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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - December 30, 2007

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List

Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur(at)judnea(dot)umass(dot)edu>

Week of Sunday, December 30, 2007 (21 Tevet 5768)


For archived issues please visit:



1. Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant (Labovitz)

2. Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Residency Programs, 2008-2009 (Olins)

3. Funds for research at the American Jewish Historical Society (Prell)

4. Job: Two-Year Professorship, Earlham College (Gaddis)

5. Job: History Department Chair, University of Vermont (Cassen)

6. Job: New Endowed Judaic Studies Position at University of Oklahoma (Stillman)

7. Graduate Opportunities in Jewish Studies at Emory (Goldstein and Ames)

8. New Graduate Studies Opportunities: Brandeis University Schusterman Center for Israel Studies (Troen)

9. Call for Submissions: Canadian Jewish Book Awards (Stern)

10. Call for Papers: Conference on Inquisition Studies (Chuchiak and Hossain)

11. Request for Artifacts and Information: Jewish Theater in the Arab World (Shasha)

12. New Publication: _Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider_ (Diamond)

13. Table of Contents: _Jewish Quarterly Review_ 97.4, Fall 2007 (Butler)

14. New Online Search Engine: Hebrew and Arabic Glossaries and Indices to Maimonides' Medical Works (Bos)

15. New Publication on Yemeni Jews in Israel (Cohen)


1. Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant (Labovitz)

From: "Gail Labovitz" <GLabovitz(at)ajula(dot)edu>

From: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date: Thu, 13 Dec 2007 14:20:58 -0500

Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant

Dr. Elka Klein (1965-2005) was passionate about her profession as a historian and a teacher.  Her untimely death in the spring of 2005 was a great loss to all who knew her, whether personally or professionally.  In her memory, her friends and professional colleagues in the fields of History and Jewish Studies have created a fitting memorial to honor her dedication to and her achievements in her academic life.

A cash grant of $1500 will be awarded in Dr. Klein's memory to a doctoral candidate preparing to spend a semester or more of the 2008-2009 academic year abroad conducting historical research towards his/her dissertation.

The grant recipient will be selected by a panel of scholars based on the relevance and potential contribution of the proposed work to the fields and concerns important to Dr. Klein, such as Sephardic culture, medieval history, gender studies, and Jewish studies.

Applicants for the grant are asked to submit four copies of the following information by March 31, 2008:

*        A c.v.

*        A copy of the applicant's dissertation proposal

*        A description of the specific research to be undertaken abroad

*        A working budget, including what other funds have already been secured

*        A letter of recommendation from the applicant's dissertation supervisor, addressing the applicant's qualifications and the significance the research s/he will be undertaking

Applications should be mailed to:

Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant

c/o Dr. Gail Labovitz

American Jewish University

15600 Mulholland Drive

Bel Air, CA  90077

Applicants will be informed of the committee's selection by April 30, 2008.

For more information, please contact Dr. Gail Labovitz, glabovitz(at)ajula(dot)edu.

The selected applicant will be expected to acknowledge the grant in the dissertation and in any subsequent publications that result from the research subsidized by the grant.  We thank the Association for Jewish

Studies for their help in fund-raising and administration to make this grant possible.

[ed: very slight edit]


2. Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Residency Programs, 2008-2009 (Olins)

From: Debby Olins <dolins(at)brandeis(dot)edu>

via: Judaic & Near Eastern Studies Department <judaic(at)judnea(dot)umass(dot)edu>

Date: Thu, 20 Dec 2007 11:27:00 -0500

Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Residency Programs 2008 – 2009. Beginning in the 2008-2009 Academic Year, the HBI Scholar-in-Residency Program will consist of three unique opportunities to be in residence at

Brandeis University. Applicants living outside the U.S. and those whose work has an international dimension are especially encouraged to apply. All Scholars-in-Residence receive a monthly stipend and are given office space at Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center.

