chilean community.


She moved to Madison Wisconsin to pursue her PHD with at the History department of this University. She has participated in several conferences and seminars. Valeria received the Chilean’s goverment scholarship to pursue her PhD and the Mosse Program in History Exchange scholarship in Israel for the 2014-5 academic year, and currently has a Mosse WARF scholarship from the History Department.


Jordan Colosi

Cultural Imagery of Jews as a Symbolic Laboratory in Nineteenth Century British Science

Recent scholarship has highlighted the importance of cultural ideas about Jews in shaping the development of thought in myriad historical contexts, ranging from ancient Egypt and the Protestant Reformation (Nirenberg 2013) to the milieu of the classical social theorists (Goldberg forthcoming). This paper argues that the importance of cultural ideas about Jews extends to the sphere of science and served to mold science’s very foundation. Specifically, I argue that Thomas Henry Huxley was in part able to displace God from British science in the mid-nineteenth century because he blocked the viability of the theologians of his time symbolically. Huxley accomplished this by “Judaizing” (cf. Nirenberg 2013) his theologian contemporaries and by co-opting a configuration of cultural codes (cf. Alexander 2006) for use against the theologians that had originally been ascribed to Jews by French Enlightenment thinkers. On the basis of these data, I suggest that this cultural image of Jews which Huxley drew upon constituted a “symbolic laboratory,” holding an analogous transformative power in the symbolic realm to a material laboratory in the material realm.


Jordan is a graduate student in the UW-Madison Sociology Department whose interest is in understanding and characterizing cultural processes shaping the distribution of scientific knowledge in society. The research she will present at this symposium is based on her master’s thesis (to be defended Fall 2015), which examines the role of cultural imagery of Jews in the formation of modern science in mid-nineteenth century Britain. She holds a B.S. in Biology and Religious Studies from Yale University.


Aaron Dowdall

Moving Israel “Westwards”: American Labor, the Histadrut, and Anti-Communism in Israel during the 1950s

Historians have often described Jay Lovestone as American labor’s original cold warrior. Beginning in 1943, as director of the International Ladies’ Garment Workers’ Union’s (ILGWU) International Affairs Department, thru his role as director of the AFL-CIO’s International Affairs Department, Lovestone worked by any means—bribery, sabotage, espionage, to name a few—and with almost any partner—most infamously the CIA—to combat the influence of Communism in international labor movements and to promote the creation of “free” labor unions. Less familiar to labor, as well as diplomatic, historians is that other nations, like the State of Israel, had their own Jay Lovestone. In the early 1950s, Eliezer Livneh—a prominent politician, journalist, and labor activist—was equally committed to rooting out Communists and fellow travelers in the Israeli labor movement and government. During the 1950s, Lovestone and Livneh partnered to “clean house” in Israel, rooting out the Communist “termites” within Israeli politics and labor. This paper will elucidate the ties that bound Livneh and Lovestone, examining the work they did together and the ramifications of this for the Cold War in Israel and the Middle East. In doing so, “Moving Israel ‘Westwards’” bridges studies of labor and diplomatic history, illustrating the often under-examined influence of non-state actors on U.S.-Israeli state-to-state relations during the early Cold War.


Aaron Dowdall is a PhD Candidate in the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Department of History writing a dissertation on transnational labor, U.S.-Israeli relations, and development and decolonization in the Middle East and Africa. His primary advisor is Brenda Gayle Plummer. In 2009 Dowdall received a Gerald R. Ford Presidential Research Travel Grant for work on his master’s thesis, Henry Kissinger and the African Bureau. Dowdall completed his MA in U.S. History at the University of Missouri in 2009 under the guidance of Carol Anderson. He has received numerous fellowships and scholarships while studying at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, including the Abo Sher Teaching Fellowship, the Mellon-Wisconsin Summer Fellowship, and the University of Wisconsin Jewish Studies Program’s David Sorkin Scholarship. During the 2013-2014 academic year, Dowdall was the George L. Mosse Distinguished Graduate Fellow at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He is currently finishing his dissertation and teaching “History 434: American Foreign Relations since 1900” at the Universith of Wisconsin-Madison.


