CULTURE AND HISTORY FROM AFAR WITH JHSEMINARS

         During the period of COVID 19 when we had to cancel all our tours for 2020, we came up with a wonderful idea of bringing CULTURE AND HISTORY FROM AFAR WITH JHSEMINARS to you.
           I had been in touch with many of our amazing guides around the world and most of their work had been canceled for 2020 and 2021 leaving them with very little income.  This new project helped them at the same time of giving you all a chance to learn and "travel" from home.
           Besides our guides, we have our amazing lecturers who travel with us on our tours (Professor Shalom Sabar, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller, Dr. Vladimir Levin and Dr. Eliezer Papo) besides other lecturers like Prof. Gary Rendsburg and Dr. Joseph Benatov who lecture for us.  The lectures will take place at a set date and time on ZOOM for a fee of USD 12 per lecture.  Payment for the lectures need to be made on PayPal.me/JHSeminars.  All the lectures will require pre-registration and payment before the lecture.
          There is also the possibility of paying the same fee at PayPal.me/JHSeminars and viewing the recording of a past lecture.  You need to contact Debbie at JHS@JewishHistoricalSeminars.com.
Our 1st lecture to introduce the project:
MENORAH AND THE OLIVE BRANCHES: THE HISTORY OF THE EMBLEM OF THE STATE OF ISRAEL  by Professor Shalom Sabar.  This lecture was free of charge and took place on Monday, May 11th at 18:00 Israel time (11:00 East Coast in North America; 08:00 in West Coast; 10:00 in Mexico; 17:00 in Europe; 16:00 in the UK).
ART OF JEWISH INTEREST IN THE HERMITAGE MUSEUM IN ST. PETERSBURG
by Evgenia (Jane) Kempinski (our guide in Russia).  This lecture took place on Wednesday, May 20th at 18:00 (6 p.m.) Israel time.
Jane Kempinski is a tour guide from St.Petersburg, Russia who has been giving tours for about 15 years already and is absolutely in love with her city and her job. She is Jewish, born and raised in Leningrad and then St.Petersburg. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg since the early 1920’s originating from the Pale of Settlement – Ukraine, Belorussia and Poland. Jane started specific Jewish Heritage tours of St.Petersburg and about 12 years ago started incorporating and interconnecting Russian and Jewish history and culture. Her idea is to show St.Petersburg from the Jewish prospective, giving one a taste of what it is to be a Jew living in Russia.
WAS SHAKESPEARE'S SHYLOCK REALLY AN ITALIAN JEW? by Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, May 26th at 18:00 Israel time.
Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her books include Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena 1598-1638 (Manchester University Press, 2011); an edited book with Christopher Black called The Roman Inquisition; Centre versus Peripheries (Brill, 2018) and most recently Christian Images and Jewish Desecrators: The History of an Allegation 400-1700 which is currently in publication. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy.

SEE ROME THROUGH JEWISH EYES: THE HISTORY OF THE JEWS OF ROME DURING THE GHETTO, Micaela Pavoncello (Italian tour guide).  This lecture took place on Wednesday, June 3rd at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Micaela Pavoncello was born in Rome, 44 years old, she has been an active part of the Jewish Community of Rome since she was a teenager, particularly in the field of cultural and educational activities for young people.

She graduated in Art History and began her career as exhibition coordinator at the MACRO Museum.

Passionate about travel, she visits many Jewish communities around the world and decides to share her great passion for the history of her community: first as a tour guide, and later founding JewishRoma Walking Tours, an agency specialized in guided tours of Jewish Rome. She tells with passion and enthusiasm to hundreds of visitors the traditions, customs and stories of the Jews of Rome, witnesses and citizens of the Eternal City for more than 2,000 years. Micaela collaborates in the edition and production of books and documentaries on the history of this small but fascinating community.

A TALE OF TWO CITIES: THE GOLDEN AGE OF KETUBAH ILLUSTRATION IN VENICE AND ROME,

Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, June 9th at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Shalom Sabar, Professor Emeritus at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in the Department of Art History and Jewish Folklore has been a Scholar of Residence on many of our tours with Jewish Historical Seminars since 1996.

He has introduced everyone who had traveled with us to the wonderful culture and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world.  His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!

THE JEWS OF LARISSA, GREECE AND THE TREASURES OF THE DIACHRONIC MUSEUM, Kapi Panou (our Greek guide). This lecture took place on Tuesday, June 16th at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Born in Salonica, Greece Kapi Panou is a highly qualified tour guide and member of the World Federation of Tourist Guides' Associations (WFTGA) Group of Lead Trainers. She has a long experience in group and private guiding all over Greece. A university graduate (Philosophical School) and, currently, a trainer in the School of Guides, Athens, she shares her knowledge and enthusiasm either with the most demanding "study" groups or the simple travellers who look for a comprehensive and thorough interpretation of the secrets of the Greek and Jewish heritage and contemporary life. She is always at the disposal of the "world" traveller who appreciates the "art of guiding."

HASIDISM: SPACE, PLACE AND SPIRIT, Prof. Marcin Wodziński.  This lecture took place on Monday, June 22nd at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time:

Marcin Wodziński (b. 1966) was born and raised in Silesia, Poland. He works currently at the University of Wrocław, Poland, where he runs the Taube Department of Jewish Studies and holds position of professor of Jewish history and literature. His research focuses on the history and culture of East European Jews in modern times, especially the Haskalah and Hasidism. Of his recent publications, he is most proud of Historical Atlas of Hasidism (Princeton, 2018) and Hasidism: Key Questions (Oxford, 2018).

AN ITALIAN DREAM: IVREA, PIEDMONT AND OLIVETTI,  Cinzia Ballesio and Monica Gnocchi (our guides in Turin).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, June 30 at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time:

Cinzia Ballesio, a high school professor of Italian Literature and History until 2004 and an official tourist guide in Piemonte since 2008.  Interested in local Piedmont history and in women’s history, she published a Torino Guide for children and some studies about Italian women colleges and women in science during the XIX- XX centuries.  She is presently an editorial curator of NEOS Edizioni Torino historical series dedicate to women.  

