Leve Center Open House Celebration

Join us as we celebrate our 25th Anniversary at our Open House. Meet the Leve Center’s faculty affiliates, staff, graduate students, and scholarship recipients and learn about our diverse projects and programs.

Hebrew Gothic: History and the Poetics of Persecution

Sinister tales written since the early twentieth century by the foremost Hebrew authors, including S. Y. Agnon, Leah Goldberg, and Amos Oz, reveal a darkness at the foundation of Hebrew culture. The ghosts of a murdered Talmud scholar and his kidnapped bride rise from their graves for a nocturnal dance of death; a girl hidden […]

Anneliese Landau’s Life in Music: Nazi Germany to Émigré California (Cosponsored Event)

A detailed and moving account of the life of Anneliese Landau, who earned a PhD in musicology in 1930 and lectured on early German radio, breaking new ground in a developing medium. After the Nazis forced the firing of all Jews in broadcasting in early 1933, Landau worked for a time in the Berlin Jewish […]

Back to the Future of Al-Andalus: A Poetry Reading and Conversation

MacArthur-winning poet and translator Peter Cole will read from his work and talk about the origins and legacy of the hybrid Hebrew poetry of Muslim Spain. Moving between eleventh-century Iberia and twenty-first century Jerusalem and America, Cole will take us into the heart of one of the most vital periods of Jewish literary history, as […]

Recording the Maghrib: Jews, Muslims, and Music in the 20th Century (Cosponsored Event)

For much of the twentieth century, North African Jews played an outsized role as both music-makers and purveyors of music across the Maghrib. In Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia, all under French rule until the middle of the last century, indigenous Jewish vocalists, instrumentalists, and sonic impresarios of all manner utilized the phonograph to record and […]

Ben Hecht: Fighting Words, Moving Pictures

One of the greatest American screenwriters, Ben Hecht was a renaissance man of dazzling sorts—reporter, novelist, playwright, crusader for the imperiled Jews of Hitler’s Europe, and propagandist for pre-1948 Palestine’s Jewish terrorist underground. Whatever the outrage he stirred, this self-declared “child of the century” came to embody much that defined America—and especially Jewish America—in his […]

Identifying Ancient Israel in the Archaeological Record (Cosponsored Event)

The United Monarchy – the famed kingdom of David and Solomon – is at the center of a heated debate. While until 25 years ago there was a consensus that David and Solomon were historical figures who ruled over fairly large territories, it is now questioned by many who believe either that these kings were […]

Tehran Children: A Holocaust Refugee Odyssey

Beginning in September 1941 and throughout the war, Central Asia and Iran became places of refuge to hundreds of thousands of Jewish and Catholic Polish citizens. Mikhal Dekel, whose father was a child refugee in Tehran, will recount the research and writing process of this epic yet relatively unknown Holocaust story, told in her new […]

America’s Jewish Women: A History from Colonial Times to Today

In this groundbreaking history, Pamela Nadell asks what does it mean to be a Jewish woman in America? Weaving together stories from the colonial era’s matriarch Grace Nathan and her great-granddaughter poet Emma Lazarus to union organizer Bessie Hillman and the great justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Nadell shows two threads binding the nation’s Jewish women: […]

Family Papers: a Sephardic Journey Through the Twentieth Century (Partner Event)

For centuries, the bustling port city of Salonica was home to the sprawling Levy family. As leading publishers and editors, they helped chronicle modernity as it was experienced by Sephardic Jews across the Ottoman Empire. The wars of the twentieth century, however, redrew the borders around them, in the process transforming the Levys from Ottomans […]

Risky Business: The Future of Jewish Museums

Award-winning scholar, curator and author Dr. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, Chief Curator of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw, Poland and Professor Emerita of Performance Studies at New York University, will discuss the past, present and future of Jewish museums. Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett is Chief Curator of the Core Exhibition at POLIN Museum […]

History of Jewish Communities Living in Muslim-Majority Lands in the Middle East, 9th through the Early 20th Century (Cosponsored Event)

Marina Rustow (Princeton University)   Averroës Lecture Series   Sponsored by the UCLA Center for Near Eastern Studies Cosponsored by the UCLA Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies

Anatomy of a Genocide: A Case Study in Mass Murder

For more than four hundred years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz – today part of Ukraine – was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainian, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population […]

Does Jewish Biblical Scholarship Exist: A Historical Perspective

How and when did Jewish scholars enter into the mainstream of biblical scholarship? What religious and other constraints prevented them from entering the mainstream until the second half of the twentieth century? And once they entered, did they produce a body of distinctive Jewish biblical scholarship? Marc Brettler is the Bernice and Morton Lerner Professor […]

Through the Female Gaze: Men in the Book of Genesis

While the bulk of biblical scholarship on the book of Genesis had been conducted by men and about men, more recent works have used feminist approaches to center the female characters in Genesis from numerous perspectives, enhancing our understanding of how the women in Genesis function. In light of these new works, this talk will […]

Modernity in the Eastern Sephardi Diaspora: The Jews of Late Ottoman Izmir

This lecture will tell the story of a long overlooked Ottoman Jewish community in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing extensively on a rich body of previously untapped Ladino archival material, the lecture will also offer a new read on Jewish modernity. Across Europe, Jews were often confronted with the notion that their […]

Last Days at Hot Slit: The Radical Feminism of Andrea Dworkin

Among the very first writers to use her own experiences of sexual assault in a revolutionary analysis of male supremacy, radical Jewish feminist Andrea Dworkin has been branded as a misandrist and a censorial demagogue for her controversial stances on pornography, sex and violence. This event will bring together Johanna Fateman, editor of Last Days […]

