Past Events

A Coffeehouse Book Launch

A Season Of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the United States by Sarah M. Ross

April 4, 2017

Chum’s Coffeehouse
Brandeis University (in the castle)
415 South St., Waltham

Bringing together scholarship on Jewish liturgy, U.S. history, and musical ethnology to describe the multiple roots and development of feminist Jewish music in the last quarter of the twentieth century, Ross illuminates the biographies and oeuvres of innovators in the field, and shows how this new musical form arose from the rich contexts of feminism, identity politics, folk music, and Judaism.

HBI and JFAB (Jewish Feminist Association of Brandeis) hosted a coffeehouse to celebrate Judaism, feminism, music, and Jewish feminist music, featuring performances from Brandeis student groups. 

Acclaimed cartoonist, Amy Kurzweil to Visit HBI

April 5, 2017

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute invited students for a special opportunity to enjoy a free lunch discussion with Amy Kurzweil, acclaimed cartoonist, artist, teacher and author of the new graphic memoir, Flying Couch.

Kurzweil’s new book tells the story of three generations of women: her own coming-of-age story as a young Jewish artist; her mother, a psychologist, and her Bubbe, a World War II survivor who escaped the Warsaw Ghetto by disguising herself as a Gentile.

The event was limited to 25 students and took place in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall within the Women's Studies Research Center. Three signed books were raffled.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

April 3, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, HBI and Brandeis University's Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies (NEJS) welcomed Mona Hassan, Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies & History in the departments of Religious Studies and History and the program of International Comparative Studies at Duke University. Hassan discussed Formative Female Articulation of Islamic Law.  

Women as Agents of Change? Fresh Perspectives on Gender & Religion 

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

At this graduate student seminar, speakers included Brandeis University doctoral candidates April French, Natalie Cornett, Geraldine Gudefin and Michelle Mann, Ph.D. The event was moderated by Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, associate director of HBI, and co-sponsored by HBI and the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life. 

Helène Aylon Opening Events

March 21, 2017 

Artist's talk: 5:00 pm
Reception: 6:00-8:00 pm
Performance by Helene Aylon: 7:00 pm

Afterword: For the Children
Monday, March 20, 2017 - Friday, June 16, 2017

Helene Aylon

Internationally-acclaimed Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon presents her conclusion to The G-d Project: Nine Houses Without Women, her 20-year series highlighting the dismissal of women in Jewish traditions and text. In Afterword: For the Children, Aylon dedicates her finale in the series to the future generations, challenging all who regard The Ten Commandments not to shrug off a dark foreboding which emanates in her view, from the patriarchy - not from God.  

The text of the Second Commandment holds future generations responsible for the sins of their fathers. The artist’s examination of this text reveals a universal dilemma through its connection to contemporary policies and practices that shape the world our children will inherit. The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (correction of the world) holds significance in Aylon’s immersive digital installation, as her continuous attempt at “repairing” the revered text becomes​ a​ quiet yet assertive protest.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

March 15, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, Gail Labovitz, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on her paper, With Righteousness and Justice: Creating a Connection Between Equitable Marriage and Equitable Divorce in Jewish Law.  
How Jews marry and divorce are integrally connected: marriage based on structural inequities yields inequitable divorce procedures, and a key means to achieve equitable divorce is to begin with equitable marriage. Could Jewish law provide for, or at least accommodate, alternative means of marriage and divorce? And if so, what other options might we find within the traditional legal sources by which to structure an egalitarian marital commitment between two persons and a concomitant procedure for undoing such a commitment.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

February 27, 2017 

As part of the HBI's Spring Seminar, Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women's Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisers and Judges, Hikmet Kocamaner, HBI Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Governing the Family Through Religion: Secularism, Religious Expertise, and the Politics of the Family in the New Turkey.

Since the ruling Muslim-conservative government came to power in 2002, Turkey has witnessed an explosion of political discourses, government policies, and faith-based initiatives aimed at  "strengthening the family" and protecting so-called "family values." Kocamaner's lecture explored the family counseling services provided by a government-run faith-based initiative: Family Guidance and Religious Counseling Bureaus that operate under the Directorate of Religious Affairs. 

Domestic Abuse & Jewish: The Interplay Between Social Justice and the Jewish Divorce Process 

February 2, 2017

HBI partnered with ORA and J-FAB in a panel that discussed the plight of agunot and the halachic prenup. Panelists included Rabbi Jeremy Stern Director of ORA, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper of the Boston Beit Din and Boston Agunah Taskforce,  Elizabeth Schön Vainer the Outreach and Program Director from Journey to Safety, at Boston's Jewish Family and Children's Service, and Rachel Light, a former agunah. The event was moderated by HBI's Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Watch event in its entirety. Note: The stream will pause during Rachel Light's commentary, which we were not permitted to record, but will resume. 

