Vanessa Ochs' Community Lecture now on Youtube

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On Monday, April 7th, 2014, Professor Vanessa Ochs spoke to the community at Temple Israel giving a talk entitled, "Women of the Wall: The Inside Story." A video of that talk is now available to watch on the Center's Youtube channel.

A lecture by Carol Zemel, York University, Toronto
Monday, April 28th, 2014
7:30 p.m.
Adath Jeshurun Congregation
10500 Hillside Lane W.
Minnetonka, MN 55305

Contemporary art from Israel is widely exhibited and praised in international venues. However, works by Israeli artists today forego the utopian visions of earlier generations and now critically explore the issues of land, history, social change, and cultural diversity. Carol Zemel considers art by both Jewish and Arab Israelis, and their visions of change and renewal in the modern state. Artists to be discussed include: Michal Rovner, Roee Rosen, Yael Bartana, Hanna Farah, Rafram Haddad, Nasrin Abu Becer, Eden Ofrat, and Oded Hirsch.

Minneapolis group 'plays' Nazi: Sorry, it's no trifle

Star Tribune
March 19, 2014

It's an insult to those who suffered in the Holocaust and to those who campaigned then (and since) against such evil.

Late last week, City Pages published photographs that showed men dressed in German SS uniforms seated in the main dining room of the northeast Minneapolis restaurant Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, surrounded by Nazi flags. According to a participant, this was a World War II historical re-enactment meeting, "just like any club that has a party."
In Germany and several other European states, laws prohibit the public use of symbols of Nazism -- in particular, flags, insignia and uniforms. The reason: It assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously smearing or defaming segments of the population.

While in the United States the First Amendment gives constitutional protection to this type of conduct -- no matter how offensive its content -- the public display of racist or extremist symbolism usually has been followed by indignation, outrage and demands for action.

To read the entire article please click here.

CJS to Host Symposium on "Figural Jews"

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Figural Jews: Jewish Identity in Modern Literature and Philosophy
Thursday, April 17, 2014: 1pm - 5pm
Friday, April 18, 2014: 9am - 12pm
Shepherd Room, Weisman Art Museum
This event is free and open to the public; however, a reservation is required. Please visit to register.

image for figural jew smaller size.jpg

The sign reads, "We are all German Jews."

The goal of this symposium is to reflect on the question of Jew as metaphor in theology, philosophy, history, literature, literary theory and film. "Troping" the Jew has a long history that can be traced back to Paul and the overcoming of the letter/law. The Jew "in the spirit," the Jew "in the heart," arguably designates the first avatar of the "figural Jew."

Spring 2014 scholarships announced

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The Center for Jewish Studies will once again be awarding several scholarships for University of Minnesota undergrads and graduate students. We are now accepting applications for the following awards and grants. The due date is Friday, April 4, 2014. Please contact us at or 612-624-4914 with any questions.

CJS has moved!

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The Center for Jewish Studies has a new home! We are now located in 251 Nicholson Hall (just up one floor from our previous office.) Office hours are Monday through Friday, 9am until 3pm, or by appointment. Please stop by and say hello!


(Click here to view the original statement on the President's website.)

December 27, 2013

The American Studies Association's recent resolution boycotting Israeli higher education institutions is troubling. While the ASA's action appears to limit only the association's professional activities, and not the scholarly activities of individual faculty members, I believe that such boycotts undermine academic freedom, which is a fundamental value of American higher education.

Both the Association of American Universities and the American Association of University Professors have opposed this boycott and I support those actions. The AAU, of which the University of Minnesota is a member, issued the following statement that also reflects my views on the matter:

"The Executive Committee of the Association of American Universities strongly opposes a boycott of Israeli academic institutions. Three U.S. scholarly organizations have now expressed support for such a boycott. Any such boycott of academic institutions directly violates academic freedom, which is a fundamental principle of AAU universities and of American higher education in general.

Academic freedom is the freedom of university faculty responsibly to produce and disseminate knowledge through research, teaching, and service, without undue constraint. It is a principle that should not be abridged by political considerations. American colleges and universities, as well as like institutions elsewhere, must stand as the first line of defense against attacks on academic freedom.

Efforts to address political issues, or to address restrictions on academic freedom, should not themselves infringe upon academic freedom. Restrictions imposed on the ability of scholars of any particular country to work with their fellow academics in other countries, participate in meetings and organizations, or otherwise carry out their scholarly activities violate academic freedom. The boycott of Israeli academic institutions therefore clearly violates the academic freedom not only of Israeli scholars but also of American scholars who might be pressured to comply with it. We urge American scholars and scholars around the world who believe in academic freedom to oppose this and other such academic boycotts."

Relevant Fall 2014 courses

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The following courses are not part of the JWST curriculum; however, they are taught by affiliated faculty members and may be of interest to Jewish Studies students. Please contact the instructor for more information.

POL 1905
Freshman Seminar
Ido Zelkovitz
9:45AM - 11:00AM; M, W

SOC 4090
Alejandro Baer
1:00PM - 2:15PM; Tu, Th

The University of Minnesota Center for Jewish Studies is pleased to present its Tenth Annual Community Lecture Series, in cooperation with synagogues and other sponsoring partners across Minneapolis and St. Paul. Join us as writers, filmmakers, and scholars from varied fields address intriguing questions relevant to the Jewish experience today.

This series is made possible by a generous gift in memory of Julia K. & Harold Segall.

Events are free and open to the public. A reception follows each lecture.