Todd Gitlin Talks Jewish Legacies Of The 1960s And Liberalism And More At Columbia

January 9, 2018

The Center for Jewish History has announced the launch of a series of public programs, a talk of series on the legacies of the 1960s and liberalism with Columbia’s Todd Gitlin on March 27th 2018.

Other History Matters talks begin on January 30, February 20, April 26 and May 16, 2018, at a major cultural institution in New York City. 

The programs includes a mini-courses, and a new exhibition that re-introduces the Center The New Series. 

Under the leadership of the Center’s recently appointed President and CEO Professor David N. Myers, these new initiatives will engage participants in some of today’s most challenging issues, bringing critical knowledge of the past to current conversations. Together, the various series confirm the Center’s role as a public leader and a pivotal forum for discussing some of the most vexing problems we face.

Tackling the roots of the current political turmoil, antisemitism, and the legacies of social change in the 1960s, the Center will introduce its keystone series History Matters, featuring preeminent scholars whose historical work sheds light on today’s pressing events. According to David Myers, “History Matters will bring world-renowned scholars to help us think through what the past teaches us—as we together grapple to understand the present and navigate the future. This is what the Center should be doing: putting historical knowledge to work for the betterment of society.”

For visitors short on time but long on interest, the Center, in partnership with Oxford University Press (OUP), will present Very Short Introductions: Short Talks on Big Subjects, a series of one-hour programs based on Oxford’s popular Very Short Introductions books. The series premieres on January 23 with the Center’s own David Myers leading a fast and fascinating conversation about 5778 years of Jewish history – and covering it all, in just one hour.

“First Person: Jewish Stories, Jewish Lives,” presents speakers whose experiences and encounters with Judaism have shaped their lives. Premiering the series in January, author Tova Mirvis shares her story about leaving her Orthodox faith with Tablet Magazine’s Marjorie Ingall. Later, in February, the Center will present an exhibit on “Jews in Space” in collaboration with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, and acclaimed scholar Shaul Magid will teach a four week course on Radical Jewish politics.

Very Short Introductions:  Short Talks on Big Subjects

On January 23rd, CJH President and CEO, Professor David Myers kicks off the first of four programs in 2018 featuring authors from the popular Oxford University Press Very Short Introduction series. Author of “Jewish History: A Very Short Introduction,” Professor Myers will cover 5778 years of Jewish History in less than one hour.  Next up: On March 21st, George Washington University Professor Eric H. Cline, author of “Biblical Archeology: A Very Short Introduction,” will answer the five most frequently asked questions about this fascinating field.

First Person: Jewish Stories, Jewish Lives

Featuring remarkable stories of Jewish lives, the Center’s new series premieres with author Tova Mirvis on January 24 discussing her moving memoir, “The Book of Separation,” with Marjorie Ingall (Tablet Magazine).

As Tova explains, “‘The Book of Separation’ follows the first year of leaving my marriage and this religious world, and it explores what it means to leave a way of life that is scripted and mapped, and instead to enter into a world where there are far fewer expectations and rules…It’s a book about letting go and starting over, a book about learning to live with uncertainty and to heed your own voice. It’s also a book about parenting (I have three children) when there is this rupture between then and now, and when, as a result, there are no easy answers.”

Family History Today

The Ackman & Ziff Genealogy Institute is excited to offer “Family History Today,” a series of workshops focused on different approaches to researching one’s own history. January’s workshop will focus on searching for your living relatives and February’s workshop, presented with the American Jewish Historical Society, is centered on understanding the American Jewish immigration experience.

A former workshop participant, Peggy Teich, attests to effectiveness of the programs: “As someone who has attended several of the Center’s genealogy programs, I highly recommend them to both newbies as well as experienced genealogy researchers. The speakers were experts in their fields, the programs were very informative, well organized, welcoming and the program length was perfect. There were always useful handouts and plenty of time for Q and A. I always found that whatever I learned at the programs, I could put into immediate and effective use.”

Center for Jewish History Mini-Courses

As part of its commitment to share Jewish research with the broader public, the Center will offer an array of mini courses in 2018, intended for both scholarly and lay audiences. Courses will consist of three or four sessions; the courses are lecture-oriented, but also include the reading of texts and seminar-styled learning. Our visiting scholars, senior fellows, and other affiliated faculty teach these courses in the spring and fall.

The first course will be taught in February by National Endowment for the Humanities Senior Scholar Shaul Magid. Professor Magid (Indiana University) will teach on Radical Jewish Politics in Postwar America and Israel. The second course will be taught in March by Center for Jewish History Visiting Scholar Roberta Rosenberg. Professor Rosenberg (Christopher Newport University) will teach on “What’s So Funny? Jewish Humor from Genesis to Seinfeld and Soloway.”

Jews in Space: Members of the Tribe in Orbit

In partnership with YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, the exhibit Jews in Space will tell the story of Jews’ relationship to the solar system, and will feature materials ranging from rare 18th– and 19th– century rabbinic tomes on astronomy in Hebrew and German, Yiddish, English, and Russian works of science fiction, periodicals and serials, and other ephemera from literature and popular culture.

From as early as Genesis, Jews have pondered the heavens that surround our planet, as well as their place in them. As science and technology progressed, Jewish thinkers became interested in new discoveries, often attempting to unite science and Jewish tradition. Numerous such books appeared in Hebrew and other languages during the 17th through the 19th centuries.

By the early 20th century, when science and tradition already seemed irreconcilable, Jewish inventor Hugo Gernsback coined the term “science fiction,” and founded a series of magazines that became the home for a new genre of space literature that would come to inspire generations of readers. Eventually, the space programs of both the United States and the Soviet Union would send real Jews into space, also utilizing the work of Jewish scientists and engineers to reach these milestones.

Jews are also represented in popular culture renditions of space, space travel, and science fiction, starring in groundbreaking television shows such as “Star Trek”, and beloved movies such as “Spaceballs” by Mel Brooks. 

Check out the full Calendar of Events and other information at

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