Tal Elmaliach

The American-Jewish Dream of Progressive Israel: An Historical Overview

During 1948-1967 progressive Jewish organizations in the United States made considerable efforts to influence the nation building project in Israel according to their set of values. Their progressive agenda borrowed ideas from the American progressive tradition, and of liberal and socialist Zionism. This ideological merger consisted of social solidarity, distributive justice, civil and human rights, religious pluralism, feminism and Israeli-Arab peace. The Kibbutz movements and their related parties were conceived by these American progressive Jews as the most significant agent of these ideas. Accordingly, they established number of organizations in order to foster cooperation with the Kibbutz movements in advancing their common agenda.

Though numerous aspects of the American-Jewish involvement in Israel during the early stages of statehood have been thoroughly discussed, historians have generally overlooked the ideology and practice of the American-Jewish progressive organizations, and their influence on the American and Israeli scenes.

The present paper focus on the history of ‘Americans for Progressive Israel’ (API), an organization established after WWII by former members of the Socialist-Zionist Hashomer Hatzair youth movement in the US. Briefly discussing the idea of Progressive Israel as developed by Hashomer Hatzair supporters as Louis Brandeis, Irma Lindheim et al, the paper traces the origins of the API, describe the activities of one of its founders, Leon Muhil, and analyze his impact on American-Jewish and Israeli politics.


Tal Elmaliach wrote his doctoral thesis, which deals with the kibbutz movement of HaShomer Hatzair and the MAPAM political party during the years 1956-1977, at Haifa University, Israel. He has so far published a book and number of articles on this subject. Presently he is a Post-Doctoral fellow of the Israel Institute at the University of Wisconsin – Madison.


Rachel Feldhay Brenner

Looking at the Ghetto from the Aryan Side: The War Diaries of Jarosław Iwaszkiewicz and Maria Dąbrowska

The stereotypical view of the world’s attitude to the Holocaust speaks about the unwillingness to respond to the Jewish plight. This attitude is particularly acute in the case of the Polish response, since the implementation of the Final Solution took place mainly on Polish soil. However, a closer look at writings of the time reveals a much more complex picture. While in his famous poem, “A Poor Pole Looks at the Ghetto” (1943), the celebrated Polish poet, Czeslaw Milosz expressed immense sense of guilt at being implicated in the crime against Jews just by witnessing it, other writings demonstrated a wide spectrum of attitudes. The diaries of two noted writers, Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz and Maria Dabrowska, demonstrate such discrepancy. The responses of these writers, both deeply steeped in the culture of the Enlightenment and at the same time, ardent Polish patriots, ranged from involvement to complete indifference. Whereas Iwaszkiewicz, clinging to his humanistic Weltanschauung engaged, together with his wife, Anna, in saving Jews, Dabrowska, retaining her antisemitic prejudices, remained insensitive to the Jewish situation. I argue that the in-real time documentation teaches us about complexity of witnessing the Holocaust; it also warns us against facile generalizations.


Brenner writes widely about responses to the Holocaust in Hebrew, Jewish, and Polish literature. Her latest book, The Ethics of Witnessing was published in 2014 by Northwestern University Press.


Tony Michels

Post-Anti-Zionism:  Marxists and the Jewish Question in the Mid-Twentieth Century

In the 1940s, the political left embarked on a serious reconsideration of Zionism.  Previously condemned as an imperialist movement, Zionism and the political left achieved a rapprochement in and around World War II, as part of a general reassessment of “the Jewish question.”  This paper examines this political shift from anti-Zionism to what might be called post-anti-Zionism, an insistence on the need for Jewish statehood without acceptance of Zionist ideology. This paper suggests that while the revival of anti-Zionism in the late-1960s would appear to many as an outgrowth of the Old Left, latter-day antipathy toward Israel actually represents a break from an earlier chapter in the history of the American left.


Tony Michels teaches American Jewish History at Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison.   He is author of A Fire in Their Hearts:  Yiddish Socialists in New York (Harvard Univ. Press) and editor of Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History (NYU Press).  He is completing a book on the history of American Jews and the Russian Revolution.


