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Center for Jewish Studies to Begin Fall Lecture Series

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A Southern Jewish perspective on religious and cultural changes in the South will be the topic of a Sept. 13 lecture at Carolina.

The talk by Eli N. Evans ’58 of New York, president emeritus of the Charles H. Revson Foundation, will kick off the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies’ fall lecture series, with seven talks through Dec. 5.

All will be free to the public at 7:30 p.m. in the Hanes Art Center Auditorium except the Oct. 6 talk, to be in Carroll Hall 111. The center is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

Dates, topics and speakers will be:

  • Sept. 13: “Southern Jewish Insights into the Religious Ethos in the South Today,” by Evans. In commemoration of the 350th anniversary of Jews in America, UNC Press has published a new edition of Evans’ memoir, The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South, with a gallery of family and historical photos. Evans chairs the center’s advisory board.
  • Sept. 22: “We Write the Books We Want to Read: The Compelling Jewish Narrative,” by Naomi Ragen, an American-born playwright and novelist who has lived in Jerusalem since 1971. Ragen will spend three weeks in residence at UNC this fall.
  • Oct. 15-30: Ragen will put on a production of her play, Women’s Minyan, in Reynolds Theater in Duke University’s Bryan Center. Performers will be from the StreetSigns Center for Literature and Performance, a nonprofit company of students and local professionals affiliated with UNC’s communication studies department. Also involved is Theatre Or, a new Jewish theater organization in the Triangle.
  • Sept. 27: “Jewish Women in Greco-Roman Antiquity: Representation and Reality,” by Ross Kraemer, a religious studies professor at Brown University. Kraemer will explore the roles of real and imagined Jewish women in Greco-Roman antiquity, focusing on two examples: a late antique tale about the marriage of the biblical patriarch Joseph to the daughter of an Egyptian priest, and a fifth-century account of a mass conversion to Christianity that highlights the resistance of Jewish women.
  • Oct. 26: “Changing Israel’s Ethos: Recent Transformations in Israeli Society” (in Carroll Hall), by Yoav Gelber of the University of Haifa, the only liberal arts university in northern Israel. Gelber will explore the viability of new Israeli ideals such as peace, democracy and personal success, given the current political climate in the Middle East. He will investigate the challenges that recent developments have issued to traditional forms of Zionism. Gelber will spend the year in residence at UNC.
  • Nov. 2: “Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South,” by Marcie Cohen Ferris, assistant professor of American studies at UNC and associate director of the center. Ferris will examine the expressive power of food throughout Southern Jewish history, demonstrating how Jews reinvented culinary traditions as they adjusted to living in a largely Christian region. The talk is based on Ferris’s new book of the same name.
  • Nov. 8: “United States Holocaust Memorial Museum: Design Insights,” by Ralph Appelbaum, who has planned and designed award-winning museum exhibitions and visitors’ centers. Appelbaum will give a photographic walk-through of design decisions and processes used to create permanent exhibitions in the Washington, D.C., museum.
  • Dec. 5: “The Wizard Behind the Curtain: The De-Fetishization of Jerusalem and the Prospects for Israeli-Palestinian Peace,” by Ian Lustick, a political science professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Lustick will note that one of the obstacles to an Israeli-Palestinian political settlement that has loomed largest is the eventual disposition of Jerusalem. His talk, this year’s Morris, Ida, and Alan Heilig Lectureship in Jewish Studies, will investigate the legal and political status of Israel’s presence in enlarged East Jerusalem.

Many of the lectures are made possible by a grant from the Charles H. Revson Foundation in honor of Evans. They are co-sponsored by UNC Press and North Carolina Hillel.

UNC co-sponsors are the Center for the Study of the American South, the creative writing program, the departments of religious studies and political science, the Carolina Center for the Study of the Middle East and Muslim Civilizations, the curriculum in peace, war and defense, the curriculum in international and area studies, the University Center for International Studies and the Ackland Art Museum.


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