Schusterman Seminars

A Schusterman Scholars Seminar

If you enjoy academic presentations, we encourage you to join us for our biweekly Schusterman Seminars. These are advanced seminars geared toward faculty and graduate students, and open to all, presenting the latest research in Israel Studies to the Schusterman Center community and beyond.  

Fall 2022

Seminars will take place in person and on Zoom.
*Exccept for the September 29 seminar, which will be on Zoom only.*
12 - 1:15 PM
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University
Get directions 

We are excited to welcome you back to in-person events! Join us in person (registration encouraged) or on Zoom (register to get the Zoom link). Click on the desired seminar in the list below to see details and register. 

Seminars are free and open to all. These are "brown bag" events: you are welcome to bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Matt Silver
The Jewish Bookshelf from the Six Day War to the Yom Kippur War

September 1, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
On Zoom and in person
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University

"Brown bag" event. Bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Register now

What books did Jewish authors, in the US and Israel, publish between the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War, relating partly or mostly to Israel? Focusing on topics such as ethnic (Ashkenazi-Mizrahi) tensions in Israel, contrasting models of masculinity in Israel and America, and blind spots in American Jewish liberal perceptions of Israel during this transformative period, this analysis of the "Jewish bookshelf, 1967-1973" probes a provocative, perhaps unavoidable, thesis: Jewish culture has more experience and eloquence when relating to setbacks and calamity, as opposed to triumph.

Dr. M. M. Silver is Professor of Modern Jewish History at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College. He is spending the fall semester as a visiting scholar at the Schusterman CenterHis research and writing covers topics in Zionism and American Jewish History; and his publications, in Hebrew and English, include studies on Leon Uris and Exodus, Louis Marshall, and, recently, a multi-volume history of the Galilee region. Born in the US, he completed his graduate studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. During sabbatical years, he has taught and been a research fellow at Oxford University, the Ohio State University (as a Schusterman fellow), and other universities in North America and Europe. He lives in Safed.

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Michael Figueroa
Musical Memorialism and the Politics of Bereavement in Jerusalem

September 15, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
On Zoom and in-person
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University

"Brown bag" event. Bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Register now

This lecture concerns commemorative song and commemorative landscape in Jerusalem, discussing how music and monuments work in tandem to narrate past violence from the early statehood period (c. 1948–1967). The exposition will include contemporary covers and parodies of memorial repertory (such as Haim Gouri’s “Bab El Wad,” 1949, and Yoram Taharlev’s “Ammunition Hill,” 1968), to illuminate how bereavement has emerged in the twenty-first century as a site of political debate.

Dr. Michael A. Figueroa is Associate Professor of Music at the University of North Carolina (UNC) at Chapel Hill. He researches music and politics in the SWANA region (South West Asia and North Africa) and its diasporas. The first phase of his career has focused on music in the Israeli-Palestinian crisis, culminating in his first book, "City of Song: Music and the Making of Modern Jerusalem" (Oxford University Press, 2022). He has published in several journals, including Ethnomusicology, Ethnomusicology Forum, Journal of Music History Pedagogy, Journal of Musicology, and multiple edited volumes, for three of which he served as an editor. He recently has embarked on a second major project, “Music and Racial Awakening in Arab America,” a study of post-9/11 Arab American race consciousness through an expansive study of musical life across genres and geographical boundaries. Prof. Figueroa is a past Associate Director of the Carolina Center for Jewish Studies at UNC.

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Noah Hysler Rubin
Digitizing Jerusalem’s Archives: Urban Heritage in the Age of Digital Culture

September 29, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
*On Zoom only*

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The Jerusalem Architectural Archives, a collaboration of Jerusalem Development Authority (HARLI) and Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, is an extensive project of heritage documentation and digitization. It aims to locate and digitize official and personal documentation pertaining to the city's modern building and planning, and make it accessible to the public. The main objective of the project is to provide access to historic collections of Jerusalem planning and architecture, to improve sustainable development and conservation practice and enhance heritage research and democratization. The archives also constitute a unique platform from which to study anew the modern history of Jerusalem, from the Ottoman era to the British Mandate. This presentation will discuss the integration of study of town planning (aka urban design) in Jerusalem from the Ottoman era to the British Mandate, which formed the backbone of future planning and development of the city.

Dr. Noah Hysler Rubin is a town planner and a historical geographer working on modern planning history and theory mainly in Palestine/Israel. She combines historical archival research with critical cultural perspectives to examine the way political climates, social practices, and cultural trends are reflected in planning conventions and the way these have shaped modern Israel/Palestine landscapes. At the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Dr. Rubin earned degrees in geography and multidisciplinary studies (1997) and in urban and regional planning (2000). For her doctorate (2006), also at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, she examined the theory and practice of an iconic planning figure, Patrick Geddes, presenting for the first time a model of Geddes' urban theory, and analyzing his greatly celebrated plans for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to suggest a critical reading of his colonial work. The research was published as "Patrick Geddes and Town Planning: A Critical View" (Routledge 2011). Her current research interests include planning as a contested practice in Israel/Palestine, planning Jerusalem, and critical urban heritage. Dr. Rubin teaches at the Department of Architecture and Urban Design at Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, and heads the Jerusalem Archives project, digitizing Jerusalem's modern architectural and planning collections.

