RSVP to the CJC’s Final Event of the Semester!

About the Event

The Hal Israel Endowed Lecture in Jewish-Catholic Relations is named in memory of Hal Israel (C’92) and seeks to facilitate dialogue and strengthen ties between Jews and Catholics. It explores the many ways in which members of these two faiths continue to replace ancient prejudices with cooperation and understanding in today’s world. We are excited to welcome Dr. Erica Lehrer to deliver her talk, “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust.” RSVP today

About the Lecture: “Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust”

How can Jewish-Catholic relationships play out in the form of inanimate objects? This talk examines “folk art” made by non-professional Polish artists – most of them uneducated peasants – documenting the German Nazi occupation of Poland and the Holocaust. Made largely in the 1960s and 70s, these objects are uncanny: at times deeply moving, at others grotesque, they can also be disturbing for the ways they impose Catholic idioms on Jewish suffering, or upend accepted roles of victim, perpetrator, and bystander. Cultural anthropologist and curator Erica Lehrer describes her collaboration with Polish researchers to explore the motivations, uses, and ethical implications of these works, asking whether we might view them as legitimate “arts of witness.”

About the Speaker

Dr. Erica Lehrer is sociocultural anthropologist and curator. She is currently Professor in the departments of History and Sociology-Anthropology at Concordia University, Montreal, where she also is Founding Director of the Curating and Public Scholarship Lab (CaPSL). She is the author of Jewish Poland Revisited: Heritage Tourism in Unquiet Places (Indiana University Press (2013); and editor (with Shelley Butler) of Curatorial Dreams: Critics Imagine Exhibitions (McGill-Queens 2016); (with Michael Meng) of Jewish Space in Contemporary Poland (2015); and (with Cynthia Milton et al) of Curating Difficult Knowledge: Violent Pasts in Public Places (Palgrave 2011), as well as numerous articles. In 2013 she curated the exhibit Souvenir, Talisman, Toy and in 2018-19 co-curated Terribly Close: Polish Vernacular Artists Face the Holocaust at the Kraków Ethnographic Museum (MEK) in Poland.

About the Reception

A Hanukkah reception will precede the lecture. Please arrive at 4:00 PM for food and refreshments! Save your spot here

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

Faculty and Student Insight Series: The Future of Israeli Politics

The CJC is pleased to launch its new blog series featuring insights from CJC professors and students. Our first piece was written by our very own Maddox Angerhofer (SFS ’22) and Professor Moran Stern. Their article below explores the current state of Israeli politics and offers insight into the future of both domestic Israeli politics and Israeli-U.S relations, at large.

The State of Affairs

In the 120-member Israeli Parliament (the Knesset), a 61 seat majority is the minimum number of seats required to form a government.  As of today, neither Benjamin Netnayahu’s Likud party nor Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party have reached this threshold after two rounds of elections this year.  Israel has been governed by a transitional government since the first round of elections this past April. In the September elections, Gantz’s Blue and White party won with 33 seats while Likud came second with 32.  At midnight on Wednesday, November 20, however, Gantz will see his mandate to form a government expire. This leaves the composition of the future government up in the air, with major implications for Israeli domestic politics and the relationship with the U.S.

The Forecast

There are four potential outcomes from this situation.  In the first and perhaps least likely, Gantz could successfully form a minority government between now and Wednesday night. This means that Blue and White and the left wing parties will form a coalition, while the Arab Joint List and Lieberman’s secular-nationalist party, Israel Beiteinu, will remain outside the coalition but will cast their support through vote or abstention. This would be the first time in Israeli history that a minority government was newly established.

In a second scenario, Gantz and Netanyahu will successfully bridge their differences and form a wide national unity government with Blue and White, Likud, and Israel Beiteinu as its anchors. This is the scenario that, at least rhetorically, all sides support.

