Why Modern Jewish Studies Matters with Mirjam Thulin and Jeffrey Blutinger

Mirjam Thulin and Jeffrey Blutinger join us for a conversation about the past and future of modern Jewish studies. We’ll look at what’s at stake when in how people write and tell the history of the Jews, and delve into why studying the Jews has mattered over the course of two centuries of modern Jewish studies, and why it still matters today.

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Roundtable Discussion on the Materiality of Jewish Culture with Aleksandra Buncic, Nathan Mastnjack, David Sclar, and Jason Lustig

Listen to a roundtable discussion on the materiality of Jewish culture with B Buncic, David Sclar, Nathan Mastnjack, and Jason Lustig, who in 2018-19 have been Harry Starr Fellows in Judaica at Harvard’s Center for Jewish Studies. The theme this year has been the history of the Jewish book, and we come together to discuss why books matter in Jewish culture and why we should look at the material objects, writing platforms, and physical form in addition to the contents that they contain.

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What Does It Mean for Israel to be a “Jewish” State? Defining Israel with Simon Rabinovitch

Simon Rabinovitch joins us to talk about Israel’s nation-state law and his volume Defining Israel: The Jewish State, Democracy and the Law—the origins, development, and ramifications of Israel’s nation-state law, how we can contextualize it, and try to understand its importance and meaning for the ongoing debates over the character of the state of Israel.

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Is Income Equality Possible? The Mystery of the Kibbutz with Ran Abramitzky

What would it mean to create a society with income equality? This is a burning political and social question today as we look at our world where fewer and fewer people hold a larger and larger part of the economic pie. But it’s also something that we can look to Jewish history to try to understand, so we are joined in this episode by Ran Abramitzky to discuss his book The Mystery of the Kibbutz: Egalitarian Principles in a Capitalist World which explores how and why kibbutzim developed in Palestine and Israel and the relationship between income equality in kibbutzim with economic models like free riders, adverse selection, and the brain drain. Listen to our conversation about how kibbutzim created a social framework that allowed them to maintain a measure of income equality, if only for a time, and what that tells us about the possibilities for income equality in our own age. As Ran argues, income equality is possible—but it doesn’t come for free.

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Pedagogy and Public Engagement in Jewish Studies with Lori Lefkovitz, Sara Wolkenfeld, Matt Williams, Jason Lustig, and Pamela Nadell

Listen to a roundtable discussion about pedagogy and public engagement from the December 2018 Association for Jewish Studies conference in Boston, where Lori Lefkovitz, Sara Wolkenfeld, Matt Williams, and Jason Lustig, along with Pamela Nadel, who chaired the roundtable, talked about the role of scholars in the public sphere and how it relates to teaching, pedagogy, and technology. Considering pedagogy in a broadly defined sense, we wanted to address how we combine teaching with public engagement: how and why teaching reaches outside the classroom and what tools (digital and otherwise) we use to present Jewish Studies as a topic of vital public need.

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Could It Happen Here? Fascism and Nazism in America with Steve Ross

Could fascists really have taken power in the US during the 1930s? It’s not just the stuff of fiction, as in “The Man in the High Castle” and The Plot Against America. In Steve Ross’ book Hitler in Los Angeles: How Jews Foiled Nazi Plots Against Hollywood and America, we learn about the thrilling (and terrifying) history of how Nazis and fascists tried to establish a foothold on the west coast and the efforts of a handful of spies to try to take them down. In this episode, Steve Ross joins us to talk about his book and the history of fascist and pro-Nazi groups in LA, the real threat that fascism posed in the United States in the 1930s and 1940s, and what it teaches us, unfortunately, about our present moment.

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The Kishinev Pogrom with Steven Zipperstein

Steven Zipperstein discusses the Kishinev pogrom and its afterlife in modern Jewish history and memory: the tremendous influence of Kishinev on how Jews have seen the world, the dangers of misinformation and propaganda, and how one event can shape a generation. Ultimately, the pogrom highlights how and why history matters: how the Kishinev pogrom has become so influential in modern Jewish history, and also the tension between the public memory of the pogrom and the actual historical events themselves. Today, we’re in an age when actual facts and details do matter, but the Kishinev pogrom shows the power of myth and memory too.

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Holocaust Memory and the Digital Age with Jeffrey Shandler

Jeffrey Shandler joins us to talk about Holocaust Memory in the Digital Age: Survivors’ Stories and Memory Practices: How Holocaust memory and memorialization is changing in the digital age, the history and meaning of testimony and the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive, and what the future holds in store for these memory practices.

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Modern Jewish Thought with Samuel Moyn and Eugene Sheppard

Samuel Moyn and Eugene Sheppard join us to talk about the expansive vision of what constitutes modern Jewish thought that they are exploring through the various books in the multi-volume book series Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought, published by Brandeis University Press. Listen in for our conversation about how the series came together, what they have tried to achieve with it, and what it means to push the boundaries of modern Jewish thought.

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