Suffering Citizens: Past Traumas in Jewish and African American Youth Literature

Wednesday, October 23, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

 

Cover: As Good as Anybody
Raul Colón, illustrator

Youth literature about and written by Ashkenazi Jews, Christian African Americans, and African American Jews all rely on themes of suffering to graft their subjects into the American body politic. This rhetorical strategy has failures and weaknesses in an age of growing white supremacism. Reading “multi-directionally,” we can see how Jewish and African Americans utilize similar literary strategies but also where their historical experiences differ, and what happens at the intersection of those two identities, as in the case of author Julius Lester and others.

Dr. Jodi Eichler Levine is Director of American Studies, Berman Professor of Jewish Civilization, and Associate Professor of Religion Studies at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA. The author of Suffer the Little Children: Uses of the Past in Jewish and African American Children’s Literature (2013, 2015), she analyzes what is at stake in portraying religious history for young people, particularly when their histories are traumatic ones. Her work is located at the intersection of Jewish studies, religion in North America, literature, material culture, and gender studies. Future projects include a book on Jewish women, material culture, politics, and performance, currently titled Crafting Judaism: Creativity, Gender, and Jewish Americans and ongoing research into Jewish children’s literature, popular culture, race, ethnicity, and religion in the USA.


Session 2 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.


 

Did the Bible Sanction Slavery?

How the Churches Used the Bible to Justify Slaveholding

Wednesday, November 6, 2019, 7-8:30 p.m.

North Doyle Banquet Hall, Campion Student Center [Campus Map]

 

This presentation discusses how supporters of slavery in the United States and Europe used the Bible and other religious arguments to justify the enslavement of Africans and Native Americans in Europe and the Americas from the 1400s to the late 19th century. Yet, those who advocated the abolition of slavery also called upon the Bible to condemn it as immoral. The dispute demonstrates the complex place of the Bible in American society and jurisprudence.

 

Dr. Paul Finkelman is the President of Gratz College in Philadelphia and the author of Slavery and the Founders: Race and Liberty in the Age of Jefferson (2014); Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation’s Highest Court (2018) and Defending Slavery (2019). He has been cited in four decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court, numerous other courts, and in many appellate briefs.  He has lectured on slavery, human trafficking, and human rights at the United Nations, throughout the United States, and in over a dozen other countries, including China, Germany, Israel, and Japan.  In 2014, he was ranked as the fifth most cited legal historian in American legal scholarship in Brian Leiter’s “Top Ten Law Faculty for Scholarly Impact, 2009-2013.”


Session 3 of the three-part fall 2019 series:

The Intersection of “Race” and “Religion” in the USA

African Americans, Jewish Americans, and Trauma

In this series, three outstanding speakers discuss the experiences of African Americans and Jewish Americans in the predominantly Protestant Christian ethos of the United States. The social constructs of “race” and “religion” and notions of “whiteness” and “blackness” have all interacted in complex ways in the lives of the two groups, which have both similarities and differences as minorities often either forcibly taken or forced to flee from the lands of their birth. You are invited to any or all of the presentations.


 

The Catholic-Jewish Rapprochement and the Fraying of American Pluralism

Monday, March 30, 2020, 7-8:30 p.m.

Seminar Room 2, Haub Executive Center, McShain Hall

The post-Second World War “journey of friendship” between Jews and Catholics, as Pope Francis has called it, has showed the world that it is possible for two communities that had been estranged and hostile to one another for over a millennium to come together in a new and enriching relationship. Yet today our country has seen increases in inter-ethnic polemics and violence, antisemitism, Islamophobia, and polarization. What helpful lessons can be learned from the Catholic and Jewish experience of rapprochement? What preconditions were necessary for reconciliation to become possible? What was necessary for that possibility to become a deepening reality? What are the “dos” and “don’ts” for building real relationships? Our two guest speakers will discuss these and related questions.

Guest Speakers:

Rev. Dr. Walter F. Kedjierski is the Executive Director of the Secretariat for Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He previously served as the Director of the Diocese of Rockville Center’s Office of Ecumenical and Interreligious Affairs and as a member of the Catholic Association of Diocesan Ecumenical and Interreligious Officers (CADEIO), the Long Island Council of Churches, and the Long Island Multi-Faith Forum. Father Kedjierski was a member of the board of trustees of the Inter-Faith Center of the Islamic Center of Long Island, in Westbury, NY for three years. He has facilitated numerous ecumenical and interreligious dialogues, including a dialogue on non-violence with Indian Hindu scholar Swami Nikhileswarananda. He holds an Ed.D. in Interfaith and Ecumenical Education from the Graduate Theological Foundation in Mishawaka, Indiana and a Ph.D. in Dogmatic/Spiritual Theology from the Graduate Theological Foundation’s Foundation House at Oxford University.

Rev. Dr. Abraham Skorka is University Professor at Saint Joseph’s University, working with the Institute for Jewish-Catholic Relations. He previously served as the Rector of the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano Marshall T. Meyer, which trains Masorti / Conservative rabbis, cantors and educators in the Latin American Jewish Community. In addition, he served as Senior Rabbi of the Masorti Olami Community (Worldwide Conservative Movement) Benei Tikva in Buenos Aires. He has been a professor of biblical and rabbinic literature at the Seminario Rabínico Latinoamericano and honorary professor of Hebrew Law at the Universidad del Salvador in Buenos Aires. He also holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry and has published several books and articles in that field as well as in Biblical and Talmudic studies. Following in the footsteps of Rabbis Abraham Joshua Heschel and Marshall T. Meyer, he has been committed to interreligious dialogue for decades. With the future Pope Francis, he engaged in dozens of televised conversations in Argentina and with him published a book of their private dialogues about various religious topics.