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Defying Expectations: Chess Grandmaster Susan Polgar

February 1, 2017

Chess is one of the world's oldest games and is played in almost every culture. In spite of its far reach, it remains incredibly gender exclusive. On February 1, 2017, HBI and Brandeis University's Chess Club hosted Grandmaster Susan Polgar, one of the strongest chess players of the past 50 years and the first woman to earn the Grandmaster title through tournament play. She spoke about gender barriers in chess and her educational efforts with young girls. Polgar played, simultaneously, against five members of the audience and take questions. 

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In case you missed the event on January 30, 2017, you can watch it in its entirety below:

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

December 12, 2016 

Geraldine Gudefin, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Jewish Family Life in the Age of Mass Migration: A Comparative Case Study of France and the United States

Gudefin presented a comparative overview of the impact of mass immigration on Jewish family life in the early-twentieth century. Her lecture will discuss various aspects of the disruptions of Jewish family life (including desertion and bigamy), and showed the repeated attempts, on the part of the American and French Jewish communal institutions, to end the practice of clandestine marriages and divorces. 

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

December 5, 2016 

Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Legal Claims and Social Change: The Case of Sexual Harassment in Israel

Shapira-Rosenberg presented regulation introduced in Israel following the Prevention of Sexual Harassment Law. Her lecture discussed the different cultural features that form the foundation of these regulations and seek to show that they are not always compatible with the goals of the law, raising serious questions about their capacity to promote social change.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

November 21, 2016 

Avishalom Westreich, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Changing Motherhood Paradigms: Jewish Law, Civil Law and Society

Westreich argued that within Jewish law, we are witnessing a fascinating process, a conceptual paradigmatic change from a substantive approach to parenthood to a functionalist one. He further noted that the conceptual change connects to the practical interaction between law, religion and society. It facilitates greater flexibility in Jewish law's response to the practical needs of society, going to the very heart of the concept of motherhood in cases of assisted reproductive technologies.

Women, Jewish Law and Legal Change in Israel

November 17, 2016

A panel discussion with three of our Helen Gartner Hammer Scholars-in-Residence. Professor Avishalom Westreich (College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan) spoke on important cases involving agunot in the rabbinical courts. Attorney and Israeli feminist Orthodox activist, Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, discussed cases involving litigation in the civil courts to restore women's rights to equal access to the public sphere. Professor Ronit Irshai (Bar-Ilan University) proposed a theoretical model to account for how and why this legal change is happening in Israel.

The event was moderated by HBI's associate director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

November 14, 2016

Ronit Irshai, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, spoke on Essentialism and Homosexuality in Contemporary Jewish Law. The Torah explicitly prohibits homosexuality. Yet, Irshai identified a number of key areas in the evolution of halakhic attitude toward homosexuals in Orthodoxy, raising the question of how the rabbis understand masculinity through the prism of homosexuality.
In this lecture, Irshai analyzed some central writings in contemporary Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy and tried to trace the ways through which masculinity is being built and its gender implications. 

The Boston Jewish Film Festival

Screening of “Sand Storm” at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

November 12, 2016

A screening of “Sand Storm,” at the MFA, with an introduction by HBI associate director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D. For more information about “Sand Storm,” visit

"Votes for Women": The History of Equal Suffrage in Israel and America  

October 30, 2016

Professor Margalit Shilo will read an excerpt from her new book, Girls of Liberty: The Struggle for Suffrage in Mandatory PalestineDiscussants were Professor Melissa R. Klapper, author of Babies, Ballots and Banners of Peace: Jewish
Women's Activism 1890 -1940 and Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Israeli feminist attorney and HBI Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence, who works on national cases concerning gender, religion and the state in Israel. The event was moderated by HBI Associate Director, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Ph.D.

GCRL Lunchtime Seminar

October 20, 2016

HBI and co-sponsor, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, welcomed Professor Orna Sasson-Levy, Department of Sociology and Anthropology Chair at Bar Ilan University, to speak on Israeli Women Soldiers and Citizenship: Gendered Encounters with the State. Sasson-Levy's publications include Points of Reference: Changing Identities and Social Positioning in Israeli Society and Identities in Uniform: Masculinities and Femininities in the Israeli Military, Jerusalem.

The Place of the Jewish Woman in Zeev Jawitz' Writings 

August 31, 2016

Asaf Yedidya's, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, lecture focused on the place of the Jewish woman in Jawitz' thoughts in comparison to some of the other contemporary Orthodox thinkers. Jawitz was the first religious Zionist leader and thinker to deal seriously with the place of the Jewish woman in modern society.

