Fall 2012


Thursday, September 20, 7:30 pm, Strider Theater (Runnals Union)

Using only Etty Hillesum’s words, Susan Stein’s adaptation brings us to 1943 when Etty, a young Jewish woman, is about to be deported out of Holland. As she prepares for the three day journey eastward, she digs deeper into her soul to understand this piece of history and root out any hatred or bitterness, believing that humanity is the best and only solution for survival. Etty’s words, insights and beliefs reach out from the Holocaust and allow us to see the power of hope and individual thought in the most extreme circumstances. In her gentle yet forthright way, Etty asks us not to leave her at Auschwitz but to let her have a bit of say in what she hopes will be a new world. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program and the Theater and Dance Department.

The thinking heart: The life and loves of Etty Hillesum Performance“The thinking heart: The life and loves of Etty Hillesum”

Thursday, September 27, 7:00 pm, Robinson Room (Miller Library)

A reworking of Etty Hillesum’s writings as poems by Martin Steingesser, for performance by the author, Judy Tierney, and Robin Jellis (cello). Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, co-sponsored by the Creative Writing Program.


The S.S. St. Louis“The S.S. St. Louis and the refugee crisis”

Diane Afoumado, U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum

Thursday, October 25, 7:00 pm, Kassman Auditorium

In summer 1939, more than 900 German and Austrian Jews boarded the S.S. St. Louis hoping to escape Nazi persecution. Most of them had legal documents to disembark in Havana, which they hoped would be a place of refuge before they eventually emigrated to the U.S. But complicated Cuban, American, and international politics forced the passengers back to Europe. After disembarkation in Antwerp, the refugees dispersed between Belgium, the Netherlands, France, and Great-Britain. Dr. Diane Afoumado will present the St. Louis’ dramatic story using archival documents, photos, and artifacts from the collections of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, placing that tale into the larger context of the refugee crisis of the late 1930s. Dr. Afoumado’s presentation, sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program, is made possible by the Campus Outreach Lecture Program of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies, supported by the generosity of the Jerome A. Yavitz Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Arlyn S. and Stephen H. Cypen.

Ruth Langer“A Jewish curse of Christians?”

Ruth Langer, Boston College

Tuesday, October 30, 7:00 pm, Pugh Center

Ruth Langer offers an in-depth study of the birkat haminim, a Jewish prayer for the removal of those categories of human being who prevent the messianic redemption and the society envisioned for it. In its earliest form, the prayer cursed Christians, apostates to Christianity, sectarians, and enemies of Israel. Langer traces the transformation of the birkat haminim from what functioned without question in the medieval world as a Jewish curse of Christians, through its early modern censorship by Christians, to its modern transformation within the Jewish world into a general petition that God remove evil from the world. Christian censorship played a crucial role in this transformation of the prayer; however, Langer argues that the truest transformation in meaning resulted from Jewish integration into Western culture. She shows through the birkat haminim how the history of one liturgical text chronicled Jewish thinking about Christians over hundreds of years. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.


Etgar Keret“Is reality overrated? Talk and reading with Israeli writer Etgar Keret”

The annual Lipman Lecture in Jewish Studies

Monday, November 12, 7:00 pm, Pugh Center

Hailed as the voice of young Israel and one of its most radical and extraordinary writers, Etgar Keret is internationally acclaimed for his short stories. His books are bestsellers in Israel and have been published in twenty-two languages. As a filmmaker, Keret is the writer of several feature screenplays, including Skin Deep (1996), which won First Prize at several international film festivals and was awarded the Israeli Oscar. In the words of the San Francisco Chronicle, “If Kafka has the power to smash through the frozen sea of our souls, Keret perhaps can infiltrate our gray matter, adding synapses where none existed before.”

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster“Were our tomatoes picked by slaves? Putting values into the modern supply chain”

Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster, Rabbis for Human Rights — North America

Thursday, December 6, 4:00 pm, Pugh Center

Most Americans encounter slavery unwittingly, in everyday products like cotton, chocolate, and tomatoes. When we find out, we’re shocked–but don’t know what to do. Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster will speak about the ethical questions behind our every day purchases, focusing on her work with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers, a groundbreaking, worker-led response to slavery and exploitation in the Florida tomato industry. Sponsored by the Jewish Studies Program.

Spring 2013

frommer“Stranger in a Strange Land: My Unlikely Deployment as a Military Chaplain”

Cantor David Frommer

Monday, February 11, 4:30 pm – Pugh Center

Cantor, Liberal, Yalie, Jew. Which of these would you be least likely to meet in the US military today? David Frommer served as all four on his recent deployment to Kuwait and Afghanistan. It didn’t make sense but it made for a valuable year with America’s other one percent—her servicemen and women stationed overseas.

