Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List
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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - Week of January 25, 2004

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List
Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)>
Week of Sunday, January 25, 2004 (2 Shevat 5764)



1. Synopsis of AJS Roundtable, “Integrating the Sephardi/Mizrahi Experience” (Klein)

2. Synopsis of AJS Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus, “The Nexus Between Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies and Atlantic Studies,” With Jonathan Schorsch and Holly Snyder (Ben-Ur)

3. Yemenite Manuscript Collection--Old Wine, New Jugs (Ferdman)

4. New Publication: *El Meam loez de Cantar de los cantares* (Romeu)

5. New Website on Sephardic Oral Literature (Rosenstock)

6. Call for Papers for the MLA: “Childhood, Family and the Formation of Sephardi Identities” (Graizbord)

7. Last Week’s Lecture on “The Sephardic Jews of China” (Zohar)

8. Last Month’s MLA Session, “Sephardism in Modern Literature” and Roundtable, “Uses and Abuses of Sephardic History” (Halevi-Wise)

1. Synopsis of AJS Roundtable, “Integrating the Sephardi/Mizrahi Experience” (Klein)

From: Elka Klein <kleinei(at)>
Date: Sunday, January 4, 2004 2:03 PM

Aviva has asked me to report on the panel on integrating Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies into the general Judaic studies curriculum which Mark Kligman, Marina Rustow and I organized at the recent AJS conference.

[the panel was listed as:
6.5: “Integrating the Sephardi/ Mizrahi Experience: a Roundtable”
Sponsored by The Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus
and presented through the generosity of the Maurice Amado Foundation

Chair: Elka B. (University of Cincinnati)
Session 6, Monday, December 22, 2003 10:45 A.M.–12:15 P.M.

Sephardic Studies in the Early Modern Jewish History Curriculum
Matt Goldish (Ohio State University)

Integration of Sephardic Studies into the Core Curriculum at HUC-JIR
Mark Kligman (Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion)

Beyond Spain: The Study of Medieval Jewry in the Islamic Mediterranean and Middle East
Marina Rustow (Emory University)

Approaches to Modern Sephardi and Mizrahi Studies
Sarah Abrevaya Stein (University of Washington)]

The original impetus for the panel came out of discussions over several years at the Sephardi/Mizrahi caucus. In response to the perenial complaint that despite all of the exciting new research (and even some exciting old research) which has so expanded our knowledge of Sephardi and Mizrahi Jewries, and despite the much higher profile of the scholarship (indicated if nothing else by the increasing numbers of panels at AJS on related
themes), this scholarship has not trickled down into the classroom, in particular into the survey. The vast majority of students in Jewish history surveys are presented with a picture of normative (Ashkenazi) Jews, with perhaps a token comparison to those "other" Jews. The panel was organized to offer some concrete suggestions as to how to address this situation.

Various barriers were acknowledged by the panelists and/or pointed out by audience members:

- The 14 week survey (or for those of us on the quarter system, the 10-week survey) is already rushed. Adding new material means leaving something out.
- The textbook problem. There is no single textbook which offers an integrated approach. Marcus' The Jew in the Medieval World and Mendes Flohr and Reinharz' The Jew in the Modern World are still normative (Marcus at least does include some material on Jews under Islam and on Sephardi Jews in Amsterdam); Stillman's sourcebooks are essential for those wishing to look beyond Europe, but the break at the nineteenth century does not work for all courses. Fundamentally there are limits to how many books we can
ask our students to buy.

Nonetheless, it was felt that the tools are there for us to do more. Panelists offered solutions at two levels: the incremental and the systematic.

