Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza

Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman

Monday, October 9 / 1:00 pm / Colby: Lovejoy 208

One May day in 1896, a meeting took place between a Romanian-born maverick Jewish intellectual and twin learned Presbyterian Scotswomen who had assembled to inspect several pieces of rag-paper and parchment. It was the unlikely start to what would prove a remarkable saga, and one that has revolutionized our sense of what it means to lead a Jewish life. Based on their Sacred Trash: The Lost and Found World of the Cairo Geniza, which was named the best Jewish book of the year by the American Library Association, this talk by Peter Cole and Adina Hoffman will bring us inside the story of one of the greatest discovery of Jewish manuscripts ever made. Harold Bloom described Sacred Trash as “a small masterpiece,” and David Nirenberg, writing in the Nation, called it “a literary jewel whose pages turn like those of a well-paced thriller, but with all the chiseled elegance and flashes of linguistic surprise that we associate with poetry . . . Sacred Trash has made history beautiful and exciting.” Co-sponsored by the Jewish studies program, religious studies department, and Center for the Arts and Humanities.


Till We Have Built Jerusalem: Architects of a New City

Adina Hoffman

Monday, October 9 / 5:30 pm / Colby: Robins Room (Roberts Hall)

Tuesday, October 10 / 7:00 pm / Portland: Jewish Community Alliance, 1342 Congress St ($10/JCA members, $12/General Admission)

Please join us for a talk by award-winning essayist and biographer Adina Hoffman about her book. Till We Have Built Jerusalem is a gripping and intimate journey into the lives of three very different architects who helped shape modern Jerusalem.  A powerfully written rumination on memory and forgetting, place and displacement, the book uncovers multiple layers of one great city’s buried history as it asks what it means, in Jerusalem and everywhere, to be foreign and to belong. The Los Angeles Times called the book “brave and often beautiful,” and Haaretz described it as “a passionate, lyrical defense of a Jerusalem that could still be.” All are welcome and dinner will be served: please RSVP by Oct. 4 to Sherry Berard, saberard@colby.edu. Co-sponsored by the Jewish studies program, religious studies department, the Center for the Arts and Humanities, and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.


From Perpetrators of Genocide to Ordinary Germans: The Transformation of Nazi War Criminals in Postwar Germany

The Annual Berger Family Holocaust Lecture

Hilary Earl, Nipissing University

Thursday, November 9 / 7:00 pm / Colby: Parker-Reed Room, SSW Alumni Center

Seventeen million civilians were killed during World War II. Of these, 6 million were Jewish—deliberately targeted by Nazi perpetrators in a European-wide campaign of mass murder. Murdering that many people required thousands of individual perpetrators. Very few of these men were ever fully prosecuted: only 185 were tried and sentenced in the thirteen Nuremberg trials between 1945 and 1949. For a variety of reasons, most of these men were released from prison in the 1950s before their sentences were complete. Using legal and archival sources, this talk explores the means by which convicted war criminals reintegrated into German society, their criminal pasts all but forgotten and ignored. It will assess the factors that enabled such men—perpetrators of genocide—to become ordinary Germans again.


Louis Brandeis and the Invention of American Zionism

David G. Dalin

Thursday, March 8 / Colby: time and location TBA

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 and the Jewish Community Alliance of Southern Maine.


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

Monday, April 9 / 7:00 pm / Colby: Ostrove Auditorium, Diamond

Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of many books, including Perfect RigorBlood MattersEster and RuzyaWords Will Break Cement: The Passion of Pussy Riot, The Brothers: The Road to an American Tragedy. Her most recent book, Where the Jews Aren’t, tells the story of an area once declared a Jewish homeland. It 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 regularly contributes to The New York TimesThe New Yorker, The Washington PostHarper’sThe New York Review of Books, Vanity Fair, and Slate, among other publications.