This article originally appeared on   The Passover Haggadah concludes with a series of songs, the first of which is וַיְהִי בַּחֲצִי הַלַּיְלָה, Vayhi BeChatzi HaLayla, “It Came to Pass at Midnight” (Exod 12:29). The song, however, was not written for Pesach night, nor is it an independent composition. Instead, it was part seven of the poem אוֹנֵי פִטְרֵי רַחֲמָתָיִם (The Vigor of the… read more about It Came to Pass at Midnight—From the Amidah to the Passover Haggadah »

 This article originally appeared on Religion News Service:… A scholar of Jewish studies airs a few inconvenient lessons of Hanukkah Prominent Middle East archaeologist Eric Meyers offers a view of Jewish uprisings, including those that followed the Maccabees, and their actual consequences.   December 19, 2022 By Mark I. Pinsky (RNS) — Hanukkah, which began Sunday, commemorates the heroic resistance of a group of Jewish rebels called the… read more about A scholar of Jewish studies airs a few inconvenient lessons of Hanukkah »

The Duke Center for Jewish Studies is delighted to welcome our 2022-23 Perilman Post-Doctoral Fellow, Anastasiia Strakhova.  Dr. Strakhova received her Ph.D. at Emory University specializing in Modern Jewish history, Eastern European history, and migration. Internationally trained in Jewish Studies and History, she completed her undergraduate degree at International Solomon University in Ukraine, and then earned a master’s degree at Central European University in Hungary. In her dissertation, “Selective Emigration: Border… read more about 2022-23 Perilman Post-Doctoral Fellow, Anastasiia Strakhova »

When Judah Goldin was named Duke’s first chair of Jewish Studies in 1943, the program was housed in the Graduate School. Twenty-nine years later, the Center for Jewish Studies was established—thanks to two visionaries, two universities and a host of generous donors. Today, as the Center for Jewish Studies celebrates its golden anniversary, it has become a world-renowned interdisciplinary program offering an undergraduate certificate in Jewish Studies and supporting master’s and doctoral candidates across Duke. Looking… read more about For 50 Years, the Center for Jewish Studies Has Delivered Interdisciplinary Insight »

This originally appeared at:  It is widely recognized in scholarly circles that there was a flourishing of interest in traditional Jewish life in Eastern Europe among German speakers in the early twentieth century. Martin Buber gave lectures on Chassidism, Franz Kafka attended the Yiddish Theater, and Arnold Zweig and Alfred Döblin wrote quasi-ethnographic accounts of traditional Jews in the towns and shtetls of Poland… read more about Translators on Books That Should Be Translated: Soma Morgenstern’s "Der Sohn des verlorenen Sohnes" (1935) »

This article originally appeared as a guest post on "The Bart Ehrman Blog: The History & Literature of Early Christianity."  September 23, 2021   An important book on understanding the Bible recently appeared: The Bible With and Without Jesus: How Jews and Christian Read the Same Stories Differently, by Marc Zvi Brettler and Amy-Jill Levine.  I have asked both authors to provide a guest post or two, and here is the first.  Marc Brettler has long been a prominent scholar of ancient… read more about Christian Stereotypes of “the God of the Old Testament.” Marcion is Alive and Well and Well and What To Do About It. »

EXTENDED Call for Applications Duke University Joseph Shatzmiller Fellowship in Jewish Studies  North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar Due Date: September 5, 2021 The North Carolina Jewish Studies Seminar invites applications for graduate fellows interested in participating in the life of the seminar. Named after Joseph Shatzmiller, an eminent Duke University Jewish historian and a longtime member of the seminar, these fellowships offer an opportunity to learn more about a range of Jewish Studies topics… read more about Shatzmiller Fellowship Deadline EXTENDED! »

Judaism, Religion, and Law: From the Roman Empire to Modern Israel   Have you ever heard Judaism described as “legalistic,” or wondered why the New Testament distinguishes “the letter of the law” from “the spirit of the law”?  In this course, we will investigate the concept of “Jewish law” from the ancient Roman empire to the modern state of Israel. What makes a legal text “Jewish,” and how did Judaism become indelibly associated with law? And what role does law play in determining religious identity in diverse historical… read more about Fall 2021 First Year Seminar: Judaism, Religion, and Law: From the Roman Empire to Modern Israel »

