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Call For Submissions: Dorot

Dorot: The McGill Undergraduate Journal of Jewish Studies is now accepting submissions for its 2016 edition.

The journal welcomes submissions that are a minimum of 5 pages in length, that have received either an A- or A grade, and the topics of which are related to Jewish studies/Judaism. Submissions will be accepted from January 25 until February 12 (please note the deadline has changed from February 19 to February 12).

Please send submissions and/or inquiries to the journal’s editor-in-chief, Caroline Bedard, at caroline.bedard@mail.mcgill.ca.

Tuesday November 3rd from 11:00-2:30 in the SSMU’s Club Lounge (room 401):

Dorothy Grostern, a Montreal-Basesd artist who seeks to remember individual children who perished in the Holocaust based on pictures of children in Polish town, many of which taken by Nazis, will be displaying her portraits.

Grostern’s goal is to give faces to the outrageous number of 1.5 million children under the age of 12. The true names of each child written under each portrait.

Accompanying the artist is a child Holocaust survivor to informally share his experience and bear his testimony.

Upcoming event: “Hebraism and the Harlem Renaissance: Black-Jewish Relations and Cultural Pluralism.”

On November 10th 4pm in Arts 150 (845 Rue Sherbrooke West), David Weinfeld of the University of Toronto will lecture on the topic “Hebraism and the Harlem Renaissance: Black-Jewish Relations and Cultural Pluralism.”

Weinfeld, a Montreal native, teaches American Studies at the University of Toronto. He received his PhD in History and Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University in 2014. He has also taught at Queens College, Temple University, and NYU. He is working on his first book, to be titled, “What Difference Does the Difference Make? Horace Kallen, Alain Locke, and the Development of Cultural Pluralism in America.”

The 2015 Flegg Annual Lecture: Leon Wieseltier


Leon Wieseltier

Leon Wieseltier

Leon Wieseltier

Leon Wieseltier delivering the 2015 Flegg Annual Lecture at McGill on October 13th 2015 on the question why Jews wait so patiently for the Messiah.

The Jewish Studies annual awards ceremony is October 21st

Each year, McGill students who have distinguished themselves in Jewish Studies are selected by a departmental committee and become the recipients of awards from the Department of Jewish Studies and the McGill Faculty of Arts. Over 80 scholarships are made available to undergraduate and graduate students through the Department.

On October 21 2015 at 7:30PM at Thompson House, located at 3650 McTavish street, the Department will host a celebration to honour these students. Please join us in celebrating their academic achievements, and the Department’s commitment to supporting excellence.

Tonight, a lecture and discussion on Ethiopian Jewry in Israel

Tonight, Israel on Campus at McGill will host a lecture and discussion about the Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel. Ethiopian-Israeli Yonatan Belete will provide insight on Ethiopian Jewry, his family’s involvement in the resettlement of Ethiopians in Israel, and the issues that continue to concern the community today. A one-hour lecture will be followed by a 30-minute q&a period.

Yonatan, a fourth year political science student at Queen’s University, currently serves as Vice President of Queen’s Israel on Campus. As an Ethiopian Israeli, he has developed a strong passion for the county’s past, present, and future, and he will be sharing his perspective tonight.

The talk and discussion will be held in the Madeleine Parent room, on the 2nd floor of the SSMU building on McTavish street, at 7:30 PM. All are welcome to attend.

Ethiopian Israelis

Ethiopian Israelis

The Flegg Annual Lecture is October 13th!

Awaiting the Messiah

Awaiting the Messiah

Come meet Leon Wieseltier, one of the most important Jewish public voices in North America, on Tuesday, October 13. He will be giving the 2015 Flegg Annual Lecture, entitled “A Passion for Waiting: The strangely Unexcited Messianism of the Jews.” This promises to be an extremely interesting lecture; admission is free and all are welcome to attend.

Evening in memory of Rabbi David Hartman

On Thursday, March 13th, 2014,  the Department of  Jewish Studies  of McGill University hosted an event entitled “Politics, Religion, Jewish Law and Philosophy: An Evening in Memory of David Hartman,” in order to memorialize the aforementioned American-Israeli rabbi and philosopher who passed away in February 2013. A prominent Jewish scholar and intellectual, builder and visionary, Rabbi Professor David Hartman z”l was the founder of the Shalom Hartman Institute, a Jerusalem-based research and education center devoted to developing diversity within Jewish communal thought. Hartman’s studies allowed him to bridge both religious and secular knowledge and sensibilities, as he was both a student of the revered Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik and the philosophers Robert C. Pollack and Raymond Klibansky at various times throughout his life. He also maintained a close connection with the city of Montreal and McGill’s Department of Jewish Studies, serving as rabbi of the prominent Orthodox synagogue Tiferet Beit David Jerusalem in Cote St-Luc from 1960 to 1971 and, as well,  teaching Jewish philosophy from 1969-1971 in McGill’s then fledgling Jewish Studies Program.


