The Holocaust and North Africa

Edited by Aomar Boum and Sarah Abrevaya Stein

The Holocaust is usually understood as a European story. Yet, this pivotal episode unfolded across North Africa and reverberated through politics, literature, memoir, and memory—Muslim as well as Jewish—in the post-war years. The Holocaust and North Africa offers the first English-language study of the unfolding events in North Africa, pushing at the boundaries of Holocaust Studies and North African Studies, and suggesting, powerfully, that neither is complete without the other.

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#MeToo, Tunisia, 1937


The #MeToo movement has jump-started crucial conversations about sexual harassment and sexual violence in the contemporary world — and in the Jewish community. Historical and literary perspectives help us make sense of the present moment. After all, Jewish girls and women — like any girls and women — have experienced sexual harassment and sexual violence through time, in all contexts that Jews called home, from Eastern Europe to North Africa.

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Rabbi, who is UCLA Law visiting professor, receives inaugural Leve Award

UCLA’s Alan D. Leve Center for Jewish studies honored author and educator Rabbi Elliot Dorff with the organization’s inaugural Leve Award Oct. 24 in Royce Hall.

Dorff, currently the rector of American Jewish University, distinguished professor of philosophy, and visiting professor in UCLA’s School of Law is recognized for his significant public service and leadership in building bridges across diverse communities. The award was established as part of Alan D. Leve’s 2015 endowment naming the Center for Jewish Studies.


Ninette of Sin Street released (Co-edited by Sarah Abrevaya Stein & Lia Brozgal

Published in Tunis in 1938, Ninette of Sin Street is one of the first works of Tunisian fiction in French. Ninette’s author, Vitalis Danon, arrived in Tunisia under the aegis of the Franco-Jewish organization the Alliance Israélite Universelle and quickly adopted—and was adopted by—the local community. Ninette is an unlikely protagonist: Compelled by poverty to work as a prostitute, she dreams of a better life and an education for her son. Plucky and street-wise, she enrolls her son in the local school and the story unfolds as she narrates her life to the school’s headmaster. Ninette’s account is both a classic rags-to-riches tale and a subtle, incisive critique of French colonialism. That Ninette’s story should still prove surprising today suggests how much we stand to learn from history, and from the secrets of Sin Street. This volume offers the first English translation of Danon’s best-known work. A selection of his letters and an editors’ introduction and notes provide context for this cornerstone of Judeo-Tunisian letters.

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UCLA Jewish Studies Faculty Statement on Immigration Ban

As Jewish Studies faculty at UCLA, we condemn the recent Executive Order by President Trump to deny access to immigrants and refugees from seven, predominantly Muslim countries. As scholars of the Jewish past, we know all too well what the consequences have been when Jews have been denied entry to countries merely on the basis of their religious or ethnic identity. We also remember well that the United States, in a number of dark points in its twentieth-century history, denied entry to Jews fleeing oppression. In light of that past, we are especially mindful of the dangers when our country, founded on the principles of liberty and justice for all, engages in discriminatory practices against select groups, whether based on religion, nationality, ethnicity, race, gender, sexuality, or anything else. We call on the President of the United States to rescind this Executive Order immediately and to cease any discriminatory practices and inflammatory rhetoric directed against Muslim citizens, residents, and visitors to the United States.

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Extraterritorial Dreams: European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century wins 2016 National Jewish Book Award

Sarah Abrevaya Stein, UCLA professor of history and the Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies, is the winner of the 2016 National Jewish Book Award in the category of Sephardic culture. The Mimi S. Frank Award in Memory of Becky Levy is given to the winner of this category by the Jewish Book Council, which announced winners in more than 18 categories on Jan. 11.

UCLA NewsroomJewish Book Council - Winners
Stein cover Extraterritorial Dreams

New Book from Professor Sarah Abrevaya Stein, Extraterritorial Dreams: European Citizenship, Sephardi Jews, and the Ottoman Twentieth Century

We tend to think of citizenship as something that is either offered or denied by a state. Modern history teaches otherwise.Reimagining citizenship as a legal spectrum along which individuals can travel, Extraterritorial Dreams explores the history of Ottoman Jews who sought, acquired, were denied or stripped of citizenship in Europe in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries—as the Ottoman Empire retracted and new states were born—in order to ask larger questions about the nature of citizenship itself.

