CJS Spring 2022 Lecture Series in May

The College of Jewish Studies will hold its Spring 2022 Lecture Series on “Mixed Messages: Jews and Transgression in American Media” on Mondays, May 2 and 9, at 7:30 pm, on Zoom. The programs will explore how post-World War II American film and television have depicted Jews in relation to such topics as intermarriage and race relations. The series is free and open to the general public. Voluntary contributions to offset the costs of programs are encouraged. Those wishing to attend should pre-register on the CJS Facebook page (available here), or the Binghamton University Judaic Studies Department Events page (located here). A Zoom link will be sent to each registrant a day before the talk. 

On May 2, novelist and literary scholar Todd Hasak-Lowy will speak on the topic “They Darker than Us: Satire and Ethnicity in Blazing Saddles.” He will look at Mel Brooks’ 1974 film, “Blazing Saddles,” which has been celebrated as “a madcap, outrageous send-up of the Western.” But might there be a method to the movie’s madness? The talk will explore the film’s subversive, even transgressive, humor as a very particular way to make sense of Jewishness, ethnicity and difference in America.

On May 9, historian Tony Michels will speak about “Jews and Inter-Marriage on Screen.” Since the early years of Hollywood, the theme of intermarriage has appeared repeatedly in films and television shows. Romances between Jews and Gentiles have served as a source of comedy and drama, an expression of anxiety, but also a celebration of American national ideals. What do the affairs of Jews and Gentiles tell us about American society? This lecture will explore depictions of intermarriage and related themes of assimilation, upward mobility, and gender relations in the 20th and 21st centuries.

Hasak-Lowy was an associate professor of Hebrew language and literature at the University of Florida. While in Florida, he published three books: an academic monograph, a short story collection and a novel. Since moving to Chicago, he has published three more books and co-written two others, all of them with major commercial houses, with both fiction and non-fiction works currently in the pipeline. His books have been translated into 19 languages. He has also translated Hebrew literature into English, and since arriving at SAIC five of his book-length translations have been published.

Michels is the George L. Mosse Professor of American Jewish History at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is the author of “A Fire in their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York” and “Jewish Radicals: A Documentary History,” and a forthcoming study of Jews and American Communism.

The College of Jewish Studies provides opportunities for adult Jewish education for the Broome County community by offering fall and spring programs. Drawing on local resources and inviting scholars and experts from a range of universities and cultural and religious institutions, CJS sponsors a wide array of programs dealing with Jewish history, culture, religion and politics.

The College of Jewish Studies, founded in 1986, is an informal coalition between the Judaic Studies Department of Binghamton University and several area Jewish sponsoring institutions: the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton, Beth David Synagogue, Temple Concord and Temple Israel. Programming for CJS would not be possible without the additional financial support of a generous grant from The Community Foundation for South Central New York - David and Virginia Eisenberg Donor Advised Fund, the Jacob and Rose Olum Foundation, the B’nai B’rith Lectureship Fund, the Victor and Esther Rozen Foundation, an endowment fund from the former Temple Beth El of Endicott, a grant from the JoyVel Charitable Fund, and the generous donations of individual sponsors. 

If you are not one already, consider becoming an individual sponsor so that the CJS can continue bringing quality programs to the community. For more information on how to become an individual sponsor or to make a donation, e-mail bingcjs@gmail.com. The College of Jewish Studies is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. 

For more information on the College of Jewish Studies and its programs, go to their website and Facebook page