The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies News

Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies News 

From the Spring 2019 edition of Skylight

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Building community is at the heart of our work at the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies (CJS). This year, we are delighted to welcome our second cohort of recipients of our Jewish Community Fellowship. This fellowship provides tuition for a single course in Jewish studies to Jewish educators or Jewish community professionals. Since the fellowship’s inception in 2017, we have welcomed 15 community scholars. It is our hope that rigorous study of classical Jewish texts and ideas will enable them to better serve their broader commitments to the Jewish community.

CJS students are engaged in an array of fascinating research projects. MA student Aya Baron (pictured) is writing a thesis using feminist and folklorist analysis to highlight the role of women as central figures in the production of rabbinic narrative and Jewish collective memory. PhD student Susan Aguilar is writing a rich study of Jewish participation in urban processions in medieval Spain and the insights we can garner regarding medieval Jewish-Christian relations. PhD student Jay Siskin is writing an illuminating study of medieval vernacular and Hebrew texts that shed light on the social position of Jews in medieval France. Each of these projects adds nuance to our understanding of Jewish self-definition, and definition by others, throughout Jewish history.

This spring, the CJS is hosting an exciting array of public programming. On April 7-8, we will host our second annual Jewish Educator’s Workshop with Dr. Miriam Heller Stern. This year’s workshop will consider what this political moment demands of Jewish educators. To RSVP, email We are also delighted to once again co-sponsor the annual Taubman Lecture Series at The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life on April 9th, 11th, and 16th. This year’s lecturer is former GTU-CJS Koret Chair Naomi Seidman (pictured) who will offer three talks on the topic of Freud’s Jewish languages. Finally, we will are host another CJS Alumni Gathering on May 6. Alums who would like to join the steering committee for this event can email

The CJS continues to cultivate enlivening programming in collaboration with the GTU’s Center for Islamic Studies as a part of the Madrasa-Midrasha program. On April 28, we are pleased to co-host a conversation about the Hebrew Bible and Qur’an with masters of these texts, Todd Lawson and Robert Alter. The Madrasa-Midrasha program is also sponsoring a course this semester on Aesthetics in Judaism and Islam taught by Francesco Spagnolo and Carol Bier.