Jewish Studies Program Celebrates 50 Years

Faculty and alumni come together for program commemorating milestone anniversary.

October 20, 2022

Communications Staff

A professor, Sheera Talpaz, teaches a class in the King courtyard.
A Jewish studies class led by Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature and Jewish Studies Sheera Talpaz in the King courtyard.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

This month, Oberlin’s Jewish Studies Program celebrates its 50th anniversary with public events held over two days and offered in-person and remotely. 

The celebration will be held October 30 and 31, and includes an alumni panel presentation, faculty presentation, a photo and documentary exhibition of the program’s 50-year history, an opportunity to attend a Jewish studies class, and an open house at Johnson House, Oberlin’s Hebrew heritage residence hall. 

On Sunday, October 30, Jewish Studies alumni David Eaton '71, Amalia Haas '91, and Kendell Pinkney '09 will host a panel discussion in the Oberlin Center for Convergence, which will also be streamed via Zoom, followed by a performance by the student klezmer band Shtick-and-Poke.

On Monday, October 31, the Allen Memorial Art Museum will present a session on "Judaism in Modern and Contemporary Art" led by curator Sam Adams. The Terrell Main Library will hold an open house on its exhibition To Find It Again: The Quest for Jewish Life and Jewish Studies at Oberlin College, on display through the end of the semester. 

The program concludes in Johnson House with a faculty talk: “The Present and Future of Jewish Studies at Oberlin,” followed by a reception and open house.

Shari Rabin.
Associate Professor Shari Rabin. Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones '97

Associate Professor Shari Rabin, a scholar of modern Judaism and American religions and chair of Jewish studies, says the program began because of student activism, and it has continued to flourish because of the ongoing enthusiasm of students, faculty, staff, and community organizations.

“In the last few years, Jewish studies has gained three new faculty members and passed a new curriculum,” says Rabin, who is currently writing a history of Jews, religion, and race in the U.S. South from the 17th century to the present day. “As we enter this exciting new era, it is the perfect time to reflect on the history of the program and what it has meant to generations of Oberlin students.”

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