Monica Gnocchi is a tour guide in Italian and English with the Torino Touris Board. Monica has a Master’s Degree in Languages and Modern Foreign Literatures with a speciality in history and a Postgraduate in Human Resources.  Her specialities are on Contemporary Arts and Architecture, the
UNESCO Heritage site of Ivrea, The Self Portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci, Wine and  Food tours and more.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE JEWS OF SPAIN, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, July 7th at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy.

JEWISH LONDON ON LOCATION: LONDON'S JEWISH JOURNEY PORTRAYED ON THE PAGE AND THE BIG SCREEN, Rachel Kolsky.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, July 15 at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Rachel Kolsky was our wonderful guide on our tour to England last year.

She is a popular prize-winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Focusing on the 'human stories behind the buildings' Rachel's talks are known to be fun and informative filled with anecdotes past and present. From off-the-beaten track London and famous personalities to cinemas and shopping, memories of all aspects of London's rich and varied social history come flooding back. Before embarking on her career as Guide and Lecturer, Rachel, a qualified librarian, worked as an information professional in the financial services industry for over 25 years. Rachel has published five books including Jewish London (2012), Whitechapel in 50 Buildings (2016) and Women’s London (2018) and she is thrilled to have been a guest lecturer on cruises since 2009.

ST. PETERSBURG: AN ARCHITECTURAL DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE JEWISH COMMUNITY AND THE CAPITAL OF THE RUSSIAN EMPIRE, Dr. Vladimir Levin. This lecture took place on Tuesday, July 21 at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Dr. Vladimir Levin is the Director of the Center for Jewish Art at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Born in St. Petersburg, he holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. He authored From Revolution to War: Jewish Politics in Russia, 1907-1914 (in Hebrew, 2016) and co-edited Synagogues in Lithuania: A Catalogue (2010-2012). In 2017 he co-authored with Sergey Kravtsov the book Synagogue in Ukraine: Volhynia, and currently works on the book of Jewish heritage in Siberia with Anna Berezin. He also published c. 120 articles and essays about social and political aspects of modern Jewish history in Eastern Europe, synagogue architecture and ritual objects, Jewish religious Orthodoxy, Jewish-Muslim relations, Jews and Jewish politics in Lithuania, Russian architecture in the Holy Land, history of East-European Jewish communities etc.  Dr. Levin headed numerous research expeditions to documents synagogues and other monuments of Jewish material culture in eastern and central Europe and lead several research projects in the field of Jewish Art, the most important of which is the creation of the Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art – the world’s largest digital depository of Jewish heritage (http://cja.huji.ac.il/browser.php).

A VIRTUAL TOUR AND PERSONAL STORIES OF THE OLD JEWISH NEIGHBORHOOD OF MEXICO CITY IN THE EARLY 1900’S, Monica Unikel-Fasja.  This lecture took place on Monday, July 27 at 18:00 (6 pm) Israel time.

Monica Unikel-Fasja found her passion in the streets of Historic Mexico City, where Jewish immigrants arrived and lived around a century ago. She has dedicated nearly half of her life to walk around those streets, narrating the testimonies and the stories of Jewish immigrants in the form of guided tours.Monica has also studied and published about the synagogues in Mexico, and she participated in the revitalization of an abandoned synagogue which today she runs as a cultural center. The cultural center, named Nidje Israel, and now known as Historic Synagogue opened in 2010, and since then it has served as an open space for all sorts of Jewish cultural activities and all kinds of people.

SARAJEVO – THE JERUSALEM OF THE BALKANS: A STORY OF A UNIQUE JEWISH COMMUNITY, Dr. Eliezer Papo.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, August 4th at 18:00 Israel time.

Dr. Eliezer Papo is senior lecturer at the Hebrew Literature Department at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a Chairman of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture at the same University and the chief-editor of El Prezente – Journal for Sephardic Studies (scientific journal published by the Gaon Center). Dr. Papo also serves as the President of Sefarad – Society for Sephardic Studies, an international professional association of scientist in the field of Sephardic studies.  He is a member of the Israeli National Academy for Ladino and serves also as a representative of the Israeli Academia in the Council of the National Authority for Ladino Culture, where he is also a member of the executive board. Besides a B.A. in law (University of Sarajevo), M.A. in Jewish languages and literatures (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and a Ph.D. in Hebrew literature (BGU), Dr Papo also holds a degree in rabbinics (Midrash Sepharadi in Jerusalem). Since 1997, he serves as the non-residential rabbi of the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.

TREASURES OF THE HERMITAGE, Jane Kempinski.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, August 11 at 18:00 Israel time.

Jane Kempinski is a tour guide from St.Petersburg, Russia who has been giving tours for about 15 years already and is absolutely in love with her city and her job. She is Jewish, born and raised in Leningrad and then St.Petersburg. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg since the early 1920’s originating from the Pale of Settlement – Ukraine, Belorussia and Poland. Jane started specific Jewish Heritage tours of St.Petersburg and about 12 years ago started incorporating and interconnecting Russian and Jewish history and culture. Her idea is to show St.Petersburg from the Jewish prospective, giving one a taste of what it is to be a Jew living in Russia.

AN EXPLORATORY VOYAGE TO UZBEKISTAN – DOCUMENTING JEWISH ART AND CULTURE IN BUKHARA, 1992, Prof. Shalom Sabar . This lecture took place on Wednesday, August 19th at 18:00 Israel time.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years.  Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world.  His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!

OXFORD’S JEWISH HERITAGE, Victoria Bentata.  This lecture took place Tuesday, August 25th at 18:00  Israel time:

Victoria Bentata Azaz has been a tour guide in Oxford for 15 years and is particularly interested in its Jewish Heritage.  She is a member of the local Jewish community and of the  Oxford Jewish Heritage Committee, which has been responsible for raising the profile of Jewish history in Oxford with its website (https://www.oxfordjewishheritage.co.uk/) and activities such as museum exhibitions, writing books and commissioning plaques.  She is the author of Oxford City Walks, which has sold over 4,500 copies and was the first Oxford walks book to feature a Jewish Heritage walk.  A graduate of the University of Oxford, where she studied Russian, she is currently working towards an MA in History at Oxford Brookes University where she is hoping to examine the impact on Oxford University of Jewish refugee scholars of the 1930s.  She is available for tours at http://www.oxfordcitywalks.co.uk/

THE DEAD SEA SCROLLS AND WHY THEY MATTER,  Prof. Gary Rensburg.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, September 2nd at 18:00 Israel time.