The evening consisted of two major lectures by distinguished visiting scholars, with responses offered by two eminent scholars with ties to McGill. The  influential political theorist and currently Senior Fellow of the Brookings Institution,  Dr. William Galston spoke first in an incisive attempt to answer the question “Do Religion and Conscience Limit Political Authority?” The response to Dr. Galston’s talk was made by none other than prominent Montreal-born McGill professor emeritus, Dr. Charles Taylor, who is internationally  renowned for his seminal contributions to political philosophy. The first part of the program concluded with a short refreshment break, and the second half of the evening proceeded with the second guest speaker, Rabbi Asher Lopatin. With the second half, a new theme commenced: “Subject to the Law, Without being Trapped by the Law.” As the President of the Open Orthodox Yeshiva Chovevei Torah and a prominent advocate of engaging with Halakhah (Jewish Law) in order to address the challenges that the contemporary world poses to observant Jews, Rabbi Lopatin is no stranger to both the topic itself and to Rabbi Hartman’s own active role in confronting these challenges. He spoke especially memorably about Rabbi Soloveitchik’s influence on Hartman, and about their overlapping yet differing approaches  to the question  of finding creative solutions to Jewish social and communal issues within a halakhic framework.  This notion was then elaborated upon by McGill’s own Dr. Lawrence Kaplan, one of the world’s  leading scholars of the work of Rabbi Soloveitchik. The evening concluded with a lively question-and-answer period which allowed members of the audience to address question or comments to any of the four speakers.


The evening can be viewed in its entirety here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hwwqAd3rCh8&list=UUM_1hHnVuecgZ7WCjly7tbw and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-SpMBzOYUSI

McGill Course at KlezKanada

If you haven’t heard about the McGill Course at KlezKanada, or have heard about it and want to learn more, we urge you to check out this video, which features interviews with several students who have taken the course about their experiences:

The McGill Course at KlezKanada

Other Events

Though we have written about some of the events held by the Jewish Studies department this year already, several more have passed unmentioned. Here is a quick recount of the various ones we have missed.

The department co-sponsored not one, but two book launches.

Poster for book launch

Poster for book launch

On January 28 we co-hosted with the Department of History and the McGill Bookstore the launch event for McGill professor Gil Troy’s book Moynihan’s Moment: America’s Fight against Zionism as Racism on campus. The book deals with the American efforts to prevent the 1975 U.N. resolution that equated Zionism with racism. The event included a short lecture from Prof. Troy and a book signing.

On February 21, we co-sponsored an event at the Jewish Public Library for Pierre Anctil’s book, Jacob Isaac Segal 1896 – 1954: un poète Yiddish de Montréal et son milieu, on the Montreal Yiddish poet Jacob-Isaac Segal. The event included poetry readings, an introductory talk, a book signing and a wine and cheese reception.


Josh Lambert lecturing

Josh Lambert lecturing

 Additionally, our department hosted Josh Lambert for his lecture “Vulgar Words and Belles Lettres: Yiddish Literature and American Obscenity” on the unmatched freedom which American Yiddish writers had in the early 20th century compared to English writers in writing on sex. The lecture took place on October 25th, 2012.

Two classes also featured particularly noteworthy guest lecturers. 
Arthur Green lecturing

Arthur Green lecturing

On October 17th, 2012 Rabbi Arthur Green, PhD was a guest speaker in Eric Caplan’s class, Denominations in North American Judaism. Rabbi Green, a nationally recognized historian of Jewish religion and a theologian, is the founding dean of Hebrew College’s non denominational Rabbinical School. Green described his spiritual development and presented his personal understandings of Judaism which are equally inspired by Hasidic writings and by liberal Jewish thought. Students were impressed by his heartfelt embrace of pluralism within Judaism, his provocative analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of Reform, Conservative, Reconstructionist, Renewal and Orthodox Judaisms, and by his description of how Hebrew College prepares rabbis to deal with the variety of challenges that they will encounter in their congregations.


Liane Altowski’s Sephardic Footprints in World Music class featured Orel Gozlan in a performance and a lecture on March 12, 2013. Orel is currently enrolled at the University of Montreal where he is studying to become a high school French teacher. He also currently works as a chazzan at the synagogue Or Shalom, on the West Island. Orel spoke about “The Art of the Piyut,” regarding the unique elements that pertain to Sephardic religious music from his own deep interest and personal history with this rich musical heritage. With poise and humor Orel gave a lively explanation on the various elements that pertain to Sephardic liturgical music for students coming from both Ashkenazi and Sephardic traditions. He discussed the distinct roles of the Paytan and the Chazzan and he also elaborated on the musical properties of the Maqam and the Muwal. Orel’s lecture was multidimensional as he effortlessly weaved in melodic fragments of Bakashot as examples of piyutim with Spanish and Andalusian influences. Orel Gozlan proved that he is not only a gifted chazzan, but also a gifted and inspiring educator – someone to watch!
Our table at the McGill Open House, Oct. 28, 2012. Pictured: Mikey Schwartz, JSSA President.

Our table at the McGill Open House, Oct. 28, 2012. Pictured: Mikey Schwartz, JSSA President.

We wish all our readers a good summer, and hope to see you at some of the various events we will undoubtedly hold next year.
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