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Robert Abzug, Director CLA 2.402, 305 E 23rd St B3600, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-475-6178

Spring 2012 wrap-up

Posted: May 7, 2012
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Spring has sprung, and new projects have blossomed at the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies. With a slew of events and the launch of our new Israel Studies Collaborative, spring 2012 proved to be one of our busiest semesters yet. And if you found yourself in the same boat, catch up on the center’s offerings with this brief recap.

The Israel Studies Collaborative

The Israel Studies Collaborative of the Schusterman Center for Jewish StudiesThe Schusterman Center launched its new Israel Studies Collaborative, with Ami Pedahzur at the helm. The Israel Studies Collaborative advances a rigorous, multi-disciplinary approach to Israel Studies in undergraduate education and public programming, while cultivating serious academic research by scholars in many fields. We at the Schusterman Center hope the ISC will become the main hub for Israel Studies in the south and southwestern United States.

And we’re off to a good start! The ISC has hit the ground running, hosting several prominent Israeli academics who gave lectures open to the general public. This semester’s speakers included Ruth Gavison (Hebrew University), who asked, “Can Israel Be Both Jewish and Democratic?” in her lecture; Yossi Ben-Artzi (University of Haifa), who presented “The Land: The Shaping of the State of Israel and its Lasting Impact on the Arab-Israeli Conflict”; and Dimitry Shumsky (Hebrew University), who delivered the lecture “Zionist Alternatives to a (Jewish) Nation-State” on Israel Independence Day. Click here for more information on these and other events.

Events at the Israel Studies Collaborative

From left: Professor Ami Pedahzur; guest speaker Yossi Ben-Artzi; guest speaker Dimitry Shumsky.

Israel Block Party

SCJS joined Texas Hillel for the fourteenth annual Israel Block Party. This year's event, Texas Hillel's largest, featured live music, a climbing wall, a bounce house, and several interactive booths, including a photobooth, an arts & crafts station, and a science & technology booth. At the Schusterman Center booth, we debuted our new SCJS and ISC t-shirts and handed out free kosher toffee along with program brochures. All in all, it was a fun and family-friendly day. Join us next year!

Israel Block Party

Scenes from the fourteenth annual Israel Block Party.

Austin Jewish Film Festival

While we were launching a new project, the Austin Jewish Film Festival celebrated a big anniversary: 2011 marked the tenth year of the festival, and the second that the Schusterman Center screened a selection of its films on campus. Students and the community at large were invited to enjoy Restoration, David Amram: The First 80 Years, and The Names of Love for free on campus a month before the festival began. And to commemorate their tenth year, AJFF invited musician, composer, and festival documentary subject David Amram for a stellar opening night performance. [Check out more gorgeous snaps of the Amram concert at David Finkel Photography.]

David Amram at the Austin Jewish Film Festival

David Amram performs at the Austin Jewish Film Festival's opening night. Photo by David Finkel.

Batsheva Dance Company

Israel’s world-renowned Batsheva Dance Company stopped by Austin for an engagement at the Performing Arts Center. The modern dance troupe presented Max, a transfixing 90-minute piece that utilizes choreographer Ohad Naharin’s unique movement language, gaga. The Schusterman Center and its Israel Studies Collaborative co-sponsored the event with Texas Performing Arts, while the Jewish Community Center hosted a class on gaga dance technique.

Batsheva Dance Company presents 'Max'

Batsheva Dance Company presents 'Max.' Photo by Gadi Dagon.

The Second Annual Kasman Family Lecture

Curator and critic Maya Benton of the International Center for Photography delivered an eye-opening lecture on pre-war photographer Roman Vishniac for this year’s Kasman Family Lecture. Benton took a brief respite from her charge of the ICP’s Vishniac archive to share some of his never-before-seen work. Benton contends that Vishniac’s unseen work places him firmly in the canon of the greatest 20th-century photographers, and we’re inclined to agree.

 Other lectures

  • The Schusterman Center co-sponsored a lecture from distinguished literary critic Robert Alter at the Harry Ransom Center. Alter discussed the great achievement and problems of the King James Version of the Bible in his lecture “The Question of Eloquence in the King James Version.”
  • Willi Goetschel (University of Toronto) gave a thoughtful lecture on the Jewish identity of 19th-century German poet Henrich Heine.
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