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology.  His secondary interests include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. Prof. Rendsburg is the author of seven books and about 180 articles.  His most recent book is How the Bible Is Written (Hendrickson, 2019), with particular attention to the use of language to create literature.  In addition, he has produced two programs for the Great Courses program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. During his career, Prof. Rendsburg has served as visiting professor or visiting researcher at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, Hebrew University, UCLA, Colgate University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

 

THE SYNAGOGUES OF PIEDMONT, ITALY, Baruch Lampronti.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, September 8th at 18:00 Israel time.

Baruch Lampronti holds a degree in Architecture from the Polytechnic University of Turin. He works in research and promotion projects on the historic-artistic heritage of the Jewish Communities in Italy, generally cooperating with the Foundation for Jewish Cultural Heritage in Italy. He has curated or contributed to several exhibitions, authored articles and essays, and is involved in the cataloguing work of Italian Jewish artifacts undertaken by the Foundation and the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage and Activities. He also developed the itineraries website http://www.visitjewishitaly.it/en/ —the core of the Italian contribution to the “European Routes of Jewish Heritage”, promoted by the Council of Europe.  Baruch is active in the daily life of the Jewish Communities and Jewish institutions in Italy—especially in Turin, where he resides. He sits in the Cultural Heritage Commission of the Jewish Community of Turin and, among other responsibilities, coordinates the visits to the many sites belonging to the Community (https://torinoebraica.it/turismo/?lang=en).

MAY YOU BE INSCRIBED IN THE BOOK OF LIFE – THE ORIGINS AND EARLY HISTORY OF THE JEWISH NEW YEAR CARD, Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, September 15th.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him! Shalom has been an avid collector of New Year’s cards in the last 20 years.  When he started there were hardly any collectors of these cards since it was considered too simple of an item to collect and today all the museums, including the Israel Museum, are collecting and exhibiting the cards.

THE LIFE OF THE ROMAN JEWS FROM THE EMANCIPATION TO THE PRESENT DAY THROUGH THE NAZI OCCUPATION AND WWII, Micaela Pavoncello.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, September 23.

Micaela Pavoncello was born in Rome, 44 years old, she has been an active part of the Jewish Community of Rome since she was a teenager, particularly in the field of cultural and educational activities for young people.

She graduated in Art History and began her career as exhibition coordinator at the MACRO Museum.

Passionate about travel, she visits many Jewish communities around the world and decides to share her great passion for the history of her community: first as a tour guide, and later founding JewishRoma Walking Tours, an agency specialized in guided tours of Jewish Rome, she tells with passion and enthusiasm to hundreds of visitors the traditions, customs and stories of the Jews of Rome, witnesses and citizens of the Eternal City for more than 2,000 years. Micaela collaborates in the edition and production of books and documentaries on the history of this small but fascinating community.

UNCOVERING SECRET JEWISH LIFE IN THE TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS OF THE PORTUGUESE INQUISITION, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller. This lecture took place on Wednesday, September 30.

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism.

In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC.

At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy.

WOMAN OF VALOR: IMAGES AND OBJECTS OF THE SEPHARDI WOMAN IN MOROCCO, Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, October 7.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him! He has been our Scholar in Residence on our fabulous tours to Morocco.


ANCIENT CAPITALS OF IRAN AND THE JEWISH CONNECTION, Dr. Thamar E. Gindin.  This lecture

took place on Tuesday, October 13th.

Dr. Thamar E. Gindin is Israel's first cultural attaché in free Iran, and until Iran is free, she builds bridges between the Iranian and Israeli nations, opening eyes on both sides to see the other side is just like us, with some fascinating differences. She does it by writing books, articles and posts, media appearances in Hebrew, English and Persian, podcasts, a blog and of course - lectures. She is currently a research fellow in Ezri Center in Haifa University.

YOUR LOYAL SUBJECTS: NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY, LONDON, Rachel Kolsky (our guide in England).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, October 20th.

Rachel Kolsky was our wonderful guide on our tour to England last year. She is a popular prize-winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Focusing on the 'human stories behind the buildings' Rachel's talks are known to be fun and informative filled with anecdotes past and present. From off-the-beaten track London and famous personalities to cinemas and shopping, memories of all aspects of London's rich and varied social history come flooding back. Before embarking on her career as Guide and Lecturer, Rachel, a qualified librarian, worked as an information professional in the financial services industry for over 25 years. Rachel has published five books including Jewish London (2012), Whitechapel in 50 Buildings (2016) and Women’s London (2018) and she is thrilled to have been a guest lecturer on cruises since 2009.

ROMAN SALONA, EMPEROR DIOCLETIAN AND HIS PALACE IN MODERN SPLIT, CROATIA AND SIGNS OF JEWISH PRESENCE IN TURBULENT TIMES, Dr. Vedran Barbarić (our guide in Croatia).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, October 27th.

Dr. Vedran Barbarić is an Assistant Professor and the Vice-dean at the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Split, Croatia. Throughout his professional career he has dedicated himself to the research and communication of various aspects of cultural heritage of the Eastern Adriatic area. Through this interest comes an impetus for the presentation of the well known layer of Roman history, as seen through the ancient written sources and the material remains in Salona, the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia and UNESCO world heritage site of Diocletian's palace in modern Split.

THE MEDITERRANEAN JOURNEY OF A LADINO SONG, Prof. Edwin Seroussi.  This lecture took place on Monday, November 2.

Edwin Seroussi is the Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem and Director of the Jewish Music Research Centre since 2000 as well as Visiting Scholar at Dartmouth College. He has previously taught at the Department of Music of Bar Ilan University and has been a visiting professor at several major institutions in Europe, North and Latin America.

Born in Montevideo, Uruguay, Prof. Seroussi immigrated to Israel in 1971 where he studied at the Department of Musicology at the undergraduate and graduate levels continuing into his doctoral studies at the University of California Los Angeles (1981-1987). As a faculty member of the Department of Musicology at The Hebrew University, he teaches ethnomusicology, world music, theory and methodology in the study of oral traditions and popular music. His research focuses on the musical cultures of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, interactions between Jewish and Islamic cultures and popular music in Israel exploring process of hybridization, diaspora, nationalism and transnationalism. He founded Yuval Music Series and is editor of the acclaimed CD series Anthology of Music Traditions in Israel. Besides his academic activities he is active in the music scene of Israel and abroad in diverse capacities as producer, advisor, member of the board of musical institutions and representative to the International Music Council (UNESCO). He has been awarded several prestigious prizes, among them the Israel Prize in the field of musicology for 2018.