Statement of Solidarity Against Anti-Asian Violence We are stunned by the anti-Asian mass shootings in Atlanta on March 16, 2021. Our hearts go out to the victims and their families who have suffered from this senseless act. This is not an isolated incident and comes out of the current-day repetition of long-standing racist sentiments targeting various minority communities fueled by political rhetoric. Since March 2020, the former U.S. president and his allies have relentlessly scapegoated people of Asian… read more about Statement of Solidarity Against Anti-Asian Violence »

The Duke Center for Jewish Studies is delighted to announce the establishment of The Ostad Fellows in Jewish Studies, made possible by a generous gift from Michael and Alonna Ostad, P’22 & P'24. Ostad Fellowships will be awarded for undergraduate research in Jewish Studies; and preference will be given to proposals that focus on Jewish-Muslim relations and/ or women in Sephardic Judaism.  Other proposals in Jewish Studies will be considered depending on available funds. Students will be required to submit: a one-… read more about The Ostad Fellowship in Jewish Studies »

As part of its event series tgiFHI, the Franklin Humanities Institute is conducting interviews with its faculty speakers in order to familiarize broader audiences with the diversity of research approaches in the humanities, arts, and interpretive social sciences at Duke University. Dr. Laura Lieber is Professor of Religious Studies, Classical Studies, German Studies, and Divinity, and director of the Duke Center for Jewish Studies. In this edited and condensed interview, she describes why she's interested in the texts… read more about Meet Your Humanities Faculty: Laura Lieber »

We are delighted to welcome Sarah Baker to the Hebrew Language program in Asian and Middle Eastern Studies.  Professor Baker has a Ph.D. in Middle Eastern Languages and Cultures (with a specialty in Hebrew Bible/Ancient Near East) from the University of Texas at Austin, where she taught both Biblical and Modern Hebrew for several years and received the student-nominated Foreign Language Teaching Excellence Award. She has developed a variety of innovative Biblical Hebrew curricula (in-person and online) for… read more about Sarah Baker joins the Hebrew Language Program! »

After receiving his BA in Middle East studies and political economy in 2006 from Evergreen in Olympia, WA, Eli Sperling pursued an MA in contemporary Middle Eastern history at Tel Aviv University (2010). He has traveled and conducted research extensively throughout the Middle East, spending significant periods of time in Israel, Cairo and the Sinai Peninsula and received his PhD from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in September 2019. From 2012-2020, Eli served as the Senior Academic Research Coordinator at Emory… read more about Eli Sperling joins the Center as the AMES Post-Doc »

The Duke University Center for Jewish Studies is delighted to announce that Dr. Pratima Gopalakrishnan will join the Duke Center for Jewish Studies in the Fall 2020 as the Perilman Post-Doctoral Fellow.  Dr. Gopalakrishnan is a historian of Near Eastern Jewish communities in the first millennium CE, with particular interests in topics that include free and unfree labor, sexuality, and economic history. Currently a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at University of Pennsylvania, she will receive her PhD… read more about Pratima Gopalakrishnan joins the Duke Center for Jewish Studies  »

Last week’s killing of top Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani has raised a number of legal and strategic questions for which there seem to be no consensus, including among Duke faculty. Charles J. Dunlap Jr., a professor of the practice of law and executive director of the law school’s Center on Law, Ethics and National Security, said President Donald Trump’s directive to kill Soleimani was “lawful self-defense” as authorized by the United Nations Charter, not an unlawful assassination. “Because Soleimani was engaged in… read more about Killing of Iranian Commander Raises Legal, Strategic Questions »

Shore Undergraduate Research Fellows, Andrew Carlins (’21) and Grant Besner (’19), have created an exciting project focusing on podcasts that share untold stories in Israel.  Their website, Is(That)Raeli? explores Israeli culture through these voices.  Besner and Carlins spent 10 weeks interviewing Israelis from all walks of life, from an Eritrean asylum seeker to the American-Israeli former spokesperson for the Israeli Defense Forces, painting a much more nuanced, much more human portrait of a place for… read more about Shore Scholars Give Voice to Untold Israeli Stories »

Tamar Rachkovsky, Perilman Fellow at the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, screens her documentary "Home in E Major" in it's world premier at the Edinburg International Film Festival, Sunday, June 23, 2019. Observing the everyday routines and dramatic upheavals of a cross-generational and multicultural shared house, Rachkovsky turns a story about her own move from Jerusalem to Durham, North Carolina, into a powerful and moving reflection on emotional bonds, mutual care, ageing and death. As the connection between the young… read more about Tamar Rachkovsky to screen "Home in E Major" at Edinburgh Film Fest »