Joel Berkowitz

In These Days of Job: Yiddish Drama After the Holocaust

As the Holocaust unfolded, Yiddish dramatists bore witness. Yiddish playwrights began responding to the rise of Nazism at least as early as 1936, and continued to reflect on the Shoah and its aftermath in well over 100 plays published (and in a few cases produced) between the 1930s and the 1980s. This paper offers an introduction to the body of Yiddish drama dealing with the Holocaust and its aftermath.  Yiddish playwrights who addressed this subject matter range from the iconic to the obscure, but even the dramas of a figure as towering as H. Leivick have largely been overshadowed, both by Yiddish literature written in other genres and by Holocaust-related drama written in other languages. Leivick’s great fame throughout the Yiddish-speaking world helped bring attention to his dramas, but other notable writers whose plays confront the Shoah, such as Haim Sloves and Israel Ashendorf, are all but unknown now, even to most scholars of Yiddish literature, Holocaust literature, and Holocaust drama and theatre. This paper sets out to begin to fill that gap, an undertaking that will be expanded upon in a planned monograph on the subject.


Joel Berkowitz is Director of the Sam and Helen Stahl Center for Jewish Studies and Professor of Foreign Languages and Literature at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. A historian of the Yiddish theatre and translator of Yiddish drama, he is the author of Shakespeare on the American Yiddish Stage (2002), editor of Yiddish Theatre: New Approaches (2003), co-editor of Landmark Yiddish Plays: A Critical Anthology (2006), and co-editor of Inventing the Modern Yiddish Stage (2012). He is the co-founder, with Debra Caplan, of the Digital Yiddish Theatre Project, a research group applying Digital Humanities methods and tools to the study and preservation of Yiddish theatre. His current book in progress is a study of Yiddish drama after the Holocaust.

Lisa Silverman

History, Memory, and Vienna’s Jewish Geography

Although by 1934 Jews inhabited nearly every one of Vienna’s 21 districts, nearly half of the city’s Jewish population still resided in only three of them. Most lived in the district called the Leopoldstadt, where they formed almost 30% of the population before 1938. Focusing on how Jews remember past experiences in relationship to the city’s geography renders visible the contours of the Jewish and other social codings that ordered the city’s districts, the exclusionary practices that shaped Vienna’s urban landscape, and the power relationships involved in the development of Vienna’s built environment. This presentation argues that the persistence of the Leopoldstadt as Vienna’s “Jewish space” served a purpose for both Jews and non-Jews, then as now. Through analysis of various texts and the testimony of Austrian Jewish émigrés, this paper explores Jews’ affective responses to the city in response to their historical – and personal – exclusion from it. Recognizing their deep investment not only in the city’s history, but also its geography, can help us draw a map of Jewish Vienna that includes not only where Jews lived, but also its “Jewish-coded” physical spaces and how these shaped the city’s legibility to both Jewish and non-Jewish Austrians. As this presentation will demonstrate, it was not only Vienna’s cultural heritage that formed the basis of Jews’ attachment to the city, but also its geography.


Lisa Silverman is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She is author of Becoming Austrians: Jews and Culture between the World Wars (Oxford University Press, 2012). She is also the co-author of Holocaust Representations in History: an Introduction, (Bloomsbury Academic Press, 2015), and co-editor of Making Place: Space and Embodiment in the City (Indiana University Press, 2014) and Interwar Vienna: Culture between Tradition and Modernity (Camden House, 2009). A specialist in modern European Jewish history, her interests include German and Austrian Jewish culture, photography and visual culture, and gender.


Roberta Roesnthal Kwall

Jewish Law, Culture and Identity: A Comparison of Israel and the U.S.

Jewish continuity necessitates an understanding of Jewish identity, both in Israel and the United States. In Israel, a multifaceted relationship exists between Israeli and Jewish law and between Jewish law and Israeli Jewish identity. These interrelationships prompt two extraordinarily complex questions. First, what difficulties does Israel face as a Jewish state in striking a balance between Jewish law and its secular laws? Second, what does it mean to be a Jewish state when the majority of Jews in Israel do not observe halakhah? These questions go to the heart of what Jewish identity means in the state of Israel. The issue how Jewish identity is formulated in the United States, where the majority of Jews outside of Israel live, also merits serious discussion. By comparison, the majority culture in the United States is not based on Hebrew or Jewish roots and the land on which the Jews live is not their historic homeland. These differences entail the need for a different model of Jewish identity. A better understanding of Jewish identity in the United States can be achieved by examining recent empirical evidence as well as certain ideological markers of Jewish identity discussed in the academic literature.