 

VISIT THE ALSATIAN MUSEUM OF STRASBOURG TO DISCOVER THE TREASURES AND RICHNESS OF RURAL LIFE IN ALSACE WHERE JEWS AND CHRISTIANS LIVED SIDE BY SIDE, Isabelle Hincker  (a guide in Alsace).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, October 10th.

Born in Strasbourg in 1961, Isabelle Hinckler has been working as a tour guide for 29 years and has a great passion for the region of Alsace, its traditions and the dual culture which is a result of the changes of nationalities back and forth between France and Germany. She also used to be a teacher in a vocational high school for 32 years . Isabelle speaks French, German, Italian , English and the traditional Alsatian dialect that has some similarities with the Yeddish (or Yiddish?) Daïtsch spoken by the local Jewish people.  She would like to share her love for this multi cultural and multi religious area that welcomed in the 12th Century one of the oldest Jewish communities in France. Isabelle has been working in several museums in Strasbourg but the Musée Alsacien is her favourite one!

 

 

THE JEWS OF SICILY FROM MEDIEVAL TO EARLY MODERN TIMES, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, October 17th.

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy.

THE IMPRESSIONIST COLLECTION OF THE HERMITAGE MUSEUM, ST. PETERSBURG, Jane Kempinsky (our guide in Russia). This lecture took place on Tuesday, October 24.

Jane Kempinski is a tour guide from St.Petersburg, Russia who has been giving tours for about 15 years already and is absolutely in love with her city and her job. She is Jewish, born and raised in Leningrad and then St.Petersburg. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg since the early 1920’s originating from the Pale of Settlement – Ukraine, Belorussia and Poland. Jane started specific Jewish Heritage tours of St.Petersburg and about 12 years ago started incorporating and interconnecting Russian and Jewish history and culture. Her idea is to show St.Petersburg from the Jewish prospective, giving one a taste of what it is to be a Jew living in Russia.

EGYPT: A TRIP UP THE NILE AND THE BIBLICAL CONNECTION, Prof. Gary Rendsburg.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, December 1st.

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology.  His secondary interests include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. Prof. Rendsburg is the author of seven books and about 180 articles.  His most recent book is How the Bible Is Written (Hendrickson, 2019), with particular attention to the use of language to create literature.  In addition, he has produced two programs for the Great Courses program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. During his career, Prof. Rendsburg has served as visiting professor or visiting researcher at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, Hebrew University, UCLA, Colgate University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

HOW DID TEL AVIV DEVELOP TO BECOME THE MOST JEWISH CITY IN THE WORLD, Abraham Silver

This lecture took place on Tuesday, December 8th.

Abraham Silver was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York.  After receiving a B.A. in History and Philosophy from S.U.N.Y. Binghamton, Abraham moved to Kibbutz Ketura, a socialist pioneering settlement in Israel’s Negev desert, where he spent nineteen years as a date farmer. Abraham completed an M.A. in Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. His architectural emphasis is on the design of Jewish Space in Israeli and modern American Jewish architecture. In addition to practicing architecture, he is a licensed tour guide and senior Jewish/Israel educator. Abraham’s background has led him to a unique understanding of Tel Aviv as the most Jewish city in the world: its development, its architecture, its impact on the Jewish world and Jewish Identity and the implications for the global family of nations. He provides specialty tours of Tel Aviv. Abraham is also a lecturer on the Architecture of Jerusalem at Hebrew University. He is co-author of the book “Living the Dream: Israel at 50” as well as “Israel at 60: People, Places and History”, a three-volume set of DVDs.  He is also co-founder of the Israel informational website, “Access Israel.”  Abraham and his wife Elissa live in Tel Aviv with their two thirteen-year-old daughters, Shiri and Libi.

THE JEWISH SILVERSMITHS’ MARKET OF BAGHDAD: THE CREATION OF CEREMONIAL ART FOR THE JEWS OF IRAQ AND THE ‘IRAQI DIASPORA’, Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, December 16th.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him! This lecture should be very exciting since it will introduce a world which we are not able to travel to.

 

HIGHLIGHTS OF THE UFFIZI GALLERY, FLORENCE, Simona Conti (our guide in Italy). This lecture took place on Wednesday, December 23rd.

Simona Conti was born in Florence, Italy,  in 1960 and received a degree in Foreign Languages (English and German) from the Superior School for Interpreters and Translators in 1982. She has been active in tourism since 1983. Simona’s first employment was as a tour director for an American travel agency, escorting groups throughout Italy.  She became an official guide in 1996, after having received a Masters. Up to the present time, Simona has guided thousands of visitors around her city, Florence which has included famous people like Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui, film directors like Steven Spielberg, writers like Ken Follett, movie stars like Michael J. Fox and Sarah Jessica Parker, musicians like Dire Straits’ founder Mark Knopfler.  and actors like Jane Fonda.  Currently Simona lives in the country with her husband, three dogs and five cats, on a farm property which they have painstakingly restored,  surrounded by 35 olive trees. Her part-time job is taking care of the vegetable garden and helping her husband with pruning and harvesting . In the Fall they pick their olives and have our own extra virgin olive oil made.   They have a daughter, Priscilla who became a medical doctor in Barcelona, Spain and lives currently in Florence, Italy, where she’s training as Psychiatrist.  Simona enjoys her chosen profession because it allows her to meet many different people and share with them the love for her beautiful city, Florence!

 

MOROCCO AND ITS TWO JEWISH COMMUNITIES: THE INDIGENOUS BERBER JEWS AND THE SPANISH EXPULSEES, Dr. Eliezer Papo.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, December 30.

