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From the Director

A message from Lori Lefkovitz, Ruderman Professor of Jewish Studies and Director of the Jewish Studies Program

Dear Haverim (friends!)

My sabbatical this fall coincided with significant transformations in the American political landscape, foundational changes in the U.S.-Israel relationship, and new vulnerability in the American Jewish community.  In this time of uncertainty and transition, the place of Jews and Israel in the American imagination is more fraught than at any time that I can remember.  Anti-Semitic incidents are on the rise.  Within the Jewish community, arguments rage on the lessons the Jewish immigrant experience can teach us about the contemporary debate on welcoming the stranger, and even support for Israel has become an increasingly partisan issue.  

I write to you in the midst of the spring semester with a renewed sense of urgency about our work as teachers and supporters of Jewish Studies at Northeastern.  Whether in our courses about the Jewish historical and cultural experience, the Holocaust and modern Jewish history, or Israel and the contemporary Middle East, or in our Dialogue of Civilizations trip to Israel this summer, every lesson seems immediately relevant to critical issues in the headlines. We are reminded that our work matters profoundly in the world around us.  In these pages, select Jewish Studies faculty reflect on world affairs from the perspective of their own areas of expertise.

You will again discover the range and strength of our co-curricular programs, which showcase the gifts of Jewish Studies to interdisciplinary research and learning and to the people on this campus, from our collaboration on an event with representatives of an Israeli environmental, peacebuilding effort in the Arava to the visit of renowned Jewish ethicist Paul Root Wolpe, who taught about the ethics of biotechnology. You will read about our Ruderman scholars, who embody the highest values of a Northeastern education and a Jewish Studies minor. And much more.

I look forward to returning to Israel this summer with a diverse group of undergraduates.  The first half of the Dialogue will take place under my direction in Jerusalem, where students will learn about world religions, read foundational and contemporary Israeli literature, and explorie the old and modern city; we will also take a three-day excursion to the Galilee. The second half of the Dialogue, led by Professor Dov Waxman, will be based in Tel Aviv, where students will focus on contemporary Mideast politics.

The Jewish Studies program is deeply engaged in plans for the coming year.  We hope to see you at our public events and I welcome hearing from you any time. I am grateful, as ever, for my colleagues and program staff, but especially so this year, when I had the leisure of a fall sabbatical to focus on my research on Jewish narratives while Dr. Jenny Sartori acted in my stead as program director.  She was ably assisted by associate director, Professor Laurel Leff, and our gracious and cheerful administrator, Ignacio Chaparro.  My warmest thanks to them and to our dedicated executive committee.  

Read the rest of the Spring 2017 Haverim Newsletter here.

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Haverim Newsletter Spring 2017