The HBI is pleased to introduce a new seminar format for our Spring semester residency:

HBI SEMINAR SERIES - Gender and Jewish Thought - January – May 2009. Outstanding researchers of Jewish philosophical, exegetical and literary texts interested in subjects pertaining to Women’s and Gender Studies are invited to apply for this semester long residency. Scholars accepted to the HBI Seminar Series will receive a stipend and office space, and will participate in bi-monthly group discussions and a concluding symposium. Jonathan Decter, Brandeis University Assistant Professor of Sephardic Studies will Chair the program. Details on the Call for Proposals available at:

FALL Scholar-in-Residence Program - September – December 2008. The HBI Scholar-in-Residence Program provides scholars, artists, writers and communal professionals the opportunity to be in residence at

Brandeis University while working on significant projects in the field of Jewish women’s and gender studies. Residencies range from one month to the full academic semester.

SUMMER Scholar-in-Residence Program - June – August 2009. Similar to the fall program, the Summer Residency offers the opportunity to carry out a research or artistic project about Jews and gender, with the benefit of a Graduate Research Assistant, if desired. Residencies range from two to three months.

Additional Details and Proposal Guidelines are available for each program at:

Deadline for proposals: January 15, 2008

Inquiries: dolins(at)brandeis(dot)edu

Debby Olins, M.A.

Program Manager

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

MS 079

Waltham, MA 02454

Tel: 781-736-8113

Fax: 781-736-2078



3. Funds for research at the American Jewish Historical Society (Prell)

From: Riv-Ellen Prell <prell001(at)umn(dot)edu>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:  Fri, 28 Dec 2007 16:27:49 -0500



Ruth B. Fein Prize

The American Jewish Historical Society awards the Ruth B. Fein Prize, a travel stipend established in honor of a past president of the Society, to a graduate student to help undertake research at the American Jewish Historical Society. The award is up to $1,000. To apply, please send a 2-page description of your project, a letter of support from your graduate mentor and a budget for your travel expenses to Professor Riv-Ellen Prell, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota, 104 Scott Hall,  72 Pleasant St. SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 Submission date: February 1, 2008 for awards for 2008.

The Sid and Ruth Lapidus Fellowship

The Sid and Ruth Lapidus Fellowship supports one or more researcher(s) wishing to use the collections of the American Jewish Historical Society. Preference is given to researchers interested in 17th and 18th century American Jewish history. At the discretion of the awards committee, the fellowship funds may also be applied to subsidizing publication of a first book in the field of American Jewish history, again with preference given to works in early American Jewish history. The available amount for the award(s) is $6,000 annually. Submission date: February 1, 2008 for awards for 2008. Please send proposals of up to 5 pages to: Professor Riv-Ellen Prell, Department of American Studies, University of Minnesota, 104 Scott Hall, 72 Pleasant St., Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455


4. Job: Two-Year Professorship, Earlham College (Gaddis)

From: Cheri Gaddis

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date: Mon, 3 Dec 2007 00:00:02 -0500


      European History prior to 1800

      Secondary field: Jewish history

      Earlham College invites applications for a two year professorship with the possibility of becoming tenure track, pending review, in European History prior to 1800 with a secondary field in Jewish history, beginning fall 2008. Fields of interest include (but are not limited to): Eastern & Central Europe, Russia, medieval, eastern Mediterranean. The department is seeking a candidate committed to teaching excellence and liberal arts education. Responsibilities include teaching first-year intensive writing courses, regular departmental offerings, and courses in fields of specialization and/or interest. Requirements: PhD preferred.

      To apply, please send letter of application, evidence of teaching excellence, C.V., and 3 letters of recommendation to: Cheri Gaddis, Department of History, Drawer 141, 801 National Road West, Richmond, IN


      As an affirmative action & equal opportunities employer, Earlham eagerly solicits applications from African Americans and other minorities, women, and Quakers.

      Applications accepted through January 15th, 2008.

      Contact Info:

      Cheri Gaddis

      Department of History

      Drawer 141

      801 National Road West

      Richmond, In 47374



5. Job: History Department Chair, University of Vermont (Cassen)

From: "Flora Cassen" <flora(dot)cassen(at)UVM(dot)EDU>

From:    Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:    Wed, 5 Dec 2007 17:30:44 -0500

Dear Colleagues,

I would like to draw your attention to an opening for the position of History Department Chair at the University of Vermont. While the position is limited to Full or Associate Professors, the field of specialization is wide open. My department would welcome another historian of the Jews and I would encourage any of you who are interested to write to me directly at Flora(dot)Cassen(at)uvm(dot)edu with questions you might have. For your information, I am attaching an extended version of the advertisement for the position below.