University of Chicago Press BooksAmazon.com

First Director of Jewish Studies and Israel Studies at UCLA gives major lecture on Israel Independence Day

Arnold Band, Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, University of California at Los Angeles, delivered the Annual Arnold Band Distinguished Lecture in Jewish Studies, on May 12th to a crowd of 150 people at UCLA. Coinciding with Israeli Independence Day, the lecture was sponsored by the UCLA Alan. D. Leve Center for Jewish Studies, and honors the research and teaching of Band, one of the leading scholars of modern Hebrew literature in the world. His lecture was entitled: “The First Decade of Israeli Literature: The Case of Aharon Appelfeld.” Rabbi William Cutter, Steinberg Emeritus Professor of Human Relations at Hebrew Union College, moderated and gave a response.


Michael Casper Granted Prestigious Fellowship at The Center for Jewish History in New York City

NEW YORK – July 14, 2015 – Michael Casper, a doctoral candidate in History at the University of California, Los Angeles, has been named a 2015 – 2016 Lillian Goldman Fellow at the Center for Jewish History – the home to the world’s largest and most comprehensive archive of the modern Jewish experience outside of Israel. Casper will use his new position to conduct original research on Jewish politics and culture in interwar Lithuania for a period of ten months.


In Memorium: Dr. Janet Hadda

Moving to UCLA in 1973 to start its Yiddish Program, she later became the first tenured professor of Yiddish in the US, publishing academic and popular articles, in English, Yiddish, Hebrew, French, and German. She initially developed a specialty in American Yiddish poetry, particularly the works of Yankev Glatshteyn, the subject of her first book and numerous articles.

READ MORE (The Forward)

An open letter to President Obama: This is a moral emergency

Dear President Barack Obama,
I appreciate your comments on the “heartache and the sadness and the anger” that many Americans are feeling after the shooting of nine African-American congregants at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church. You pointed out that “this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries,” and you argued, as you have before, for stricter gun control laws. I agree.

READ MORE (The Jewish Journal)
Light out of Darkness

Class with Holocaust Survivors Inspires UCLA Student Film Project

Who knew that a freshman seminar could be life changing? When Andrew Rosenstein enrolled in Germanic Languages and Comparative Literature Professor Todd Presner’s seminar, Between Memory & History: Interviewing Holocaust Survivors in the Digital Age, in Winter 2012, he couldn’t imagine how the opportunity of meeting with a survivor over the course of the quarter would impact his college career.


Renowned UCLA Historian awarded the inaugural Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History

David N. Myers, professor and Robert N. Burr Department Chair in the UCLA College’s Department of History, has been awarded the inaugural Sady and Ludwig Kahn Chair in Jewish History, which will provide the renowned historian funds for research, graduate student support, and annual public seminars and symposia.


Professor Efrain Kristal to share long-time fascination with Jorge Luis Borges

UCLA literature professor Efrain Kristal still remembers how fascinated, yet unsettled, he felt at 17 after reading his first book of short stories by the late Argentine master Jorge Louis Borges, whose philosophical fiction mixes fact and fantasy and sometimes crosses the line into literary hoax.


UCLA conference to examine legacy of activist rabbi who was MLK ally

Leading scholars, clergy and activists will convene at UCLA on May 3 and 4 to examine the ongoing influence of the late Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, a civil rights leader, anti-war activist and scholar who was a friend and ally of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


UCLA Chancellor Gene Block: BDS ‘isn’t going to be sustained on this campus’

Evidence of the concern within UCLA’s Jewish community stemming from recent events on campus could be seen on March 16 by UCLA Chancellor Gene Block’s visitors that day.


The Jewish Question at UCLA: another perspective

As the faculty director of UCLA’s Center for Jewish Studies for the past four years, I have had the opportunity to teach and interact with thousands of UCLA students – both Jewish and non-Jewish – and have helped develop a wide-range of diverse curricular, research, and public initiatives. I have also spoken to many students, faculty, and staff about the broader issues of campus climate and what we need to do to educate all our students to become responsible, knowledgeable, and engaged citizens in the 21st century.


