Have you RSVP’d for our last three events of the Spring 2021 semester? The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to host Brown University’s Dr. Omer Bartov, Georgetown University’s Dr. Joseph Sassoon, and the CJC’s own Dr. Ori Soltes for our final lectures on April 8, 15, and 28. Find out more about our events and RSVP below.
Thursday, April 08, 2021
About this Event:
The CJC invites you to Dr. Omer Bartov’s lecture, “Genocide from Below: Rewriting the Holocaust as First-Person Local History.” RSVP required — you may do so here. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture.
For more than four hundred years, the Eastern European border town of Buczacz – today part of Ukraine – was home to a highly diverse citizenry. It was here that Poles, Ukrainians, and Jews all lived side by side in relative harmony. Then came World War II, and three years later the entire Jewish population had been murdered by German and Ukrainian police, while Ukrainian nationalists eradicated Polish residents. In this lecture, Dr. Omer Bartov will discuss his most recent works, including Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018) and Voices on War and Genocide (2020), and how significant individual witnesses from one locality are to the writing of history, particularly of conflict and war. Using primarily diaries and personal letters from eyewitnesses in and around Buczacz – perpetrators, victims, and survivors – he will explain how genocide doesn’t occur as is so often portrayed in popular history, with the quick ascent of a vitriolic political leader and the unleashing of military might. It begins in seeming peace, slowly and often unnoticed, as the culmination of pent-up slights and grudges and indignities. The perpetrators aren’t only sociopathic soldiers. They are neighbors and friends and family. They are also middle-aged men who come from elsewhere, often with their wives and children and parents, and settle into a life of bourgeois comfort peppered with bouts of mass murder.
About the Speaker:
Born in Israel and educated at Tel Aviv University and St. Antony’s College, Oxford, Dr. Omer Bartov’s early research concerned the Nazi indoctrination of the Wehrmacht and the crimes it committed in World War II, analyzed in his books, The Eastern Front, 1941-1945, and Hitler’s Army. He then turned to the links between total war and genocide, discussed in his books Murder in Our Midst, Mirrors of Destruction, and Germany’s War and the Holocaust. Bartov’s interest in representation also led to his study, The “Jew” in Cinema, which examines the recycling of antisemitic stereotypes in film. His more recent work has focused on interethnic relations in the borderlands of Eastern Europe. His book Erased (2007) investigates the politics of memory in West Ukraine, while his most recent monograph, Anatomy of a Genocide: The Life and Death of a Town Called Buczacz (2018) is a microhistory of ethnic coexistence and violence. The book received the National Jewish Book Award and the Yad Vashem International Book Prize for Holocaust Research, among others, and has been translated into several languages. Bartov has just completed a new monograph, tentatively titled Tales from the Borderlands: Making and Unmaking the Past. His many edited volumes include Voices on War and Genocide: Three Accounts of the World Wars in a Galician Town (2020) and, reflecting his new interest, the forthcoming Israel/Palestine: Lands and Peoples.
Thursday, April 15, 2021
About the Event:
The CJC invites you to a lecture with Dr. Joseph Sassoon, the Director of the Center for Contemporary Arab Studies (CCAS). The influential merchants of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries shaped globalization today. The Sassoons, a Baghdadi-Jewish trading family, built a global trading enterprise by taking advantage of major historical developments during the nineteenth century. Their story is not just one of an Arab Jewish family that settled in India, traded in China, and aspired to be British. It also presents an extraordinary vista into the world in which they lived and prospered economically, politically, and socially. The Global Merchants is not only about their rise, but also about their decline: why it happened, how political and economic changes after the First World War adversely affected them, and finally, how realizing their aspirations to reach the upper echelons of British society led to their disengagement from business and prevented them from adapting to the new economic and political world order. RSVP required. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture. RSVP here!
About the Speaker:
Dr. Joseph Sassoon is a Professor at the School of Foreign Service and History Department at Georgetown University and holds the al-Sabah Chair in Politics and Political Economy of the Arab World. He is also a Senior Associate Member at St Antony’s College, Oxford. In 2013, his book Saddam Hussein’s Ba‘th Party: Inside an Authoritarian Regime (Cambridge University Press, 2012) won the prestigious British-Kuwait Prize for the best book on the Middle East.
Sassoon completed his Ph.D at St Antony’s College, Oxford. He has published extensively on Iraq and its economy and on the Middle East. He is working currently on a book about the Global Merchants: The World of the Sassoons which will be published next year by Penguin in the UK and Knopf in the US.
Wednesday, April 28, 2021
The CJC invites you to our book discussion with Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, the former Director of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. RSVP here! RSVP required. Only those who register will receive the Zoom link to access the lecture. This program will delve into the following books:
- Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana, and Kitra Cahana
This book reviews the story of a 14-year-old girl from Sarvar, Hungary who was deported to Auschwitz by the Nazis, together with her family. She was the sole survivor of the deportation and transit through three different camps, ended up marrying a rabbi, moving to Houston, Texas, by way of Israel, and becoming an artist. She defeated Hitler in three ways: she survived; she ended up turning the destructive processes of her Holocaust experience into creative expression–extracting rainbows from the ashes; and she and her husband produced three children (both sons becoming rabbis) and nine grandchildren. Her older son, Ronnie, also achieved artistic success as a poet; his oldest daughter, Kitra, has already gained recognition as a photographer and filmmaker–and both of them and their work are in part informed by Alice’s experience and the powerful impact of its transmission on their lives and those of the other members of the family. These two narratives could hardly be more opposite in expressing aspects of the Jewish experience in the modern and contemporary world. The talk will include an array of visual images.
Funding for this publication was made possible with a grant by the Federal Republic of Germany. Dr. Ori Z. Soltes conceived this publication with Rachel Stern, the Founding Director and CEO of The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art in New York. Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana and Kitra Cahana was published by The Fritz Ascher Society. The Fritz Ascher Society researches, discusses, publishes, and exhibits artists whose life and work were affected by the German Nazi regime between 1933 and 1945. Its work commemorates their artistic achievements, introduces work that may have been forgotten to a broad audience, and initiates an active dialogue about individuality and artistic integrity in response to conditions of extreme duress and to political tyranny.
- Growing Up Jewish in India: Synagogues, Customs and Ceremonies from the Bene Israel to the Art of Siona Benjamin
This book considers the diverse and positive experience of the Jewish communities in India, culminating with a discussion of the work of an artist who, growing up in that Hindu and Muslim country, went to Catholic and Zoroastrian (Parsi) schools, before migrating to America and finding her artistic voice as a harmony of multi-cultural, multi-ethnic and multi-religious influences.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Ori Z. Soltes teaches at Georgetown University across a range of disciplines. He is the former Director of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum. Soltes has authored or edited 24 books and scores of articles and exhibition catalog essays. This includes several articles on the work of Siona Benjamin, and volumes such as Our Sacred Signs: How Jewish, Christian and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; The Ashen Rainbow: Essays on the Arts and the Holocaust; Mysticism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: Searching for Oneness; Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture; Magic and Religion in the Greco-Roman World: The Beginnings of Judaism and Christianity, and most recently, Eros and Eris: Love and Strife in and Beyond the Greco-Roman World.