Best wishes,

Flora Cassen


DEPARTMENT CHAIR, Department of History, University of Vermont. Full-time, tenured appointment at the rank of full professor or associate professor. Field open.

Preferred starting date: July 1, 2008.

Dossiers must consist of a cover letter and current c.v. Candidates should be prepared to provide the names of three references if requested to do so later in the search. Applications may be submitted either by mail to the address below or electronically at Search for the position using “History,” and attach your c.v. to your application. Non-attachable materials and all letters of recommendation should be sent to:

Professor James H. Overfield

Interim Chair Department of History

133 South Prospect Street

University of Vermont

Burlington, VT 05405-0164

The search committee will begin reviewing applications on February18, 2008, but will continue to accept applications until the position is filled.

Questions about the search may be directed to Professor Overfield, at 802-656-4513.

Responsibilities include providing leadership in a variety of departmental endeavors, including instruction, governance, faculty development and recruitment, program assessment, curriculum planning, community outreach, budget management, and advocacy for the department within the University.

The chair receives a reduced teaching load, but the expectation is that the chair will maintain an active program of research that leads to publication in peer-reviewed scholarly outlets and, where available, to seek extramural funding for that research. Requirements include credentials appropriate for the appointment to the rank of professor or associate professor in History. These include demonstrated excellence in teaching; a significant publication record in peer-reviewed venues; administrative experience; and a record of successful leadership in an academic environment.

Ours is a young department, with one full professor, eight associate professors, nine assistant professors and two lecturers. Its relative youth is the reason we are seeking to hire an outside chair at the level of associate or full professor. Our department prides itself on its collegiality and in building consensus. It offers a B.A. and M.A. in History and is the administrative home of the University’s Program in Historic Preservation, which offers an M.S. degree in Historic Preservation. The department has approximately 280 majors and 30 graduate students.

Although well known for the excellence of its teaching, the department highly values research. In the past four years, members of the department have published twelve books, with four others currently under contract or in the final stages of editing. Members of the department have successfully competed for grants at the university and national level.

The University of Vermont is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity employer. The University of Vermont President, Daniel Mark Fogel, has made increasing diversity one of his seven strategic goals. The

Department shares the president’s commitment and welcomes applications from women and underrepresented ethnic, racial and cultural groups and from people with disabilities. It is interested in candidates who can contribute to the diversity of the University community through their research, teaching, and/or service. Applicants are requested to include in their cover letter information about how they will further this goal. The University offers a major and minor in Women’s and Gender Studies and has an active Women’s Faculty Caucus. The ALANA (Asian-American, Latino, African-American &

Native American) Coalition is a campus wide organization that serves and represents faculty, staff and graduate students of color at the University of Vermont.


6. Job: New Endowed Judaic Studies Position at University of Oklahoma (Stillman)

From: "Stillman, Norman A." <nstillman(at)ou(dot)edu>

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 13:39:24 -0600

Schusterman Professor of Jewish Religious and Intellectual History

The Department of History and the Schusterman Program for Judaic Studies and Israel Studies of the University of Oklahoma invite applications for the newly endowed Schusterman Professor of Jewish Religious and Intellectual History beginning in the Fall Semester 2008.  The holder of the professorship will be a tenured member of the History Department and will be appointed at the rank of associate or full professor.  Candidates must hold a Ph.D. and have a strong record of research and publication.  Successful applicant must give evidence of excellence in undergraduate and graduate teaching.  The candidate would be expected to teach a variety of courses including the core course for minors and majors on the History of Judaism.  Advanced associate professors are especially encouraged to apply. 

Founded in 1995 with the establishment of the Schusterman/Josey Chair of Judaic History, the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Oklahoma is a dynamic and rapidly growing interdisciplinary program that now comprises twelve faculty members, four of whom teach exclusively Judaic Studies courses.  In addition to undergraduate minors in Judaic Studies and Hebrew Language and Literature, there are masters and doctorate options in the Department of History and joint graduate degree partnerships with the Departments of Modern Languages, Literatures & Linguistics, English, and Comparative Literature, and the College of Liberal Studies.  A Judaic Studies undergraduate major is now in the approval process.

