Call for Papers 2015-16

The Jewish Studies Workshop invites graduate students and faculty to present their work during the upcoming academic year of 2015-16. The Workshop provides an intimate, interdisciplinary forum for faculty and graduate students to engage in vibrant discourse and critical reflection on work and topics that range across all things related to Jews or Judaism. The Workshop is not methodologically or periodically bound and welcomes theoretical, empirical and comparative work from all fields and disciplines. From Jewish language, history, literature and music to religion and philosophy, we aim to engage students and faculty interested in Jewish Studies while encouraging them to think beyond the strictures of institutional disciplines.

Workshop sessions feature discussion of student and faculty work in progress, conference papers, journal articles, dissertation chapters, and special presentations by invited speakers. Through both detailed and general commentary, the presenters are then able to receive a wide array of comments to take into consideration while preparing final versions of their work. Graduate students and faculty from any field, division, or discipline are welcome and encouraged to attend. In addition, the Workshop also invites graduate students to serve as respondents, thus gaining experience in critical assessment of academic work.

The workshop generally meets every other Tuesday at 4:30 pm. If interested in participating – or for more information in general – please contact the workshop coordinators: Yiftach Ofek ( and Anna Band (

Autumn 2015 Schedule (Preview)

Hello everyone!

We are very excited for this coming year, and are looking forward to what is already shaping up to be a very interesting quarter. Soon Anna and I will be sending out an official Call for Papers, but in the meantime, below is sneak peak at some of the events coming up for us in the upcoming months.

Looking forward to seeing everyone, regulars and newcomers!

Oh, and Shana Tova!

Yiftach Ofek


Schedule, Autumn Quarter, 2015 (still subject to some changes)

  • Tuesday, October 6, 6-7:30: Opening Dinner
    Details and Location to be Announced soon
  • Sunday-Monday, October 18-19:  Conference – Martin Buber: Philosopher of Dialogue (The Spertus Institute with the University of Chicago Divinity School)
    In commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Buber’s death, this two-day conference brings together leading scholars from around the country to generate new questions and reflections at the heart of Buber’s thought. See more at
  • Tuesday, October 20, 4:30-6: Dr. Toshihiro Horikawa (Uni. Heidelberg), “Hasidism and Taoism/Buddhism in Buber’s I-Thou philosophy”
  • Tuesday, November 3, 4:30-6: Chelsie May (PhD Student, NELC), “Levantinism, Youth Aliyah and The Image of Jacqueline Kahanoff: The Authorship of RAMAT-HADASSAH-SZOLD: YOUTH ALIYAH AND CLASSICATION CENTRE”
  • Tuesday, November 17, 4:30-6: David Cohen (MA Student, Divinity School), Subject TBD

Winter Quarter Schedule

Visit our Facebook page for schedule updates and announcements!

Location information will be updated on the Facebook link above.

Snacks will be provided at all events!

Wednesday, January 14 – 4:30-6:00pm – Swift 106

Jeff Fowler, “Retelling Old Stories: Christian Supersessionism and/in Post-Emancipation Judaism”

Jeff is a PhD candidate in Theology at the Divinity School

A response will be offered by David Cohen.


Wednesday, January 21 – 4:30pm – Divinity School Lecture Hall

Jon Levenson, “Abraham and the Absoluteness of God”

This lecture is sponsored by The Lumen Christi Institute, The Divinity School, and the Jewish Studies Workshop.

Jon D. Levenson is the Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies at Harvard University.

For more information, visit the event page:


Wednesday, January 21 – 7:00-8:30pm – Disciples Divinity House Common Room

Sam Shonkoff, “Martin Buber 101”

This event is part of the Divinity School’s 101 series.  For more information about, contact Russell Johnson,

Sam is a PhD candidate in the History of Judaism at the Divinity School.


Wednesday, January 28 – 7:00-8:30pm – Disciples Divinity House Common Room

Emilie Amar-Zifkin, “Jewish Liturgy 101”

This event is part of the Divinity School’s 101 series.  For more information about, contact Russell Johnson,

Emilie is an MA student at the Divinity School.


Monday, February 9 – 4:30-6:00pm – Social Science Research Building, 1126 E. 59th Street, Tea Room (201)

Jay Geller, “A Field Guide to the Bestiarium Judaicum”

Dr. Jay Geller, Associate Professor of Modern Jewish Culture at Vanderbilt Divinity School, will speak for the Animal Studies Workshop. Light reception to follow. For information, contact Katharine Mershon, at Co-sponsored by the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies and the Jewish Studies Workshop.


