Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russia’s Jewish Autonomous Region

The Annual Lipman Lecture in Jewish Studies

Masha Gessen

October 18, 2018 / 7:00 pm / Ostrove Auditorum

Masha Gessen is the author of the National Book Award-winning The Future is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia as well as The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy. The book that shares its title with this lecture reveals the complex, strange, and heart-wrenching account of the dream of Birobidzhan—and the true history of Jewish people in twentieth-century Russia. Gessen, a staff writer at The New Yorker who teaches at Amherst College, is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Carnegie Fellowship.


Who is the Mother? Gestational Surrogacy in Israel

Michal Raucher, Rutgers University

November 7, 2018 / 4:00 pm / Lovejoy 319

Reproductive technologies make it possible for there to be five possible parents of a resulting child: surrogate, egg donor, sperm donor, and intended parents. What makes someone a parent, however, is often a combination of cultural, religious, biological, and interpersonal opinions. In this talk, we will explore the ways these various opinions influence surrogacy legislation in Israel and how individuals understand their relationships to children born of surrogacy arrangements.


Louis D. Brandeis, His Jewish Identity, and American Zionism

David G. Dalin

April 3, 2019 

In this talk, Dr. David Dalin will discuss Louis D. Brandeis’s Jewish identity, views on Zionism, and leadership of the American Zionist movement. Brandeis’s distinction of having been the first Jewish Supreme Court Justice is in some ways ironic, because his upbringing was the least Jewish of any of the Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court. His parents, well-educated German speaking Jewish from Prague, did not belong to a synagogue and never celebrated any Jewish holidays or the Jewish Sabbath. Nor did Brandeis when raising his own family. Although for the first half-century of his life Brandeis was a highly assimilated Jew who cared little about the religious observance of Judaism, by 1914 Brandeis had assumed the leadership of the American Zionist movement, becoming president of what today is the Zionist Organization of America. His mid-life “conversion” to Zionism, and his meteoric emergence as the preeminent Zionist leader in America, comprise an important chapter of Brandeis’s life and an enduring part of his Jewish legacy.

David G. Dalin is the author of Jewish Justices of the Supreme Court from Brandeis to Kagan: Their Lives and Legacies. Co-sponsored by the Center for Small Town Jewish Life, the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine, and the Jewish Community Educational Association of Bangor.