Dr. Eliezer Papo is senior lecturer at the Hebrew Literature Department at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a Chairman of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture at the same University and the chief-editor of El Prezente – Journal for Sephardic Studies (scientific journal published by the Gaon Center). Dr. Papo also serves as the President of Sefarad – Society for Sephardic Studies, an international professional association of scientist in the field of Sephardic studies.  He is a member of the Israeli National Academy for Ladino and serves also as a representative of the Israeli Academia in the Council of the National Authority for Ladino Culture, where he is also a member of the executive board. Besides a B.A. in law (University of Sarajevo), M.A. in Jewish languages and literatures (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and a Ph.D. in Hebrew literature (BGU), Dr Papo also holds a degree in rabbinics (Midrash Sepharadi in Jerusalem). Since 1997, he serves as the non-residential rabbi of the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina.  Eliezer has been our Scholar in Residence on our tours to Morocco.

 

JEWISH BULGARIA: A VIRTUAL SEPHARDIC JOURNEY, Dr. Joseph Benatov.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, January 6.

Join us for a dynamic interactive trip through Bulgaria’s rich Jewish heritage. Learn about notable moments and individuals from the rich and varied history of Jewish life in Bulgaria. Our virtual tour will make stops in Sofia and Plovdiv, Bulgaria’s largest cities, and will take us inside the sumptuous Neo-Moorish Sofia synagogue. Other highlights along the way include the medieval capital, the grand Rila Monastery, and the mountain town of Samokov, home to the most affluent Sephardic dynasty – the Arie family. You will have a chance to learn about the history and culture of the Bulgarian Sephardi Jews.

Joseph Benatov holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches Hebrew. He is originally from Bulgaria and a member of Sofia’s Jewish community. Joseph has over 15 years of experience leading travelers across the Balkans, including UNESCO representatives, 92nd Street Y visitors, JDC board members, and Anti-Defamation League officials. He lectures regularly on the history of Jewish life in Bulgaria and on Balkan Sephardic culture.

THE SYNAGOGUES OF LITHUANIA AS MATERIAL REFLECTION OF JEWISH HISTORY, Dr. Vladimir Levin.

This lecture took place on Tuesday, January 12th.

Dr. Vladimir Levin is the Director of the Center for Jewish Art at Hebrew University of Jerusalem.  Born in St. Petersburg, he holds a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University. He authored From Revolution to War: Jewish Politics in Russia, 1907-1914 (in Hebrew, 2016) and co-edited Synagogues in Lithuania: A Catalogue (2010-2012). In 2017 he co-authored with Sergey Kravtsov the book Synagogue in Ukraine: Volhynia, and currently works on the book of Jewish heritage in Siberia with Anna Berezin. He also published c. 120 articles and essays about social and political aspects of modern Jewish history in Eastern Europe, synagogue architecture and ritual objects, Jewish religious Orthodoxy, Jewish-Muslim relations, Jews and Jewish politics in Lithuania, Russian architecture in the Holy Land, history of East-European Jewish communities etc. Dr. Levin headed numerous research expeditions to documents synagogues and other monuments of Jewish material culture in eastern and central Europe and lead several research projects in the field of Jewish Art, the most important of which is the creation of the Bezalel Narkiss Index of Jewish Art – the world’s largest digital depository of Jewish heritage (http://cja.huji.ac.il/browser.php).

A VISIT TO THE ROYAL TOMBS OF VERGINA, GREECE WITH ITS BREATHTAKING GOLD ARTIFACTS AND THE STORY WHICH CHANGED THE COURSE OF HISTORY, Kapi Panou (our guide in Greece).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, January 19th.

A visit to the museum at Vergina is a feast for the eyes and the mind.  The cluster of royal tombs (including that of Philip II, father of Alexander the Great and his grandson, Alexander IV) is protected by a tumulus-shaped shelter and is now the present Museum of the Royal Tombs of Aigai (modern name is Vergina). Today one can see the architectural buildings, wall paintings of the tombs and gorgeous gold artifacts. On one of our past tours to Greece, we visited this site which was really amazing!

Born in Salonica, Greece Kapi Panou is a highly qualified tour guide and member of the World Federation of Tourist Guides' Associations (WFTGA) Group of Lead Trainers. She has a long experience in group and private guiding all over Greece. A university graduate (Philosophical School) and, currently, a trainer in the School of Guides, Athens, she shares her knowledge and enthusiasm either with the most demanding "study" groups or the simple travellers who look for a comprehensive and thorough interpretation of the secrets of the Greek and Jewish heritage and contemporary life. She is always at the disposal of the "world" traveller who appreciates the "art of guiding."

 

TO THE BOOTH, TO THE GALLERY, JEWISH WOMEN AND THE VOTE, Rachel Kolsky (our guide in England).  This lecture took place on Tuesday, January 26th.

Discover the Jewish women committed to the campaign for votes for women and equal rights for synagogue membership. In Britain, the Jewish League for Women's Suffrage was the first organization to link Judaism with suffrage and with support from key members of the male Anglo- Jewish elite they succeeded in breaking down barriers to political and religious emancipation. The suffrage campaign was international and this talk also highlights co-operation across the continents and non-British suffragettes.

Rachel Kolsky was our wonderful guide on our tour to England last year. She is a popular prize-winning London Blue Badge Tourist Guide. Focusing on the 'human stories behind the buildings' Rachel's talks are known to be fun and informative filled with anecdotes past and present. From off-the-beaten track London and famous personalities to cinemas and shopping, memories of all aspects of London's rich and varied social history come flooding back. Before embarking on her career as Guide and Lecturer, Rachel, a qualified librarian, worked as an information professional in the financial services industry for over 25 years. Rachel has published five books including Jewish London (2012), Whitechapel in 50 Buildings (2016) and Women’s London (2018) and she is thrilled to have been a guest lecturer on cruises since 2009.

THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTIC OF ASHKENAZ JEWRY, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, February 3rd.

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. She is the author of Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena 1598-1638 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), the co-editor of The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries (Leiden: Brill, 2018) and many other articles on the Catholic Inquisition, anti-semitism and the Jews of Italy. She is now finishing a book called  "Christian Images and Jewish Desecrators: The History of an Allegation," 400-1700."    . Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy and the ones we were planning to Alsace and Provence.

 

A VIRTUAL TOUR OF THE UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE SITE: AMBER PALACE IN RAJASTHAN, INDIA, Vijay Singh Shekhawat (our guide in Jaipur, India). This lecture took place on Wednesday, February 10th.