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Emma Polyakov
The Nun in the Synagogue: Judeocentric Catholicism in Israel

October 27, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
On Zoom and in-person
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University

"Brown bag" event. Bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Register now

In the wake of the Holocaust, a religious phenomenon arose in Israel fueled by Holocaust survivors who had converted to Catholicism as well as by Catholics determined to address the anti-Judaism inherent in their religious tradition. This talk examines this “Judeocentric Catholicism” as a case study in Catholic perceptions of Jews, Judaism, and the state of Israel.

Dr. Emma Polyakov conducts research on religious pluralism and intercultural relations, and is Assistant Professor of the Interdisciplinary Study of Religion at Merrimack College. She is the author of three books: "The Nun in the Synagogue: Judeocentric Catholicism in Israel" (Penn State University Press, 2020); "Remembering the Future: The Experience of Time in Jewish and Christian Liturgy" (Liturgical Press, 2015); and "Antisemitism, Islamophobia, and Interreligious Hermeneutics: Ways of Seeing the Religious Other" (Brill-Rodopi, 2018). Sbe is currently completing two more books exploring religious perspectives on Jerusalem. She holds a doctorate from Boston College, a master of theological studies degree from Boston University, and a bachelor's degree from Bard College.

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Emmanuel Bloch
Tsni'ut (Modesty): Between Law and Ideology in Israeli Orthodox Communities

November 3, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
On Zoom and in-person
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University

"Brown bag" event. Bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Register now

Tsni’ut (traditional female modesty), was encoded in Jewish law toward the middle of the twentieth century. Previously, tsni’ut was a mimetic way of life, informally passed on from mother to daughter, at home and in the street – but it was not couched in legal language. Since the 1960s, several meta-halakhic visions of tsni’ut have emerged, both in Israel and in North America. Each vision encodes a conversation on the place of law, sexuality and the body, intergender relationships, and more. Each vision also evidences complex interactions between halakhah (Jewish law) and meta-halakhah.

Dr. Emmanuel Bloch holds a doctorate in Jewish studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His recently completed doctoral thesis, written under the co-supervision of Profs. Suzanne Last Stone and Benjamin Brown, examines how and why the concept of female modesty (tsni’ut), which was always understood as a mimetic way of life, has recently morphed into a legal domain of its own. Previously, Bloch was an attorney-at-law in Europe. This fall semester he will be a Research Fellow at the Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His mother tongue is French, and he has published academic articles in three languages. Bloch’s work draws mostly from legal philosophy but is enriched by concepts borrowed from the sociology of law and religion.

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Talia Diskin
The Law and The Child: Legal and Moral Discourse in Children’s Weeklies in Israel’s First Decade

November 17, 2022

12 - 1:15 PM
On Zoom and in-person
Mandel Center for the Humanities, third floor conference room 
Brandeis University

"Brown bag" event. Bring your lunch; beverages and snacks will be provided. 

Register now

Israel’s first decade, embracing the transition from Yishuv (the organized Jewish community in the Land of Israel) to political sovereignty, was a formative time that drew the contours of Israeli society. Throughout this decade, the children’s press played an important role in shaping the values of the young generation. Children’s journals were differentiated by sectorial and even political leanings, and a close reading reveals the overt and covert ways in which the writing assimilated the regularization of laws, norms, and moral values in daily life in the new State of Israel. This presentation will illuminate the nature of the journals’ effort to shape readers’ attitudes toward the law generally, and the rule of law specifically, in Israel's formative years.

Dr. Talia Diskin is a post-doctoral fellow at the Minerva Center for the Rule of Law Under Extreme Conditions at the University of Haifa. She is spending the fall semester as a visiting scholar at the Schusterman Center. Dr. Diskin holds a bachelor's degree in psychology and communication, a   bachelor of law degree (LL.B) and a master's degree in culture research from Tel Aviv University. During her studies, Talia was granted several scholarships and awards, most recently, the Ben Halpern award from the Association for Israel Studies for best doctoral dissertation for her study, “A Law of Our Own: Legal and Moral Values in Children and Youth Periodicals in the State of Israel, 1948-1958,” supervised by Prof. Assaf Likhovski. Between 2018-2021 she was a post-doctoral fellow at The Ben-Gurion Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.

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A sampling of our past speakers

Subscribe to our YouTube channel to watch recordings of a selection of previous seminars, and to be notified when new recordings are posted.