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The Jewish Forum presents a three-lecture series…

Jewish Political Life: A Historical Perspective

Scholars from the United States and Israel present a fascinating three-lecture series that offer revealing and often unexpected views of Jews and politics from World War II to the present.

1. “Israel As a Jewish and Democratic State” - Prof. Sammy Smooha

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012, 7:30 pm

Israel is a Jewish and democratic state, but this dual character is the key issue that divides the secular and religious, the left and right, and Arab and Jewish citizens. What are the concrete manifestations of the Jewish nature of the state, what is the value of Zionism to Israel’s Jewishness, and are democracy and Judaism compatible in ideology and practice?

Dr. Sammy Smooha is professor of sociology and former Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Haifa, as well as former president of the Israeli Sociological Society. This year he is a Fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. The Israel Prize laureate for Sociology in 2008, Smooha specializes in ethnic relations in the world and Israel. He has published widely on the internal divisions and conflicts in Israeli society, especially on the relations between Arab and Jewish citizens. Among the books he has authored are Israel: Pluralism and Conflict and Arabs and Jews in Israel, and, as co-editor, The Fate of Ethnic Democracy in Post-Communist Europe.

2. “The Freedoms for Which We Fight: Judaism and Democracy on the Home Front During World War II” - Dr. Mia Sara Bruch

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012, 7:30 pm

What did World War II mean for American Jews on the home front? Mia Sara Bruch reveals the role of religion generally and Judaism specifically in the nation's response to fascism, showing how they influenced the articulation and defense of American democratic values and created a faith-based mobilization against fascism.

Dr. Mia Sara Bruch received her Ph.D. in history from Stanford University.  She has received awards and fellowships from the National Foundation for Jewish Culture, the Center for Jewish History, and the Andrew W. Mellon foundation, and is also the recipient of Stanford University's Centennial Award for teaching and the Lieberman Prize, the university's highest honor for graduate students. She is currently a fellow at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic studies, where she is working on a book project entitled The Faith of Democracy: World War II, the Cold War, and American Religious Pluralism. In addition to her work on religious pluralism and American Jewry, she has also written on African-American intellectual history, photography and culture in the 1950s, and contemporary American Islam. She has also written outside the academy, on the Iranian women's movement, the Turkish-Kurdish conflict, and democracy promotion for such organizations as the Aspen Institute, the Atlantic Council, and the TED Conference. She has co-authored books with Scott Thomas (the design director of the Obama presidential campaign) and novelist Jonathan Safran Foer.

3. “Politics and Perspectives on the Holocaust in Wartime Soviet Union” - Prof. Zvi Gitelman

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012, 7:30 pm

The Soviet Union was the only Nazi-occupied country where Jews could resist as part of the regular military, as well as in partisan formations. About half a million Soviet Jews fought in the Red Army, and about 150,000 were killed in combat. Their perspectives on the war and the Holocaust differ radically from those of Jews elsewhere, though the Soviet government’s treatment of the Shoah, like that of other allied governments, was driven by political and social considerations. This talk explores how and why Soviet government perspectives, and those of the Jews, differ from their counterparts in the West, and examines how those differences matter today.

Dr. Zvi Gitelman is Professor of Political Science and Preston R. Tisch Professor of Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, where he has served as Director of the Center for Russian and East European Studies and of the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. He has been a visiting professor at Tel Aviv and Hebrew Universities, Central European University in Budapest, and the Russian State University for the Humanities, and a Research Fellow at Harvard, Princeton and Oxford. Gitelman received his Master’s and Doctoral degrees at Columbia University. He is the author or editor of fourteen books and over 100 articles in scholarly journals. His acclaimed A Century of Ambivalence: The Jews of Russia and the Soviet Union since 1881 was published in 2001. His most recent edited volume is Ethnicity or Religion? The Evolution of Jewish Identities. In 2012 Cambridge University Press will publish Jewish Identities in Post-Communist Russia and Ukraine: an Uncertain Ethnicity. Among various professional and communal boards, Gitelman serves on the Council of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Venue: Jewish Community Center of Metropolitan Detroit
6600 W. Maple Rd., West Bloomfield, Michigan

$25 for the full series or $10 per session.
$5 per session for students and Jewish communal professionals.

Advance registration requested by Monday, January 16. Registration via check or major credit card.
Three ways to register:

call 248.354.6415, or

e-mail lectures@thejewishforum.org, or

on-line at jewishdetroit.org/jewsandpolitics.

*This series is co-sponsored by:




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Last modified: 03/01/13