The Annual Lipman Lecture in Jewish Studies

Endowed by the Lipman Family, this distinguished lecture has attracted a variety of important speakers to Colby since 1979, including Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel (1986) and renowned author Chaim Potok (1989).

Anthony Wexler: “Israel and the New American Jewish Novel”

The 2017-18 annual Lipman Lecture in Jewish Studies

Thursday, April 26 / 7:00 pm / Colby: Diamond 122

Sunday, April 29 / 10:30 am / Portland: Temple Beth El, 400 Deering Ave.

Since its founding in 1948, Israel has played an important role in the Jewish American imagination. But the Jewish state has come to mean very different things to different segments of the American Jewish community. Perhaps not surprisingly, many twentieth-century Jewish American writers steered clear of the topic, focusing instead on the Holocaust or on Jewish life in America. In the last five years, however, a new generation of Jewish American writers, including Nicole Krauss, Nathan Englander, Joshua Cohen, and Jonathan Safran Foer, have turned their attention to the relationships between American Jews and the State of Israel. What do these contemporary writers have to say about this fraught and complex connection? How do they imagine Israel’s influence on Jewish American identity today?

Masha Gessen: “Where the Jews Aren’t: The Sad and Absurd Story of Birobidzhan, Russian’s Jewish Autonomous Region”

The 2018-19 annual Lipman Lecture in Jewish Studies

Date TBA in Fall 2018 (rescheduled from April 9, 2018)

Masha Gessen is a journalist and the author of many books, among them The Man Without a Face: The Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin. 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.

Prior Lipman Lecturers

2016-17 — Nathan Englander, “What We Talk About: Writing in Uncertain Times”

2015-16 — Ori Gersht, “Seeing and Believing”

2014-15 — Gershom Gorenberg, “The Battle for History: Israeli and Palestinian Narratives in War and Peacemaking”

2012-13 — Etgar Keret, “Is Reality Overrated?”

2011-12 — Jonathan Safran Foer, “When Jews Laugh at Things That Aren’t Funny”

2010-11 — Tom Segev, “Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi Hunter: The Man who Refused to Forget”

2009-10 — David Bame, “A Faith in Peace: Current U.S. Policy Issues in the Middle East”

2008-09 — Michael Wex, “Just Say Nu: Yiddish from the Jewish Shtetl to the American Heartland”

2007-08 — Jonathan Sarna, “The Furture of the American Jew: American Judaism in the 21st Century”

2006-07 — Deborah Lipstadt, “In Every Generation They Wish to Destroy Us: Anti-Semitism and Anti-Israelism as Factors in Jewish Identity”

2005-06 — Jerry Fowler, “Creating a Constituency of Conscience: The Role of Holocaust Remembrance in Combating Contemporary Genocide”


The Jewish Studies Program is also grateful to Barry and Judith Bronstein (P’96) for endowing the Bronstein Fund for Jewish Studies and Holocaust Studies, whose funds support a variety of Jewish Studies programs.