The incremental approach was taken by Matt Goldish, who used the Early Modern period to suggest ways that individual primary sources can be used to supplement and expand the focus of a course. He offered a long list of sources for primary sources, plus three interesting texts with examples of how they could be used.
Another example of the incremental approach was offered by Mark Kligman, who discussed the initiative currently underway at Hebrew Union College to integrate the Sephardi experience into their entire curriculum. He offered a grid including just a few of the individuals, texts, and themes which professors are encouraged to integrate into their existing courses, and discussed the value of such integration within a rabbinical school curriculum.
The systematic approach was taken by Marina Rustow, discussing issues with the teaching of the Middle Ages, particularly the need to look at the entire experience of Jews under Islam, rather than focussing excessively on Spain. She offered two syllabi which took this approach.Sarah Stein addressed the inadequacy of current paradigms of modern history most directly. Courses in which 1492 represents the end of the relevance of Sephardi Jews, and in which political emancipation is the central theme are ill suited to encompass the Sephardi and Mizrahi experience in any way which is not tokenism. She discussed the way in which she uses the diversity Jewish experiences in the modern period to encourage her students to question the very construction of "Modern Jewish history." She also advocated the approach of treating different communities individually, rather than trying to procede topically (Emancipation, religious reform, etc.)
Two themes emerged clearly from the subsequent discussion (which I will not otherwise attempt to summarize)

1. Although it is clear that we need to explore new paradigms -- to rethink the story that we tell our students in our courses -- that the mechanism for such exploration is not clear. In particular, the panel was in some sense preaching to the converted; there was only one specialist in Ashkenazi Jews in the room, although many of us work on comparative themes.
One result of this sense of "where now" is that an article is in preparation presenting the points made in the panel for submission to AJS Perspectives, which we hope will carry the discussion to the wider field.

2. It is clear that in the long run we need new textbooks which approach the various periods holistically (the current trend for books with separate regional and thematic chapters by different specialists is good news for those who want a quick and dirty introduction to a topic, but are not always useful as textbooks; few of us organize our courses country by country).'

In the short run, however, the web provides an alternative to a new sourcebook. There exist already places where primary sources can be posted and made available to other professors to share with their students. The most important is the Internet Jewish Sourcebook (, a spinoff of the Internet Medieval Sourcebook. The IJS has a lot of weaknesses; it is stronger for the Middle Ages than for other periods, and it retains a focus on Europe. But it is a work in progress. When I first got involved, it had nothing much on Jews except a few exerpts from Maimonides and a lot of material on anti-Judaism. It has come a long way, and Paul Halsall, whose
site it is, is always open to adding new material.
I would like to conclude this report therefore with a CALL FOR SOURCES. If you have translated interesting primary sources for your students, and are willing to share them with others, you may send them either to the Caucus ( or to me ( and they will be made available, either on the Caucus website or in the IJS. You can reserve copyright to yourself, so long as you permit copying for educational (but not commercial) purposes. A few pointers:

a) If you can provide a brief introduction (of one or two paragraphs) which offer students (and professors) a context for understanding the document, that would be ideal.
b) If the document is more than a page or two, I recommend numbering paragraphs or dividing it into numbered sections to make it easier to cite.
c) Provide a complete citation at the end of the source of the text.
Dr. Elka Klein
Department of Judaic Studies
University of Cincinnati
P.O. Box 210169
Cincinnati, OH 45221-0169
2. Synopsis of AJS Sephardi/Mizrahi Caucus, “The Nexus Between Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies and Atlantic Studies,” With Jonathan Schorsch and Holly Snyder (Ben-Ur)

This year’s AJS Caucus luncheon meeting focused on the ever-growing field of Atlantic Studies and its relevance to Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies. Atlantic Studies has been defined as the exchange of people, commodities, crops, ideas, and microbes between the Americas, Africa and Europe in the early modern period.  At Sunday's AJS session on port Jews in the Atlantic world, Professor Lois Dubin asked: "given the intersection bewteen port Jews and Atlantic history, should we be considering Atlantic Jewish history?"  Our speakers, Jonathan Schorsch and Holly Snyder, approached that question, focusing on the Sephardic nexus.  
The Caucus theme this year dovetailed nicely with the session Professor Elka Klein (University of Cincinatti) organized on the Sephardi Studies curriculum, at which new sources and new paradigms for Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies were discussed. Here are synopses of the two Caucus presentations:

From: Jonathan Schorsch <js1167(at)>
Date: Fri, 16 Jan 2004

Jonathan Schorsch (Columbia University)
“Methodological Waves?: Atlantic Studies and Sephardic Studies”

Today I will talk briefly about the relations between Atlantic World studies and Sephardic/Mizrahi studies. The two fields share certain traits and topics, especially for those treating western Sephardim, and scholars of both fields could profitably learn from one another. I thank Aviva Ben-Ur and the Sephardic Studies Caucus for inviting me to speak to you today.
Perhaps the first study to conceptualize a field based on the geographic, demographic, sociologicl and economic specificities of the Atlantic world is the French book by Huguette and Pierre Chaunu, *Seville and the Atlantic, 1504-1650* (1954). The significance of ports and ships as conveyors of people, goods and ideas quickly became a staple of recent historiography dealing with the newly-forged category of Atlantic studies or Atlantic history, a rubric centered appropriately enough around an ocean. The new “hybrid” category -- assuming, justifiably, the importance of movement, transmission, reflexivity and simultaneity -- has been of great use in the study of regions deeply affected by the colliding of worlds proverbially said to have begun in 1492. In 1989, Anthony Pagden co-edited an anthology called *Colonial Identity in the Atlantic World, 1500-1800.* A 1991 title is *Atlantic Port Cities: Economy, Culture, and Society in the Atlantic World, 1650-1850.* In 1996, Harvard established its famous annual seminar on the Atlantic world.
Atlantic world studies has been especially significant for certain minority groups, especially the Africans forcibly removed from their continent and their descendants, hitherto foreigners in both European and American history. The appearance of Paul Gilroy’s *The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness* in 1993, Jeffrey Bolster’s 1997 *Black Jacks: African American Seamen in the Age of Sail* and a 1998 anthology of the earliest slave narratives from the Enlightenment era, called *Pioneers of the Black Atlantic,* John Thornton’s, *Africa and Africans in the Making of the Atlantic World, 1400-1800* (1998), a 1999 study of Revolutionary-War-era Black loyalists in the Afro-Atlantic world -- all evoke and promulgate the hermeneutic tool of the Atlantic. Here one sees that which was previously marginalized and denigrated held aloft to trump its abusers: mobility, in-betweenness.
By now Atlantic world studies has become a veritable cottage indstry. An increasing number of titles now include the term “Atlantic” or “Atlantic world.” So useful and fruitful has the field become that a 2001 anthology, *Witches of the Atlantic World,* also re-centered its topic away from “Europe” to delineate the flows and exchanges in magical culture across the Atlantic. Reflecting the acceptance of, even the requirement for multidisciplinarity, a growing number of academic positions are now couched as Atlantic world studies positions. Just by way of example, Brandeis is now advertising a two-year fellowship in the Atlantic world, c. 1500-1800. Speaking to the interdisciplinarity I have mentioned, the fellowship is sponsored by the departments of History, Romance and Comparative Literature, African and Afro-American Studies, American Studies, Anthropology and Latin American Studies. Foci for the fellowship could include cultural and material exchanges among Africans, Europeans and Native Americans, comparative slavery or trans-Atlantic narratives.
When dealing with the Sephardic populations of the Atlantic world -- in places such as Bordeaux, Amsterdam, London, Recife, Surinam, Curaçao, Newport or Kingston -- an emphasis on the importance of intercontinental exchange, ports, maritime intercourse justifies itself with equal ease. Given the realities of Jewish history, in some ways, the study of Jews and Judaism has always been an exercise in interdisciplinarity, yet it is only recently that Atlantic world studies has had an impact on Sephardic studies.
Two separate areas of inquiry touching on Sephardim have, indeed, begun to reflect the growing importance and influence of Atlantic world studies. The first is the field of Inquisition studies. Here scholars have long recognized the continuities uniting both sides of the Atlantic. This awareness can be seen in the title and purview of a recent monumental 3-volume history of the Spanish Inquisitions edited by Joaquín Pérez Villanueva and Bartolomé Escandell Bonet, *Historia de la Inqusición en España y América* (1984- ). Such insights inform David Gitlitz’s pathbreaking book on “marrano” religiosity, *Secrecy and Deceit.* Though not theorized as an Atlantic world study, Gitlitz’s work takes obvious pains to encompass trends in both the Iberian peninsula and the far-flung Iberian colonies of the Americas. To some degree, Nathan Wachtel’s new book, *La Foi du souvenir: labyrinthes marranes* (2001), similarly draws a trans-Atlantic portrait of “marrano” religious culture.
A second example of the successful importation of Atlantic world studies into coverage of early modern Sephardic history and culture in western regions is the book (and original conference) sponsored by the John Carter Brown Library in Providence, RI, *The Jews and the Expansion of Europe to the West, 1450-1800* (2001). Though awareness of the economic and, less so, the cultural contributions Sephardim made regarding the “discovery,” establishment and maintenance of the European colonies in he Americas has long been a favorite topic of Jewish and non-Jewish scholars (one need only look at the work of Meyer Kayserling, Jacob Rader Marcus, Jonathan Israel and many publications coming from Portugal in particular), this anthology of essays is the first to explicitly consider and wield recent developments in Atlantic world studies as such. Even so, the focus remains on the exportation of Europe, rather than the impact the “New World” had on the Sephardim and the construction of a relatively unified and long-standing trans-Atlantic Sephardic culture.