            Applications, including C.V., writing sample, and three letters of reference should be sent to:

Professor Norman A. Stillman, Co-Chair

Schusterman Professor of Jewish Religious &

Intellectual History Search Committee

Department of History/Judaic Studies Program

University of Oklahoma

455 W. Lindsey, DAHT 403A

Norman, OK 73019-2004

For e-mail communication, please contact Prof. Stillman at nstillman(at)ou(dot)edu.  Screening will begin immediately and will continue until the position is filled.  The University of Oklahoma is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action Employer.  Women and minorities are especially encouraged to apply.


7. Graduate Opportunities in Jewish Studies at Emory (Goldstein and Ames)

From:  Tobi Ames <tames2(at)emory(dot)edu>

Date: Thu, 6 Dec 2007 16:13:16 -0500

Dear Friends:

I am writing to call your attention to opportunities for graduate work in Jewish Studies here at Emory University. We are currently recruiting students for Ph.D. work in the Department of History and in the Graduate Division of Religion, as well as for our two-year Jewish Studies Master of Arts (JSMA) Program. Emory offers tuition waivers and generous stipends for all accepted graduate students, including up to three students at the MA level. We would greatly appreciate if you would alert qualified students to these opportunities and encourage them to apply. The deadline for all applications is January 3, 2008.

I am attaching a copy of our graduate studies brochure, which you should feel free to make available to interested applicants. They should also consult the website of Emory's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at for application details. Thank you very much for your


Eric L. Goldstein

Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies

Director, Graduate Program in Jewish Studies Emory University


8. New Graduate Studies Opportunities: Brandeis University Schusterman Center for Israel Studies (Troen)

From:             "S. Ilan Troen" <scis(at)brandeis(dot)edu>

Date:             Fri, 07 Dec 2007 10:42:03 -0600

Brandeis University has recently launched the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, which is dedicated to promoting exemplary teaching and scholarship in Israeli history, politics, culture, and society. To this end, the Schusterman Center is sponsoring fellowships for Brandeis doctoral students who focus on Israel Studies.

The Schusterman Center is a hub for scholarship in this rapidly growing field that is making nearly 20 jobs available in various disciplines this year alone.

We hope that you will direct students and colleagues who are interested in a PhD in Israel Studies--in any discipline in the humanities and social sciences--to Brandeis and the Schusterman Center. Prospective students can find more information about the fellowships and application process on our website at

These full and partial fellowships will be awarded on a competitive basis to doctoral candidates in the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Granted through individual departments, the funding will be renewable, after review, for up to five years, with up to a $24,000 stipend per year, including a full tuition scholarship and health care benefits.

   Please let us know if we can answer any of your questions.

   Best wishes,

   S. Ilan Troen

   Director, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies

   Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies


   Brandeis  University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences Kutz Hall MS

   031 Waltham, MA 02454-9110


9. Call for Submissions: Canadian Jewish Book Awards (Stern)

From: Itamar Stern <istern(at)kofflerarts(dot)org>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Call for Submissions

Helen & Stan Vine 20th Annual Canadian Jewish Book Awards


Books by Canadian citizens, or permanent residents of Canada; written on subjects with Jewish themes or with significant Jewish content; published between January 1, 2007 and December 31, 2007.

Award Categories:

Fiction; Scholarship on a Jewish Subject; Biography/Memoir; History; Children's or Young Adult Literature; Poetry; Holocaust-themed; Yiddish, Translation from Yiddish, or Yiddish-themed.


Three copies of each book must be submitted and received by Feb. 29, 2008. Earlier submission appreciated. Send submissions, together with complete mailing addresses for authors and publishers (including name of publisher's contact person, e-mail and fax no.) to:

      The Helen & Stan Vine Annual Canadian Jewish Book Awards

      Koffler Centre of the Arts

      4588 Bathurst St.

      Toronto, ON M2R 1W6


Itamar Stern

Programs Assistant

Koffler Centre of the Arts

416-636-1880 ext.352

Email: istern(at)kofflerarts(dot)org


10. Call for Papers: Conference on Inquisition Studies (Chuchiak and Hossain)

From: "Kimberly Hossain" <Kimberly(dot)Hossain(at)wwu(dot)edu>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:    Thu, 20 Dec 2007 13:33:40 -0500

The first Inquisition Conference organized with the International Society for Inquisition Studies and the History Department of Missouri State University will be held in Springfield, Missouri, Friday, February 8 to Sunday, February 10, 2008, in conjunction with the proposed Second International Seminar on the Inquisition and Ecclesiastical Justice (February 9-10, 2008), which is co-sponsored by a grant from the Ministry of Education of Spain, the Department of History at Missouri State University, and the University of the Basque Country (Spain).

