Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Spring 2017 courses, part 4, O Jerusalem!

Some of today's news stories:

What is this city?  Ancient sacred site?  Contested land?  Wanna-be high-tech center?  Eurocup contender?   All of the above?

Study the real and imagined Jerusalem, past and present in:

Jerusalem: History and Imagination
with Dr. Benjamin Gordon
JS 1160/HIST 1779/HAA 1105/RELGST 1160
MW 3-4:15  Gen-Ed: Foreign Culture/Reg  OR Historical Change

The holy city of Jerusalem is at the heart of the Western religious imagination and of contemporary political conflict in the Middle East. Traditionally it has been a center of religious pilgrimage, home to Israelite kings and Islamic caliphs. Today it is a cutting-edge urban center marked by stunning demographic diversity, a rapidly expanding economy, and an intractable political crisis. In this course, we will examine the history of the city—from its earliest days to today—with an eye toward its religious significance in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Special attention will be given to Jerusalem’s changing urban fabric: its architecture, neighborhoods, natural resources, economy, and religious institutions. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Spring 2017 internship opportunities, part 3: Holocaust Center of Greater Pittsburgh

Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh
Internship Description

Title of Project: The Butterfly Project Pittsburgh
Name of Organization: The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh
Name of Supervisor: Lauren Bairnsfather

Semester: Spring 2017 and Fall 2017, possible to intern in one or both semesters

Number of Credits: 2 Credits or 2 1-Credit positions each semester

The Butterfly Project is an international effort to commemorate the 1.5 million children killed in the Holocaust.  The goal is to paint one butterfly for each child. The Project is based in San Diego, and each city that participates has put its own twist on the final product. The Holocaust Center of Pittsburgh plans to paint between 1000 and 1800 butterflies, working with partners around the city. The intern will be involved in several aspects of the project. Responsibilities may include: Conducting research about children in the Holocaust and writing exhibition labels; communicating with partner organizations; participating in events as appropriate; contributing to the vision of the final exhibition, to open in Fall 2017.

To Apply: Contact Christina Sahovey, or 412-939-7289.

Internship available for credit as JS 1900 (contact Dr. Ben Gordon) or RELGST 1900 (contact Dr. Rachel Kranson)

Spring 2017 JS Courses, Part 3: Holocaust History and Memory

Go beyond "Denial"  (the movie): 

Holocaust History and Memory

Instructor: Rachel Kranson

JS 1252/HIST 1769/RELGST 1252
TTh 2:30-3:45  Gen-Ed: Foreign Culture/Reg  OR Historical Change

The Holocaust
that is, the genocide of six million Jews in Nazi-Occupied Europe during World War IIwas a critical event of the early twentieth century that continues to resonate today. Our historical survey looks at the Holocaust primarily through the experiences of its Jewish victims, though we discuss some of the other groups, such as the Roma, disabled people, and gay men, who were also targeted and systematically murdered by the Nazis. Additionally, we think about the perpetrators of the Holocaust and the ideologies that led to the genocide, such as racism, nationalism, and anti-Semitism. Finally, we move beyond the history of the Holocaust to think about the ways that this event has been remembered and reconstructed by survivors, nations, institutions, museums, the arts, popular culture, and the media. Looking at how institutions here in Pittsburgh commemorate the Holocaust offers us local, concrete examples of how people continue to grapple with this history.

Friday, October 21, 2016

Spring 2017, Internship Opportunities, part 2: American Jewish Museum

The American Jewish Museum explores diverse perspectives about Jewish art, philosophy and culture in as wide a scope as possible. It supports great, complex and bold ideas. It champions artists and art making. It believes art has the power to build communities, and it promotes interfaith and intergenerational explorations.

Programs and exhibits are organized to include all members of the community regardless of religious affiliation. Because the museum is in a highly trafficked area within the JCC and is open to the public more than 90 hours a week, it attracts a wide audience and offers unparalleled educational opportunities.

The objective of the AJM internship is to offer experience to individuals interested in participating in museum-related activities that delve into the connective tissue between Judaism, arts and culture, contemporary society and Pittsburgh’s distinct Jewish narrative. The internship is designed to expose young professionals to the principles of research, exhibition preparation, and museum management, giving interns practical experience.  

It is not required for interested students to have an affiliation with Judaism.
It is not required for interested students to be Art History or Fine Arts majors.

