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About the Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus

Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus
of the Association for Jewish Studies

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Subscribers and unsubscribed readers may send relevant announcements, queries, reviews, calls for papers, etc., to Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur at OR

What is the Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus?

The Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus was founded in 1998 by Professors Aron Rodrigue and Aviva Ben-Ur and represents the implementation of an idea Professor Rodrigue conceived at the Association for Jewish Studies conference of 1997. The Caucus first met at the Association for Jewish Studies conference in December of 1998, and continues to meet annually at the AJS.

What is the Purpose of this Caucus?

The central aim of the Caucus is to promote the integration of academic Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies into general Jewish Studies and other fields outside of Judaic Studies, both in teaching and in scholarship. The Caucus also aims to bring out of isolation scholars working in the fields of Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies.

What were the Themes of Previous Caucus Meetings?

AJS 2003: Chair, Aviva Ben-Ur

Theme: Sephardic Studies and Atlantic Studies

Speakers: Jonathan Schorsch (Columbia University) and Holly Snyder (Brown University)

AJS 2002: Chair, Norman Stillman

No report submitted

AJS 2001: Chair, Norman Stillman
The Caucus proceeded as follows:

1. Integrative syllabus presentation, with Daniel Schroeter, 12:00-12:20. Professor Schroeter is Professor and Teller Family Chair in Jewish History in the Department of History at the University of California, Irvine.

2. Brainstorming session for next year's proposals, with Zion Zohar 12:20-12:40. Professor Zohar is the Director of the Sephardic Studies Program at Florida International University in Miami.

3. Presentation on the new Sephardi Studies chair at Brandeis University, with Antony Polonsky, 12:40-1:00. Professor Polonsky is the Albert Abramson Chair of Holocaust Studies and a professor in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University.

*Note: Neither Professor Rodrigue nor Professor Ben-Ur were able to attend the AJS this year. Professor Ben-Ur organized this year’s Caucus “virtually.”

AJS 2000: Co-Chairs, Norman Stillman and Aviva Ben-Ur

*Theme for 2000: “Multiculturalism in Jewish Studies”, address by Norman Stillman on how the current multicultural movement in academia affects Jewish Studies, and the ramifications of multiculturalism on curriculum, scholarship and programming development in Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies.
*Note: Professor Rodrigue was not able to attend the AJS this year.

AJS 1999: Co-Chairs, Aron Rodrigue and Aviva Ben-Ur
*This year’s theme: "how far we have come in the last year" to futher our Caucus goals. But first, let's turn to some important introductory words from Prof. Rodrigue.
* Informal presentations by Caucus participants on recent developments in Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies, particularly advances undertaken at universities as diverse as Princeton University, the University of Miami and the University of Washington.
* Resolution: organize a "mini-Caucus" at the March 1999 Western Jewish Studies Association conference in Seattle, Washington.

AJS 1998: Co-Chairs, Aron Rodrigue and Aviva Ben-Ur
*A discussion of the reasons for founding this Caucus
* Reasons for dedicating its first meeting to Professor Yedida Kalfon Stillman
* A brainstorming session on including more Sephardi/Mizrahi themes at the AJS conference
* A resolution to make the Caucus a yearly meeting
* A resolution to an ongoing and developing discussion on issues and challenges related to the field of Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies
* Describing the integrative Ashkenazi/Sephardi session, “"When Diasporas Meet: Interactions Between Sephardi/Mizrahi and Ashkenazi Jews in Modern Times."
*Thematic Session: Organizer: Aviva Ben-Ur, Brandeis University

This session is meant to actualize the principle goal of the projected AJS Sephardic Studies Caucus: the integration of Sephardic Studies into general Jewish Studies. In focusing on interactions between Sephardim/Mizrahim and Ashkenazim in the modern era, we embark on an exploration of conflicts, mutual influence, and reconciliation between the two principle bodies of world Jewry.

This session is dedicated to the memory of Yedida Stillman, one of the leading historians of Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies.

Chair: Norman A. Stillman
1) Aviva Ben-Ur, "Close Encounters of the Ethnic Kind: Sephardim and Ashkenazim in Early Twentieth Century New York"
2) Dr. Marianne Sanua, "The Image of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jews in Contemporary Jewish Historiography and Literature"
3) Dr. Harvey Goldberg, "Sephardi/Mizrahi-Ashkenazi Interactions in Modern Israeli Society"

What and Where is the Caucus website?

The Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus features a website:

The website includes a list of scholars in the field, syllabi, courses, grant opportunities, and calls for papers

What and Where is the Caucus Discussion List?

The Caucus also features an ongoing electronic Discussion List. Subscribe to the List by emailing Professor Aviva Ben-Ur at

Inspired by the academic list, “H-Judaic”, the Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List includes announcements in the field of Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies, ongoing discussions of Caucus resolutions and goals, and a forum for scholarly questions and answers. The Discussion List is edited and moderated by Professor Aviva Ben-Ur, who also edited and moderated H-Judaic for two years from 1998 through 1999.

A Special Note About Professor Yedida Kalfon Stillman

The first Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus of 1998 was dedicated to the memory of Dr. Yedida Kalfon Stillman. Professor Kalfon Stillman, wife and colleague of Dr. Norman Stillman, was the world's acknowledged expert on the history of the clothing of the Arab world, both Muslim and Jewish, from medieval to modern times, and also undertook extensive research on Sephardi and Oriental Jewish ethnography. She was born in Morocco and raised in Israel and most recently was a professor at the University of Oklahoma and Binghamton University.


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