Please distribute this call for papers and proposals widely, and please forward it to interested scholars and graduate students who may wish to participate.

Thank you very much,

John F. Chuchiak IV

Conference Details

~ Conference dates: Friday February 8 to Sunday February 10, 2008

~ Location: Hawthorn Park Hotel, Springfield, Missouri

~ Conference sponsors: Department of History at Missouri State University and the University of the Basque Country

~ Conference fee: $20 (payable to Department of History, Missouri State University)

~ Queries about the conference should be sent to JohnChuchiak(at)missouristate(dot)edu

The conference will provide an opportunity for both scholars and graduate students to share original research on a variety of topics concerning the Inquisition and ecclesiastical justice, as well as other topics related to the wider use of Inquisition and ecclesiastical sources for the study of the social, cultural, and religious history of Europe and the Americas.

Proposals for Papers or Panel Discussions

Submissions for individual papers or organized sessions and panels that focus on research concerning all regions, time periods, areas, and sub-disciplines pertaining to the Inquisition and the administration of ecclesiastical discipline are welcome, as are all socio-cultural studies and histories that use Inquisition trials and documents as their primary source base. Paper and panel submissions using comparative, interdisciplinary, critical, and analytical studies as well as narrative histories are encouraged.

Proposals for papers or panels are accepted electronically or by regular mail. Please include all the information requested in the form to ensure prompt and accurate conference mailings. Graduate students are encouraged to apply.

Deadline for program applications is December 31, 2007

To propose a panel or an individual paper, please send the completed form (on page 4), along with a one-page abstract for each proposed paper by December 31, 2007 to one of the following:

Dr. John F. Chuchiak, IV,


Department of History

Missouri State University

901 South National Avenue

Springfield, MO 65897

Phone (417) 836-5425

Fax (417) 836-5523

Email JohnChuchiak(at)missouristate(dot)edu

Assistant Coordinator

Dr. Kimberly Lynn Hossain

Department of Liberal Studies

Western Washington University

516 High Street

Bellingham, WA 98225-9064

Phone (360) 650-4869

Fax (360) 650-6713

Email Kimberly(dot)Hossain(at)wwu(dot)edu

Assistant Coordinator

Dr. David Tavárez

Department of Anthropology

Box 701,Vassar College

124 Raymond Ave.

Poughkeepsie, NY 12604

Phone 845-437-5504

Email tavarez(at)vassar(dot)edu


11. Request for Artifacts and Information: Jewish Theater in the Arab World (Shasha)

Date:             Fri, 28 Dec 2007 09:08:18 EST

From:             Davidshasha(at)aol(dot)com

New Project Announcement: Jewish Theater in the Arab World 

Request for Artifacts and Information

Prof. Shmuel Moreh of the Hebrew University is working on a project with Prof. Yosef Tovi of Haifa University on the Jewish theater, actors and playwrights in the Arab World including, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria, and Morocco.

Whoever has books and manuscripts of plays, photographs of actors, performances, advertisements, invitations to plays, cassette recordings  of actors and singers, photos of costumes and props, please contact these two  scholars' addresses:

Professor Shmuel Moreh


Professor Yosef Tovi


Information, manuscripts, photographs, and any other artifacts sent to us for this research will be mentioned by name in  our publications.

With thanks.

Project financed by the Israel Research Authority


12. New Publication: _Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider_ (Diamond)

From: "jdiamond" <jdiamond(at)uwaterloo(dot)ca>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:    Wed, 28 Nov 2007 18:28:57 -0500

A new book has been published by James A. Diamond, Joseph & Wolf Lebovic Chair of Jewish Studies, University of Waterloo:

_Converts, Heretics, and Lepers: Maimonides and the Outsider_ (University of Notre Dame Press,  Notre Dame, Indiana, 2007).