Spring Seminar Scholars-in-residence Final Presentations

May 3, 2016

Kathryn Hellerstein, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Jewish American Women Poets: Anthologists and Translators (1966-1999)"
Creative presentation: Hellerstein read a selection of her translations from her forthcoming collection, Anthology of Women Yiddish Poets and a few of her original poems.

Lori Harrison-Kahan, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Frontier Feminism: Miriam Michelson and the Multi-Ethnic West"
Creative presentation: Harrison-Kahan read short prose excerpts from the collection she is editing, titled The Superwoman and Other Writings: Fiction and Journalism by Miriam Michelson.

Chantal Ringuet, Scholar-in-residence
Scholarly presentation: "Coming to Terms With America: Yiddish Women Writers Exchange Letters (1948-1972)"
Creative presentation: Ringuet read poems by Chava Rosenfarb (translated to English) and Miriam Waddington.

Kuku Sabzi: A Symbolic Food for the Persian New Year

April 17, 2016

An HBI Artist-in-Residence/Brandeis Festival of the Arts workshop event with AIR, Wendy Wolf Fine.

The Dead Man: Jewish Feminist Novel about Love, Loss, Creativity, Sexism, and Music

April 12, 2016

Author, Nora Gold, presented her newest book, The Dead Man (2016), a compelling story about an obsessed woman. Eve, who is both a composer of Jewish sacred music and a music therapist, cannot recover from a brief relationship she once had with a music critic named Jake. Dr. Gold discussed some of the central themes in this novel and illustrated them with selected readings from The Dead Man.

Shifts in Power and the Future of the Women's Movement in the Middle East

April 11, 2016

An HBI Artist-in-residence lecture by guest speaker, Zohreh Mizrahi.

The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell

April 5, 2016

Opening Reception for Artist-in-Residence Wendy Wolfe Fine's exhibit, The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell. Relaying the loss of personal freedoms and cultural lives of Iranian Jewish women after the Revolution, the exhibit incorporated video, photography and cultural objects.

Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Women's Struggles Against Fundamentalism in Muslim Majority Contexts

April 3, 2016

Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture by Karima Bennoune, Professor of International Law at the University of California - Davis, School of Law. 

Goodman, Familial and Communal Conflict, Compassion, and Betrayal in a Summer World

March 29, 2016

Allegra Goodman, author of Kaaterskill Falls: Familial and Communal Conflict, Compassion, and Betrayal in a Summer World discussed her prize-winning book with Brandeis students and HBI scholars.

Artist Talk: Artist-in-Residence Wendy Wolfe Fine

March 23, 2016

Artist-in-residence Wendy Wolfe Fine spoke at the HBI about her exhibit, the Pearl that Slipped Its Shell.

Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution

March 20, 2016

A panel discussion to launch the publication of Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by Sylvia Barack Fishman. Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman introduced panelist Dr. Lisa Fishbayn JoffeDr. Jonathan KrasnerMichelle ShainRachel S. Bernstein, and Daniel Parmer

Beaded "History" Curtain Workshop 

March 16, 2016

A public event with Artist-in-residence, Wendy Wolfe Fine, beading the "History" curtain for The Pearl that Slipped Its Shell exhibit. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

March 8, 2016

Chantal Ringuet, Scholar-in-residence, presented On the Other Side of Poetry: Rachel Korn and Kadia Molodowsky, two Yiddish Women Writers in North America. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

February 23, 2016

Kathryn Hellerstein, Scholar-in-residence presented What is it to be a Jewish Woman Poet? Women Poets as Jewish Translators. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

Spring Seminar Scholar-in-Residence Lecture

February 9, 2016

Lori Harrison-Kahan, Scholar-in-residence presented The Intermarriage Plot: Emma Wolf, Bettie Lowenberg, and the Deghettoization of American Jewish Fiction. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. 

International Holocaust Remembrance Day 2016: Six Responses

January 27, 2016

Led by WSRC Scholars Ornit Barkai, Karen Frostig, Jutta Lindert, Rachel MunnKarin Rosenthal, and Shulamit Reinharz, WSRC Founding Director. These six members of the WSRC’s Holocaust Research Study Group presented their views about the Holocaust, locating their ideas in relation to the history of the Holocaust through the creation of poetry, history, public art, film, photography and biography.

Spring Seminar Lecture

January 26, 2016

Golan Moskowitz presented Surviving a Queer Boyhood: Gendered Explorations of Post-Holocaust Subjectivity in Maurice Sendak and Beyond. The 2016 Spring Seminar: North American Jewish Women's Writing of Fiction, Memoir and Poetry featured a series of talks from international scholars and authors. Moskowitz, a doctoral student in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies at Brandeis, is assistant to the executive director at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. He is a past winner of the HBI Student Research Award.