Tuesday, November 21, 2023: “Kol Isha: Religious Women on Israeli TV”
Featuring:  Dr. Melissa Weininger is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at California State University, Northridge.

In the last several years, there has been a sharp uptick in pop cultural portrayals of ultra-Orthodox communities in both the U.S. and Israel. In the U.S., many of these, such as the limited series Unorthodox and the reality show My Unorthodox Life, have followed individuals who have left ultra-Orthodoxy and have depicted a binary conflict between secular and religious life. In Israel, shows like Srugim and Shtisel have offered sympathetic portraits of religious life from an insider point of view, with resolvable conflicts centered around marriage, work, and family life. By contrast, a recent spate of Israeli television shows by and about Orthodox women, including Rama Burshtein’s Fire Dance and Aleeza Chanowitz’s Chanshi, as well as a reality show called Bnot Brak, have focused on women protagonists from religious communities in a way that continues to highlight a diverse and nuanced portrait of Jewish religious Orthodoxy while at the same time challenging some of the assumptions and perceived norms of the public. In focusing on women protagonists, these shows provide a portrait of religious life that does not originate in the center of authority, which is largely granted to men, but offer a point of view from the margins that trains a new lens on religious life. These shows do not shy away from internal religious conflicts over gender, sexuality, and relationships between the sexes; depict situations, such as rape and domestic violence, that are often concealed within the confines of closed communities; and center the desires, passions, and agency of women.

Monday, October 30, 2023 – “Research in Practice: How do Jewish Organizational Professionals Make Sense of the Data They Use and Produce?”

Featuring Dr. Gage Gorsky-researcher and postdoc at Stanford University

Gage Gorsky (they/them) is a queer mixed Mexican Jewish multimodal research advisor, data analyst, and program evaluator who uses a dynamic approach to explore intersections of identity and the phenomenon of social categorization, with a focus on the tension between marginality and belonging. They have a doctorate in Educational Measurement and Statistics from the University of Washington, where their research inquiry bridged social science frameworks and utilized diverse methods to better understand the relationship between student identity and math achievement. In 2020, they helped lead “Beyond the Count,” the largest ever study of Jews of Color, report released August 2021. They serve as an advisor for OneTable, the Collaborative for Applied Studies in Jewish Education (CASJE), Edot Midwest, as well as a number of applied research studies in the Jewish communal sector. In addition to ongoing work with Tiyuv and the Jim Joseph Foundation, they are currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Graduate School of Education, concentration in Jewish Studies, at Stanford University.

Wednesday, October 18, 2023: “Early Female Founders: Women and Jewish Museums in America, 1913-1950”

Featuring:  Dr. Ari Berger is a cultural historian of North American Jews.

Her work examines the emergence of Jewish museums in the United States through the stories of several women who founded them. She earned her BA at the University of Pennsylvania (American History), two MA degrees from Columbia University (Art History) and the Jewish Theological Seminary (Modern Jewish Studies), and her PhD at the University of Virginia (Jewish History). She has held fellowships at the New York Public Library, Center for Jewish History, Fordham University, Jefferson Foundation, and more. She is also an award winner in two JTS yearly essay contests for historical writing and has been a guest lecturer at synagogues, conferences, and special events.

Wednesday, April 19th, 2023: “The Roots of Israel’s Conservative Judicial Counter-Revolution”

Featuring: Phd student, Uri Appenzeller Yardeni, University of Haifa, Ruderman Program for Jewish American Studies

Jewish political conservatives in the US and Israel were collaborative agents of a political shift in contemporary American and Israeli politics. This Israeli-American conservative ideological synergy strongly and equally affected both Jewish communities and is based on a common value-system and strategic coordination. This introductory lecture will focus on the roots of Israel’s conservative judicial and constitutional counter-revolution.


Wednesday, October 26th, 2022: Exiled from the Promised Land: A Curious Case of Polish/Israeli Writer Leo Lipski*

*Previously titled “Excrements of Modernity: The Scatology of Leo Lipski”

Featuring Andrzej Brylak, Postdoctoral Scholar of Polish Studies in the USC Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures

Andrzej Brylak is a Postdoctoral Scholar in Polish Studies at the USC Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures.  His primary field of research is Polish and Eastern European modernity, especially in the post-WW2 context. He is currently working on a book titled “Leo Lipski: Expression, Excrement, Existence” in which he examines the prose of the Polish/Israeli writer whose postwar subject turns the main mode of existence from the disintegrated carnality to reconstructed textuality. Andrzej Brylak’s research focuses on Interwar Poland, Stalinist Gulag, and Modern Israel and employs discourses such as biopolitics, Jewish and Christian theology, disability studies, and psychoanalysis. He is also interested in Polish and Eastern European modernization projects and their representations in film, theater, and architecture.


Wednesday, November 30th, 2022: The Shamama Case: Contesting Citizenship across the Modern Mediterranean

How a nineteenth-century lawsuit over the estate of a wealthy Tunisian Jew shines new light on the history of belonging

In the winter of 1873, Nissim Shamama, a wealthy Jew from Tunisia, died suddenly in his palazzo in Livorno, Italy. His passing initiated a fierce lawsuit over his large estate. Before Shamama’s riches could be disbursed among his aspiring heirs, Italian courts had to decide which law to apply to his estate—a matter that depended on his nationality. Was he an Italian citizen? A subject of the Bey of Tunis? Had he become stateless? Or was his Jewishness also his nationality? Tracing a decade-long legal battle involving Jews, Muslims, and Christians from both sides of the Mediterranean, The Shamama Case offers a riveting history of citizenship across regional, cultural, and political borders.

