In a special lunchtime workshop, Professor Laura Arnold Leibman (Reed College), who was this semester’s Ruderman lecturer, offered a sneak peek at her current research and next book project on Jewish women and textiles. In the 19th century, Jewish women’s sewing circles made quilts, for Civil War soldiers, for synagogue fundraisers, or as gifts to departing friends. Leibman shared illustrations of some of these quilts and the history of Jewish quilt making. Then the fun began, as participants, including faculty, students and invited guests (some textile artists themselves), reconstructed one such quilt using reproduction paper squares. Research on the quilters, tracing the names on this quilt, allowed us to appreciate the interconnecting community of quilters across locations, kin, friends, and poignantly, a slave, who shared in creating this particular work of art.
In the evening, Leibman delivered the Morton E. Ruderman Memorial Lecture on Jews of Color in Early America. A robust in-person audience, joined by well over a hundred online viewers, heard Leibman discuss the integration of former slaves from the Caribbean into the Jewish community in the United States, the way the concept of race has been fluid based on geography and social status, and how the long history of American Jews of color should be considered when understanding the American Jewish community today.
A recording of Leibman’s Ruderman lecture can be found here.
See more photos of the lunchtime workshop on our instagram page.