Tag Archive for jewish and israel studies

Schwarcz to Promote Solidarity, Goodwill with Volunteers for Israel

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

Professor Vera Schwarcz will spend her holiday vacation working with Volunteers for Israel.

After visiting Israel several times to lecture about Chinese and Jewish history, Vera Schwarcz, the Mansfield Freeman Professor of East Asian Studies, professor of history, decided to do something different during her next trip abroad.

“I wanted to let go of the ‘specialness’ of my training and skills and do something more basic, something more grounded and more urgently needed at the moment,” she says.

On Dec. 16, Schwarcz will begin a two week service trip with “Volunteers for Israel,” a 30-year-old program that promotes solidarity and goodwill among Israelis, American Jews, and other friends of Israel. Since 1982, more than 30,000 American civilians have joined Volunteers for Israel and signed on as short-term volunteers doing noncombatant civilian work with the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) on bases throughout Israel.

Schwarcz and her fellow volunteers may pack medical supplies, refurbish electronic equipment, repair machinery, and perform logistic assignments wherever they are needed.

Watching Israeli civilians cower in bomb shelters during ‘Pillar of Defense’ convinced Schwarcz that she must help with her own two hands.

“This a moment in time, when I can help Israel without a Ph.D. in Chinese history,” she says. ” What is needed are good will and the desire to rebuild the one and only democracy in the Middle East.”

Teter Delivers Lecture at the Vatican

Magda Teter

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling professor of Jewish studies, professor of history, recently gave a lecture at the Vatican. Delivered Nov. 13, the lecture was titled, “Reti di potere: gli ebrei e l’accesso all a Santa Sede nell’eta modern,” or  “Networks of Power: Jews and their Access to the Holy See in the Early Modern Period.”

Teter’s talk was part of a lecture series organized in collaboration between the University “La Sapienza” in Rome and the Vatican’s Archive of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Archivio della Congregazione per la Dottrina della Fede), previously called the Holy Office of the Inquisition.

H.F. Guggenheim Supports Teter’s Research on Blood Libel, Papal Power

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, received a 2012-13 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellowship.

As a 2012-13 Harry Frank Guggenheim Fellow, Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, will narrate the cultural, social and political connections between Italy—center of papal power, and Poland—home to the largest Jewish community in the world, in her new book, The Pope’s Dilemma: Blood Libel and the Boundaries of Papal Power.

Teter, who also is chair and professor of medieval studies, professor of history, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, will take a full year leave on sabbatical to work on the book. Harry Frank Guggenheim Foundation sponsors scholarly research on problems of violence, aggression and dominance. The award will support Teter’s travel and research expenses to the Vatican and Poland.

The Pope’s Dilemma takes the familiar story of blood libel against Jews to tell a much broader story of religion and politics in Europe, demonstrating that the persistence of the ‘blood libel’ illuminates the reach, and also the limits, of papal authority in coping with local powers – a topic of significant interest even today, in light of the sex abuse scandals,” Teter says.

Among the vivid characters in these compelling stories are popes, bishops,

Teter Published in Brotherhood and Boundaries

Brotherhood and Boundaries

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Professor of Jewish Studies, published an article, “Sacrilege and the Sacred and Profane Spaces: Jews and Christians in Early Modern Poland,” which was published in  Brotherhood and Boundaries: Fraternià e barriere by Edizioni della Normale, pages 215-224 in 2011. Teter also is chair and professor of medieval studies, professor of history, and professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies.

This book offers a comparative study of secular and religious brotherhoods and networks of social relationships, analyzing role in the various forms of religious communities, national, cultural and social from the 14th to the 18th century. More information on the book is online here.

Teter’s past publications are online here.

Olin LIbrary, Local Synagogue Celebrate Historical Book Loaning Program

Wesleyan faculty, staff, students and community members celebrated a new partnership between the Adath Israel Synagogue in Middletown and Olin Library on May 11. Rare books from Adath Israel are being loaned to Special Collections & Archives for research by students in Magda Teter's Jewish history classes and others. Teter is the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of medieval studies, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies. Pictured, from left, are Pat Tully, university librarian; Suzy Taraba, university archivist and head of special collections; Suzanne O’Connell, director of the Service Learning Center, associate professor of earth and environmental sciences; community member Stephen Shapiro; Magda Teter; Seth Axelrod, president of Adath Israel; and Rabbi Seth Haaz, Rabbi of Adath Israel.

Writer, Filmmaker Keret Speaks at Israeli Film Festival

Internationally acclaimed Israeli writer and filmmaker Etgar Keret (right) was the guest speaker for the screening of Wristcutters: A Love Story (2006), the final screening of the Spring Ring Family Israeli Film Festival on April 7. This dark comedy, directed by Goran Dukic, is an adaptation of Keret’s novella, “Kneller's Happy Campers,” a search for a lost love, newfound friends, and the continued quest for happiness in life and after life. Pictured at left is Jeremy Zwelling, associate professor of religion, emeritus.

5 Questions With . . . Magda Teter on Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation

Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, spent the past few years visiting more than 15 archives in Poland, Rome and the Vatican City to find court records, pamphlets, rabbinic writings and secret correspondence between the papal nuncios and Rome.

This issue, we ask “5 Questions” of Magda Teter, the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies. Teter is the author of Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011.

Q: Professor Teter, you are a scholar of religious and cultural history. What are your research interests, and what courses do you teach at Wesleyan?

A: In my writing I focus on Jewish-Christian relations, particularly in Poland, which was once the one of the largest states in Europe and also home to the largest Jewish community in the world. At Wesleyan I teach a wide range of courses mostly in Jewish history, but I also teach Early Modern European history, covering the period from mid-15th century to the French Revolution, and historiography. Having been trained at Columbia University, my courses always present Jews as actors in larger historical developments. Students taking my classes in Jewish history learn a great deal about general history. Similarly, since Jews were a crucial group in Europe greatly influencing European society, culture, economy, and politics, students taking my European history classes will learn that one cannot fully understand, for example, humanism and the Reformation without taking into account the role Jews played in them. I see both Jewish and non-Jewish history as tightly intertwined with each other. This semester I teach a course on east European Jewish history, with a service-learning component focusing on east European Judaica from the Adath Israel Museum in Middletown.  

Teter Publishes Book on Jews, Sacrilege after the Reformation

Book by Magda Teter.

Magda Teter is the author of Sinners Sinners on Trial: Jews and Sacrilege after the Reformation, published by Harvard University Press in March 2011. Teter is the Jeremy Zwelling Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, associate professor of history, associate professor of feminist, gender and sexuality studies, associate professor of medieval studies.

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.

According to Harvard University Press, 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.

Teter casts new light on the most infamous type of sacrilege, the accusation against Jews for desecrating the eucharistic wafer. These sacrilege trials were part of a broader struggle over the meaning of the sacred and of sacred space at a time of religious and political uncertainty, with the eucharist at its center. But host desecration—defined in the law as sacrilege—went beyond anti-Jewish hatred to reflect Catholic-Protestant conflict, changing conditions of ecclesiastic authority and jurisdiction, and competition in the economic marketplace.

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. Teter draws on previously unexamined trial records to bring out the real-life relationships among Catholics, Jews, and Protestants and challenges the commonly held view that following the Reformation, Poland was a “state without stakes”—uniquely a country without religious persecution.