Featuring Professor Jessica Marglin, USC School of Religion


November 10, 2021 12PM-1:30PM PST: Professor Nomi Stolzenberg-Nathan and Lilly Shapell Chair in Law-USC Gould School of Law

Title: “Leaving Kiryas Joel: 25 years of research into 45 years of a Hasidic village’s existence”



October 6, 2021 3:30-5PM PST: Professor Reuven Firestone-Regenstein Professor in Medieval Judaism and Islam-Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion

Title: “Muhammad’s Treaty Guaranteeing Equal Rights for Jews under Islamic rule (or, a subjugated community’s Topic for securing civil rights)”



March 10, 2021 12-2PM PST: Itamar Ben-Ami

Topic: The Total State of the Torah 


April 28, 2021 3:30-5:30PM PST: Jennifer Thompson

Topic: “Are ‘Bad Jews’ Nones? Exploring the Limits of Belonging on Twitter.”


October 28, 2020: Max Daniel

Topic: Sephardicness in Flux: Legacies of Race, Nation, and Empire in 20th Century Los Angeles




October 16, 2020: Jessica Marglin 

Topic: Nationality on Trial: Legal Belonging across the Mediteranian


March 4, 2020: Josh Cole 

Topic: Lethal Provocation: The Constantine Murders and the Politics of French Algeria 


November 20, 2019: Sivan Zakai

Topic: “‘Israel v. The Other Team’: Jewish Children’s Conceptions of the Israeli-Arab/Palestinian Conflict”  

Co-Sponsored with the Department of Middle East Studies


October 23, 2019: Bruce Phillips and Jennifer Thompson

Topic: “Let my People Vote:  An Insider’s Look at the LA Jewish Voter Survey”


September 11, 2019: Nick Strimple

Topic: “What, exactly, is ‘Holocaust-related Music?’”

Co-Sponsored with the USC Shoah Foundation Center for Advanced Genocide Research


April 10, 2019: Bruce Haynes

Topic: Hear O’ Israel, Voices of Afro-American Jews


March 27, 2019: Mark Kligman

Topic: Researching American Jewish Music: Challenges, Dilemmas and Trends


January 16, 2019: Khalid Ben Srhir

Topic: Jewish Studies in Morocco


November 13, 2018: Bruce Zuckerman

Topic: The Ins and Outs of Qoheleth


October 17, 2018: Max Baumgarten 

Topic: But Who is a Kosher Candidate? The Merging of Jewish Identity and Politics and Electoral Politics in Los Angeles


September 5, 2018: Rachel Adler

Topic: The Universality and Intersectionality of Suffering


April 11, 2018: Joshua Garroway

Topic: Jewish Paradigm Shifts, Ancient and Modern: From Paul of Tarsus to Samuel Holdheim”


March 22, 2018: Regina Range

Topic: “The Invisible Ones: Reconstructing the Hollywood Lives and Careers of Three Female Austrian-Jewish Exiles”


February 28, 2018: Sari J. Siegel

Topic: “Jewish Prisoner-Physicians in Nazi Camps and the Coercion-Resistance Spectrum Model”


November 15, 2017: Mostafa Hussein

Topic: “Jewish Perceptions of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad in the Holy Land.”


October 25, 2017: Gabrielle Rosmer and Sonya Gropman

Topic: “The German Jewish Cookbook.”


September 13, 2017: Daniel Stein Kokin

Topic: “Rome in the Jewish Imagination.”


April 26, 2017: Erik Greenberg

Topic:  “Institutional Artifacts: What the Jewish Institutions on the Sepulveda Pass Tell us About American Jewish History in the 20th Century.”


March 29, 2017: Dvora Weisberg

Topic: ” A feminist commentary on the Babylonian Talmud” 


January 25, 2017: Paul Lerner

Topic: “Judaism on the Couch: Erich Fromm, Frieda Fromm-Reichmann and the Psychoanalysis of Jewish Ritual in 1920s Heidelberg.”


November 16, 2016: Ruth Weisberg

Topic: “A Jewish Artist in a Catholic Context”


September 21, 2016: Allan Cooperman

Topic: Thoughts on “Israel’s Religiously Divided Society”–findings and reflections from the author.


April 13, 2016: Ra’anan Boustan (UCLA)

“Greek Kings and Judaean Priests in the Late Antique Synagogue: The Newly Discovered ‘Elephant’ Mosaic at Huqoq” (location TBD)


March 30, 2016: Reuven Firestone (HUC)

“Toldot Muhammad: a counter-history of an Islamic Gospel” (location TBD)


February 24, 2016: Alexandra Zirkle (University of Chicago)

“Bellicose Exegete: Heinrich Graetz and His Critique of Protestant Biblical Criticism” (HUC 101)


January 20, 2016: Erin Graff Zivin (USC)

“Levinas in Latin America” (DML 240)


November 11, 2015: Kristi Garroway (HUC)

“Digging Up Children in Ancient Israel” (HUC 101)


October 28, 2015: Jessica Marglin (USC)

“Nationality on Trial: The Death of a Tunisian Jew in Italy and the Making of the Modern Mediterranean” (ACB 330)