The book addresses Moses Maimonides' appropriation of marginal figures- lepers, converts, heretics, and others- normally considered on the fringes of society and religion. Each chapter focuses on a type or character that, in Maimonides' hands, becomes a metaphor for a larger, more substantive theological and philosophical issue. Diamond offers a close reading of key texts, such as the Guide of the Perplexed and the Mishneh Torah, demonstrating the importance of integrating Maimonides' legal and philosophical writings.

Table of Contents


1 The Convert (Ger): Metaphor of Jewishness

2 The Leper: Illness as Contemplative Metaphor

3 Elisha ben Abuyah and the Hubris of the Heretic

4 The King: The Ethics of Imperial Humility

5 The Sage/Philosopher: A Solitude of Universalism

6 God, the Supreme Outsider: Indwelling

(Shekhinah) as Metaphor for Outdwelling

7 Deconstructing God's Indwelling: The Challenge to Halevi

8 Sabbath: The Temporal Outsider

University of Notre Dame Press


13. Table of Contents: _Jewish Quarterly Review_ 97.4, Fall 2007 (Butler)

From: "Menachem Butler" <menachembutler(at)hotmail(dot)com>

From:    Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:    Sat, 1 Dec 2007 23:55:14 -0500

Jewish Quarterly Review Vol. 97, No. 4 (Fall 2007)


Recalling Zakhor: A Quarter-Century's Perspective


David N. Myers  --- 487

Yosef H. Yerushalmi's Zakhor - Some Observations

Moshe Idel --- 491

Lost and Found

Peter N. Miller --- 502

A Flawed Prophecy? Zakhor, the Memory Boom, and the Holocaust

Gavriel D. Rosenfeld --- 508

Fiction and Memory: Zakhor Revisited

Sidra Dekoven Ezrahi --- 521

Jewish Memory between Exile and History

Amnon Raz-Krakotzkin --- 530


P. Yadin 21 and Rabbinic Law on Widows' Rights

Ranon Katzoff --- 545

Leopold Kompert and the Work of Nostalgia: The Cultural Capital of German

Jewish Ghetto Fiction

Jonathan M. Hess --- 576

From Pork to Kapores: Transformations in Religious Practice among the Jews of Late Imperial Kiev

Natan Meir --- 616

Review Essays

(What Was Once) The World's Largest Jewish Community

Nancy Sinkoff --- 647

New Reflections on Jewish Historiography

Michael A. Meyer – 660


14. New Online Search Engine: Hebrew and Arabic Glossaries and Indices to Maimonides' Medical Works (Bos)

From: "Gerrit Bos" <Gerrit(dot)Bos(at)web(dot)de>

via: Adam Mendelsohn <amend(at)BRANDEIS(dot)EDU>

Date:  Wed, 28 Nov 2007 10:26:06 -0500

Dear Colleagues,

I am pleased to announce that the Arabic and Hebrew glossaries and indices to several of Maimonides' medical works can from now on be accessed through

These glossaries and indices are designed to facilitate the interpretation of Arabic and Hebrew medieval scientific texts in general and of medical texts in particular, and to further our knowledge of the Hebrew medical terminology used by the individual translators in question.

Prof Dr Gerrit Bos

Martin-Buber-Institute for Jewish Studies

University of Cologne


15. New Publication on Yemeni Jews in Israel (Cohen)

From:             "ilise cohen ilise(dot)cohen(at)gmail(dot)com

Date: Tue, 18 Dec 2007 11:55:28 -0800

Ilise Cohen, “Kfar Shalem: The Village of Wholeness is Being Broken Apart,” _Sephardic Heritage Update_ (December 5, 2007), 5-8.

[Note from Editor/Moderator Aviva Ben-Ur: The following article, submitted to this listserve by the author, may be of interest to those working on contemporary Israel. It is also a good opportunity to publicize the _Sephardic Heritage Update_, which readers of this listserve should also find germane.]

Yemenite Jews in Southern Tel Aviv are slowly getting booted from their homes and place of residence for the last 60 years. Many of these Yemenite families came to Israel with Operation Magic Carpet, where over 50,000 Jews from the Yemen and Aden were brought to Israel by plane after Israel had declared its independence. This particular community, called Kfar Shalem, was settled on the former Palestinian village of Salama (Salame) that had been emptied during the Independence War (for Israel) and the Nakba (the Catastrophe for Palestinians) either through forced expulsion or fleeing during the military interventions. Most of the Salama refugees live in a refugee camp in Jordan named after their original village.

