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ON JEWISH DIVERSITY
TRAVELS TO THE EDGE OF THE JEWISH WORLD: CENTRAL ASIA'S BUKHARAN JEWS
Shortly after the USSR dissolved, cultural anthropologist Alanna Cooper traveled to Uzbekistan to learn about the Jewish community living there for over a millennia. In the heart of Central Asia, she recorded their stories about living on the margins of the Jewish world as a minority among Muslims, and about remaining Jewish under Soviet rule. Join her for a fascinating perspective on Jewish history and culture.
REMEMBERING HOME AND EXILE: MEMOIRS BY JEWS OF MUSLIM LANDS
A century ago, nearly one million Jews lived in North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia. Today less than fifty thousand remain. Using literary memoirs written by exiles, Cooper analyzes the tenion-riddled relationship between Jewish belonging and exile.
ON PRESERVING JEWISH MEMORY
PRESERVING THE MEMORY OF JEWISH PRESENCE IN POLAND
In the wake of the decimation of Eastern Europe's Jews, a new sort of Jewish life is emerging in Poland. Synagogues are being restored, Jewish culture is flourishing and Jewish tourists are flocking to the country. What is the attraction, who is doing the preserving, and towards what ends?
VIOLINS, TORAH SCROLLS, STAINED-GLASS WINDOWS: CAN OBJECTS TRANSMIT MEMORY?
Traditionally, Jews learned about their past by participating in rituals and studying texts. Today, there is a new focus on using objects to remember. Can the reconstruction, preservation and display of material culture (such as Torah scrolls, stained-glass windows and synagogue buildings) ensure that the Jewish past will not be forgotten?
WHEN A JEWISH COMMUNITY DISAPPEARS: THE OBJECTS LEFT BEHIND
Throughout history, Jewish communities have gone through periods of growth, decline and even disappearance. What happens to synagogue buildings and other communal property once Jewish life is gone from an area where it once thrived. Is it important to collect and curate the artifacts of Jewish life?
ON JUDAISM PAST & PRESENT
IMAGES OF THE JEWISH WORLD
Since the late 19th century, photographers have traveled the world seeking out Jews as subjects. S.Ansky chronicled Jewish life in Eastern Europe's shtetls; a photo contest conducted by 1970s-Jewish-hippies documented changing Jewish America; and Frederic Brenner's staged images capture contemporary Jewish life. Their work (and others') offers commentary on community and home, today and in the past.
HOLOCAUST TORAH SCROLLS: REPOSITORIES OF SHORT TERM MEMORY
A Torah scroll is treated as a revered member of its congregation throughout its life; from the time it is welcomed into a community, until its burial. The new phenomena of “Holocaust Torahs,” upends traditional norms of Jewish memory transmission, raising ethical dilemmas about the extent to which the Torah ought to be regarded as an individual with its own particular biography.
STAYING UP ALL NIGHT TO STUDY TORAH: ORIGINS OF TIKKUN LEIL SHAVUOT
The custom of studying Torah all night began as a mystical experience among a closed group of 16th century kabbalists. It has since become a widely practiced communal tradition. How did this transition occur, and why has it become such a beloved custom?