Yisrael Ne’eman“Ramifications of the Recent Israeli Elections”

Yisrael Ne’eman, University of Haifa

Wednesday, February 13, 7:00 pm, Diamond 141

With the Israeli elections past us, prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu is once again the winner, but this time leading the weakened right-wing Likud faction. He has the choice of a right/center coalition with the upstart Yesh Atid faction and others or can return to his traditional religious coalition partners. Such a decision will have a major impact on domestic policies and the possibilities of negotiating with the Palestinians. On the other hand, an increasingly chaotic Middle East featuring Syrian collapse and Egyptian demise signals foreign and defense policy challenges that no Israeli government can influence.

Betty Lauer“Betty Lauer: Hiding in Plain Sight”

Tuesday, February 19, 4:00 pm – Diamond 122

Meet Betty Lauer, author, lecturer, grandmother of a Colby student, and Holocaust survivor. Her 2004 memoir is called Hidden in Plain Sight: The Incredible True Story of a German-Jewish Teenager’s Struggle to Survive in Nazi Occupied Poland.


Colby Corner“Jews at Colby: Historical Perspectives”

Ginny Keesler ’13, Calvin Lee ’15, Michelle Wang ’16, Thomas Williams ’13

Tuesday, February 19, 7:00 pm – Robinson Room (Miller Library)

Jews have been a visible presence at Colby for a hundred years, but what about Jewishness? What can the experiences of Jews tell us about the integration of minorities into Greek life at Colby? Many Jewish alumni and donors have maintained close ties with the college: what inspires them? Come and see Colby’s past and present from a new perspective. Co-sponsored by History, Jewish Studies, and Special Collections; reception following.

A Jewish SoliderJewish Soldiers in Blue and Gray

documentary film screening and discussion with director Jonathan Gruber and Prof. Elizabeth Leonard

Thursday, March 14, 7:00 pm – Olin 1

Brother against brother, Jew against Jew, 10,000 Jewish soldiers fought in the nation’s deadliest war, in numbers proportionally higher than other American groups. This dramatic and visually rich film explores the remarkable history of the Civil War Jews who fought on both sides of the battlefield—7,000 for the Union and 3,000 for the Confederacy. The war split the Jewish community as deeply as it did the nation at large: some prominent Jews, including Jewish slave owners, cited the Torah to justify slavery, while others were leaders in the abolitionist movement or established their synagogues as stops on the Underground Railroad. From Ulysses S. Grant’s infamous General Order No. 11 expelling Jews from Kentucky, Tennessee and Mississippi, to the rise of Sephardic Jew Judah P. Benjamin to Secretary of State of the Confederacy; to the imprisonment of Confederate spy Eugenia Levy Phillips and the unlikely story of Abraham Lincoln’s Jewish doctor who moved through the South as a Union spy, this film enhances our understanding of the Civil War in surprising ways. The screening will be followed by Q&A and a reception. A Maine Jewish Film Festival event, presented by the Lunder Foundation and the Sam L. Cohen Foundation in cooperation with the Jewish Studies program.

Pope Pius XII“Pope Pius XII in World War II”

The Berger Family Holocaust Lecture

Prof. Gerhard Weinberg, University of North Carolina (emeritus)

Thursday, April 4, 7:00 pm – Ostrove Auditorium (Diamond 142)

Gerhard Weinberg is one of the most distinguished historians of World War II and a leading expert on the foreign policy of Nazi Germany. His magisterial book, A World in Arms: A Global History of World War II, has been characterized as a “brilliant and exhaustive masterwork” and as “splendid and truly encyclopedic.” Weinberg was centrally involved in the analysis of captured German documents in the 1950s and discovered and edited Hitler’s so-called “Second Book,” a sequel to Mein Kampf that had not been published during Hitler’s lifetime. Prof. Weinberg was a Fulbright professor, a Guggenheim Fellow, a senior scholar in residence at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, and president of the German Studies Association (GSA). Among the many honors bestowed on Weinberg is the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for lifetime excellence in military writing. At Colby, Weinberg will present the 2013 Annual Berger Holocaust Lecture and discuss the role of Pope Pius XII during the Second World War, a subject that has inspired great controversy and many polemical works.

Settlement Cook Book Cover“Matzoh Balls, Lobster Bisque, and American Judaism: Reading The Settlement Cook Book

Nora Rubel, University of Rochester

Monday, April 22, 7:00 pm, Pugh Center

Julia Child once claimed that cookbooks “are the history of an epoch” because they “provide answers to social, political, and economic questions about the society for which they were written. They are an essential ingredient to preserving our past and enhancing our future.” Professor Rubel will examine an American cookbook compiled by the daughter of German Jews and distributed as a pamphlet for the first time in 1901 Milwaukee. The Way to a Man’s Heart; The “Settlement” Cook Book went on to become the most successful fundraising cookbook in America, seeing forty printings and earning its place next to The Joy of Cooking and the Fannie Farmer Cookbook in the James Beard Hall of Fame. Rubel will discuss the cookbook as an influential example of Jewish—but not necessarily Judaic—material culture, a cookbook that not only reflected its Midwestern, acculturated Jewish origins, but also the aspirations of a new middle-class, one that was just becoming comfortable in America.