Jewish Studies Events

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Events Archive


Ongoing Events

Hebrew Language Table, February 8, 2016–May 20, 2016
Kline, President's Room  1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Hebrew Language Table, September 5, 2016–December 22, 2016
Kline, President's Room  1:30 pm – 2:30 pm

Hebrew Language Table, February 6, 2017–May 15, 2017
Kline Commons  6:30 pm – 7:30 pm


Tuesday, March 13, 2018
Judaism and Hypertexts: Old Traditions and New Incarnations
A lecture by Scott-Martin Kosofsky, Principal, The Philidor Company
New Annandale House  5:00 pm – 7:00 pm
The term “hypertext” is defined as a text that references other texts in such a way as the reader can immediately access all of them through a computer display. It is often said that the inspiration for this idea came from Jorge Luis Borges’s story “The Garden of Forking Paths,” but Jews have been thinking and working along these lines for over two thousand years, as a way of keeping alive the work of sage commentators on its major scriptural and legal texts. With the invention of moveable type and the printing press, Jews seized on the opportunity to present these commentaries and conversations all at once on the page, in a way that was far more elaborate than was practicable in the era of manuscripts.

The highly elaborate hypertext pages of the printed Talmud and codes of law have been a fixture of rabbinical and scholarly life since the 15th century. But in the last 10 years, this style of presenting text and commentary along with alternate readings on a single page or spread has been adapted to some of the most popular prayer books that are in the pews of progressive American synagogues. The person responsible for the execution of this work is the American book designer, typographer, and editor Scott-Martin Kosofsky, who now lives in Rhinebeck, and who will present his extraordinary work to us, explaining how it’s done and showing dozens of examples from the amazing history of these books, which contain as-yet untapped ideas that have much to offer our digital present and future.

About Scott Kosofsky: 
After living in the Boston area for 40 years, Scott-Martin Kosofsky settled in Rhinebeck in 2015. There he continues his work developing, producing, designing, composing, editing, writing, and making types for books on subjects as far-flung as abandoned state mental hospitals and the relationship of the typeface Helvetica with the New York City subway system. His main work, however, is in Judaica, and since 2008 he has developed and designed the new prayer books for both the Conservative Movement (Mahzor Lev Shalem and Siddur Lev Shalem) and the Reform Movement (the new machzor Mishkan HaNefesh), all of which feature his own Hebrew typefaces. His book about the Jewish year, The Book of Customs, was winner of a National Jewish Book Award in 2005. In an earlier life he was a musician, and a founder of the Boston Early Music Festival.

Sponsored by: Experimental Humanities Program; Jewish Studies Program; Religion Program
Gretta Tritch Roman  845-752-7103
  Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Wrestling Jerusalem
Film Screening
Weis Cinema  7:30 pm
Sponsored by: Jewish Studies Program

Thursday, February 15, 2018
The Witness's Two Bodies: Primo Levi, Anne Frank, Jorge Semprún
a lecture by
Prof. Anna Maria Mariani (University of Chicago)

Prof. Francine Prose (Bard College)

Olin, Room 102  5:00 pm
This talk asks what became of Primo Levi’s testimonial function after his death. The first part investigates the literary objects (novels and comic books) produced in the wake of Levi’s death, when fictionalized representations of him multiplied through different media. As a means of comparison, the question will be explored by taking into account a series of fictional works that feature another quintessential emblem of the Shoah: Anne Frank. The second part will instead examine Literature or Life by Buchenwald survivor Jorge Semprún, who rewrote and rearticulated Levi’s words on the very day of the latter’s suicide. Can testimonial function migrate between mortal bodies, like the royal dignitas, thus preserving itself beyond the ephemeral lives of individuals? 

Sponsored by: Hannah Arendt Center; Italian Studies Program; Jewish Studies Program; Literature Program
Franco Baldasso  845-758-7377
Tuesday, February 13, 2018
The Strange Stories of Yiddishland: What the Yiddish Press Reveals about the Jews
Dr. Eddy Portnoy in conversation with Prof. Luc Sante

Olin, Room 102  4:45 pm

An underground history of downwardly mobile Jews, Eddy Portnoy's new book Bad Rabbi and Other Strange but True Stories from the Yiddish Press mines century-old Yiddish newspapers to expose the seamy underbelly of pre-WWII New York and Warsaw, the two major centers of Yiddish culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One part Isaac Bashevis Singer, one part Jerry Springer, this irreverent, unvarnished, and frequently hilarious compendium of stories provides a window into an unknown Yiddish world that was. 

Eddy Portnoy received his Ph.D. from the Jewish Theological Seminary. A specialist in Jewish popular culture, he has taught at Rutgers University and currently serves as academic adviser for the Max Weinreich Center and exhibition curator at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.

Luc Sante, the author of several award-wining books, is visiting professor of writing and photography at Bard College.

Sponsored by: Jewish Studies Program; Religion Program
Cecile Kuznitz  845-758-7543