In a third scenario, like Netanyahu before him, Gantz fails to form a government before the deadline.  At midnight on Wednesday, the mandate would be turned over to the Knesset to negotiate. A 61 member majority would still be required to form the government. While Gantz or Netanyahu would be the most likely choices for prime minister, Israeli law stipulates that any member of parliament could be selected, not the leaders of the largest parties. If the Knesset does agree on a candidate, they will have two weeks to announce their government.  

Should the members of parliament fail to obtain the necessary majority consensus, another unprecedented scenario would unfold: Israel would conduct its third round of elections since April 2019. Such a situation would only extend the time spent under a transitional government, continuing the paralysis of Israeli policy making.

What (or Who) to Watch

The fates of two men will play a significant role in determining the outcome of the current political turbulence. Netanyahu awaits a decision from the attorney general on his pending indictment, which is likely to be released sometime in the next few weeks. His personal freedom and political survivability have become the central driving force in Israeli politics over the last year and a half, and the decision from the attorney general is certain to create a political tsunami.  

The second man to watch is Avigdor Lieberman.  With neither Likud nor Blue and White commanding a majority, Lieberman’s small party has taken on an outsized role in determining who can reach the threshold to assemble a government. He has said he would only be willing to join a liberal national unity government with Likud, Blue and White, and Israel Beiteinu, at the exclusion of right-wing religious and ultra-Orthodox parties.  The eight seats won by Israel Beiteinu in the September election have become the focal point of coalition building, putting Lieberman in the position of kingmaker.

Implications for the U.S.

President Trump had hoped close ties with Netanyahu could boost his efforts to win a second presidential term by mobilizing American conservative Jews and Evangelicals.  The recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Syrian-occupied Golan Heights and Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, along with the subsequent relocation of the American embassy in late 2017, represented strong goodwill gestures toward Netanyahu. Even more significant was Trump’s decertification of the Iran Nuclear Deal (JCPOA) and the classification of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) as a terrorist organization.  Since Netanyahu’s two consecutive failures to win elections, Trump has altered his tactics to be less explicitly focused on supporting Netanyahu, and more amicable toward Israel as a whole. This change comes as the future of Israeli leadership remains uncertain. Finally, the release of the “deal of the century” on the Israeli-Palestinian issue will likely be delayed until such a time as Israel can produce an elected government. This timeline may keep the contents of the deal undisclosed until after the U.S. presidential election.

Maddox Angerhofer is a sophomore in the School of Foreign Service majoring in international politics, studying Jewish Civilization and Persian. She is also a member of the Georgetown lightweight women’s rowing team. Maddox is from Durham, New Hampshire. Moran Stern is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Graduate Fellow in Advanced Israel Studies. Since 2012, Stern has been teaching courses at the Center for Jewish Civilization on Israel and the contemporary Middle East.

RSVP to our Exhibition Discussion, “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland”!

The Center for Jewish Civilization is pleased to invite you to “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland”! RSVP today!

About the Event 

Press photographer Chuck Fishman achieved great renown for his work, having won the World Press Photo Foundation medal four times, and having been featured on the covers of magazines such as Life, Newsweek, Time, and Fortune. The Jewish Historical Institute’s exhibit “Re-Generation. Jewish Life in Poland,” explores the history of Jewish communities in post-war Poland throughout a 43-year period.

The images selected for the “Re-Generation. Jewish life In Poland” exhibition cover different periods and are divided into two parts. The earlier ones taken in the 1970s and 1980s depict the few remaining members of the “struggling” remnant Jewish communities of Kraków, Wrocław, Warsaw, Lublin, Łódź, Przemyśl. In contrast, the photographs taken since 2000 (the most recent ones at the 75th commemoration of the Ghetto Uprising in 2018) present the renewed Jewish congregations and organizations where jubilant young people demonstrate enthusiasm and astuteness as they engage in the renewal of Jewish religious and cultural life in the country. This discussion will explore Fishman’s multi-faceted documentation of Jewish life.