New studies promise to inform us even more profoundly of the realities of this trans-Atlantic Sephardic culture. I do not wish to discuss my own work, but my forthcoming book, *Jews and Blacks in the Early Modern World,* addresses the existence of a fairly cohesive trans-Atlantic racial attitude among western Sephardim, reflected in their attitudes and behavior toward Blacks or slaves whether in Amsterdam or Suriname. Along more traditinal socio-economic lines, Holly Snyder’s work has been pushing the envelope in exploring trans-Atlantic continuities among Sephardic merchant communities. She will present her work in a few moments far better than I can. An example of the kinds of Atlantic/Sephardic studies we can anticipate can be found in Ronnie Perelis, who is now writing a fascinating dissertation called “Marrano Autobiography in its Transatlantic Context: a Literary Analysis of Crypto-Jewish Writing on Exile, Exploration, and Spiritual Discovery.” As he explains it, Perelis seeks to analyze “texts born out of the experience of crypto-Jewish travel in the early modern period. These texts include the autobiographical writings of Luis de Carvajal el mozo, Antonio de Montezinos (a.k.a. Aharon haLevi), and Manuel Cardoso de Macedo (a.k.a. Abraham Pelengrino). I argue that these disparate texts comprise a singular textual corpus: Transatlantic Marrano Autobiography. All three texts express the peculiarities of crypto-Jewish experience and partake of the dynamism of transatlantic travel. While these texts have previously been analyzed as historical documents, the present analysis reads them as literature, inquiring into their aesthetic, rhetorical and existential force. The project seeks not only to expand the borders of early modern Iberian and Ibero-American literature by recovering marginalized and forgotten voices, but also to reorient Sephardic studies towards those texts on its geo-historical periphery.” We look forward to this and other such innovative studies.
Finally, in deference to the question in my title, some questions. By “methodological waves” I have no intention of prognosticating any kind of demise for either Atlantic or Sephardic studies. I simply want to touch on some of the issues that trouble the waters (as an old gospel song has it) in which these fields swim. One entails the question of borders or boundaries. Atlantic studies admirably seeks to unite or at least hold up for close comparison vasty disparate entities, whether demographic, geographic, linguistic, religious, or economic. This must be done with utmost caution, lest the desire to construct a conceptual Atlantic world system overrides the critical differences between these entities and even within each itself. A related question of boundaries concerns defining the Atlantic world itself. How far into Europe, Africa and the Americas can we go before losing the tumult of the ocean, its coasts and ports? This second question may not be less pertinent to Sephardic studies than the first. The Atlantic Sephardic world was built as much by those stemming from Ottoman lands and central Asia. True, the resulting complex became very much Atlantic, but to pronounce, for instance, a Balkan-American Atlantic world seems to challenge some of the coherence of the Atlantic-world category. Are such relations across the Atlantic truly reciprocal, multidirectional or constitutive of the kind of Atlantic world culture the field’s theorists imply? Sehardic/Mizrahi studies already constitutes a multifarious panoply of populations and locations. As is the case when we are dealing with a complex of Quakers on the North American east coast and Caribbean, native populations in the Mexican interior, runaway African slaves, or imported Indonesian laborers in Suriname, does much, or anything, remain uniquely Sephardic or Mizrahi given such a similarly wide spread? What, if anything, unites the study of Sephardim in England, Yemenite Jewry and the Bnei Israel of India? At what point do rubrics such as “Atlantic” or “Sephardic/Mizrahi” begin to unravel as useful hermeneutical tools?
Another major question concerns the issue of periodization. Atlantic world studies initially derived its interpretive energy from the situation in colonial times. Does an Atlantic world system continue after the collapse of colonialism proper? Is the late-modern or post-colonial Atlantic decidedly different than its colonial predecessor? Taking care to ensure a nuance approach to such chronological matters remains essential in Sephardic/Mizrahi studies as well, even in the Atlantic world. The well-woven network of Sephardic international trade, for instance, disappeared by the eighteenth century, leaving in its wake a very different Sephardic world. Similarly, the loosening of the tight bonds, often of dependence, between colonial Sephardic communities and European metropoles that paralleled in many ways the growing independence of the Americas yielded a rather anemic version of an Atlantic Sephardi culture. The conceptual miscegenation between Sephardim and Mizrahim in the state of Israel, and hence in Israeli scholarship, has also transformed the landscape we claim to study. In discussing an Sephardic Atlantic, what happens to our vista when we include nineteenth-century Moroccan immigrants to Brazil, Syrian communities in Argentina or Jews from Rhodes in Atlanta?
These are merely a few of the many questions confronting us as we consider the implications of Atlantic world studies for us as scholars of Sephardim and Mizrahim. Much more, obviously, could, and should, be said. I hope I have managed here simply to begin or continue beginning the necessarily constant provocation of thought and self-assessment.