Roberta Rosenthal Kwall is the Raymond P. Niro Professor at DePaul University College of Law. Prior to teaching at DePaul, she practiced law at Sidley & Austin in Chicago and served as a judicial clerk for Judge Leonard I. Garth, U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit. Kwall earned her JD from the University of Pennsylvania and received her undergraduate degree in Religious Studies from Brown University. She also has a Master’s Degree in Jewish Studies.

Kwall is an internationally renowned scholar and lecturer and has published articles on a wide variety of topics including Jewish law and culture, property law, and intellectual property. Her most recent scholarship explores the intersection between culture and Jewish law, and her newest book, “The Myth of the Cultural Jew: Culture and Law in Jewish Tradition” was published in 2015 by Oxford University Press. She also wrote “The Soul of Creativity: Forging a Moral Rights Law for the United States,” (Stanford University Press), which is the seminal work on moral rights law. Kwall has received numerous awards for teaching and scholarship and in 2006, was designated as one of the 10 Best Law Professors in Illinois by Chicago Lawyer magazine.

At DePaul, Kwall teaches a course on Women and Jewish law, and she has lectured about Jewish law and culture at many law schools and other venues in the United States and Israel. She maintains a Face Book blog under Professor Roberta Rosenthal Kwall that is devoted to illustrating the beauty of the Jewish tradition for a wide general audience. You can visit her blog at


Esther Webman

Rethinking the Role of Religion in Arab Antisemitic Discourses

Jihad is now a duty for the entire umma until Palestine and al-Aqsa mosque are liberated and Jews are either pushed into their graves or back where they came from,” declared the blind Shaykh Omar ‘Abd al-Rahman, imprisoned in the US for his involvement in the bombing of the New York Trade Center in 1993, in an interview to CNN in October 2000, in the wake of al-Aqsa intifada. He and other Muslim clerics issued calls for jihad to mobilize Arabs and Muslims in the war against Israel and the Jews. The exploitation of Islam in the war over Palestine is not new but it had been exacerbated since the outburst in September 2000 of the chain of events known as the “second intifada” or “al-Aqsa intifada”, after the failure of the Camp David peace negotiations and the visit of then Israeli opposition leader Ariel Sharon to the Temple Mount. It unleashed an unprecedented wave of incitement and antisemitic manifestations throughout the Arab world and among Arab and Muslim communities worldwide.

Based on the examination of newspapers’ articles, statements, caricatures, television programs and the social media during these events and subsequent crises up to the Arab Spring and Operation Protective Edge in 2014 in Gaza, this presentation intends to reassess the role of religion in Arab antisemitic discourses. It will contend that despite the intensified exploitation of Islam in the incitement against Israel and the Jews, the most popular antisemitic manifestations are derived from classical Christian and western antisemitism.


Dr. Esther Webman is head of the Zeev Vered Desk for Tolerance and Intolerance in the Middle East, and a senior research fellow at the Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, at Tel Aviv University. Her research is focused on Arab discourse analysis, mainly Arab perceptions of the Holocaust and Arab Antisemitism. She is the editor of The Global Impact of a Myth – The Protocols of the Elders of Zion. The publication of the Hebrew translation of her book From Empathy to Denial: Arab Responses to the Holocaust, co-authored with Meir Litvak, by Magnes Press and Yad Vashem is forthcoming.


 Yael Aronoff

The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard-Liners Opt for Peace

The talk, based on Dr. Aronoff’s book, examines leaders of the seemingly intractable conflict between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors. It takes as an intellectual target of opportunity six Israeli prime ministers, asking why some of them have persisted in some hard-line positions, whereas others have opted to become peacemakers.  It goes beyond arguing simply that “leaders matter” by analyzing how their particular belief systems and personalities can ultimately make a difference to their country’s foreign policy, especially toward a long-standing enemy.  The differences in ideology and personality among the six Israeli prime ministers analyzed had a significant impact on their image of the enemy, their perception of and reaction to the intifadas and the Gulf War, and ultimately on their ability to reach an agreement with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority.


