Fall CJS series to focus on two new Jewish history books

The fall College of Jewish Studies program will feature presentations from the authors of two new scholarly books in modern Jewish studies. The talks – presented via Zoom – are scheduled for Thursdays, October 29 and November 5, at 7:30 pm. 

On October 29, Nancy Sinkoff, professor of Jewish studies and history, and the academic director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life at Rutgers University, will discuss her new biography “From Left to Right: Lucy S. Dawidowicz, the New York Intellectuals, and the Politics of Jewish History” in a talk titled “From Left to Right: Lucy Dawidowicz and the Representation of the Holocaust.” Lucy Dawidowicz has been called “a crucial, but neglected figure” in the history of American Jewish politics. The Polish-born Dawidowicz immigrated with her parents to New York City between the world wars. The author of “The War Against the Jews,” she would come to be considered one of the first and most influential interpreters of the Holocaust to American Jews during the 1960s and ‘70s. As Sinkoff shows, it was Dawidowicz’s immersion in the Yiddish culture of her youth alongside her Holocaust consciousness that fueled her shift from early communist beginnings to her emergence as one of the founders of the Jewish neoconservative movement. “Sinkoff, a scholar of both Eastern European and American Jewish history, is ideally situated to treat this geographically and thematically wide-ranging topic,” said organizers of the program. “The product of a decade of archival research, her new book is the first comprehensive biography of this brilliant, pioneering and controversial woman.”

On November 5, Professor Magda Teter of Rutgers University will discuss her book “Blood Libel: On The Trail of an Antisemitic Myth” about the history of the blood libel accusation. “Also the product of years of research in multiple languages, Teter’s monograph is the most comprehensive examination yet produced of this immensely consequential and destructive fabrication,” organizers said. The myth emerged in the Middle Ages and, while other anti-Jewish tales, like those of well-poisoning or desecration of consecrated hosts, disappeared, the blood libel has persisted even to the present day. Teter’s talk will explore the role print media and iconography played in the rooting of this “pernicious canard in the Christian European imagination.” Teter is professor of history and the Shvidler chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University. She is a fellow of the American Academy for Jewish Research and, in addition to her most recent book, the author of “Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland” and “Sinners on Trial.”

Both programs are open to the community. Prior registration is required. To register for one or both of these events, send an e-mail to jkarp@binghamton.edu with the subject heading “fall 2020 CJS.” Registrants will be sent the Zoom link via e-mail one day prior to the talk. Because tickets cannot be sold at the door, the organizers ask that attendees consider making a voluntary contribution to support the College of Jewish Studies. Checks should be made out to the “College of Jewish Studies” and sent to the JCC, 500 Clubhouse Rd., Vestal, NY 13850. 

The College of Jewish Studies was founded in 1986 as a coalition between the Judaic Studies Department at Binghamton University and several local Jewish sponsoring institutions, including the Jewish Community Center, the Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton, Beth David Synagogue, Temple Concord and Temple Israel. Its mission is to provide opportunities for quality adult Jewish education in Broome County. The CJS Committee strives to bring scholars from local and regional campuses for enlightening lectures; an effort is made to combine broad appeal with intellectual and stimulating content and challenge.