Only two years after independence, Israel passed the Absentee Property Law, which declared newly-vacant Palestinian land as state land to be under Israeli state custodianship. Such land cannot be sold unless custodianship is given to another organization or agency that will properly use the space. Over the last few decades, the Yemenis of Kfar Shalem have experienced different kinds of evictions from the public housing that was set up there by the government to both populate the former Palestinian village, making it impossible for Palestinians to return or claim any kind of return, and to settle more peripheral areas. Southern Tel Aviv is next to Jaffa, one of the largest cities where Palestinians lived before Israeli independence. Yemeni Jews and others settled in the houses left behind and later in high rise buildings. Much of the Palestinian housing has since been destroyed, although the remains of a mosque still stands in the center of the community. A temporary garden/park was created where there used to be Palestinian homes; such parks are a strategy to remove the Absentee property status and to pave the way for the land to be sold to private developers.

Starting in the 1970’s, the Yemeni Jews experienced evictions and one young Jewish Yemeni man was killed in the 1980’s while protecting his house from demolition. A community which for the most part is low income, working class, and religious, they have been faced with demolition and evictions of their homes with no savings or enough compensation to rebuild their lives. In the 1990’s more evictions took place but the families were given some compensation, which allowed them to continue to live in the community. Only now, some of these same evictees who resettled in Kfar Shalem are being told they must pay the same property tax as central and north Tel Aviv, where the middle class Ashkenazi Israelis are living with more ease, and far greater municipal services, than their poor southern neighbors. Considering they were ‘rescued’ from their conditions in the ‘hostile’ Yemen to come to Israel and be settled by the government on former Palestinian property, that this property would then be taken from them with neither justice nor compensation, seems to be one of the most cruel actions of the Israeli government toward a Jewish people.

Some Kfar Shalemites are still in the homes they were settled in 60 years ago. Multi-generational families have managed to find ways to live in small quarters of this public housing. They have paid taxes and rent to the state for their housing even though they have not received the same benefits and resources as other communities in Tel Aviv, including proper water, electricity, sewers, and other services. About 400 families, which could be about 2400-2800 people, were given eviction notices in stages over the last few months. A developer by the name of Ruma Efrati has the government of Israel and the Tel Aviv municipality behind her as she ejects these families to the streets without compensation. The state as custodian has allowed her to move forward with development plans. The state and city thinks this wipes their hands clean of the 2600 people who will have nowhere to go when they are evicted and their homes are demolished.

How and when did this state land become private land? The developer claims that she owns the land and that at the time of independence it was owned by a British Financier and therefore was never Absentee property. But the state has called it Absentee since the beginning and has been collecting taxes and rent for this state land. The community, though they asked many years ago to be able to buy the land on which they lived, were told they this was impossible since it was considered state land and was Absentee. How in this case, can a developer, with the backing of the city and state governments, tell these families that they much now leave? Why would the government not have given the families an opportunity to buy the land on which they were living, but instead allow a developer from outside the community to buy it from underneath the residents, rendering them homeless? 

Since Passover Kfar Shalemites have been in legal battles, holding local protests and trying to gather local and international support for the unfair land and housing practices being used against them. Some of the leaders have been meeting with Palestinians in nearby Jaffa who also suffer from evictions and home demolitions, protesting alongside them against the unfair policies of the government and municipality, especially toward the poorer communities. This small and not solidified alliance is what most threatens the state of Israel; that Mizrahi Jews and Palestinians, who have been targeted by the state since its inception with discriminatory practices, would actually work with each other against the state’s unjust policies. This is what the Israeli Black Panthers, Mizrahim, tried to do in their building of relations with Palestinians as a means to fight for the rights of all those being oppressed, especially workers in the 1970’s. Though Kfar Shalemites do not see themselves at all in such a light, nor do they make the links with the Israeli Black Panthers, their fight and willingness to engage how the state is ‘eating alive’ many of her communities in the country, opens doors and gates that have long since been shut as taboo topics, and which to many Ashkenazim of the Left are seen as long gone and irrelevant.

