Global Jewish Studies Announces Fall Lecture Series


*September 26, 7 p.m.

Cultural islands, cultural bridges: The Jews of Kochi and their neighbors
Nathan Katz, Professor Emeritus, FIU*

The small, far-flung Jewish community in Kochi (Cochin), South India, not only survived for at least 1,000 – possibly 2,000 – years but also flourished. They were learned, pious Jews. They were successful in the spice trade and thrived as merchants, artisans, in the local military and politics. How did they do it? How did they establish and maintain an identity that wedded their Jewishness with their Indianness? While this talk focuses on the Kochi Jews, it is also about Jews everywhere. In fact, it is a prescription for acculturation without assimilation.


*October 31, 7 p.m.
A Kippah in the Caribbean – Film Screening

A Kippah in the Caribbean is an educational documentary that explores the Jewish Caribbean identity. Jewish history in Surinam and the Caribbean parts of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Curaçao and Aruba, spans nearly 400 years. The documentary follows Jewish heritage through Portugal, Amsterdam, Brazil, Curaçao, Surinam, Aruba and the tiny island of St. Eustatius. The documentary also addresses differences between Jews in Surinam and Curaçao, including: Why do they look different? What was their influence on the local societies? A Kippah in the Caribbean speaks to contemporary themes of migration, identity and providing a safe haven for immigrants.


*November 7, 7 p.m.

Judaism in Papua New Guinea and Other Pacific Islands.
Tudor Parfitt, Director of Global Jewish Studies, FIU*

There is nowhere in the world where one would less expect to find an emerging Jewish community than the remote island of Papua New Guinea. And yet the island and surrounding Pacific islands are full of Jewish stories: from the once cannibal Gogodala people who have embraced Judaism to Jewish refugees from persecution. Tudor Parfitt has conducted fieldwork in Papua New Guinea for over more than a decade and will speak about what his research has revealed.

*Sunday, November 13, 2 p.m.
America's Debt to the Jewish Caribbean
Harry A. Ezratty, Esq. *

This lecture will cover Caribbean Jewry's role in Florida statehood, Alexander Hamilton's connection with the Jewish Caribbean, the first Jewish senators in the U.S. and the settlements on the American mainland founded by islanders. Mr. Ezratty will also speak about Jews settling in the Caribbean much before they settled in Colonial America and the reasons why. Also covered will be the fact that Jews had synagogues and rabbis many decades before they appeared on the American mainland. Up until the War of 1812, more Jews lived in the Caribbean than on the mainland. The first Jews to come to the New World didn't speak Yiddish or Polish or German. They spoke Spanish, Portuguese and Ladino.

*Sunday, November 20, 2 p.m.

Setting the Record Straight: Cuban-Jewish Responses to the Holocaust (1938-1948)
Dr. Rosa Perelmuter, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill*

Based on part of a chapter in her book in progress titled Jewish Cuba: Culture, Identity and Community (1920-1960), this lecture by UNC-Chapel Hill professor of romance studies, Dr. Rosa Perelmuter will review the complicated public, private and inherited memories of the Holocaust and its reception by the Jews of Cuba, as well as Perelmuter’s ongoing efforts as a member of the Cuban yishuv to capture an accurate picture using insider documents and personal and family anecdotes.

*Monday, November 21, 7 p.m.

Tales of Engagement with the Jewish Cemeteries of Curaçao, a former Dutch colony
Alan Benjamin, Pennsylvania State University*

The care and burial of deceased people is a central interest of nearly all Jewish communities, one that is not limited to the proper application of religious and civil laws. Burials and cemeteries also reflect a community’s composition, values, tensions, resources and more. In Curaçao, the two Jewish cemeteries reflect, among other things, the intersection of Dutch colonial interests with those of former Portuguese Sephardi conversos, the island’s various economic patterns, along with the resources of its residents, conflicts between families and political factions, the social relations between Sephardi and Ashkenazi Jews in that place and even the beliefs of non-Jewish Afro-Curaçaoans. This talk will present vignettes on such matters and situate them in the island’s varying political economy.

Gerald Posner, New York Times best-selling author *

This is the often forgotten story behind Hitler’s wartime plan to deport all of Europe’s Jews to the French colonial African island of Madagascar. Adolf Eichmann, the SS officer in charge of later deporting Jews on cattle cars to the death camps, was given the Madagascar assignment. The plan faltered as Britain refused to buckle under the German blitzkrieg. The Nazis needed the British naval fleet in order to handle the huge number of people they wanted to deport. By January 1942, senior SS and Nazi officers held a conference in Wannsee, a suburb of Berlin. There they approved the so-called “Final Solution of the Jewish question,” the master plan to murder all of Europe’s Jews. A few months later Hitler fully abandoned the Madagascar plan when the British navy seized control of the island from France’s Nazi-collaborationist Vichy government. Investigative journalist and New York Times bestselling author Gerald Posner will discuss questions surrounding the Madagascar plan. What if it had been successfully implemented? Would places like Auschwitz still have existed?


*Monday, December 5, 7 p.m.
2016 Kulanu-Lemba Speaking Tour
Elysha Netsarh, Madagascar Jewish community*

On her first trip to North America, Elysha Neta will present a multi-media talk, including videos of the celebration of conversions of members of the Madagascar Jewish community and the joyous Jewish weddings that followed. Through pictures and music, audiences learn about the fascinating and little-known country of Madagascar, populated by a warm vibrant people challenged by poverty and home to an emerging Jewish community that continues to grow and thrive.

*Thursday, December 8, 7 p.m.
The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland
Photographer Marisa Scheinfeld *

From the 1920s through the 1960s the Catskill Mountains of New York were a popular getaway destination for millions of Americans. Known as the Borscht Belt, the resorts of Sullivan and Ulster County combined recreational activities with nighttime entertainment, especially stand-up comedy, which was born in the region’s theaters and showrooms. Photographer and Catskill native, Marisa Scheinfeld has been documenting the dramatic degradation of some of the most famous Borscht Belt hotels and colonies. The images reveal ghostly remnants of the glory years of the era, as well as powerful evidence of nature’s claim on the resorts and their landscapes and new uses to which the spaces have been put in recent years. Scheinfeld will present a slide lecture of her series and new book, which contains 129 photographs, Borscht Belt ephemera and a photographic series of “now” and “then” imagery composed by using found postcards and creating a mirror image of their present day depictions. Her book published by Cornell University Press and entitled The Borscht Belt: Revisiting the Remains of America’s Jewish Vacationland will be available for purchase and signing.

*Monday, December 12, 7 p.m. /

The Jews of South America: The Conservative Movement /
Valeria Schindler, Lecturer, FIU*

The Conservative or Masorti (“traditional” in Hebrew) movement in Latin America has unique characteristics that makes it different from the movement in the United States. However, Conservative Judaism is not practiced in the same way among the different countries in Latin America. This lecture will explore the general characteristics of the movement and analyze the differences and similitudes among its practice within continent.