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Explores why Jewish history matters through in-depth discussions of new research, current topics, and enduring debates about Jewish history and culture.

Explores why Jewish history matters through in-depth discussions of new research, current topics, and enduring debates about Jewish history and culture.
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Explores why Jewish history matters through in-depth discussions of new research, current topics, and enduring debates about Jewish history and culture.




29: 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.


28: Is Income Equality Possible? Looking at Kibbutzim 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...


27: 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...


26: 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...


25: 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...


24: Masculinity and American Jewish History with Sarah Imhoff

Sarah Imhoff joins us to talk about her book Masculinity and the Making of American Judaism and how we can look at the history of gender to understand the development of American Jewish religion.


23: 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.


22: 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.


21: Jews and Human Rights with James Loeffler

James Loeffler discusses his book "Rooted Cosmopolitans: Jews and Human Rights in the Twentieth Century," why the history of human rights matters, and how it fits into modern Jewish history.


20: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement with Sara Yael Hirschhorn

Sara Yael Hirschhorn joins us to discuss her book City on a Hilltop: American Jews and the Israeli Settler Movement, and the big questions that it raises for how we understand Israel, American Jewry, and those American Jews who have moved to Israel and participated in the settler movement beyond the Green Line in the occupied territories of the West Bank and Sinai Peninsula: Why so many Israeli Jewish settlers are of American origin, how we can understand them as real people and not...


19: Moving Beyond “Chrismukkah” with Samira Mehta

Samira Mehta joins us to discuss her book Beyond Chrismukkah: The Christian-Jewish Interfaith Family in the United States and the meaning and complexities of interfaith marriage: Why it matters beyond the question of continuity, how it relates to broader social and religious trends, and how thinking through interfaith marriage can help us to understand our world at large.


18: Why Teaching Jewish Studies Matters with Jenny Caplan

Jenny Caplan joins us to talk about why teaching and studying Jewish history and Jewish Studies matters. Listen to our conversation about how we teach and talk about Jewish studies and Jewish history, how we justify its study to our students, to our colleagues, and to the wider world, how we can reach diverse students—and the challenges and opportunities it presents.


Roundtable on the Attack in Pittsburgh with Lila Corwin Berman, Maja Gildin Zuckerman, and Jacob Labendz

Lila Corwin Berman, Maja Gildin Zuckerman, and Jacob Labendz join us for a roundtable discussion about the attacks at the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh: how we can try to contextualize, historicize, and respond to it, and to the broader rise of political violence and antisemitism.


17: Why American Jewish History Matters with Hasia Diner

Hasia Diner joins us to talk about the big issues that have driven the field of American Jewish history and her work in particular, how we understand American Jewish history in two contexts—in the context of Jewish history as a whole, and within the framework of American history—and also how the field has changed, what lies ahead, and why it matters today.


16: The Stakes of Jewish History with David N. Myers

David N. Myers joins us to talk about his two new books, The Stakes of History: On the Use and Abuse of Jewish History for Life and Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction, and about why Jewish history matters.


15: Colonialism and the Jews with Lisa Moses Leff, Ethan Katz, and Maud Mandel

Lisa Moses Leff, Ethan Katz, and Maud Mandel discuss "Colonialism and the Jews," an volume of essays from a 2014 conference on the subject. We talk about the place of Jews in the history of colonialism, the role of empire in the varied Jewish experiences of modernity, how examining these topics helps us to rethink modern Jewish history, and the question of Zionism and colonialism.


14: Cafes and Modern Jewish Culture with Shachar Pinsker

Shachar Pinsker discusses his book A Rich Brew: How Cafes Created Modern Jewish Culture and the ways in which cafes provide a window into understanding modern Jewish culture and modernity: What it means for cafes to be sites of the production of Jewish culture, how cafes sold not just coffee but also a concept of modernity, and the transformation of cafes and Jewish culture.


13: A German Jewish Cookbook with Sonya Gropman and Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman

Gabrielle Rossmer Gropman and Sonya Gropman talk about The German Jewish Cookbook: Recipes and History of a Cuisine, the ties between German and Jewish culture,what it means to document the everyday German Jewish experience and its food, and why it still matters.


12: Food and Power with Nir Avieli

Nir Avieli discusses his recent book Food and Power: A Culinary Ethnography of Israel, and why food matters for understanding contemporary Israel: Who lays claim to "owning" various foods and cuisines, what it means to fight over food, and the relationship of food, culture, and power.


11: A New History of Hasidism with David Biale

David Biale discusses Hasidism: A New History, an important and invaluable history of Hasidism from its origins in the 18th century until the present. We discuss Hasidism and why it matters: Why it was so significant in Europe before the Holocaust and why it remains relevant, what's at stake in declaring it a "modern" movement, and how and why Hasidism helps us understand the currents of modern Jewish history and the modern world at large.