About the Speakers

This panel discussion will featuring many renowned speakers, including:

Dr. Edyta Gawron (Jewish Studies Institute, Jagiellonian University, Krakow, Poland)

Jakub Nowakowski (Director, Galicia Jewish Museum, Krakow, Poland)

Shana Penn (Executive Director, Taube Philanthropies, San Francisco, CA)

Dr. Anna Sommer Schneider (Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University, Washington DC)

With opening remarks by Chuck Fishman, Author of the Exhibition.

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

RSVP to “Welcoming the Stranger: Abrahamic Hospitality and Its Contemporary Implications”!

The Center for Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University is pleased to invite you to its upcoming conference, Welcoming the Stranger. The event will take pace in the Arrupe Multipurpose Room on Georgetown University’s Main Campus. RSVP on the CJC eventbrite today!

About the event:

The Center for Jewish Civilization and its cosponsors (Department of Theology and Religious Studies, Georgetown Jewish Life, The Alwaleed Bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding, Alfanar, and The Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc. ) are pleased to announce its upcoming conference, Welcoming the Stranger: Abrahamic Hospitality and Its Contemporary Implications. This forum will examine the positive and negative receptions of strangers in the three Abrahamic traditions through Biblical and historical anecdotes. Our examination will be deepened by a reevaluation of welcoming strangers around the world over the past 85 years. From forced isolation leading to genocide, to the refusal of asylum, we seek to understand the repercussions of welcoming and rejecting strangers in our modern, interconnected world. RSVP today!

Conference Agenda and Speakers:

10:00 am Welcome Remarks

10:05 am Introductions

Dr. Ori Z. Soltes, Professor of the Teaching of Jewish Civilization, Center for Jewish Civilization, Georgetown University

10:15 am – 11:45 am First Panel

“Welcoming the Stranger in Judaism”

Rabbi Rachel Gartner, Director for Jewish Life, Campus Ministry, Georgetown University

“Welcoming the Stranger in Christianity”

Reverend Craig Mousin, Refugee and Forced Migration Studies, DePaul University

“Welcoming the Stranger in Islam”

Dr. Zeki Saritoprak, Nursi Chair in Islamic Studies, John Carroll University

11:45 am – 12:45 pm

Lunch Served

1:00 pm – 2:30 pm – Second Panel

Rachel Stern, Founding Director and CEO, Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, Inc.

Dr. Lindsay Balfour, Assistant Professor, Communication Studies, Concordia College

2:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Q&A with all of the Speakers

3:30 pm – 4:15 pm Endnote Conversation

Carol Prendergast, Senior Policy Advisor on Refugees, Victims of Torture and other Marginalized Communities & Venture Philanthropy Advisor, Alfanar

4:15 pm – 4:30 pm

Closing Remarks

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability. 

The CJC Looks Back at “The Bystander Effect” with Professor Danielle Pletka

About the Event 

The third annual Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture took place on Thursday, October 17. The Center for Jewish Civilization’s Professor Danielle Pletka spoke about “The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares.” CJC Director and Rabbi Harold White Professor of Jewish Civilization Jacques Berlinerblau provided introductory remarks and thanked the Andrew Siegal Foundation for its ongoing support of the CJC. Professor Pletka then began her urgent call to action against global injustices, and decried the ongoing lack of response to current issues, such as the ethnic cleansing campaign against Rohingya Muslims and the internment of Muslim Uighurs in China. Pletka ended her compelling lecture by asserting her belief that “the world will be a better place when we [the United States] lead.

About the Speaker 

Danielle Pletka is the Andrew H. Siegal Professor at the Center for Jewish Civilization in the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is also the Senior Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, Ms. Pletka was a longtime senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she specialized in the Near East and South Asia.