The AJM seeks a current student interested in the following areas:
Exhibition research and preparation: The AJM has exhibit-related opportunities in the following areas: research, educational outreach preparation, marketing, organization of collateral materials, labels and visitor interpretation, Web content, and administration.
Education: organizing docent program for upcoming exhibitions; preparing educational activities at the museum’s Resource/Education area, organizing exhibition-related activities.
The ideal candidate is one who wishes to contribute in a substantive way to the museum, is articulate, able to think and react quickly and willing to do a wide variety of tasks. The intern will interact with JCC members, staff, vendors as well as the community-at-large. 

The intern will ideally complete 120 hours (average of 9 hours per week) in order to earn three academic credits.The AJM is flexible regarding the structuring of the intern’s weekly hours.

Melissa Hiller, American Jewish Museum Director, provides direct supervision to intern(s).

Internships are available during Spring 2017 and/or Fall 2017.

The AJM is located in the JCC, so we offer complimentary JCC membership during the internship period.

Please send current resume to:
Melissa Hiller, AJM Director,
5738 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh PA  15217


And as with all internships for credit, make sure to discuss your plans with Dr. Gordon. 


Christians, Muslims, Jews in the Middle Ages: Connection & Conflict
Adam Shear
JS 1644/HIST 1768/RELGST 1644
TTh 9:30-10:45  Gen-Ed: Historical Change

Was the world of Europe and the Middle East before the Enlightenment a period of unending religious conflict and intolerance?  Were Jews the victims of severe persecution and violence everywhere during this period?  Did Christians and Muslims engage in unceasing religious wars? The answer to all three of these questions is no. While the Middle Ages were a period of conflict and competition between the three major western religious groups, they were also a time of coexistence and cooperation. This class shifts from extreme dichotomies and simplistic stereotypes to deeply examine the period in all of its complexity: what were the theological, political, and legal contexts in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews interacted in both Christian Europe and the Muslim world?  How did these deeply religious societies organize themselves to tolerate the religious “Other”?  When and why did toleration break down and lead to expulsion, forced conversion, or violence?  What kinds of cross-cultural exchanges and cooperation take place in economic, cultural, intellectual, and social life?  We will also look at new ideas of toleration (and intolerance) that emerged at the end of the Middle Ages and examine aspects of inter-religious encounters and dialogues today.  We will discuss not only the significance of Jewish-Christian-Muslim interactions in the Middle Ages but also assess these encounters as a case study in the broader history of religious diversity, pluralism, and conflict.

(Escorial, Madrid: image from Book of Chess, Dice, and Tables 1283)

(BnF, Gallica: image from Bible Moralisee, 1250)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Spring 2017, Internship Possibilities, part 1: PLAN A JEWISH LEARNING CONFERENCE

Project: Ignite Summit 
Hillel Jewish University Center
Supervisor: Danielle Kranjec, Senior Jewish Educator
Credits: 3 credits
Spend 9 hours a week helping to plan and execute the HIllel JUC's second annual Ignite Summit, a weekend-long peer-led learning Shabbaton and conference. Tasks will include helping to organize materials and sessions for more than 250 undergraduates leading up to the Ignite Summit which will take place in March. After the Ignite Summit itself, the intern will work to analyze data regarding the participants and their experience. Prior experience developing peer-led programming at Hillel or on Jewish topics a plus but not required.
For questions and to apply: contact Danielle Kranjec at
To arrange registration and credit, get in touch with Dr. Ben Gordon in the Jewish Studies Program.

Spring 2017 Course Preview, part 1: SAY IT IN YIDDISH!

Introduction to Yiddish Language and Literature
David Schlitt, adjunct professor-- SEE BIO BELOW 
JS 0040 /GER 0033
Th 6-8:30 pm
For hundreds of years, the majority of Jewish life happened in Yiddish. On the eve of World War II, eleven million Jews spoke this rich, Slavic-infused Germanic language. After undergoing the demographic devastation of the Holocaust and experiencing marginalization of all kinds, Yiddish has survived as a linguistic chain that connects modern diaspora Jewry to centuries of Jewish civilization and culture. Yiddish is key to some of the most exciting creative and cultural developments happening in Jewish life today. This course will serve as a lively introduction to Yiddish language and culture. By the end of the course, students will have the reading proficiency to work with basic Yiddish texts, and will be able to understand and conduct simple conversations. Students will learn the basics of Yiddish grammar and will be conversant in Yiddish culture, both past and present.
David Schlitt is Director of the Rauh Jewish History Program and Archives at the Senator John Heinz History Center. An archivist-historian with a decade of experience in public history, Schlitt has worked at the Yiddish Book Center in Amherst, Massachusetts, and was the Yiddish-language project archivist for the Elie Wiesel Archives at Boston University's Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center.