Professor Emeritus Lawrence Baron held the Nasatir Chair of Modern Jewish History at San Diego State University from 1988 until 2012 and directed its Jewish Studies Program until 2006. He received his Ph.D. in modern European cultural and intellectual history from the University of Wisconsin where he studied with George L. Mosse. He taught at St. Lawrence University from 1975 until 1988. He has authored and edited four books including The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema (Brandeis University Press: 2011) and Projecting the Holocaust into the Present: The Changing Focus of Contemporary Holocaust Cinema (Rowman and Littlefield: 2005). He served as the historian and as an interviewer for Sam and Pearl Oliner’s The Altruistic Personality: Rescuers of Jews in Nazi Europe. In 2006 he delivered the keynote address for Yad Vashem’s first conference devoted to Hollywood and the Holocaust. His contribution to Holocaust Studies was recently profiled in Fifty Key Thinkers on the Holocaust and Genocide (Routledge: 2010). He currently is the president of the Western Jewish Studies Association, the chair of the Film Committee of the Association for Jewish Studies, and writes the column The Wandering Review for the San Diego Jewish World.
The Modern Jewish Experience in World Cinema
Professor Joshua Kun, Professor of Communication and Journalism, USC
Professor Kun's research focuses on the arts and politics of cultural connection, with an emphasis on popular music, the cultures of globalization, the US-Mexico border, and Jewish-American musical history. He is director of The Popular Music Project at USC Annenberg's The Norman Lear Center and co-editor of the book series "Refiguring American Music" for Duke University Press. He founded the USC Annenberg Distinguished Lecture Series on Latin American Arts & Culture, which he now runs in collaboration with the USC Latino Alumni Association.
Prior to joining the USC Annenberg School, Kun was Associate Professor of English at the University of California, Riverside. He holds a Ph.D. in Ethnic Studies from UC Berkeley. A former Arts Writers Fellow with The Sundance Institute and a former fellow of the Ucross Foundation and The Mesa Refuge, he is the author of Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America (UC Press), which won a 2006 American Book Award. He is co-author of And You Shall Know Us By The Trail of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past As Told By The Records We've Loved and Lost (Crown, 2008), editor of The Song is Not The Same: Jews and American Popular Music (Purdue UP), co-editor of Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies (John Hopkins), and wrote the introduction to the re-publication of Papa, Play For Me (Wesleyan University Press), the autobiography of musical comedian Mickey Katz.
In 2012, he curated "Trouble in Paradise: Music and Los Angeles 1945-75," a landmark exhibition at The Grammy Museum that was part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time initiative. In 2005, he co-founded The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation, a non-profit organization dedicated to excavating lost treasures of Jewish-American music. The Society re-issues classic albums and the stories behind them; manages a digital based archive of the music and the artists who created it in order to preserve their legacy for future generations; curates museum exhibits like Jews on Vinyl and Black Sabbath that showcase the stories behind the music, and organize concerts which bring the 80 and 90 year old performers back on stage before a young audience at venues like Lincoln Center in New York, Skirball in Los Angeles and Yoshi’s in San Francisco.
As a critic and journalist, Kun has contributed to The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The American Prospect, Los Angeles Magazine, LA Weekly, and other publications. From 1998-2006, he wrote "Frequencies," a bi-weekly music column published in the San Francisco Bay Guardian and Boston Phoenix. His writing has also appeared in Tu Ciudad Los Angeles, Cabinet, The Believer, Guilt & Pleasure, Village Voice, SPIN, Mother Jones, Rolling Stone, SPIN, and in Mexico's La Jornada and Proceso. On the radio, has been a frequent commentator for National Public Radio, BBC, KPCC, and WNYC.
Kun's email address is email@example.com
CLICK HERE to access audio from Josh's recent appearence on NPR discussing a newly released CD collecton titled "Twas The Night Before Hanukkah"
The Song Is Not The Same: Jews and American Popular Music. The Jewish Role in American Life Vol. 7. Annual Volume of The USC Casden Institute. Editor. Purdue University Press.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
And You Shall Know Us By The Trail Of Our Vinyl: The Jewish Past As Told by The Records We Have Loved and Lost. Co-authored with Roger Bennett. Random House, 2008.
CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE
About the Speaker
Professor Ron Wolfson, Professor of Education, American Jewish University
Ron Wolfson, Ph.D. is a Professor of Education for the Fingerhut School of Education. He joined the AJU faculty in 1975 as an Acting Professor. During his 35-plus year career at AJU, he has served as Director of the Education Department, founding Director of the Whizin Center for the Jewish Future, Director of the Ramah Academy, Dean of the Fingerhut School of Education, Special Assistant to the President, and Vice President of the University.
Dr. Wolfson is a frequent scholar-in-residence for synagogues and communities, speaking on a wide range of topics in Jewish life. He is co-founder and current President of Synagogue 3000, an institute whose mission is to catalyze excellence in synagogue life. A pioneer in the field of Jewish family education, Dr. Wolfson is a member of the Consortium for the Jewish Family.
CLICK HERE to access Dr. Wolfson's publications online, currently available for purchase via AMAZON.COM
The following books are published and available from Jewish Lights Publishing, www.jewishlights.com.
Shabbat: The Family Guide to Preparing for and Celebrating the Sabbath, Second Edition
Passover: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, Second Edition
Hanukkah: The Family Guide to Spiritual Celebration, Second Edition
A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort: A Guide to Jewish Bereavement and Comfort, Second Edition
What You Will See Inside a Synagogue (with Lawrence Hoffman)
The Spirituality of Welcoming: How to Transform Your Congregation into a Sacred Community
God's To-Do List: 103 Ways to Be an Angel and Do God's Work on Earth
The Seven Questions You're Asked in Heaven: Reviewing and Renewing Your Life on Earth
The Quest for Inclusion: Jews and American Politics
American Jews vote more liberal and Democratic than any other white ethnic group in the United States. Yet, several distinct subgroups within American Jewish life embrace conservatism and the Republican party, including the overwhelming majority of Orthodox Jews. If you’re ready for a partisan political fight full of name-calling and competing claims of which politician is “better for the Jews”….you won’t find it here! Instead, join us for an evening that will challenge, complicate, undo, and then perhaps redo whatever you thought was true about American Jews and the larger political scene. It’ll be provocative, challenging, and, if it’s a really good night, lots of fun too.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Marc Dollinger holds the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies and Social Responsibility at San Francisco State University.
He has served as research fellow at Princeton University’s Center for the Study of Religion as well as the Andrew W. Mellon Post-doctoral Fellow and Lecturer in the Humanities at Bryn Mawr College, where he coordinated the program in Jewish Studies.
He is author of Quest For Inclusion: Jews and Liberalism In Modern America published by Princeton University Press, California Jews, co-edited with Ava Kahn, and American Jewish History: A Primary Source Reader, both published by Brandeis University Press. He is currently at work on: Is It Good For The Jews? Power, Politics, and the 1960s and can’t stop thinking about writing books on Jimmy Carter.
He serves on the California advisory committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights, the board of the Jewish Community High School of the Bay, and is academic vice president of Lehrhaus Judaica. He is past president of Brandeis-Hillel Day School and was named 2008 Volunteer of the Year by the SF Jewish Community Federation.
Professor Dollinger helped actress Helen Hunt learn about her Jewish roots on the NBC program, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Quest for Inclusion: For over sixty years, Jews have ranked as the most liberal white ethnic group in American politics, figuring prominently in social reform campaigns ranging from the New Deal to the civil rights movement. Today many continue to defy stereotypes that link voting patterns to wealth. What explains this political behavior? Historians have attributed it mainly to religious beliefs, but Marc Dollinger discovered that this explanation fails to account for the entire American Jewish political experience. In this, the first synthetic treatment of Jewish liberalism and U.S. public policy from the 1930s to the mid-1970s, Dollinger identifies the drive for a more tolerant, pluralistic, and egalitarian nation with Jewish desires for inclusion in the larger non-Jewish society.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Adam Rubin, Assistant Professor of Jewish History, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion/Los Angeles, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Rubin teaches courses on Jewish history, literature, and politics and HUC-JIR and the University of Southern California. With a doctorate in modern Jewish history from UCLA, his academic work focuses on Hebrew and Yiddish culture in Eastern Europe and pre-State Palestine during the 19th and 20th centuries. He is currently writing a book on the Jewish community in Palestine during the period of the British Mandate, entitled Between Sacred and Profane: Judaism, Hebrew Culture, and the Sacralization of the Zionist Project, and has published in Prooftexts, Modern Judaism, and Journal of Modern Jewish Studies.
