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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - Week of August 7, 2005

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)>

Week of Sunday, August 7, 2005 (2 Av 5765)




1. Sephardi Films by Israeli Filmmaker and Critic Rami Kimchi (Ben-Ur and Kimchi)

2. Update on Former Crypto-Jewish Community of Belmonte, Portugal (Gladstone)

3. Southern Jewish Historical Society Grants (Langston)

4. National Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant Announcements (Laufman)

5. New Posts in Agunah Research Unit at Manchester

6. Tenure-Track Position in European Jewish History at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Liebersohn)

7. Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University (Veidlinger)

8. YIVO/American Sephardi Federation Lecture in New York on Jewish Community of Salonika(Berg)


1.  Sephardi Films by Israeli Filmmaker and Critic Rami Kimchi (Ben-Ur and Kimchi)

Date: Tue, 26 Jul 2005 15:32:11 +0000

From: Aviva Ben-Ur

via: Rami Kimchi <raminathan(at)>

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: I have recently been in touch with Rami Kimchi, an Israeli filmmaker, film critic, and Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan.  Readers may be interested in his films and documentaries which deal with Sephardi themes.  They have been part of the curriculum of university courses in both Israel and the United States for several years.  Of particular interest is his award-winning film “Galia’s Wedding,” based on the short story by A. B. Yehoshua.  I have used this story in my Sephardic literature class and am delighted to learn of the film version.  Below are the descriptions and his biography, both of which I have slightly edited.] 

"My Father and Other Rabbis” (in progress)

This is a documentary which tells the story of The Sephardic (Spanish) Rabbinical Seminary that has existed in Rhodes while under Italian rule from 1926 to 1939, through the eyes of my father and his best friend, both graduates of the seminary, and while sailing in the Mediterranean from Haifa towards the island of Rhodes. The film will be accompanied by an original musical track of songs in Ladino by the International Ladino singer Yasmin Levi and video clips of the songs will be integrated into its sequence. (Yasmin has recently nominated for the Music of The World award by the BBC).  
The seminary was under the management of the Italian Jewish community of Turin and its establishment became possible due to the support of the Italian government of the time. The students were talented Jewish youngsters from Sephardic communities around the Mediterranean and as such it was one of the first Mediterranean
projects of modern times. The study language was Italian and apart from biblical studies the students studied Italian history, literature and even sang Italian opera.

"Cinema Egypt" (Israel 2002)

The film portrays the experience of Sephardic Jews in the 20th century through the life story of Henriette Azar (73). Henriette, mother of director Rami Kimchi, having left an Egyptian village for Alexandria as a young girl, immigrated to Israel at 24. The film is interspersed with scenes from Egyptian classical fiction film "Leila the Village Girl" (Egypt, 1941) staring Leila Morad and directed by Togo Mizrahi, both Jewish stars of Egyptian Cinema. These clips, an analogy of Henriette's life, also reflect Egyptian life of her time and emphasize the artistic collaboration between Jews and Arabs with Egyptian culture. "Cinema Egypt," a poetic documentary, moves between reality and fantasy, between East and West, between awareness and denial.

  Cinema Egypt premiered on Israeli National television in December 2001 and was screened at the Mother Tongue Festival in Israel (May of 2002), at the L.A International Sephardic Film Festival (November 2002), at the New York International Sephardic Film Festival (December 2002), and at the Montreal Jewish International Film Festival (May 2003).

“Travels With My Brother” (Israel 1997)

The film follows the journey of two Israeli brothers--the elder, an ultra-orthodox Jew, the younger (the filmmaker himself), secular--who are searching for a mutual home, and for the right mode for a renewed dialogue between them.  “Travels With My Brother” premiered on Israeli National Television in 1997.  *Ha'aretz* (September 1997) reviewed the film as follows: "A double journey, both physical and transcendental ...moments of emotional excitement...a poetic film."

Rami Kimchi has served as a filmmaker and cinema and literature critic since 1986. His films include “Galia's Wedding” (1986 Independent Production), “Travels with My Brother” (1997 production of The Israel Second Authority for Radio and Television), and “Cinema Egypt” (2001 production of Israel Film Service). He has published numerous articles in the journals *Reeh*, *Moznaim,* *Ha'aretz,* *Iton* 77, and *Hakivon Mizrach.* He has also served as a lecturer in the Film and Television Department at Tel-Aviv University.

Kimchi holds a B.A. degree in film and television from Tel-Aviv University, majoring in production; an M.A. degree in Hebrew Literature from Tel Aviv University; a DEA from the University of Paris.  He is currently on fellowship working on his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan’s Department of Near Eastern Studies.

Kimchi's awards include a prize for the Best Short Film from the International Film Festival of Jerusalem (1987) for directing and producing the film Galia's Wedding (1986); and a special prize from German Television and the Munich International Film Festival (1986) for Galia's Wedding (1986). He is also the winner of the Dov Sadan Prize for Hebrew Literature (1993).