From: Holly Snyder <holland56(at)>
Date: Sunday, January 18, 2004 8:19 PM

“Sephardi Merchants at the Interstices of Empire in the Atlantic World, 1400-1800”
Dr. Holly Snyder
John Nicholas Brown Center
Brown University

This talk covered the broad outlines of my long-term study entitled "The Jewish merchant in the Atlantic World, 1400-1800." The research involved covers the experience of Jewish merchants in transatlantic trade between 1400 and 1800, limited in scope to economic encounters, and will explore the connections between the Jewish merchants in the British Atlantic colonies, the French and Dutch colonies in North America and the Caribbean and the Converso merchants who lived and operated within the Iberian colonies in Central and South America along with the mercantile strategies they pursued. Topics discussed were the genesis of the project, key issues relative to substance and interpretation that have been encountered to date, and preliminary connections between this project and current historiography in the emerging field of Atlantic studies.

Holly Snyder
3. Yemenite Manuscript Collection--Old Wine, New Jugs (Ferdman)

From: Glenn Ferdman gferdman(at)
Via: Rachel Simon <rsimon(at)Princeton.EDU>
Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 8:32 AM

Dear Collleagues: FYI, we have recently converted to pdf and made accessible via our website "Spertus College of Judaica Yemenite Manuscripts: An Illustrated Catalogue," by Norman Golb (Spertus College Press, 1972).