“Like A Necklace of Black Pearls Whose String Has Snapped’: Bialik’s ‘Aron hasefarim’ and the Sacralization of Zionism.” Forthcoming, in Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History (Vol 28, No. 3, Fall 2008)
“‘Turning Goyim into Jews‘: Aliyah and the Politics of Cultural Anxiety in the Zionist Movement, 1932-1945.” Forthcoming, in The Jewish Quarterly Review (2008/2009)
Book Review of Converging Alternatives: The Bund and the Zionist Labor Movement, 1897-1985, by?Yosef Gorny (Albany: SUNY Press). Forthcoming, in Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies 2008
Book Review of The Jews of Eastern Europe, 1772-1881, by Israel Bartal (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania: 2005). AJS Review 2007
“Hebrew Folklore and the Problem of Exile.” Modern Judaism (Vol. 25, No. 1, Feb. 2005)?“Jewish Nationalism and the Encyclopedic Imagination.” Journal of Modern Jewish Studies (Vol. 3,
No. 3, Nov. 2004)?“A Nation Like All Other Nations: Historical Revisionism and the Normalization of Israel.” The
Jewish Book Annual, 1997-1999. (New York, 2001)?Book Review of Reform Zionism: An Educator’s Perspective, by Michael Livni. CCAR Journal
(Winter, 2001)?Short Book Review (“Booknote”) of Christianity in Jewish Terms, edited by Tikva Frymer-Kensky, David Novak, et al. Religious Studies Review (January 2002)
Jan. 23, Gentlemen's Agreement: Anti-Semitism in America and American Pogrom: The Leo Frank Incident
Program Part 1: Gentlemen's Agreement: Anti-Semitism in America: The History of Anti-Semitism in the US during ADL’s first 100 years
About the Speaker:
Amanda Susskind, ADL: Ms. Suskind joined the ADL as the Regional Director for the Pacific Southwest Region in July 2002. Under Ms. Susskind’s leadership, the Pacific Southwest Region has remained one of the most preeminent regions to promote anti-bias education in schools; to bring Holocaust education into public and private schools and to reach out to the international community, including the 90 consular offices in Los Angeles. Before joining the Anti-Defamation League, Ms. Susskind was a partner at the law firm of Richards, Watson & Gershon, where she specialized in public law and environmental law. Ms. Susskind earned a Juris Doctor degree from Hastings College of the Law and a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from Stanford University.
Program Part 2: American Pogrom:
The Leo Frank Incident
The lecture will discuss the case of Leo Frank, a Jewish manager of a pencil manufacturing plant in Atlanta, Georgia who is generally considered to have been wrongly convicted in approximately 1915 of murdering a young female worker in his plant in a trial marked by hostile, anti- Semitic crowds swirling around the courthouse.
About the Speaker:
Richard Burstein is a past president of VBS (1994-6) and previously of the VBS Day School, and currently serves on the VBS Board of Directors. He is a graduate of Boalt Hall School of Law, University of California at Berkeley and received his undergraduate degree at UCLA. He is a partner in the firm of Ezra Brutzkus Gubner concentrating in bankruptcy and civil litigation.
Richard Burstein has provided the following summary regarding his talk: On January 23, 2013, I will be making a presentation at the Valley Beth Shalom College of Jewish Studies on the case of Leo Frank, a Jewish manager of a pencil manufacturing plant in Atlanta, Georgia who is generally considered to have been wrongly convicted in approximately 1915 of murdering a young female worker in his plant in a trial marked by hostile, anti- Semitic crowds swirling around the courthouse. A courageous Governor of Georgia, convinced of the wrongful nature of the conviction, commuted Frank’s death sentence to life imprisonment to permit him to pursue exoneration. Frank’s appeal ultimately found its way to the US Supreme Court, where his conviction was affirmed, with Justice Holmes and Chief Justice Hughes in dissent.Frank was kidnapped from the Georgia prison farm where he was serving his life sentence and lynched by a group of Georgians now considered to have included prominent Georgians. The Frank case gave rise to the birth of the Anti Defamation League and the revival of the KKK.
