Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture
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Memorial Foundation Board Briefings - Recent News May 2004

May 10, 2004

Celebrating the Memorial Foundation's 40th Anniversary

The Memorial Foundation will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary at our Biennial Meeting at the Regency Hotel in Jerusalem on July 13-15, 2004. I will describe some of the highlights of the meeting in this report.


Jewish Culture in the Era of Globalization

Prior to the formal meeting of our Board of Trustees, we are organizing an academic convocation on Jewish Culture in the Era of Globalization which will take place at the Shazar Center for Jewish History (2 Betar Street, Jerusalem) on July 12.

Much attention has been focused in recent years on the political and economic consequences of globalization on different types of societies worldwide. At this conference we will be dealing exclusively with its multiple impacts on Jewish culture and the Jewish community in the Diaspora and Israel, its differential consequences for Jewish personal and communal identity, and its implications for universalistic and particularistic themes in Jewish cultural and communal life.

The full program is listed below:


Academic Convocation - Jewish Culture in the Era of Globalization
Shazar Center for Jewish History, Monday, July 12, 2004

10:00 a.m.
Globalization and the Clash Between Civilizations, Religions and Cultures; Its Impact on the Jewish People.
Chairperson: Prof. Anita Shapira
Prof. David Cesarani
Prof. Dr. Antony Lerman
Prof. Aviezer Ravitzky

2:00 p.m.
The Impact of Globalization on Jewish Collective and Individual Identity.
Chairperson: Prof. Joseph Hacker
Prof. Michael Brenner
Prof. Sergio Della Pergolla

4:00 p.m.
Globalization and Post Modernism: A Challenge to Jewish Religious and Ethnic Culture
or an Opportunity for Universal and Pluralistic Enrichment.

Chairperson: Prof. Daniel Sperber
Prof. Richard Cohen
Prof. Moshe Halbertal
Prof. Eliezer Schweid

7:00 p.m.
The Impact of Globalization on the Jewish Character of the State of Israel and the Relationship Between Israel and the Diaspora.
Chairperson: Prof. Ismar Schorsch
Prof. Ella Belfer
Prof. Arnold Eisen
Prof. Shalom Rosenberg

For those who cannot attend, the conference will be able to be viewed in real time on the internet at a website which will be announced in the near future.

Following the meeting, the entire proceedings will be available on this website and on the website of the Nahum Goldmann program.


The State of Jewish Culture Globally
Biennial Meeting, Regency Hotel (Jerusalem), July 13-15, 2004

The opening session of our Biennial meeting will take place at the Beit Hanassi on Tuesday evening, July 13th at 5:00 p.m. Professors Anita Shapira, our president, and Ismar Schorsch, chairman of our executive committee, will present companion papers on The State of Jewish Culture Globally. Following these papers there will be remarks by the Honorable Moshe Katzav, President of the State of Israel.

You will shortly be receiving an invitation from the Beit Hanassi. Because of the heightened security concerns in Israel, all members of our Board and other invited guests are requested to assemble at the Beit Hanassi as close as possible to 3:30 p.m. A reception will precede the opening session, which will begin promptly at 5:00 p.m.

At the behest of the staff of the Beit Hanassi, we are asking all who plan to attend to advise us as soon as possible on the attached form, and also provide us with their passport or Israeli identity number. This will greatly facilitate the work of the security staff and entry into the Beit Hanassi.


Hebrew in America

At our meeting in Jerusalem we will be announcing the launching of a major new program, "Hebrew in America". Present at our meeting will be Mr. Howard Charish, the Executive Vice President of the UJA Federation of Bergen County in New Jersey, the community in which we are organizing a pilot program to achieve more effective propagation of the Hebrew Language in the Jewish community in the United States. There will be a detailed report at our meeting about this pioneering program.

To provide some background about this enterprise, we will be sending you, under separate cover, a series of academic and programmatic papers that we commissioned for our Committee on Hebrew in the United States, chaired by Professor David Berger, which helped us organize our preliminary thinking about this program. Remarkable progress has been made since then by the Foundation, together with our partners in this enterprise, the Jewish Agency and the Melton Center for Education at Hebrew University.


Community, Culture and Continuity: An Evening with Nahum Goldmann Fellows

On Wednesday evening, July 14, there will be a session devoted to the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship, the crown jewel of the Foundation's programs, chaired by Mrs. June Jacobs. We will be hearing from four Nahum Goldmann Fellows: Prof. Ingrid Lomfors from Goteborg, Sweden, an alumna of our earliest Fellowship, Leszek Piszewski, former President of the Jewish Community in Warsaw, Jeni S. Friedman, a rabbinical student at the Jewish Theological Seminary from Edmonton, Canada, and Barak Ben-Eliezer, a former officer in the Israeli Air Force and commander of Talpiot, a prestigious military and academic training program, who is now director of strategic technology for law enforcement in Israel. They will be discussing their experiences at the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship and how they see the future of Jewish life in their communities.

It should be a dynamite evening. We will also be hearing reports from June Jacobs and Nina Bassat about our recent Nahum Goldmann Fellowship programs in Sweden and Australia and our plans for an International Latin American Nahum Goldmann Fellowship and reunion of the South American alumni of previous Nahum Goldmann Fellowships, which will take place in November in Uruguay.


The Modern Jewish Canon: The First Online Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Course

Two years ago the Foundation established the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship website as an ongoing resource for its alumni. It was initially aimed at enabling the Fellows to maintain contact with each other and support the network of relationships spawned by the Fellowship.

With the launching of the first online Nahum Goldmann Fellowship course, the website will address two important needs for the Fellows. When Fellows return to their communities, especially those from small, dispersed communities, they sometimes fall back into the intellectual and spiritual isolation that initially attracted them to the Fellowship.

Furthermore, all the Fellows can benefit from continuing intellectual and spiritual challenges. Through the introduction of moderated academic workshops patterned after the workshops of the Fellowship, one of the most popular and successful features of the seminar, the Fellows have a continuing opportunity to engage in the intense intellectual dialogue that characterizes the Fellowship program.

The online Nahum Goldmann Fellowship courses are also intended to expand our contacts and reach out to young men and women around the world with similar backgrounds to our Nahum Goldmann Fellows, who either cannot attend our annual seminars, or who will be attracted to participate in these seminars in the future.

The first online Nahum Goldmann Fellowship course, The Modern Jewish Canon, which went online in April 2004, is being offered by Prof. Ruth Wisse, a former Nahum Goldmann Fellowship faculty member and Professor of Yiddish Literature and Comparative Literature at Harvard University.

The course is based on Prof. Wisse's recently published and highly acclaimed volume of the same name. The course consists of five lessons, each extending over a two-week period, featuring Jewish writers including Sholem Aleichem, Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, S.Y. Agnon, and Saul Bellow.

More than three hundred Nahum Goldmann Fellowship alumni have been registered for the course, as well as over one hundred non-Nahum Goldmann Fellowship alumni.

The online course is being presented in cooperation with the Jewish Heritage Online Magazine, created by the Foundation several years ago. The Nahum Goldmann Fellowship Website ( was designed and is administered by Aron Trauring and Simcha Shtull, alumni of the Nahum Goldmann Fellowship, who also developed the Jewish Heritage Online Magazine.

Warm regards for a joyous Shavuoth.

Warm regards.
Sincerely yours,

Dr. Jerry Hochbaum
Executive Vice President