Built in 1592, Amber Palace is located near Jaipur high on a hill and is one of the most well-known and visited sites in India. The palace has large ramparts, series of impressive gates and incredible architecture which is a fusion of Hindu and Islamic styles with beautiful inlaid and carved out decorations.  Vijay will guide us through the palace with its history and stories.

Vijay Singh was born and brought up in a very traditional extended Hindu family in Jaipur. Vijay had a typical arranged marriage twelve years ago and today has twins who are 10 years old. He studied law but was passionate about history and art. This passion and inclination towards the historical magnificence of this country drew him towards the tourism industry, specializing in customized tours for the last 16 years. Vijay was our wonderful guide in Jaipur on our past tours of India!

A UNIQUE TOUR OF THE KREMLIN IN MOSCOW WITH ITS HIDDEN TREASURES, Jane Kempinsky (our guide in Russia).  This lecture took place on Wednesday, February 17th.

We will begin our tour with a bird’s eye view.  We will stop at the famous Red Square and walk along the Kremlin walls.  Upon entering the Kremlin territory, we will find the most famous and less known sites, with some being the Great Kremlin Palace and its beautiful halls where presidents of Russia held official receptions as well the Terem Palace Palace, the medieval residence of the Russian Tsars which looks like it came out of Russian fairy tales.  We will also visit the world famous Armory Chamber and the Diamond Fund where the most precious crown jewels are exhibited.  Viewed will be unique crowns, dresses, thrones, carriages, the biggest and most precious diamond and of course the collection of the breathtaking Faberge Eggs. 

Jane Kempinski is a tour guide from St.Petersburg, Russia who has been giving tours for about 15 years already and is absolutely in love with her city and her job. She is Jewish, born and raised in Leningrad and then St.Petersburg. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg since the early 1920’s originating from the Pale of Settlement – Ukraine, Belorussia and Poland. Jane started specific Jewish Heritage tours of St.Petersburg and about 12 years ago started incorporating and interconnecting Russian and Jewish history and culture. Her idea is to show St.Petersburg from the Jewish prospective, giving one a taste of what it is to be a Jew living in Russia.

PURIM IN HISTORICAL AND VISUAL PERSPECTIVE AMONG JEWISH COMMUNITIES IN EUROPE AND THE LANDS OF ISLAM, Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, February 24th.

In the lecture we will explore the visual art and material culture created to enhance the Book of Esther in various Jewish communities throughout the ages. Emphasis will be placed on the earliest depiction discovered in the ancient synagogue of Dura Europus (3rd cent. CE), followed by the importance imbued in the story of Esther and Purim among Ashkenazi Jews of the Middle Ages. We will then examine the emergence of illustrated Esther scrolls in Renaissance and Baroque Italy - a Judaic art form that reached its artistic peak in 17th and 18th centuries. From Italy, the art of the scroll spread to other communities, especially the Netherlands, Germany, and eventually reached also the lands of Islam. In the last part of the lecture we will briefly deal with other beloved objects and traditions of Purim.

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!

FROM CÓRDOBA TO CARDAMON: THE WORLD OF THE CAIRO GENIZA, Prof. Gary Rendsburg.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, March 2nd.

During the 1890s the contents of the Cairo Geniza, the storeroom of the Ben Ezra Synagogue built c. 900 in Fustat (Old Cairo), came to the attention of scholars in England and elsewhere.  The discoveries constituted nothing less than a revolution in the field of Jewish studies.  In the end, 300,000 documents (mostly in Hebrew, but in other languages as well) emerged from the dusty attic space, including old Torah Scroll sheets, bridal trousseau lists, records documenting the spice trade with India, Maimonides’s own drafts of his legal and philosophical works, and – perhaps most remarkably of all – the memoir of an Italian monk who had converted to Judaism.  In sum, every aspect of medieval Jewish life, from the sacred to the mundane, is revealed through our study of the always fascinating Cairo Geniza documents.

Gary A. Rendsburg serves as the Blanche and Irving Laurie Professor of Jewish History at Rutgers University.  His teaching and research focus on ‘all things ancient Israel’ – primarily language and literature, though also history and archaeology.  His secondary interests include the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Hebrew manuscript tradition, and Jewish life in the Middle Ages. Prof. Rendsburg is the author of seven books and about 180 articles.  His most recent book is How the Bible Is Written (Hendrickson, 2019), with particular attention to the use of language to create literature.  In addition, he has produced two programs for the Great Courses program, one on ‘The Book of Genesis’ and one on ‘The Dead Sea Scrolls’. During his career, Prof. Rendsburg has served as visiting professor or visiting researcher at the University of Oxford, the University of Cambridge, the University of Sydney, Hebrew University, UCLA, Colgate University, and the University of Pennsylvania. 

ROMA: A FRENCH STYLE MEXICAN NEIGHBORHOOD WHICH BECAME A SYRIAN JEWISH SETTLEMENT WITH ITS HISTORY AND PERSONAL STORIES, Monica Unikel Fasja.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, March 9th.

Roma, the Oscar-winning movie by Alfonso Cuarón that captivated the world, is set in the Mexican neighborhood of the same name. This lovely neighborhood was also the home of many Jewish families from the Arab countries. Syrian Jews from both Aleppo and Damascus arrived in Mexico City at the onset of the 20th century. They first settled at the Historic Center of the city, but around the 1930 they started moving to Colonia Roma, where they continued to practice their traditions amidst the French-style buildings. Middle Eastern grocery stores, religious and Zionist schools, synagogues and cafés, became characteristic of Syrian-Jewish-Mexican identity. Today, they are remembered with nostalgia.

Monica Unikel-Fasja found her passion in the streets of Historic Mexico City, where Jewish immigrants arrived and lived around a century ago. She has dedicated nearly half of her life to walk around those streets, narrating the testimonies and the stories of Jewish immigrants in the form of guided tours.Monica has also studied and published about the synagogues in Mexico, and she participated in the revitalization of an abandoned synagogue which today she runs as a cultural center. The cultural center, named Nidje Israel, and now known as Historic Synagogue opened in 2010, and since then it has served as an open space for all sorts of Jewish cultural activities and all kinds of people.

THE MEDICI SAGA: HOW COMMONERS BECAME ROYALTIES IN ITALY, Simona Conti. This lecture took place on Tuesday, March 16th.