Kfar Shalem residents are willing to fight the legal battle though they do not have the economic means to do so, and unlike other communities in struggle, like the Bedouin or Palestinians, lack international and institutional support to help with legal funds and organizing. Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions (ICAHD) did visit with the community in July and were helpful in having another lawyer look at their case for free. They also helped to solicit Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) to be connected, as did I. Rabbi Arik Ascherman from RHR graciously and with desperation on my part, was willing to front the $16,000 necessary for their court case to be heard. This was a phenomenal act of courage and compassion. My partner and I did say that if the funds are not returned, we will figure out how to pay them back in some way, but to have them front the funds was enormous. This is not the issue they work on and as you can see the details are not at all clear; the state is finding ways to bypass its responsibility and the community is suffering from the inconsistencies. It was only after repeated attempts and failure to get Jewish organizations in the US, both related to Sephardi and Mizrahi issues to help with supporting these legal aid efforts, that RHR came through so beautifully. What better community than Rabbis, in an observant Mizrahi community to get such support. Sadly, the experience of refusal from Jewish agencies in the US to respond broke my heart and forced me again to re-assess what supporting the state or supporting Israelis actually means.

Kfar Shalemites know and have experienced how courts in Israel have treated their communities. Underlying are years of discriminatory practices that will never really be brought to the table to be discussed and reconciled, at least not by the state. They have been told that the developer had to get certain permits from the government and municipality, which they did get, even though the permits do not show validation for legal ownership of the property and it contradicts the notion of the Absentee property law. While this does not address the current concerns and conditions for the Yemeni Jews, it totally erases the memory and history of Palestinians from Salama, who still are waiting for the right of return, as other Palestinian refugees are waiting; still with no negotiations, and still with no acknowledgement of international law concerning Palestinian refugees and their plight for a resolution to their condition.

Are Kfar Shalemites going to go to Ramallah, to where Orient House documents or documents about the land they live on might be, when it is considered illegal for Israelis to travel there and most Israelis would never go considering the fear that has been instilled about going anywhere Palestinian? Will they speak with former Salama residents to ask them for copies of their deeds to the land, so that they can prove to the government that the land is actually Absentee and not privately owned? Will this make their situation even more provocative, to bring in land issues of Palestinians in order to prove the Israeli state wrong in its judicial decisions? It is complicated and full of erased histories and levels of racism and discrimination.

While the legal battle for 40 families has been taking place, another 80 families have received eviction notices and most recently another 140. It is significant that each of the eviction notices came during Jewish Holidays, first just before Passover, then around the New Year and the Day of Atonement. The symbolism speaks louder than words. This almost completes the upcoming evictions of the 400 families in the community.

The Tel Aviv court thinks it irrelevant to deal with issues of compensation before developers get to demolish family homes that have been housing these Yemeni for 60 years. Kfar Shalemites, because they have seen evictions take place before, feel that even if they are to be evicted, they at least deserve fair compensation and equitable housing that allows them to stay in their community and keep their community intact. How can the state act with such disregard, simply in order to profit from rising land prices? What happened to the notion of the (problematic) “Jewish State” existing to protect Jewish people, if communities of Yemeni Jews after supposedly being ‘rescued’ are now being thrown into the streets with nothing? Who will then support these Yemeni Jews once the Jewish state has completed their abandonment of them for the sake of capital and an enlarged tax base? And how can Israel claim itself as home of the Jews, asking Diaspora Jews to come settle, when Jews already living in the homeland have no homes?

I have to thank Rafi Shubeli and Smadar Lavie, Mizrahi Scholar-Activists, Dudi Balasi and Aharon Maduel, both Yemeni Jews from the Kfar Shalem council, for their generosity in sharing information, experience and their lives during this struggle for land and housing. You are changing history and refusing erasure. And to thank my partner Daniel Rice for making a commitment with me in various ways to actively engage in supporting the Kfar Shalem struggle as an Ashkenazi American Jew.

Ilise Cohen is a Sephardic Jew who currently lives in San Francisco, CA. She is working on her dissertation about Mizrahi Jews in Israel and has been a long time Middle East peace activist. In the 1990’s she lived in Israel and has continued to work with Palestinians and Jews for the last two decades.


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