Maurice Amado Program in Sephardic Studies
Housed in the Center for Jewish Studies, the Maurice Amado Program in Sephardic Studies offers students at the undergraduate and graduate level the rare opportunity to focus intensively on the study of Sephardic history and culture. It also hosts lectures, workshops and symposia that cultivate and stimulate this field and situate UCLA as one of its principle hubs. It has supported international scholarship and curricular development through annual competitions for Maurice Amado Faculty Incentive Grants, and builds on the solid research and teaching program erected over the course of a decade and a half of Maurice Amado Lectures and more recently by the Maurice Amado Chair.
Since 2008, the Maurice Amado Program in Sephardic Studies at UCLA has been led by Prof. Sarah A. Stein, the Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies. Professor Stein’s appointment was the result of a nearly twenty year search. Author of award-winning books and an extensive body of scholarly articles, Stein was awarded the 2010 Sami Rohr Prize for Jewish Literature for her book Plumes: Ostrich Feathers, Jews and a Lost World of Global Commerce(Yale University Press).
UCLA has supported programming in Sephardic Studies since receiving an endowment from the Maurice Amado Foundation in 1989. Initially UCLA hosted a series of distinguished and diverse scholars to serve as Visiting Maurice Amado Professors for one quarter each year. Among the visitors were Professors Yom-Tov Assis, Jonathan Israel, David Gilitz, Moshe Idel, Moshe Lazar, Edward Seroussi, Jonathan Ray and Shalom Sabar.
Link to Read an Interview with Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Maurice Amado Chair
2012-2013 Events Sponsored or Co-Sponsored by the Maurice Amado Foundation
Sephardic Philanthropy and the Origins of a Modern Jewish Nation
Seminar, May 10, 2012, 12 pm
MATTHIAS B. LEHMANN (UC Irvine)
Sephardic Jews have been largely been absent from one of the central chapters of modern Jewish history, the rise of Jewish nationalism. It is certainly the case that Zionism as a political movement and a secular, nationalist ideology was largely a product of the European, Ashkenazi experience. Lehman argues, however, that it was the traditional Sephardic elites of the Eastern Mediterranean who established, in the eighteenth century, a new type of relationship linking the Jewish communities of the Diaspora to the Holy Land that was crucial for the subsequent success of modern Zionism in the late nineteenth, early twentieth century.
Conversion and Convergence: Transcontinental Latina/o Sephardic/Muslim Narratives
Seminar, Feb. 11, 2013, 12 pm
DALIA KANDIYOTI (College of Staten Island)
This comparative talk will examine tropes and themes in cultural discourses and fictions about the legacies of conversion from the Americas to Europe and Turkey. In the contemporary imagination, conversion and "returns" are characterized by both sharply differentiated and convergent identities in highly imbricated Catholic, Sephardic, and Muslim cultural worlds. At the center of these representations are changing contemporary perceptions of Sephardic cultures and histories as well as global ideas about religion and ethnicity.
New Babylonians: The Farhud and Iraqi Jewry
Seminar, April 9, 2013, 12 pm
ORIT BASHKIN (University of Chicago)
The talk will explore the Farhud, a series of urban riots against Iraqi Jews during which nearly 180 Jews were killed (June 1-2, 1941). The Farhud brought to the fore both the worst and the noblest aspects of Jewish-Iraqi relations. Essentially the first pogrom in a modern Arab state, it was a direct result of rampant nationalism, the violence of which reached epidemic proportions. At this time Iraqi Jews were attacked by their fellow citizens. The Farhud, was also a moment when Muslim neighbors risked their lives in order to protect their Jewish friends, neighbors, and business partners and when friendship, loyalty, and religious and tribal notions concerning protection of the peoples of the book overcame nationalist xenophobia.
Meet some of our graduate students:
Anat Mooreville (History)
received her undergraduate degree from Brown University. Her research concerns how the ophthalmic disease trachoma became a focal point in considering the relationships between Jewish and Arab identities, cultures, and environments in Mandate Palestine, both through the Hadassah Medical Organization's anti-trachoma campaign in Yemenite communities, and for Jewish ophthalmologists in private practice.
Alma Heckman (History)
received her undergraduate training at Wellesley College, where she worked with the distinguished historian of Sephardic culture Frances Malino; she subsequently received a Fulbright Fellowship to spend a year in Morocco exploring the history of Moroccan Jewry.
Yehuda Sharim (World Arts & Cultures)
holds a Masters degree from New York University and an undergraduate degree from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Winner of the Jack H. Skirball Fellowship in Modern Jewish Culture for 2010-11, Sharim’s work concentrates on the history of the concept of Mizrahim—literally Oriental Jews, or Jews of Arab descent.
(History) recently returned from a year abroad as a Research Fellow at the Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris, France. A graduate of UCLA, Rachel chose to continue her studies here because of the “caliber of the history department and the tremendous faculty.” Her research concerns the legalization of Algerian Jews under early French colonial rule.
Chris Silver (History)
received his BA in Middle Eastern Studies from UC Berkeley. Since graduating, Chris has worked for Middle East-focused NGOs and recently served as Director of the Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues. He was the 2005 Haas Koshland Award winner, which supported a year of research and study in Israel, and a past recipient of a language fellowship from the American Institute for Maghrib Studies. His current research interests include the role of Jews in the North African music industry and Jewish life in the pre-Sahara.