It contains descriptive text and illustrations (i.e., plates)
of all 95 items in this collection (which date to
the 17th century).

Glenn Ferdman
director, Asher Library
and president, Judaica Library Network of Chicago
Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies
618 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago, IL 60605
(312) 322-1753
4. New Publication: *El Meam loez de Cantar de los cantares* (Romeu)

From: Tirocinio SL <tirocinio(at)>
Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 4:50 AM

Estimados amigos:
En los aledaños de Hanuká 5764 / diciembre 2003, hemos visto nacer un nuevo número de la Colección Fuente clara. Estudios de cultura sefardí.
Se trata de la obra de Rosa Asenjo, *El Meam loez de Cantar de los cantares (Sir ha-sirim)* de Hayim Y. Sakí (Constantinopla, 1899). Barcelona, 2003, 214 págs., (21 x 14). ISBN 84-930570-70-5-3.
Esta es una de las obras imprescindibles de la preciada literatura en lengua sefardí, de la que se han tirado únicamente 100 ejemplares numerados.
Quienes estéis interesados podéis acceder a para ver la información.
Un saludo
Pilar Romeu
Directora de la colección
c/ Cavallers 56
08034 Barcelona -Spain
5. New Website on Sephardic Oral Literature (Rosenstock)

From: Bruce Rosenstock <brsnstck(at)>
Date: Thursday, January 8, 2004 11:54 AM

A new website that makes available one of the richest archives of
Sephardic oral literature in the world has been launched. It may be accessed at:

Bruce Rosenstock
Humanities Computing Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences
Associate Professor, Program for the Study of Religion
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
phone: 217-244-2380
fax: 217-244-8753
6. Call for Papers for the MLA: “Childhood, Family and the Formation of Sephardi Identities” (Graizbord)

From: David Graizbord dlgraizb(at)
Date: Wednesday, January 7, 2004 6:43 PM


For MLA 2004--the Annual Convention of the Modern Language Association
(Philadelphia, December 27-30, 2004)

The Sephardi Studies Discussion Group of the MLA

Title of the panel session:
“Childhood, Family and the Formation of Sephardi Identities”


In an interdisciplinary manner, the session will explore literary and historical reflections of the intersection between childhood, family life, and the construction of Sephardi identities. Proposals addressing every time period and geographical location are welcome.

Please send abstracts of approximately 500 words, and/or any relevant inquiries, by electronic mail no later than March 15, 2004, to:

David Graizbord
Committee on Judaic Studies
University of Arizona
816 E. University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85721

PLEASE NOTE: To participate in the panel, all presenters must be or become members of the MLA by April 1 and be listed on its membership rolls by April 7, 2004. Additional guidelines for participation in the MLA convention are published in the September 2003 issue of PMLA (pp. 746-757) and posted on-line
7. Last Week’s Lecture on “The Sephardic Jews of China” (Zohar)

From: Zion Zohar <zoharz(at)>
Date: Tuesday, January 13, 2004 5:04 PM

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: though this issue appears after the date of the lecture described below, I post the announcement here to spread word of the exciting programming developed at FIU]

Florida International University
Institute for Judaic and Near Eastern Studies,
President Navon Program for the Study of

Sephardic and Oriental Jewry,
The office of the Vice Provost,
Religious Studies Department,
The Academy for Lifelong Learning
, Hillel and Yovel are very proud to present:
“The Sephardic Jews of China”

Thursday January 22, 2004
7:30 PM 
Biscayne Bay Campus WUC- Room 155 (Wolf University Center)