Ms. Pletka has authored, coauthored, and coedited a variety of studies and book chapters, including the report “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance” (Atlantic Council, 2017), and the chapter “America in Decline” in Debating the Obama Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

The CJC Holds Its Second Brown Bag Lunch

About the Event 

After a successful inaugural Brown Bag lunch with Professor Moran Stern in which students discussed the 2019 Israeli elections, the Center for Jewish Civilization held its next installment of the popular series. On October 16, Professor Andrej Umansky discussed anti-Semitism in North America and Europe with CJC students in an emergency Brown Bag lunch inspired by the tragic Halle synagogue shooting, which took place on the 9th of October. Umansky paid special attention to the complex politics of Germany, educating students about political and economic disparities between the country’s east and west regions. Specifically, Professor Umansky stressed that relatively high unemployment rates in eastern Germany are a determinant of the resurgence of far-right and anti-Semitic sentiments in the region. Furthermore, Umansky noted a lack of policy responses to the problem of anti-Semitism in Germany. Similar themes were explored in CJC’s Professor Danielle Pletka’s October 17 Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture, “The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares.” 

There is more to come from the CJC’s Brown Bag Lunch Series–– stay tuned, students! 

About the Professor 

Andrej Umansky is the Center for Jewish Civilization’s Braman Post-Doctoral Fellow. Additionally, Professor Umansky also serves on the Board of Directors of Yahad in Unum. As a member of the leadership team at Yahad, Mr. Umansky works to advance the mission of the organization through forensic investigation, academia, and community engagement.

The CJC Looks Back at “The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Political Discourse Today”

On October 10, the Center for Jewish Civilization held “The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Political Discourse Today” with Ambassador David Saperstein. The CJC’s Associate Director, Dr. Anna Sommer, provided introductory remarks, after which Ambassador Saperstein began his instructive lecture about modern invocations of the Holocaust in politics and discourse. At the core of the event was the fraught question of whether or not events should be compared to the Holocaust. Saperstein revisited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s June 24 press release, which rejected “efforts to create analogies between the Holocaust and other events, whether historical or contemporary.” Ambassador Saperstein assessed existing surveys, ads, and speeches, and created an interactive environment in which members of the audience could discuss their opinions about the problematic. 

Ambassador Saperstein offered his nuanced view of the subject, noting that while comparing every historical event to the Holocaust would “diminish” its significance and distinct nature, viewing the Holocaust as something too unique to be referenced in political discourse inhibits the world from learning from it. Ultimately, Sapestein asserted that “one of the most valuable lessons” to be learned from the Holocaust is that any genocide or ethnic cleansing must be stopped as soon as “the first identifiable actions…first appear.”

About the Speaker

Ambassador Saperstein was the U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom from January 2015 to January 2017. He is currently an adjunct professor with the Walsh School of Foreign Service’s Center for Jewish Civilization and previously was a senior research fellow of the Religious Freedom Research Project at the Berkley Center. An ordained rabbi, he served for several decades as the director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism representing the public policy positions of the Reform Jewish Movement, the largest segment of American Jewry, to the government and leading the movement’s efforts to strengthen social justice programming in synagogues across North America.

RSVP to the 2019 Andrew H. Siegal Lecture with Professor Danielle Pletka!

The Center for Jewish Civilization invites you to attend the annual Andrew H. Siegal Memorial Lecture featuring Danielle Pletka. RSVP today!
About the Event

The Bystander Effect: When Bad Things Happen in the World and No One Cares. Democracy is on the wane, anti-Semitism is on the rise, jihadis are coming back, rogue regimes feel secure, and it seems that few politicians or world leaders truly care. Is it the 1930s all over again? What should America do in this new and dangerous time?

About the Speaker

Danielle Pletka is a visiting lecturer at the Center for Jewish Civilization and an adjunct professor at the Walsh School of Foreign Service. She is also the Senior Vice President for foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). Before joining AEI, Ms. Pletka was a longtime senior professional staff member for the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she specialized in the Near East and South Asia.

