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January 2023

Beyond the Temple: Jewish Material Identity from the Hasmoneans to Herod

January 25, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall

When did Jews first begin using material goods to communicate a religious identity? Why did such a practice arise, and what were its social and political consequences? In this lecture, Andrea Berlin couples archaeological remains with historical testimony to address these questions. The story begins in the second century BCE, with the rise of the Hasmoneans, a landed family from rural Judea who leveraged military success and political connections to establish themselves as both religious and civic leaders. The Jewish-Mediterranean…

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February 2023

The Social Role of the Deli in American Jewish Life

February 9, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall

Noted historian, author, and collector Ted Merwin presents an interactive, multimedia lecture on the ever-shifting place of the Jewish delicatessen in American life. In New York, San Francisco, and cities in between, the deli was the lifeblood and linchpin of the Jewish community. The "soul food" and convivial atmosphere it dished up became a quintessential part of American culture for Jews and non-Jews alike. Moreover, the deli served as a crucial gathering place--even a kind of "secular synagogue"--for Jews who were rapidly becoming more…

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Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry

February 15, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94720
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A unique phenomenon emerged in the heart of Berlin in the nineteenth century: a creative center for fashion and ready-made clothing. Hundreds of garment companies were established, manufacturing modern wear and developing new designs that were sold throughout Germany - and the world. The industry reached the height of its success in the 1920s. Freed from corsets, sophisticated women of the time dressed in the popular “Berlin Chic” sold by Valentin Manheimer, Herrmann Gerson, and the Wertheim department stores. Berlin’s…

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Shared Appeals to Different Gods: Jews, Christians and Medieval Prayer (Helen Diller Annual Lecture)

February 21, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94720
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Helen Diller Annual Lecture. This talk will focus on private prayers found in Hebrew manuscripts from medieval northern France that both adapt and adopt known Christian prayers. It will trace the ways in which these prayers would have been known by Jews, and discuss the adaptations made by Jews to make these prayers usable. What do such prayers teach us about Jewish embeddedness and difference in medieval Christian culture? Special emphasis will be given to the private nature of the…

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March 2023

The Jew as Other and The Other White Meat: Pigs and Jewish Identity

March 2, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
3335 Dwinelle Hall
image of Jordan Rosenblum

Jews do not eat pig. This (not always true) observation has been made by both Jews and non-Jews for three thousand years. Over time, the pig becomes a popular metaphor for Jewish/non-Jewish identity. In this talk, we explore this historical development. Starting in the Hebrew Bible, where the pig is tabooed but not necessarily singled out more than other food prohibitions, we see the emergence of the pig as a symbol of Jewish identity in the Second Temple period and…

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Blood Libel: On the Trail of An Antisemitic Myth (Annual Pell Lecture)

March 15, 2023 @ 5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, 2121 Allston Way
Berkeley, CA 94720
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Annual Pell Lecture. In 2019, the shooter of the Poway synagogue near San Diego cited the story of Simon of Trent, a boy whose death during the Easter/Passover season in 1475 led to one of the most notorious persecutions of Jews in Europe, as one of the reasons behind his actions. The talk will explore how a medieval anti-Jewish lie became rooted in Christian imagination to persist into the twenty first century US and lead to a horrific crime in…

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