 The name MEDICI is known across the world; recently a successful television series was shot and many more people did get familiar with this unique and powerful family that lived in Florence from the 13th to the 17th hundreds. Medici descendants are still living in Florence, although their role in the city life is no longer as predominant. But there was a time when they were able to turn a relatively minor town into the capital of European commerce and finance; when they interacted with popes and royalties; when they were able, thanks to their qualities (not always positive), to rise to the highest position in a town of commoners in one of the few Republics of that time in Europe. In my lecture I'll try to explain the mechanism that enabled such rise (and the relative fall). The aura of the Medici family is still floating in the streets of Florence and every single stone could tell you something about them.

Simona Conti was born in Florence, Italy,  in 1960 and received a degree in Foreign Languages (English and German) from the Superior School for Interpreters and Translators in 1982. She has been active in tourism since 1983. Simona’s first employment was as a tour director for an American travel agency, escorting groups throughout Italy.  She became an official guide in 1996, after having received a Masters. Up to the present time, Simona has guided thousands of visitors around her city, Florence which has included famous people like Japanese baseball player Hideki Matsui, film directors like Steven Spielberg, writers like Ken Follett, movie stars like Michael J. Fox and Sarah Jessica Parker, musicians like Dire Straits’ founder Mark Knopfler.  and actors like Jane Fonda. Currently Simona lives in the country with her husband, three dogs and five cats, on a farm property which they have painstakingly restored,  surrounded by 35 olive trees. Her part-time job is taking care of the vegetable garden and helping her husband with pruning and harvesting . In the Fall they pick their olives and have our own extra virgin olive oil made.   They have a daughter, Priscilla who became a medical doctor in Barcelona, Spain and lives currently in Florence, Italy, where she’s training as Psychiatrist.  Simona enjoys her chosen profession because it allows her to meet many different people and share with them the love for her beautiful city, Florence!

JEWISH LIFE IN IRAN UNDER THE SHADOW OF THE SHAH AND THE AYATOLLAH, Jacqueline Saper.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, March 23rd. 

Jaqueline Saper was born and raised in Tehran as the bicultural daughter of an Ashkenazi British mother and a Mizrachi Iranian father. Her comfortable childhood and adolescence ended at eighteen with the 1979 Iranian Revolution's civil unrest. The Shah was ousted, Ayatollah Khomeini returned from exile, and Iran became an Islamic theocracy. Almost overnight, Saper went from wearing miniskirts to being forced to wear the hijab and hiding in the basement as Iraqi bombs fell over the city. She witnessed the Iranian Jewish community's mass emigration as most sought asylum abroad. In her case, Saper continued to live in the Islamic Republic for eight more years. She fled Iran with her husband and her two young children in 1987, a few days before her twenty-sixth birthday. Saper is one of the few Persian Jews of her generation to have lived before, during, and after the revolution in Iran. Jacqueline Saper recently published her memoir, From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran. (University of Nebraska Press—Potomac Books).

Jacqueline Saper is an author, speaker, columnist, and translator. Her memoir, From Miniskirt to Hijab: A Girl in Revolutionary Iran (University of Nebraska Press—Potomac Books, 2019), is the winner of the Chicago Writers Association 2020 Book of the Year Award for traditional nonfiction. The book is also a finalist for both the 2020 Clara Johnson Award, and the 2021 Feathered Quill Book Awards. Fluent in Farsi and English, Saper subtitled and translated the Alex and Ali movie, winner of the Frameline39 Jury Award for Outstanding Documentary. Her opinion columns and articles appear in national and international publications, including The Seattle Times, Foreign Policy News, The Jerusalem Post, Sun-Sentinel, and The Forward, Aish, and The Times of Israel, among others. She is the recipient of Oakton College's 2018 Distinguished Alumni Award.

THE SARAJEVO HAGGADAH: A MASTERPIECE OF JEWISH ART AND ITS INCREDIBLE JOURNEY FROM CATALONIA TO BOSNIA, Prof. Shalom Sabar.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, March 31

Considered nowadays the most valuable and number one national art treasure of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Sarajevo Haggadah is popularly known as the most beautiful Hebrew book ever produced. The famous illuminated Haggadah was created in the second quarter of the fourteenth century in one of the Jewish communities in the north-eastern part of the Kingdom of Aragon (Catalonia). The fascinating illuminations reflect the high cultural and artistic achievements of Sephardi Jewry at the time. The fate of the codex after the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain (1492), until it reached eventually Sarajevo, where a member of the old local Sephardi community sold it in 1894 to the new National Museum that was established in the city a few years earlier, remains a mystery. A source of inspiration to modern artists and the subject of a suspense novel, the manuscript that was hidden from the public eye for many years continues to fascinate and capture the imagination of many. 

Shalom Sabar is a Professor Emeritus of the Dept of Art History and Jewish Folklore of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Shalom has been our amazing scholar in residence on many of our tours throughout many years. Shalom has introduced us all to the wonderful culture, art and folklore of so many Jewish communities throughout the world. His wonderful enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone who listens to him!

 

THE INCREDIBLE STORY OF HOW BULGARIA’S JEWS SURVIVED THE HOLOCAUST AND VIRTUAL TRAVEL THROUGH NORTH MACEDONIA, Dr. Joseph Benatov (This lecture will not be recorded) This lecture took place on Wednesday, April 7

Why was Bulgaria able to protect its 50,000 Bulgarian Jews during the Holocaust, while deporting to their death nearly 11,400 Greek and Yugoslav (Macedonian) Jews? We will discuss this complicated WWII history and note some of the most prominent Bulgarian politicians, clergymen, and intellectuals who stood up for their Jewish countrymen.  Take a virtual stroll through the two main historic centers of Jewish life in North Macedonia – Skopje and Bitola (Monastir). We will also make a stop in Ohrid, North Macedonia’s most captivating city-on-a-lake. Our final destination will be Jaffa, Israel, where large numbers of Bulgarian Jews settled between 1948 and 1952.