Wednesday, February 11 – 4:30-6:00 – Location TBA

Adam Stern, “Freud’s Killing Fields”

Adam is a PhD candidate in the Study of Religion at Harvard University


Wednesday, February 18 – 4:30-6:00 – Location TBA

Sam Shonkoff, “Martin Buber’s Embodied Theology: A Dissertation Proposal”

Sam is a PhD candidate in the History of Judaism at the Divinity School


Wednesday, February 25 – 4:30-6:00pm – Location TBA

Chelsie May

Chelsie is a PhD student in NELC



Wednesday, March 11 – 4:30-6:00pm – Location TBA

Grace Overbeke will present on Jewish and Muslim women entertainers and comedians.

Grace is a PhD candidate in Theater and Drama at Northwestern University.

Wednesday, Nov. 12: Eugene Sheppard: German and German Jewish Understandings of Persecution, Providence, and Messianic Vengeance: 1933-1938.

Join the Jewish Studies Workshop on Wednesday, November 12th 4:30-6:00 PM in Swift 106 as we welcome Eugene Sheppard, Brandeis University Professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought to discuss his paper entitled “German and German Jewish Understandings of Persecution, Providence, and Messianic Vengeance: 1933-1938.”

Eugene Sheppard is the author of Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher (2007).

Snacks and coffee will be provided!  Dinner for participants will follow.

For more information, please contact David Frankel (

Upcoming Jewish Studies Workshop Events:

11/4: Professor Ryan Szpiech (Department of Romance Languages and Literature, University of Michigan) will give a talk entitled “Rethinking ‘Abrahamic’ Communities: Polemical Writing and Comparative Religious Studies”.  A reception will follow. 12:00-1:30 PM – Pick 218

11/19: Erik Dreff: Spinoza, Teleology, and the Generation of Value. Snacks and coffee will be provided!  4:30-6:00 PM – Rosenwald 405

12/2: Maimonides 101 with Yoni Shemesh.  Snacks and libations will be provided!  7:00 PM – Disciples Divinity House

12/3: Jeff Fowler: Retelling Old Stories: Christian Supersessionism in Post-Emancipation Judaism.  Coffee and snacks will be provided!  4:30-6:00 PM – Rosenwald 405

10/13: Welcome Back Dinner and Discussion



hebrew typewriter

Welcome and welcome back to for a 2014-2015 academic year and a full slate of Jewish Studies Workshop events!


Our first event will be a dinner, meet-and-greet, and a discussion led by this year’s JSW faculty coordinator Sarah Hammerschlag on professionalisation in the field of Jewish Studies scholarship.


Please join us on the evening of Monday October 13th at 6pm.  A kosher dinner will be provided.


Please RSVP to David at for location details.


See you all there, and Shana Tova!

27/5 Julie Cooper: “Democracy and Theocracy in Jewish Political Thought: From Baruch Spinoza to Michael Walzer.”

Israel Theocracy Flag/Oren Neu Dag 2008

Julie Cooper, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Chicago, will present her paper titled: “Democracy and Theocracy in Jewish Political Thought: From Baruch Spinoza to Michael Walzer.” Please download the paper here. The workshop will be hosted at the house of Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr and will begin at 6pm. Light refreshments will be provided. Please email Ori at for more details.





13/5 Alexandra Zirkle: “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung.”


Shabbat Afternoon/ Moritz Daniel Oppenheim 1866

Alexandra Zirkle, PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, will present a chapter from her dissertation which examines 19th century German-Jewish exegetical approaches to the temple and sacrifice as reflecting how German Jews negotiated their understanding of the tenets of Jewish thought and practice in light of their commitments as 19th century Germans. The chapter, entitled “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung,” discusses the intellectual project of Rabbi Dr. Salomon Herxheimer, one of the most influential German rabbis in the 19th century.

Adam Yale Stern, visiting PhD candidate from Harvard, will respond. Please download the paper here.

Swift 406. 4:30-6:00pm. Tea, Coffee, and more.


Spring Schedule

Kiss of the Earth/ Nicholas Roerich 1912


After a long and cold winter, welcome to our Spring quarter! As is our custom, we begin with a big social and intellectual event, this time co-hosted with Northwestern Jewish studies students, and after Passover we are hosting Yale’s Eliyahu Stern and other exciting workshop speakers from Chicago.

April 6: “Ways of Knowing,” a joint Jewish studies event at Northwestern Evanston campus. 3:00-7:00pm. For more details email Michal at

April 29: “The Secularization of the Kabbalah and the Origins of Jewish Socialism.” Eliyahu Stern (Professor, Religious Studies, Yale). 4:30-6:00pm. Location – TBA.

May 13: “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung.” Alexandra Zirkle (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago Divinity School). 4:30-6:00pm. Swift 406.

May 27: “Democracy and Theocracy in Jewish Political Thought: From Baruch Spinoza to Michael Walzer.”Julie Cooper (University of Chicago). 6pm.

June 10: “A Transnational Approach to the Experiences and Identities of Latin American Jews in the United States: Chicago as a Case Study.” Yael Siman (Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago). 4:30-6:00 pm. Swift 406. – this event is temporarily cancelled.