When Steve Oney’s book And the Dead Shall Rise was published in 2003, I read that book and was captivated by it. Mr. Oney spent about 17 years researching the case for his book and not only did he fully explore the facts of the crime and the legal process that swept Leo Frank to his death, but he did so in a book that is compelling in its detail and difficult to put down. After reading that, I undertook additional research into prior books on the subject, researched some of the appellate decisions resulting from the conviction, and obtained the commutation decision by Gov. Slaton from the Georgia archives and read that as well. I have come to the conclusion that what befell Leo Frank is an important event in American history, American Jewish history, and in the administration of justice in this country. I have been moved by the confluence of events that increasingly got out of hand, by the combination of base motives and high principle that animated the several actors in this matter. While there is much to lament in this story, it is important to remember, as Rabbi Schulweis has taught us for many years, that in the darkest moments there are acts of righteousness. This too we can learn from Leo Frank’s case.
Recommended Reading: Olney, Steve And the Dead Shall Rise, Pantheon Books, 2003
Additional Reading: Dinnerstein, Leonard The Leo Frank Case, University of Georgia Press, 1987
“In Re: Leo M. Frank”, Executive Minutes, State of Georgia, June 21, 1915, pgs 274-288 (commutation decision of the Honorable John M. Slaton, Governor)
“Pardon”, State Board of Pardons and Paroles, State of Georgia, March 11, 1986
Georgia Supreme Court:
Frank v State, 80 S.E. 1016 (1914)
Frank v State, 83 S.E. 233 (1914)
Frank v State, 83 S.E. 645 (1914)
United States Supreme Court:
Frank v Mangum, 237 U.S. 309 (1915)
Moore v Dempsey, 261 U.S. 86 (1923)
Down From the Balcony: Jewish Feminism in America
About the Speaker:
Rabbi Laura Geller is the Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanuel in Beverly Hills, California. She was the first woman to be selected to lead a major metropolitan synagogue. Prior to being chosen for this position in 1994, she served as the Executive Director of the American Jewish Congress, Pacific Southwest Region. Among her accomplishments at AJCongress was the creation of the AJCongress Feminist Center, which became a model for other Jewish feminist projects around the county. She came to AJCongress in 1990 after fourteen years as the Director of Hillel at the University of Southern California.
Rabbi Geller has been recognized with numerous awards and honors, including being named one of Newsweek’s 50 Most Influential Rabbis in America for two years in a row and receiving the California State Legislature’s Woman of the Year Award. She was featured in the PBS Documentary called “Jewish Americans.” Author of many articles in journals and books, she is a frequent contributor to the Huffington Post and served on the Editorial Board of “The Torah: A Woman's Commentary,” in which she has two essays. Rabbi Geller is a Fellow of the Corporation of Brown University from where she graduated in 1971. She was ordained by the Hebrew Union College in 1976, the third woman in the Reform Movement to become a rabbi. She is married to Richard A. Siegel, and she is the mother of Joshua and Elana Goldstein and the step-mother of Andy and Ruth Siegel.
Encountering the Divine Presence.” In Four Centuries of Jewish Women’s Spirituality: A Sourcebook, edited by Ellen Umansky and Dianne Ashton, 242–247. Boston: 1992
“From Equality to Transformation.” In Gender and Judaism, edited by T. M. Rudavsky, 246–251. New York: 1995
“My Search for God,” “Reactions to a Woman Rabbi.” In On Being a Jewish Feminist, edited by Susannah Heschel, 210–213. New York: 1983
“The Torah of Our Lives.” In Beginning Anew: A Woman’s Companion to the High Holy Days, edited by Gail Twersky Reimer and Judith A. Kates, 258–264. New York: 1997.
Black Hats Everywhere: The Story of American Orthodoxy
About the Speaker:
Rabbi Elazar Muskin assumed the rabbinic leadership of Young Israel of Century City in January 1986. Under his leadership, the congregation has become one of the fastest growing Orthodox synagogues in the West Coast, and is considered a leader in creative adult education programs. The synagogue was awarded the national citation from the Orthodox Union for its Annual Adult Education Program Calendar and the Tikun Olam Award for its varied Chesed Programs. Prior to becoming Rabbi of Young Israel of Century City, Rabbi Muskin served for five years as the Rabbi of the Mt. Sinai Jewish Center in New York City.