Joseph Benatov holds a Ph.D. in comparative literature from the University of Pennsylvania, where he teaches Hebrew. He is originally from Bulgaria and a member of Sofia’s Jewish community. Joseph has over 15 years of experience leading travelers across the Balkans, including UNESCO representatives, 92nd Street Y visitors, JDC board members, and Anti-Defamation League officials. He lectures regularly on the history of Jewish life in Bulgaria and on Balkan Sephardic culture.

THE UNKNOWN WORLD OF JEWISH ARTISTS OF RUSSIA, Jane Kempinski.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, April 13.

Whenever we speak about Jewish Art in Russia we think of Marc Chagall.  But he is not the only one. Late 19th and early 20th centuries gave us quite a few of talented Jews who were looking to find their own unique style in classical and modern art. Jewish artists in Russia worked and created unique masterpieces in every artistic style from realism to avant-garde. We are going to see some of their best works and speak about their views over the phenomena of "Jewish art" and the "Jewish artist". 

Jane Kempinski is a tour guide from St.Petersburg, Russia who has been giving tours for about 15 years already and is absolutely in love with her city and her job. She is Jewish, born and raised in Leningrad and then St.Petersburg. Her family has been living in St. Petersburg since the early 1920’s originating from the Pale of Settlement – Ukraine, Belorussia and Poland. Jane started specific Jewish Heritage tours of St.Petersburg and about 12 years ago started incorporating and interconnecting Russian and Jewish history and culture. Her idea is to show St.Petersburg from the Jewish prospective, giving one a taste of what it is to be a Jew living in Russia.

A JOURNEY OF JEWISH KRAKOW WITH ITS HISTORY, SITES AND STORIES OF FAMOUS FIGURES, Monika Prylińska and Tomasz Klimek.  This lecture took place on Tuesday, April 20th.

Monika Prylinska holds a PhD in Geography at the University of Lodz and MA degrees in Judaic Studies and Polish Philology at the Jagiellonian University of Krakow. She is a university lecturer, licensed city guide of Krakow, tour leader and writer. Her teaching and research focus on Jewish culture in Poland, the anti-discrimination policy of democratic societies and non-fiction literature. For over ten years, Dr Prylinska has worked with Jewish groups in Poland and has run Jewish educational workshops for Polish students and adults. She cooperated as a guide and educator with the Polin Jewish Museum in Warsaw. Currently, she participates in oral history workshops of second generation Jewish writer and psychologist Mikołaj Grynberg and studies Gestalt psychology.

Tomasz Klimek holds an MA in management from the Technical University in Kraków. He is also a scholarship holder at the University of Rochester, USA. Additionally, he completed training in Jewish culture organized by professors of Judaic studies at the Galicja Museum in Krakow. For fifteen years, as a guide of Krakow and tour leader, he has been working with Jewish groups in Poland, implementing tailor-made cultural programs, searching for Jewish roots and organizing meetings with Polish Righteous Among the Nations. Tomasz also conducts workshops on Jewish culture and history for Polish teenagers, students and adults increasing among them awareness and richness of Jewish heritage.

 

THE POPES AND THE JEWS: AN AMBIVALENT RELATIONSHIP, Dr. Kathy Aron-Beller.  This lecture took place on Wednesday, April 28th.

Originally from London, Katherine Aron-Beller is lecturer of Jewish History in the Rothberg International School of the Hebrew University and at Tel Aviv University. Her areas of expertise are medieval Jewish history, early modern Jewish-Christian relations, the early modern Inquisition and Anti-Semitism. In 2007-8 she was a Visiting Assistant Professor at the George Washington University in Washington DC. At present she is a Visiting Scholar of the Stephen Roth Institute for the Study of Contemporary Antisemitism and Racism. She is the author of Jews on Trial: The Papal Inquisition in Modena 1598-1638 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 2011), the co-editor of The Roman Inquisition: Centre versus Peripheries (Leiden: Brill, 2018) and many other articles on the Catholic Inquisition, anti-semitism and the Jews of Italy. She is now finishing a book called "Christian Images and Jewish Desecrators: The History of an Allegation," 400-1700." Dr. Aron-Beller has been a scholar in residence on many trips with Jewish Historical Seminars including trips to Spain, Portugal, England, Sicily and Italy and the ones we were planning to Alsace and Provence.

FROM THE INDEPENDENT CITY OF DUBROVNIK TO VENETIAN PORT OF SPLIT: THE JEWS OF THE EASTERN ADRIATIC COAST THOUGHOUT THE CENTURIES, Dr. Eliezer Papo

The lecture will explore the rich history of the Jews of Dalmatia (the region of the Eastern Adriatic coast, today in Croatia), from the early Christian era until today. It will focus mainly on two rival port cities: Split and Dubrovnik/Ragusa and the role the two respective Jewish communities played in this rivalry. With the Expulsion of the Jews from Spain, in 1492, the influx of Sephardic expulses to both cities reshaped totally the original Jewish communities of Dubrovnik and Split. While the Dubrovnik synagogue was established by the Romaniote community in the 14th century, and was later taken over by the Sephardim, the present-day synagogue of Split was established in the early-16th century by Sephardic new-comers which settled in the northwest quarter of Split. There they established their synagogue, right next to the western wall of Diocletian’s Imperial Palace (the Torah actually sits inside the Roman wall).  The lecture will be accompanied by vivid visual materials from historic sites in the beautiful cities of Split and Dubrovnik, illustrating the two-millennial heritage of Dalmatian Jews.

Dr. Eliezer Papo is senior lecturer at the Hebrew Literature Department at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, a Chairman of the Moshe David Gaon Center for Ladino Culture at the same University and the chief-editor of El Prezente – Journal for Sephardic Studies (scientific journal published by the Gaon Center). Dr. Papo also serves as the President of Sefarad – Society for Sephardic Studies, an international professional association of scientist in the field of Sephardic studies. He is a member of the Israeli National Academy for Ladino and serves also as a representative of the Israeli Academia in the Council of the National Authority for Ladino Culture, where he is also a member of the executive board. Besides a B.A. in law (University of Sarajevo), M.A. in Jewish languages and literatures (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), and a Ph.D. in Hebrew literature (BGU), Dr Papo also holds a degree in rabbinics (Midrash Sepharadi in Jerusalem). Since 1997, he serves as the non-residential rabbi of the Jewish community of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Most importantly, Eliezer has been our Scholar in Residence with a number of our tours to the Balkans, Morocco and Greece.