Yael S. Aronoff is the Michael and Elaine Serling and Friends Chair of Israel Studies at Michigan State University, is Director of Jewish Studies at MSU, and is an Associate Professor of International Relations, who teaches in James Madison College at MSU. Dr. Aronoff is a 2011 recipient of the MSU Teacher-Scholar Award and the 2015 recipient of the John K. Hudzik Emerging Leader in Advancing International Studies and Programs Award. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University in 2001. She also holds an M.I.A. in international affairs from Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs (1992), and a B.A. in international relations from Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of International Affairs and Public Policy (1990). She has taught in the Government Department at Hamilton College, and has served as Assistant for Regional Humanitarian Programs in the Pentagon’s Office of Humanitarian and Refugee Affairs and in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee as a Jacob K. Javits Fellow. She was Senior Associate at Columbia University’s Institute of War and Peace Studies.

Yael Aronoff’s book, The Political Psychology of Israeli Prime Ministers: When Hard-Liners Opt for Peace, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2014. Dr. Aronoff’s current book project, The Dilemmas of Asymmetric Conflicts, will contribute to new understandings of the tensions faced by democracies such as Israel and the United States fighting long-standing asymmetric wars. She has published in Foreign Policy, Israel Studies, Israel Studies Review, and the Political Science Quarterly.

Dr. Aronoff is on the Board of Directors of the Association of Israel Studies and is book review editor for the Israel Studies Review.

Professor Aronoff has given over 70 public lectures on university campuses and to various communities and serves as a lecturer for the Association of Jewish Studies Distinguished Lectureship Program.


Hayder Al-Mohmammed

 New confrontations with death and dying in Iraq: The relocation of care from the hospital to the family and extended care-networks

Tracing the illness and death of a woman I became close with in southern Iraq between 2005-7, I show how the work and struggles that went into comporting to life in the face of death must be taken as powerful responses to the ways in which death is received in life. I place this narrative within the context of the devastating attacks on Iraq in the Gulf War of 1991, and the subsequent twelve-year sanctions, which decimated the Iraqi healthcare system, and particularly oncology. This decimation of the healthcare system has left many thousands of Iraqis to face serious illness and diseases on their own, which has given rise to new confrontations with death and dying.


I’m an anthropologist who has been conducting fieldwork in Basra and Baghdad since 2005.


Duygu Atlas

Dissappearance of Non-Muslim Minorities from Public Sphere in Turkey: The Case of Turkish Jews

Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, AKP) has been in power for twelve consecutive years. Besides an impressive electoral record, exponential economic growth and controversial bid for regional dominance, the AKP rule has also been marked by the growing salience of Islam in the public sphere in Turkey. While the early post-Islamist AKP policies, which can be characterized by the party’s departure from references to Islam, implementation of an aggressive free-market economy and the adoption of the discourse of democracy, successfully freed the public sphere from the dominance of the Kemalist state and the military, the AKP policies in later years have been largely directed at bringing the public sphere back to the control of the state, now solely run by the AKP. As such, the AKP government has been seeking to reconfigure the public sphere in line with its conservative Islamist ideology in order to fulfill its pledge of creating a “new Turkey.” This paper aims to assess the impact of such changes in the public sphere on one of Turkey’s non-Muslim minorities, that is its Jewish community. My paper will analyze the issue at hand in its historical context and argue that the Turkish state’s discriminatory policies against its non-Muslim citizens show a similar pattern under both its secularist and Islamist rulers.


Duygu Atlas is a PH.D. Candidate at Tel Aviv University and a Junior Researcher with the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies.


Jonathan Z. S. Pollack, “Rags! Clothes! Bottles! Jewish Scrap Dealers in North American Popular Culture”

Abstract: From the beginning of the Jewish migration from Eastern and Central Europe in the 1870s, Jewish men with an entrepreneurial bent entered the trade in scrap, surplus, and second-hand goods. Jews had a long history of dealing in used clothing and furniture in Europe, but the throwaway aesthetic of US and Canadian consumerism, coupled with demand for stock and metals in heavy industry, prompted a large Jewish presence in scrap. Over time, Jewish scrap dealers, from rag-dealing Shylocks to scrap-metal moguls to rag-powered superheroes appeared in novels, films, plays, and comics. Over the last hundred and twenty-five years, Jewish scrap dealers have stood for avarice, thrift, nostalgia, and pride.

Jonathan Z. S. Pollack earned his PhD in History from the University of Wisconsin—Madison in 1999. Since 1998, he has been a full-time instructor in History at Madison Area Technical College. He has held honorary fellowships in UW’s Institute for Research in the Humanities, and since 2012, he has been an Honorary Fellow in UW’s Mosse/Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies. His recent research has focused on scrap dealers and the formation of Jewish communities in Wisconsin, the history of UW’s Jewish community, and Yiddish in African-American popular culture.