From Enoch to Daniel: Reimagining the Past in the Aramaic Dead Sea Scrolls

Since the late 1940s, the approximately 1,000 manuscripts discovered in caves alongside the Dead Sea – popularly called the Dead Sea Scrolls – have been reshaping in significant ways study of the Bible and ancient Judaism. Often left out of discussions about the scrolls are the approximately 30 Jewish literary works written in Aramaic. This […]

Wanderings: Music Crossing Boundaries (Cosponsored Event)

Join us for a unique Jewish music festival exploring cross-cultural interactions in the United States and around the world. Attendees will be taken on a musical journey that includes the UCLA Marching Band, the renowned Jewish bluegrass ensemble Nefesh Mountain, and the LA based Jewish music ensembles of Chloé Pourmorady (New Persian Jewish Music) and […]

The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators

When it comes to historical violence and contemporary inequality, none of us are completely innocent. We may not be direct agents of harm, but we may still contribute to, inhabit, or benefit from regimes of domination that we neither set up nor control. Arguing that the familiar categories of victim, perpetrator, and bystander do not […]

The Italian Executioners: Italy and the Holocaust, 1943-45

Almost 8,000 Jews were deported from Italy during the Holocaust and killed in Auschwitz. About half of them were arrested by Italians: members of the fascist party, police and military forces. Informing was widespread, often motivated by greed and turning in next-door neigbours. In the postwar period the role of Italians in the genocide fell […]

“I grow old… I grow old…”: Yankev Glatshteyn, T.S. Eliot, and the Yiddish Poetics of Old Age

The following presentation asks: What does it mean to grow old in Yiddish literature? To answer the question, I turn my attention to the work of the American Yiddish modernist Yankev Glatshteyn. Senescence functions across his early work as both a literary topos and aesthetic tool. Writing “long sheets of gray hair and deep wrinkles,” […]

Ottoman Legacies, Émigré Culture, and Linguistic Crossroads (Cosponsored Event)

The ucLADINO symposium features Sephardic literature, language, community, and music. Ladino, also known as Judeo-Spanish, is the native tongue of Jews with roots in medieval Iberia. Because programs like this symposia are few and far between, UcLadino is happy to cultivate a time and space devoted to this overlooked area of study. ucLADINO 9th Annual […]

Jerusalem: City of the Book

What might it look like to see Jerusalem, with its cross-hatched encounters between people of diverse faiths and cultures, as a city of the book? Is it possible to use libraries and texts to catch the city’s tragedy and its magnificence, to tell the story of a place where some of the world’s most far-reaching […]

Israel through a Colored Lens: African-American Perspectives on Mizrahi Israelis

This talk explores African-American interactions with Middle Eastern Jewish Israelis in the 1950s and 1960s. The focus will be on how African-Americans navigated racial constructs in Israeli society as well as an exploration of their observations on racial dynamics in Israel. I center the travel writings of scholar and social worker Ida B. Jiggetts, who […]

The Blood Libel in Modern Eastern Europe: A Social History

Through new archival research and a close reading of the Yiddish press, this talk will explore the metamorphosis of the centuries-old false allegation that Jews murder children for ritual purposes in modern Eastern Europe. Ritual murder accusations in modern society (which involved the intervention of local and central authorities, police investigations and trials) can be […]

‘If I Embarrass You, Tell Your Friends’: Jews Making Trouble, Jews Making Comedy

American Jewish historian Tony Michels joins in conversation with practitioners and critics of comedy, including Jessica Chaffin, Jena Friedman, Michaela Watkins, to discuss the outsized role that Jewish women have played as path-breaking writers and performers. Together, the group will reflect on how comedy has changed in recent years, and what labels such as “Jewish […]

The Finger of the Scribe: How Scribes Learned to Write the Bible

One of the enduring problems in biblical studies is how the Bible came to be written. Clearly, scribes were involved. But our knowledge of scribal training in ancient Israel is limited. William Schniedewind explores the unexpected cache of inscriptions discovered at a remote, Iron Age military post called Kuntillet ‘Ajrud to reconstruct how scribes were […]

The Question Concerning Perpetrators

The term perpetrator is an ‘essentially contested concept;’ the field of its contestation is perpetrator studies. The recent turn to the perpetrator poses fundamental challenges to the adjacent field of memory studies, which has been largely informed by the figures of the victim and the witness. In this talk I will explore how thinking about […]

Now Is Always the Time

For this seminar, I will use Now!, the 1965 short film by Cuban filmmaker Santiago Álvarez, as a prompt to imagine new Jewish political and cultural alliances in the 21st century. Álvarez’s film consists of photographs and newsreel footage related to the African-American freedom struggle, all set to Lena Horne’s recording of “Now!,” a song […]

Jewish Listening: A Reckoning

In his public lecture, “Jewish Listening: A Reckoning,” Professor Kun explores what it means to listen “as a Jew” in the context of contemporary debates across Israel and Palestine, reflecting on his own life as a listener and his earlier writings on the history of Jewish-American music. Josh Kun is Director of the USC Annenberg […]

To Tell the Truth: Jewishness and the Documentary Art

Join leading documentarians Roberta Goldman, Judith Helfand, and Amy Ziering in public dialogue with curator, producer, and strategist Caroline Libresco. Our panelists will discuss the role of Jewish culture, politics, and identity as engines and subject of documentary films. Together, we will ask; to what extend does a Jewish vision, Jewish values, and/or Jewish identify […]