Before entering the rabbinate, Rabbi Muskin served as Executive Director of T'chiya Volunteers, an organization dedicated to serving development towns in Israel. Rabbi Muskin directed T'chiya for eleven years, helping establish it as a premier summer program for American college students interested in volunteering in Israel.
Rabbi Muskin studied in Israel at Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh from 1972-1975. He continued his studies at Yeshiva College, where he earned his B.A. in Psychology. He received his Rabbinic Ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary. He also earned a Master’s degree in Medieval Jewish Philosophy from the Bernard Revel Graduate School, and a Master’s degree in Education from Columbia University.
Rabbi Muskin has published a number of scholarly and popular articles and has lectured in numerous communities in the United States, Europe and Israel. He is a contributing columnist for the weekly Torah Portion article which appears in the Los Angeles Jewish Journal newspaper, and has written frequently for AMIT Magazine and Olam. He also published a monograph on the Jewish attitude towards racism for the National Conference for Community and Justice (NCCJ). Appointed by Mayor Hahn, Rabbi Muskin served for four years as a Commissioner on the Human Relations Commission of the City of Los Angeles. He is the past National Vice President of the Rabbinical Council of America and past president of the Rabbinical Council of California, after serving as president from 1992-1997.
Program Details: Tomorrow's Jews
About the Speakers: Rabbi Noah Farkas, Valley Beth Shalom
Rabbi Noah Zvi Farkas was ordained at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America in 2008 where he won numerous academic prizes in the areas of Jewish Philosophy and Talmud. He is a faculty member of the Florence Melton Graduate Studies Program and is a guest lecturer at the American Jewish University.
Rabbi Farkas is actively building the spiritual life of Valley Beth Shalom through by leading the Chesed Pillar. His work in the Caring Connection and Chesed Connection connect VBS community members to each other through wellness programs and hospital visitation, as well as to the larger community through social action projects. In addition, Noah founded VBSnextGen, the newest addition to the VBS community, creating a home for engaged and married Jewish couples in their 20’s and 30’s.
During his time in rabbinical school Rabbi Farkas co-founded the Seminary Leadership Project, a fellowship program that teaches Jewish clergy the art of communal organizing, housed at JOIN for Justice. Before coming to VBS, Rabbi Farkas served as the Student Rabbi at Congregation Beth Israel in Biloxi, Mississippi where he helped rebuild the Gulf Coast Jewish community after Hurricane Katrina.
In addition to his work at VBS, Rabbi Farkas founded Netiya, the faith-based network that advances urban agriculture in our synagogues, schools, and non-profit organizations in Los Angeles. We convert unused land at our institutions to grow nutritious food, and organize community to seed a more just and resilient food system.Rabbi Farkas speaks nationally about issues of social justice, generational engagement, and Jewish thought. He writes a monthly column, Turning the Tables, which explores Jewish food issues. Noah has published several articles on Jewish Philosophy and Jewish communal life. His most book is The Social Action Manual: Six Steps to Repairing the World (Behrman House). Noah lives with his wife Sarah in Sherman Oaks along with his two children, Meira and Shaya. Noah's number one passion after spending time with his family is thinking up creative ice cream flavors. Follow him on Twitter at @RabbiNoah
Josh Avedon, Jumpstart
Joshua Avedon is the Co-founder and COO of Jumpstart (http://jewishjumpstart.org) a nonprofit that works across the globe to empower organizations and leaders committed to compelling, relevant, and meaningful visions of Jewish life. Jumpstart also focuses on developing the knowledge and connections necessary for resource providers and philanthropists to make strategic choices about building the Jewish future. Joshua is a recognized leader in forward-thinking use of technology, viral communication, and community-building strategies within the world of emerging Jewish organizations. He is one of the founders of IKAR, one of the largest and most successful Jewish emergent communities in the country. Joshua has spent the last several years writing, teaching, and advocating for innovation within the Jewish community. Joshua is a CLI-certified facilitator and a member of the Selah Leadership Network; he has a BA from UC Berkeley in Mass Communications as well as an MBA in nonprofit management from the American Jewish University. Joshua, his wife Stephanie, and their three children Elias, Navi, and Sarit live in the house where he grew up in Venice, CA.