Dr. Mira Tzoreff

“The Hybrid Women of the Arab Spring Revolutions: Islamization of Feminism Feminization of Islam”

Many scholars who deal with social and gender-oriented issues in Arab and Islamic societies tend to adopt binary categories. The dominant classification in this approach with regard to women divides them rigidly into secular and religious.

Religious women are usually identified with a conservative worldview, a traditional education and a medium to low socio-economic status. Secular women, according to the binary division, are portrayed those who liberated themselves from the shackles religion and tradition. However, the history of women’s movements in the Middle East and North Africa indicates that women who led social and gender-oriented struggles from the end of the nineteenth century to the present day were not secular.

By their behavior, their dedication to their faith, and their worldview, they unravel the binary approach imposed upon them by |outsiders” and construct a model that amalgamates a faith-motivated religiosity and a liberal-pluralistic worldview. Taking all this into consideration I have concluded that the appropriate term to use in this context is “hybrid”, which clearly highlights the fact that for these women both the Islamic religious belief and a liberal worldview are intertwined and woven together. The spheres in which Arab and Muslim women have been and still are active also do not necessarily fit into the binary model of private and public. By their very activity these women molded a third sphere, which Homi Bhabha termed “in-between-ness”, made up of threshold or liminal spaces-hovering between the private, home-based and the public-communal- which can also be labeled “hybrid”.

The paper will focus on these women, who by standing out by their activism before the Arab Spring revolutions, during the heydays of the revolutions and especially after them, represent the abovementioned hybrid prototype.


Dr. Tzoreff, PhD (Tel Aviv University, 2007), is a Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle East and African Studies and Lecturer, Department of Middle Eastern and African History at Tel Aviv University.

Dr. Tzoreff participated in a conference at the Western Galilee College on Peace Processes in the Middle East (March 2010), where she lectured on Mubarak and the Egyptian-Israeli Peace  Agreement: Continuity or Change?” In May, she delivered a paper at Israel’s Middle East and Islamic Studies Association’s annual meeting at Ben Gurion University in Be’er Sheva on “From the Personal to the Collective- The Biography of May Ziadeh as a Reflection of the Attitude of Egyptian Society of her time towards “Others” and Strangers.”

Dr. Tzoreff delivered a number of lectures at various institutions throughout the year. In November 2009 she spoke at Yad Ben Zvi on “Egypt during the Mubarak Era:  Between  Liberalism and Islamic fundamentalism.” She delivered three lectures at the Israel Liberal College on “From the Heat of Autocracy to the Breeze of Democracy- What Do Liberals in the Middle East Dream Of?” (November 2009); Mubarak’s Regime:  Domestic Crises, External Challenges” (February 2010); “A Gender Revolution in the Middle East: Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian Authority as Test Cases” (March 2010). Dr. Tzoreff also spoke in March at the Avshalom Institute on the Liberal Discourse in the Middle East. In April, she lectured at Efal College on Egypt from Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasr to Husni Mubarak. That same month, Dr. Tzoreff spoke at a department seminar for graduate students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on the collective memory issue in Egypt today under the title: “We Remember Namely We Exist: The Egyptian Forum ‘Women and Memory’ as an Alternative to the Hegemonic Collective Memory.”


Joyce van de Bildt

“Memoirs as an Islamic manifesto: A vision for the ideal Muslim society as expressed in Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood memoirs from the 1970s”

This paper examines 4-5 memoirs written by members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt in he 1970s, and analyses them from the angle of religion in the public sphere. In most cases, these were highly political texts, critical of the government and Egyptian society, and an attempt to disseminate the Muslim Brotherhood’s vision of the ideal Muslim society. Especially prison memoirs were intended to serve as a model of guidance for Muslims, determining proper Muslim standards of behavior. This paper will show how the memoirs functioned as a vehicle for spreading the Brotherhood’s views and how they remained influential or resurfaced in later years.


Bio: Joyce van de Bildt is a Ph.D. candidate at TAU’s Zvi Yavets School of Historical Studies, writing her dissertation about the contested memory of the 1952 revolution in Egypt during the periods of rule of Anwar al-Sadat and Hosni Mubarak.