Prof. Xu Xin 
Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University, People’s Republic of China
XU XIN, Professor of History of Jewish Culture, and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at Nanjing University, People’s Republic of China, is President of the China Judaic Studies Association. He became full professor in 1994 at Nanjing University. He is author of Legends of the Chinese Jews of Kaifeng (with Beverly Friend, Hoboken: KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 1995), Anti-Semitism: How and Why (Shanghai: Shanghai Shanlian Books, 1996), A History of Western Culture (Peking University Press, 2002), and The Jews of Kaifeng, China: History, Culture, and Religion (KTAV Publishing House, Inc., 2003). He has also written numerous articles on Judaic topics, including Studies of Jewish Diaspora in China, S.Y. Agnon, Saul Bellow, I.B. Singer, and Surveys of Jewish Communities in Shanghai, Tientsin, Harbin, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. His article, “Practice of Judaism in China” appears in Encyclopedia of Judaism.
He has given about 300 lectures in the USA, Israel, Canada, Hong Kong and China since 1995 at places such as Harvard University, Yeshiva University, Yale University, University of Chicago, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv University, Haifa University, University of Pennsylvania, The UCLA, Stanford University, City University of New York, Northeastern University, Northwestern University, and various Jewish organizations across the USA. In 2003, Bar-Ilan University’s Board of Trustees and Senate in Israel awarded him the degree of Doctor of Philosophy, Honoris Causa in recognition of the extremely important work he has done on research of the Jewish people in China.
Upon Prof. Xin’s visit in Israel, he told the Jerusalem Post that Israel, to the Chinese, is “an alien and mysterious country, even more so than the countries of the Western Hemisphere,” and that what little the Chinese do know is negative. “We learned that Israel was the running dog of the Western imperialist powers,” he said. Xu Xin’s work is a mitzvah, building a “Great Wall” of knowledge against the inroads of anti-Semitism.
In explaining one culture to another, he has enriched both.
The Lecture is free and open to the public
8. Last Month’s MLA Session, “Sephardism in Modern Literature” and Roundtable, “Uses and Abuses of Sephardic History” (Halevi-Wise)

From: Yael Halevi-Wise <yael.haleviwise(at)>
Date: Wed, 03 Dec 2003 00:53:50 -0500

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: though this issue appears after the date of the session and roundtable described below, I post the announcement here to spread word of this exciting new scholarship.]

At the MLA meeting in San Diego [last month], two sessions [were]
devoted to Sephardism as a Literary Metaphor in Modern Literature.

"Sephardism in Modern Literature"  
Program arranged by the Discussion Group on Sephardic Studies.  

Sunday 12/28/2003   7:15-8:30 p.m.  
Leucadia, San Diego Marriott Hotel
 Presiding: Yael Halevi-Wise, McGill University 
 1. “Sephardism’s Appeal: Where, When, Why,”  
Yael Halevi-Wise  
 2. “Homero Aridjis’s Picaresque Novel 1492: The Life and Times
of Juan Cabezon de Castile”
Jane Esther Mushabac, New York City College of Technology, CUNY
 3. “Jewish Pasts, German Fictions: Sephardism in German Literature”  
Jonathan S. Skolnik, University of Maryland  
 4. “Prismatic Memory: Sephardism in Contemporary Spanish and Israeli Literature”  
Stacy Nan Beckwith, Carleton College 

"Round Table: Uses and Abuses of Sephardic History from Rushdie to Arendt, Jabès, Machado de Assis, and the Yiddish Theater"  

Special Session Organizer: Yael Halevi-Wise, McGill University

Monday 12/29/2003   10:15-11:30 a.m.  
Torrey 1, San Diego Marriott Hotel  
Presider: Monique R. Balbuena, University of California, Berkeley  
Bindu M. Malieckal, Saint Anselm College   
Joanna Bankier, University College of Southern Stockholm  
Erin D. Graff Zivin, New York University  
Sam W. Bloom, Haifa University

Yael Halevi-Wise
English and Jewish Studies
McGill University
3438 McTavish St., Montreal, QC
Canada H3A 1X9

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