• Home
  • Cherry Picked - Symposium celebrating ‘Jews in the Midwest’ coming Nov. 12

Symposium celebrating ‘Jews in the Midwest’ coming Nov. 12

Monday, October 23, 2017

LAWRENCE — The Midwest’s Jewish roots will be celebrated when scholars with international reputations gather at the University of Kansas next month for a symposium.

"Jews in the Midwest" will take place Nov. 12 at the Oread Hotel, 1200 Oread Ave., adjacent to the University of Kansas campus. The symposium is open to the public and includes bus transportation to and from the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City.
The symposium will celebrate both the 19th and early 20th century Jewish settlers in the U.S. Heartland and the encyclopedia project of the same name.  Scholars will speak about the three major Jewish waves of immigration, the contributions of Jews in the Midwest and their history. 
  • David Katzman, KU professor emeritus of American history, who will speak about the “Jews in the Midwest” encyclopedia project. Katzman has specialized in the American working classes with books like “People and a Nation: A History of the United States” and “Plain Folk: The Life Stories of Undistinguished Americans.” 
  • Tobias Brinkmann, the Malvin and Lea Bank Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and History at Pennsylvania State University. Brinkman focuses on Jewish migration to the U.S. and has written several studies on the subject, including “Points of Passage: Jewish Transmigrants from Eastern Europe in Scandinavia, Germany, and Britain 1880-1914.”
  • Hasia Diner, the Paul S. and Sylvia Steinberg Professor of American Jewish History at New York University. Diner has written several books on early Jewish-Americans, most recently “From Arrival to Incorporation: Migrants to the U.S. in a Global Age” with Elliott Barkan and Alan Kraut.
  • Ava Kahn, who has documented Jewish-Americans on the West Coast in a series of videos and documentaries and has published several books, most recently “Jews of the Pacific Coast: Reinventing Community on America’s Edge.”
  • Lee Shai Weissbach, professor emeritus of history at the University of Louisville and the author of “Jewish Life in Small Town America.”
The full schedule and additional information can be found at jewishstudies.ku.edu/2017-symposium.
“The Jewish Studies Program has already hosted important symposia and conferences on Jewish communities here in the Heartland and plans others that will focus on various Jewish topics, especially those with regional interest,” said John Younger, director of the KU Jewish Studies Program.

Jewish Studies Program statement in solidarity with protests against police brutality

Beloved community,

As an academic program in the University of Kansas, we stand in solidarity with Black Americans -- including Black Jewish people -- and everyone hurting after the senseless, brutal murder of George Floyd and all people targeted by systemic racism and injustice in our country. We continue to be committed to our core values of diversity, equity, and inclusion. This morning, the Association for Jewish Studies sent out an email reminding us that as scholars of Jewish Studies, we are keenly aware of the devastating impact of discrimination and violence against minority groups. Dr. Cécile Accilien, the Chair of the KU Department of African and African-American studies, shared with us the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

The Jewish Studies academic community is rich and diverse – it includes scholars and students who are Jewish and non-Jewish, scholars and students of all ethnic and racial backgrounds and from multiple denominations and creeds, people who are immigrants (like myself) and those who are American-born. The Bible commands: צֶ֥דֶק צֶ֖דֶק תִּרְדֹּ֑ף tzedek tzedek tirdof, which translates into English as “Only justice shall you pursue” (Deuteronomy 16:20). In this well-cited verse, the Hebrew word tzedek, or justice, repeats twice. There can be many explanations of the repetition – textual interpretation in all its many forms is a beloved pursuit for many of us. Today, I am going to give you my own interpretation -- though I am sure that it already exists somewhere in the treasury of Jewish exegesis. One tzedek, or justice, you must pursue for yourself and for people like you; that is, perhaps, the justice that is easiest to understand, because we keenly feel injustices committed against ourselves and people like us. The other tzedek is the justice you must pursue for the sake of people who are not like you. It is often a harder lesson, but a necessary one. The justice, or tzedek, which we pursue thus also becomes a gift of chesed, of lovingkindness that enriches all of us.


In solidarity,

Dr. Renee Perelmutter,

Director of the Jewish Studies Program

Subscribe to our Newsletter!


* indicates required
Upcoming Program Events
KU Today
Home to 50+ departments, centers, and programs, the School of the Arts, and the School of Public Affairs and Administration
KU offers courses in 40 languages
No. 1 ranking in city management and urban policy —U.S. News and World Report
One of 34 U.S. public institutions in the prestigious Association of American Universities
44 nationally ranked graduate programs.
—U.S. News & World Report
Top 50 nationwide for size of library collection.
5th nationwide for service to veterans —"Best for Vets: Colleges," Military Times
Nondiscrimination Policy

In the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at The University of Kansas, we understand that an equitable and safe multiracial, multiethnic, and multicultural environment produces innovative thinking, research, and learning. Click here for the University's nondiscrimination policy.