2.  Update on Former Crypto-Jewish Community of Belmonte, Portugal (Gladstone)

From: yanklegladstone(at) in [Kulanu-List] Digest Number 412

via: Shahanna(at)

Date: Sat, 30 Jul 2005

[note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: as the Discussion List is an academic, as opposed to an advocacy list, this message is posted with the purposes of disseminating current information on the descendants of Belmonte’s crypto-Jews.]

On July 25, 2005 I gave a report to a small group of Saudades Sepharad contributors on my recent visit with the leaders and youth of the Belmonte Jewish Community and with the youthful, bright, energetic, sincere and eager to learn members of the Association of Crypto Jews in Lisbon, "HEH-CHAVER."

The Belmonte Jewish Community is small (about 200) and its members are hard-working men and women.  Their Jewishness centers around worship and ritual in their small, modest synagogue.  All their resources are spent on their synagogue, of which they are rightfully very proud. Thanks to the generosity of a member of the Society for Crypto Judaic Studies they were able to install pews. We were shown the work in progress to enlarge the women's gallery.

Adjacent to the synagogues are steps which lead down to the lower level of the building.  There you will find an office with 2 computers and a phone.  They do not have the funds to employ a secretary...and no one has been trained to be one.

Our friend Brian Winter, who now lives in Lisbon and is fluent in Portuguese, designed and printed a letterhead for their stationary.  There is a large reading room with a few bookshelves.  Most of the books are religious texts. The only books for children and young adults on Jewish history, Jewish holidays and Bible stories are the ones I ordered from Brazil with funds raised by the South Florida Kulanu Chapter.  A librarian has to be trained to set up a system and a schedule for the "library" and, post rules for everyone to see.

The Belmonte Crypto Jews became halachically Jewish thirteen years ago.  The synagogue, Bet Eliyahu, was built almost 10 years ago.  Yet there never has been a teacher to teach the children, youth and adults in a creative enjoyable way the beauty and relevance of Jewish holidays and Bible Stories, to read and to write Hebrew, Jewish history, songs about Sephardic men and women to to instill in the students a sense of pride.  The Jews of Belmonte, young and old, need to be helped to feel part Klal Yisrael.  All this can be accomplished only through a Jewish Studies program which only a good qualified teacher can create.

The young man who leads the services has a beautiful voice.  He sings from his soul. But the melodies he uses are for the most part from Israeli folk songs.  He even uses Hatikvah for one of the prayers.  At the meeting in West Port we spoke about the possibility of bringing him to New York to study Sephardic liturgical music and to learn the traditional Torah chant.

After many hours of discussions it was agreed to establish an organization which will focus on bringing Jewish education and culture to the Jews of Belmonte and to the Crypto Jews of Lisbon who still face many serious problems until they finally come HOME. The name of the organization is:  FRIENDS OF CRYPTO JEWS in PORTUGAL."    

Comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

Yaakov Gladstone 

[ed: slight edit]


3. Southern Jewish Historical Society Grants (Langston)

Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005

From: Scott Langston <ScLangston(at)>

via: HJ Newsletter <hjnews(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

The Southern Jewish Historical Society is happy to announce two new grant programs.

The Kawaler Research/Travel Grant is designed to aid researchers with travel and research expenses associated with projects pertaining to southern Jewish history.  The Lowenstein Archival Grant is designed to aid archives in the preservation of material related to southern Jewish history.

Applicants for either grant should provide a description of the project, while those seeking research/travel funds should also include a plan of research, indicating the libraries and/or archives where they intend to work, and their goal in conducting their research.  In addition, all applications must include a proposed budget showing total anticipated expenses, any other sources of funding, and total amount requested for a grant.  All applicants should briefly describe their professional and/or institutional background, especially as it relates to historical or archival work.  While the Kawaler Grant is open to individuals who are employed in academic fields, it encourages applications from anyone engaged in serious research.  The Lowenstein Grant accepts applications from all archival organizations, especially those operating on a local or regional level.

This year's deadline for receiving applications is September 15.  Applications should be mailed to:  Scott Langston, 206 Mitchell, Weatherford, TX 76087.  Please direct any questions to Scott Langston (ScLangston(at)

Thank you,

Scott Langston


4. National Foundation for Jewish Culture Grant Announcements (Laufman)

Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005

From: Larry Laufman

Via: HJ Newsletter <hjnews(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

National Foundation for Jewish Culture Invites Proposals for New Play Commissions in Jewish Theater

Deadline: September 8, 2005

The National Foundation for Jewish Culture ( is inviting proposals from nonprofit theater companies for the commissioning of a new play that deals with the Jewish experience.

Grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded to nonprofit theater companies in the United States for the commissioning of a new full-length play dealing substantively with issues of Jewish history, tradition, values, and/or contemporary life.

See the NFJC's website for complete information.