UCLA grad student is committed to saving Ladino language from extinction

In his five years at UCLA, Bryan Kirschen has developed an international reputation as a tireless advocate for the endangered language that is often described as the Spanish equivalent of Yiddish.

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Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 wins 2014 National Jewish Book Award for Sephardic Culture

Congratulations to Professors Julia Phillips Cohen and Sarah Abrevaya Stein for winning a 2014 National Jewish Book Award for their anthology, Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700–1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014).


Hugo Ballin: The Jewish muralist of Los Angeles

If you’ve ever attended services in the historic Wilshire Boulevard Temple, chances are you’ve been awestruck by the elaborate mural that wraps around the Magnin Sanctuary. Beginning with Genesis and ending in 1929, when the mural was commissioned, it tells the epic story of the Jewish people over the course of thousands of years.

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Sephardi Lives: From Ottoman Salonica to Rosario, Argentina

In their new anthology, Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700–1950 (Stanford University Press, 2014), Professors Julia Phillips Cohen and Sarah Abrevaya Stein present a vivid picture of the diverse ways in which the Jews residing in (and migrating from) what they call the “Judeo-Spanish heartland of Southeastern Europe, Anatolia, and the Levant” adjusted to the profound changes of their eras. Drawing on memoirs, newspapers, and a variety of archival sources written in 15 different languages, they give us a broad overview of a world that is in danger of being forgotten.


New Book: Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria

Sarah Stein has just published Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria. (The University of Chicago Press, 2014)

The history of Algerian Jews has thus far been viewed from the perspective of communities on the northern coast, who became, to some extent, beneficiaries of colonialism. But to the south, in the Sahara, Jews faced a harsher colonial treatment. In Saharan Jews and the Fate of French Algeria, Sarah Abrevaya Stein asks why the Jews of Algeria’s south were marginalized by French authorities, how they negotiated the sometimes brutal results, and what the reverberations have been in the postcolonial era.

Microsoft PowerPoint - The Ethics of the Algorithm_Presner.ppt

The Ethics of the Algorithm

Most of the time when we speak of the ethical dimensions of video testimony of the Holocaust, we refer to the viewer’s “duty to listen and to restore a dialogue.” By this, it is understood that genocide victims who give testimony have been denied their humanity, and that isolation continues when their story is not heard. Video testimonies bind the testifier to the viewer in an ethical relationship that demands the viewer listen and understand what the survivor has shared. This is the ethical responsibility of the listener, who, in turn, becomes a secondary witness to the survivor’s story, and who is obliged to carry the message forward into the world.

Rachel Deblinger

Impact in Profile: Rachel Deblinger

Holocaust survivor testimony is what sparked Rachel Deblinger’s interest in studying American postwar Holocaust memory. For her dissertation, she researched other groups for whom testimony was equally eye-opening: American Jews and Jewish communal organizations in the aftermath of World War II.

Deblinger has just finished her doctoral program in the history department at UCLA and will be starting a postdoctoral fellowship at UC Santa Cruz in September. Her research focuses on the construction of Holocaust memory in the immediate aftermath of the war across the boundaries of the postwar Jewish world. Her dissertation is “‘In a world still trembling’: American Jewish philanthropy and the shaping of Holocaust survivor narratives in postwar America (1945-1953).”


Susan Slyomovics Explores Reparations Programs and their Implications

Susan Slyomovics, UCLA professor of anthropology and Near Eastern languages and cultures, has published a new book, “How to Accept German Reparations.” The book is a part of the Pennsylvania Studies in Human Rights series by the University of Pennsylvania Press.

Bakhos Book cover

Carol Bakhos Publishes New Book, ‘The Family of Abraham’

An authority in the study of religion, Bakhos explores mistaken assumptions about the narrative and theological significance of Abra­ham.

Carol Bakhos, associate professor of late Antique Judaism and Jewish studies and director of the Center for the Study of Religion, has published her latest book, “The Family of Abraham: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Interpretations,” with Harvard University Press.