Ms. Pletka has authored, coauthored, and coedited a variety of studies and book chapters, including the report “Tehran Stands Atop the Syria-Iran Alliance” (Atlantic Council, 2017), and the chapter “America in Decline” in Debating the Obama Presidency (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).

A reception with light hors d’oeuvres will take place at 2:45pm. RSVP is strongly encouraged.

Any person with an accommodation request is welcome to email us at cjcinfo@georgetown.edu. We will try to meet these accommodation requests to the best of our ability.

The CJC Hosts Its First Brown Bag Lunch

About the Event

On Tuesday, September 24, the Center for Jewish Civilization hosted its first brown bag lunch of the semester in McGhee Library. The event, which was open to only the first ten CJC students who RSVP’d, was centered on modern Israeli politics and the 2019 Israeli elections. The CJC’s Professor Moran Stern offered a backgrounder on Israel’s unicameral parliamentary system, as well as its September 17 elections, which was characterized by a 69.7 percent voter turnout. In one of the many standout moments of the lunch, Stern noted that “the main factor that dominates and shapes Israeli politics, probably since 2017, is the legal situation of Prime Minister Netanyahu.” This brown bag lunch is one of many that will examine pressing issues in both United States and Middle East politics. 

About the Speaker Moran Stern is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Maryland, College Park and a Graduate Fellow in Advanced Israel Studies. Since 2012, Stern has been teaching courses at the Center for Jewish Civilization on Israel and the contemporary Middle East. Moran holds an M.A. in International Relations, Economics, and Middle East Studies from the Johns Hopkins University (SAIS) and a B.A. in Philosophy and Communications from Saint Francis College, New York. He speaks Hebrew and Arabic.

Missed the CJC’s Brown Bag?

Professor Stern co-wrote an informative op-ed in The Jewish Week about Prime Minister Netanyahu and Israel’s election. Read it here!

There is more to come from our Brown Bag series –– stay tuned, students!

CJC Proseminar’s Visit to the Embassy of the Republic of Poland

This week, the Center for Jewish Civilization’s Professor Jessica Roda presided over her proseseminar’s trip to the Polish Embassy. The class, entitled “Music, Politics, and International Relations,” discussed music diplomacy in Poland and the revival of Yiddish Polish Tango with Olga Avigail Mieleszczuk and her musicians. Mieleszczuk, a singer and researcher of Eastern European musical folklore, has previously stated that “Most of the artists, who invented a world-class, high-quality tango music in Poland, perished in the Holocaust. I have a mission to keep their legacy alive.” Professor Roda’s proseminar is one of many CJC courses which probe the exciting intersection between culture, politics, and international relations, and offers a window into the CJC’s rich interdisciplinary character. 

About CJC Professor Jessica Roda 

Jessica Roda is the Assistant Director of the Center for Jewish Civilization. She joined the CJC in the fall of 2018 as an Assistant Professor of Jewish Civilization. She is an anthropologist and ethnomusicologist trained in European and North American schools and has published several peer-reviewed articles, book chapters, and a monograph (Se réinventer au present. Les Judéo-espagnols de France, 2018, Presses Universitaires de Rennes) on the political implications of Sephardic and Arab-Jewish music in France, Spain, and Morocco. Dr. Roda is currently working on a second manuscript based on her ethnography of Hasidic life in Montreal and New York City (Performing Hasidicness. Ultra-Orthodox Jews on Stage and on Screen in North America). 

About the Proseminar

The 21st century Internet has democratized the circulation of ideas within and beyond the nation-state. In this context, music serves as a means of both alternative ideas and a reinforcement of the established order. International organizations, government actors, NGOs, artists, and a range of activists (from religious to social) have invested in music for their own political, social, and economic ends. This proseminar will focus on music as a way to reflect on politics and international affairs in the 21st century via issues such as globalization, cultural diplomacy, conflict resolution, community building, social movements, national hegemony and protectionism.