 RFP Link:

 For additional RFPs in Arts and Culture, visit:

The direct link for the grant listed above is:

Other NFJC grant announcements are at:

2005 deadlines for many of these - including dissertation research grants - are already past, but presumably they will be offered again next year.

Larry Laufman


5.  New Posts in Agunah Research Unit at Manchester

Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005

From: Bernard Jackson <Bernard.Jackson(at)>

Via: HJ Newsletter <hjnews(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

Following the award of a grant by the Leverhulme Trust, applications are invited for:

(1) A Postdoctoral Research Assistant (commencing on scale point RA1A04), either working half-time (17.5 hours p.w.) for three years or full-time for 18 months.

(2) A 3-year studentship (at AHRC rates), to undertake a PhD within the Agunah Research Unit, under the supervision of Professor Bernard Jackson.

In both cases the work must be undertaken in Manchester.

Both appointments will commence in October 2005.

Further particulars of the posts may be found at:

Informal enquiries may be directed to Bernard.Jackson(at)

For further information about the Agunah Research Unit please consult:

Details of the Leverhulme Grant are available from:

The closing date is August 22nd 2005.

Application forms and further particulars for the Postdoctoral Research Assistant are available from the University's website: with hard copies available from Karen Murphy, Research Support Officer, on 0161 275 8317, email: karen.murphy(at)

Information about the studentship is available from:

Information on applying for a PhD at the University of Manchester can be found on the University's website at:


6.  Tenure-Track Position in European Jewish History at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (Liebersohn)

Date: Tue, 02 Aug 2005

From: Harry Liebersohn

Via: HJ Newsletter <hjnews(at)OISE.UTORONTO.CA>

The Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, invites applications for a full-time, tenure-track position in European Jewish History, excluding Holocaust Studies, at the rank of Assistant Professor, to begin August 16, 2006.  Although the successful candidate will work with the Program in Jewish Culture and History, the position is 100% in the Department of History.  A Ph.D. is required at time of appointment; publication and teaching experience preferred.  Salary competitive.  Send curriculum vitae, official transcripts, teaching materials, and three letters of recommendation to Professor Harry Liebersohn, Chair, European Jewish History Search, Department of History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 309 Gregory Hall, 810 S. Wright Street, Urbana, IL 61801. Phone: (217) 333-1155.  To ensure full consideration, application materials must be received by October 21, 2005.  For information about Illinois, visit our home page at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is an AA/EOE.


7.  Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University (Veidlinger)

Indiana University, Bloomington is pleased to announce a search to fill the Alvin H. Rosenfeld Chair in Jewish Studies, an endowed position established to honor the founding director of the Robert A. and Sandra S. Borns Jewish Studies Program. The search committee welcomes applications from scholars in any field or discipline focused on Jewish culture, society, history, literature or thought after antiquity (the position will be jointly appointed with the appropriate department). The ideal candidate will be an outstanding scholar at the associate or full professor rank.

The search committee will also consider applications from exceptionally accomplished scholars at the assistant professor rank.

Applications received by November 4, 2005 will be assured of consideration.  Applications should include a cover letter, C.V., and a writing sample, and applicants should arrange to have three letters of recommendation sent to us by the deadline.  Please send all materials to Professor Jeffrey Veidlinger, Borns Jewish Studies Program, Indiana University, Goodbody Hall 326, 1011 East Third Street, Bloomington, Indiana 47405-7005.

Indiana University is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer that encourages applications from under represented minorities and women.  


8. YIVO/American Sephardi Federation Lecture in New York on Jewish Community of Salonika(Berg)

Date: Fri, 05 Aug 2005

From: "Esme E. Berg" <eberg(at)>

Dear Friends,  

I am pleased to inform you that a lecture on the history of the Jewish Community of Salonika will take place at the Center for Jewish History on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 7 pm. Sponsored by the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the American Sephardi Federation, the lecture will be given by Devin Naar, Project Historian of the Archive of the Jewish Community of Salonika housed in the YIVO Archives.

The Salonika Project at YIVO, whose objective is to catalog, microfilm and digitize the Records of the Jewish Community of Salonika in the YIVO Archives, is funded by the Maurice Amado Foundation and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. The American Sephardi Federation also provides bibliographic resources and intellectual support. An Academic Advisory Committee, consisting of leading scholars of Sephardic and Greek Jewry, has been formed to provide guidance to project staff.

An invitation is found below.

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and The American Sephardi Federation cordially invite you to a lecture and presentation by Devin Naar, Project Historian, Archive of the Salonika Jewish Community: "Discovering Salonika, the Jerusalem of the Balkans: Perspectives and Insights Gleaned from the YIVO Archives"; Tuesday, August 23, 2005 at 7:00 PM, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, New York. Refreshments at 6:30   Lecture at 7:00 pm. Limited Seating. RSVP:  212-294-6143 or email fmohrer(at)

Esme Berg

American Sephardi Federation

[ed.: slight edit]


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