The Duke Center for Jewish Studies is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr. Grace Kessler Overbeke as our Perilman Postdoctoral Fellow for 2019-20. Dr. Overbeke works at the intersection of Jewish Studies and Theatre Studies.  She recently completed her dissertation on the life and work of Jean Carroll, the first Jewish female stand-up comedian—“the real Mrs. Maisel.”  This project developed out of her interests in female Jewish comedians and autobiographical performance among marginalized… read more about Duke Center for Jewish Studies welcomes Grace Overbeke  »

Ben Ferencz, the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, joins his son, renowned international lawyer Don Ferencz, and Michael Scharf, dean of Case Western School of Law, to consider the future of international law and the International Criminal Court at Duke University of January 31, 2018.   View the full video here.          read more about Full Video: Ben Ferencz, Nuremberg Prosecutor, Speaks at Duke University »

"Ben Ferencz, the last living prosecutor from the Nuremberg trials, advocated for 'law, not war' to a crowd of several hundred packed into Sanford Fleishman Commons and other adjoining rooms Wednesday.  "At 27 years old, Ferencz became the chief prosecutor for the U.S. Army at the Einsatzgruppen trial—his first case—which tried 22 defendants for the murder of more than a million people. Deemed 'the biggest murder trial in history' by the Associated Press, the trial resulted in the conviction of all the defendants. More… read more about Ben Ferencz, Last Living Nuremburg Prosecutor, Comes to Duke »

See full article at Duke Chronicle.  "Students in the first-year seminar, named Values in Action, partnered with the Philanthropy Lab, a national philanthropic organization, to present a combined $101,000 in grant funding to a variety of organizations Monday. President Vincent Price, speaking before the students at the presentation, said that he believes philanthropy is ingrained into the culture at the school.   “Virtually everything that is done at this University day in and day out—every course like this we… read more about Jewish Studies Students distribute $101,000 in grants for Philanthropy Lab »

Over the course of the fall semester, seven scholars on Israel/Palestine spoke at Duke in a lecture series entitled "50 Years of Occupation, 1967-2017: Israel/Palestine, Histories and Futures."  The speaker series included Amahl Bishara, who spoke about the use of the internet and social media in the West Bank, Joyce Dalsheim, who lectured on the anthropology of settlers in Hebron, and Lisa Hajjar, who discussed international law and the Occupation. Helen Yanovsky of the Israeli NGO B'tselem spoke about the… read more about As Trump Declares Embassy Move, Scholars Discuss Future of Jerusalem at Duke »

Yasmin Levy is an acclaimed Israeli artist known for her twist on Sephardic songs. The musical tradition came from her father who recorded and preserved folk songs in Ladino, a Judeo-Spanish language that emerged in the territories of the ancient Ottoman Empire after Jews were exiled from Spain in 1492. Today Levy performs these traditional songs and infuses them with flamenco and her signature doses of passion and melancholy. She speaks with host Frank Stasio about the pushback she has received for promoting and… read more about Yasmin Levy Pours Passion Into Sephardic Songs  »

Prizewinning Israeli author Yossi Klein Halevi will discuss the future relationship between American Jews and Israel, Wednesday, Nov. 8, at Duke University. The talk begins at 6 p.m. in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library on West Campus, and is free and open to the public. Parking is available in the Bryan Center garage and lot. Imam Abdullah Antepli, chief representative of Muslim affairs at Duke, will moderate the discussion with Halevi and Bruce Jentleson, a professor of political science and… read more about Yossi Klein Halevi comes to Duke! »

This article originally appeared at the following:  March 28, 2017 Imam Abdullah Antepli , left, shares a laugh with Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks during the pair’s public talk, “Civility & Difference.” In front of a crowd filled with Duke and Durham community members of a variety of faiths, two religious leaders urged about 200 people March 27 to see humanity as the overriding feature that can unite… read more about Rabbi Jonathan Sacks Visits Duke, and the Center for Jewish Studies »

This article can originally be found at: February 2, 2017   Dear President Trump, Vice President Pence, Members of the Trump Administration and 115th Congress, The story about Abraham bargaining with God to save the people of Sodom is well known; but the underpinning of this story is rarely recognized. After admonishing God, “Shall not the judge of all the earth deal justly?” (Genesis 18:25), Abraham does not suggest that God save only the righteous… read more about Marc Brettler on American Values, Religious Voices »