Bad Rabbi And Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press

Bad Rabbi (Stanford UP, 2017) is an underground history of downwardly mobile Jews from the seamy underbelly of New York and Warsaw, the two major centers of Yiddish culture before WWII. With true stories plucked from the pages of the Yiddish papers, Portnoy introduces drunks, thieves, murderers, wrestlers, poets, and beauty queens whose misadventures were […]

East West Street: A Personal History of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity

Lecture explores how personal lives and history are interwoven. Drawing from his Baillie Gifford (Samuel Johnson) prize-winning book East West Street (Alfred Knopf/Vintage, 2016)—part historical detective story, part family history, part legal thriller—Sands connects his work on ‘crimes against humanity’ and ‘genocide,’ the events that overwhelmed his family during World War II, and an untold […]

Jews, Music, and Modernity in Buenos Aires

Since 1994, “Jewish music” has emerged as an important yet ambiguous mode of cultural expression in Argentina, making audible Jewish history in Latin America and affirming a contemporary Jewish presence in the region. This lecture explores the intersection of practices of cultural renewal and the uses of memory as a Jewish musical resource in public […]

Save the Data: A Sephardic Antique Roadshow

The UCLA Sephardic Archive Initiative and the UCLA Library invite you to share elections of your personal collections of “Sephardica,” including historical photographs, documents, or any kind of material objects. Experts will be on hand to help evaluate the meaning and importance of the materials—and to read a wide variety of languages in which documents […]

What happened to Sisera in Judges 5, 25-27?

The two versions of the story of Sisera’s defeat at the hands of Yael in Judges 4 and 5 are among the most iconic episodes of the Hebrew Bible, with a long and colourful history of interpretation and reception.   This lecture will present a new understanding of Sisera’s fate in the poetic version of Judges 5,25-27. On the […]

ucLADINO Symposium: New Directions, Old Roots

The symposium will focus on themes and issues relating to new and up-and-coming topics and approaches within the study of Ladino, as well as Sephardic life and culture. Panels and talks will explore the various current projects aimed at preserving, sharing, and transmitting Ladino-related texts, music, and archival material, including UCLA’s own Sephardic Archive Initiative. […]

History and Resistance: Emanuel Ringelblum in the Warsaw Ghetto

During World War II, Jews resisted not only with guns but also with pen and paper. Even in the face of death, they left “time capsules” full of documents that they buried under the rubble of ghettos and death camps. They were determined that posterity would remember them on the basis of Jewish and not […]

(Cosponsored Event) Between Equal Citizenship and the Promise of Redemption: Iranian Jewish Identity ant the Turn of the Twentieth Century

Early in the twentieth century, Iranian-Jewish communities experienced two different pressures from two different developments, each pulling them in another direction. First came the Constitutional Revolution in Iran (1906-911), which promised equal citizenship, and then the Balfour Declaration (1917) and the emergence of Zionism, which stirred thoughts of redemption in the holy land. Iranian Jews […]

Abel Beth Ma’acah: Uncovering the Secrets of a Biblical City

Abel Beth Ma’acah is a city of major biblical and historical importance on the northern border of present-day Israel. It is mentioned several times in the Hebrew Bible, most notably in the time of King David when a “wise woman” surrendered the severed head of Sheba ben Bichri to Joab who had been sent from […]

Maimonides and the Merchants

The advent of Islam in the seventh century brought profound economic changes to the Middle East and to the Jews living there. The Talmud, written in and for an agrarian society, was in many ways ill-equipped for the new economy. In the early Islamic period, the Babylonian Geonim made accommodations through their responsa, through occasional taqqanot, […]

Colonial Tunisia from the Gutter Up: ‘Ninette of Sin Street.’ Jews, Translation, and Franco-Tunisian Literature

Book launch of the first English-language translation of Vitalis Danon’s Ninette of Sin Street. Originally published in Tunis in 1938, this novella is Danon’s best-known work, and one of the first Tunisian fictions written in French. Ninette is an unlikely protagonist, compelled by poverty to work as a prostitute, she dreams of a better life […]

Primo Levi for the Public

This half-day symposium brings together an array of international scholars and writers engaged with the history, literature, and impact of Primo Levi, a chemist, writer, and humanist who survived Auschwitz and, through his writing, provided generations of students and scholars with the philosophical language to understand the Shoah—and the modern condition. The symposium celebrates the […]

Is the Wandering Jew in Contemporary Israeli Literature a Paradox?

Various ideologies of the early 20th century foresaw an end for the journey of the Wandering Jew in the near future: Communists suggested that he would disappear with the dissolution of nations, Zionists believed that he would return home and no longer be a wanderer. The Wandering Jew has not disappeared from contemporary literature, among […]

Trauma, Privilege, and Adventure in Transit: German Jewish Refugees in Iran and India

This lecture examines the intensely ambivalent and paradoxical experiences of bourgeois Jews who found refuge in the “Orient” of India and Iran after 1933. On the margins of their collapsing and devastated Jewish European world, they lived as hybrids, themselves on the margins, expat, emigré, enemy alien, and refugee, caught uneasily, more or less comfortably, […]

The Essence of Jewish Music from a Composer’s Perspective

From whichever viewpoint we wish to examine Jewish music, we always come back to its role in transforming the mundane into the spiritual. In this lecture, Ben Amots will share his adventures and experiences from the time he served as Artistic Director of the Center for Jewish Culture and Creativity through the many years of […]