Tag Archive for Jewish studies

Students Learn about Jewish Culture at Outdoor Matzah Bakery

Chabad at Wesleyan hosted their sixth annual Wesleyan Matzah Bakery March 31 in Huss Courtyard. Matzah, also spelled matzo, is an unleavened bread made from flour and water and takes about 15 minutes to bake. It’s traditionally eaten by Jews during the week-long Passover holiday.

Chabad at Wesleyan, led by Rabbi Levi Schectman, is one of Wesleyan’s Jewish organizations, offers social, educational, recreational and religious programming for students and faculty. The Chabad student group hosted the event. (Photos by Matt Rentetzky ’18)

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Students Learn about Jewish Culture by Making Hamantaschen

Chabad at Wesleyan hosted a hamantaschen making workshop March 1 in Exley Science Center. Hamantaschen (also called ozney Haman or Haman’s ears in Hebrew) are tasty, flaky treats with fillings that are often made during the Jewish festival of Purim. Purim is celebrated on the 14th of the Hebrew month of Adar (late winter/early spring). The festival commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman the Agagite’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther). The points on the cookie may be symbolic of Haman’s three-cornered hat.

Chabad at Wesleyan opened on campus in 2011 with social, educational, recreational and religious programming for students and faculty. “Chabad is a home where all Jews are welcome no matter what affiliation, denomination or sexual orientation,” said Rabbi Levi Schectman. “We give you the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and appreciation of your Jewish heritage. Most importantly, Chabad is a place where being Jewish is fun.”

Chabad at Wesleyan also hosts an annual challah bake, a shofar making, a Chanukah celebration, “Sushi in the Sukkah,” a matzah bake and more. The organization is affiliated with Wesleyan’s Office of Religious and Spiritual Life, which offers religious, educational, cultural, political and social activities for Wesleyan’s Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Protestant communities.

Wesleyan also offers additional spiritual opportunities.

Photos of the hamantaschen making are below: (Photos by Jonas Powell ’18)

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Sukkah Constructed to Celebrate Jewish Holiday

On Oct. 14, Wesleyan’s Jewish community constructed a sukkah near the Center for the Arts. The dwelling provides a shelter for students to celebrate the festival of Sukkot. For eight days, students study, socialize, mediate, eat, host events and occasionally sleep in the religious building.

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Teter’s Book Receives Honorable Mention for Jewish Studies Award

A book by Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, received honorable mention for the 2014 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award. The Schnitzer Book Award was established in 2007 to recognize and promote outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and to honor scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: innovative research, excellent writing and sophisticated methodology.

Teter’s book, Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in 2011, was honored in the Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History category.

In recognizing her book, the Prize Committee wrote:

“In this beautifully written and richly documented work, Magda Teter traces and convincingly demonstrates the interdependence of economic, religious and political motives that animated Polish anti-Semitism in the early modern period. This book also identifies and elucidates significant factors in the history of their formations in East Central Europe, and in the history of the host-desecration charge in early modern Europe.”

Magda Teter

Magda Teter

In post-Reformation Poland—the largest state in Europe and home to the largest Jewish population in the world—the Catholic Church suffered profound anxiety about its power after the Protestant threat.

In the book, Teter reveals how criminal law became a key tool in the manipulation of the meaning of the sacred and in the effort to legitimize Church authority. The mishandling of sacred symbols was transformed from a sin that could be absolved into a crime that resulted in harsh sentences of mutilation, hanging, decapitation, and, principally, burning at the stake. Recounting dramatic stories of torture, trial, and punishment, this is the first book to consider the sacrilege accusations of the early modern period within the broader context of politics and common crime.

To celebrate the honorable mention, Teter is invited to attend the Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Reception Dec. 14 in Maryland.

Teter also is chair and professor of history, professor of medieval studies. She speaks more about the book and her research in this past News @ Wesleyan article.

Geller ’75 Studies the Jewish Body and German-Jewish Modernity

Jay Geller '75

Jay Geller ’75 is the author of The Other Jewish Question: Identifying the Jew and Making Sense of Modernity (Fordham University Press). Geller considers how modernizing German-speaking cultures, undergoing their own processes of identification, responded to the narcissistic threat posed by the continued persistence of Judentum (Judaism, Jewry, Jewishness) by representing “the Jew”’s body—or rather parts of that body and the techniques performed upon them. Such fetish-producing practices reveal the question of German-identified modernity to be inseparable from the Jewish Question.

Book by Jay Geller '75

Jewish-identified individuals, immersed in the phantasmagoria of such figurations—in the gutter and garret salon, medical treatise and dirty joke, tabloid caricature and literary depiction, church façade and bric-a-brac souvenir—had their own question, another Jewish Question. They also had other answers, for these physiognomic fragments not only identified “the Jew” but also became for some Jewish-identified individuals the building blocks for working through their particular situations and relaying their diverse responses.

The Other Jewish Question maps the dissemination of and interrelationships among these corporeal signifiers in Germanophone cultures between the Enlightenment and the Shoah. It portrays how Jewish-identified individuals moved beyond introjection and disavowal to appropriate and transform this epidemic of signification to make sense of their worlds and our modernity.

Jay Geller is associate professor of modern Jewish culture in the Divinity School at Vanderbilt University. He also is the author of On Freud’s Jewish Body: Mitigating Circumcisions.