Fall 2022 College of Jewish Studies series to feature 2 lectures & a movie

The fall 2022 College of Jewish Studies series will be comprised of two Zoom lectures and a movie. The two lectures will focus on American Jewish politics. The first will be held on the evening of Thursday, October 27, at 7:30 pm, and will feature Tel Aviv University Professor Yoav Fromer speaking about former New York Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s engagement with Jews and Jewish political thought. The second is scheduled for Thursday, November 10, at 7:30 pm, and will feature Binghamton University Professor Allan Arkush discussing the career of Lewis Strauss, the only Jew to be appointed to a Cabinet post between the Roosevelt Administration and the Kennedy Administration. 

On the night of Thursday, November 3, at 7 pm, the College of Jewish Studies is co-sponsoring an in-person event: a classic silent film with live music performed by violin virtuoso and klezmer fiddler Alicia Svigals, of The Klezmatics fame, and Donald Sosin, a world-renowned silent film piano accompanist. This showing of “Dos Alte Gesetz” (“The Ancient Law”), from Weimar director Ewald Andrew Dupont, will be held at Binghamton University’s Casadesus Recital Hall. Parking for the university event is available at the parking garage just below the Fine Arts Building.

Fromer’s October 27 talk is titled “Sons of City College: Daniel Patrick Moynihan and the Jewish World of Ideas.” “Among the many intellectual influences that informed the unique mindset of the legendary (and controversial) scholar and politician, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, none were more central than the ideas of New York’s Jewish intellectuals,” said CJS organizers. “Despite his strong Catholic-Irish heritage and pragmatic political instincts, much of Moynihan’s political orientation was shaped by the ideas and sensibilities of New York’s Jewish intellectual community.” Fromer’s presentation will explore Moynihan’s admiration for New York’s Jewish intellectuals in the 1960s-70s and his embrace of some of their most notable political initiatives (like the unequivocal support of Israel), and try to understand why the liberal Moynihan was drawn to Neoconservative Jewish thinkers like the sociologist Nathan Glazer, Commentary Editor Norman Podhoretz, and the writer and columnist Irving Kristol, all of whom also became his personal friends.

Fromer heads the Center for the Study of the United States at Tel Aviv University and is a fellow in the School of Government and Diplomacy. Fromer’s research explores the relationship between politics and culture, and focuses primarily on modern American liberalism, conservatism, and foreign policy. His academic research has been published in journals like Review of Politics, Modern Intellectual History, American Jewish History and Journal of American Studies. His latest book, “The Moderate Imagination: The Political Thought of John Updike and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism” (2020) was published by the University Press of Kansas. In addition to his academic work, Fromer is a commentator for the Israeli daily newspaper Yediot Aharonot, and writes for The Washington Post and Tablet Magazine about American politics and the Middle East. He is currently writing a book about Moynihan and the literary influences behind his politics.

Arkush’s talk on November 10 is titled “The Other L. Strauss: The Curious Odyssey of an ex-Anti-Zionist.” “Lewis Strauss had an amazing career in the American government, working for presidents from Hoover to Eisenhower in very high capacities, including as chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission. All of this has been forgotten now, as has his active but mostly behind-the-scenes role in American Jewish life, and his slow transformation from anti-Zionist to supporter of Israel,” CJS organizers noted. Arkush will review the career and Jewish activities of Strauss.

Arkush is a professor of Judaic studies at Binghamton University, where he has been teaching since 1987. His scholarly research is mainly in the area of modern Jewish thought and history. He is the author of “Moses Mendelssohn and the Enlightenment” (SUNY, 1994) and numerous articles in such periodicals as Modern Judaism, Jewish Social Studies and the Jewish Quarterly Review.  Since 2010, he has been the senior contributing editor of the Jewish Review of Books.  

Both lectures will be held via Zoom, starting at 7:30 pm. They are free and open to the general public; pre-registration is required and can be done through the CJS Facebook page (available here) or the Binghamton University Judaic Studies Department events page (available here). A Zoom link will be sent to each registrant a day before the talk. 

The film event on November 3, at 7 pm, is titled “Live Music and a Movie: A Fusion Sensation!” “‘The Ancient Law’ tells the tempestuous and age-old story of a hero caught between his traditional origins and the allure of the modern city,” noted CJS organizers. “This promises to be a true fusion event, combining the extraordinary beauty of a contemporary musical score – composed by Svigals and Sosin – with the visual cinematic delights of a German-Jewish silent era classic.” The film with musical accompaniment is also free and open to the public. Those planning to attend should RSVP to jkarp@binghamton.edu. 

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. 

Community members are asked to consider becoming an individual sponsor so that the CJS can continue bringing 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.