Spring 2013 Events
March 28: Joy Ladin on transgender Jewish experience
On March 28, 2013, Dr. Joy Ladin visited Ithaca College and gave two public presentations. At noon she read from her latest book of poems, The Definition of Joy. The poetry reading is in the Handwerker Gallery, on the first floor of the Gannett Center. At 7:30 p.m., in Textor 101, she spoke on her experiences as a transgender Jew, transitioning from male to female and teaching at Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish university in New York City.
Joy (formerly Jay) Ladin is the author of a memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders (U. of Wisconsin Press), and six books of poetry, The Definition of Joy, Forward Fives award winner Coming to Life, Transmigration (a 2009 Lambda Literary Award finalist), The Book of Anna, and Alternatives to History, all from Sheep Meadow Press, andPsalms, a collection of original psalms from Wipf & Stock. Her poems and essays have been widely published. She holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English at Stern College of Yeshiva University, where, in 2007, she became the first openly transgender employee of an Orthodox Jewish institution. She has given many talks on writing, literature, Judaism, and gender identity. She is a member of the Board of Directors of Keshet.
April 9: Numbered
The Jewish Studies program brought the Israeli film, NUMBERED, to Ithaca College on April 9, 2013, at 7:30 pm in Textor 101. This film, released in 2012 by KNOW Productions, is about the meanings of the numbers that were tattooed on prisoners at the Auschwitz death camp upon arrival - to the survivors, their families, and their communities.
From the producers, KNOW Productions: "Auschwitz prisoners, both Jewish or non-Jewish, were tattooed with serial numbers, first on their chests and then their left arms. An estimated 400,000 numbers were tattooed in Auschwitz and its sub-camps; only some several thousand survivors are still alive today. NUMBERED (from KNOW Productions) is an explosive, highly visual, and emotionally cinematic journey, guided by testimonies and portraits of these survivors. The film documents the dark time and setting during which these tattoos were assigned as well as the meaning they took on in the years following the war. In fact, the film’s protagonist is the number itself, as it evolves and becomes both a personal and collective symbol from 1940 to today. These scars, paradoxically unanimous and anonymous, reveal themselves to be diverse, enlightening, and full of life."
More information on the film is available at Go2Films and Know Productions. Danna Harman, writing at the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, says:
“Numbered” by Israelis Dana Doron and Uriel Sinai tells the story of survivors who, for the last six decades, have been living daily lives with the grayish-blue numbers tattooed on them by Nazis in Auschwitz. What do those numbers on the forearms mean to the people bearing them, the filmmakers set out to find out. There is no one answer, of course. For some, they are marks of shame to be hidden. For others they are badges of honor.
For many outsiders, meanwhile, these survivors have become living, walking exhibits of the Holocaust, with their trauma on display for all to see − whether they are eating an ice cream or taking money out of an ATM or just reading a book on the bench. Which immediately raises the question of how the next generations will remember those numbers when the survivors are no longer sitting on those benches.
Doron, a medical doctor and filmmaker, and Sinai, a still photographer, not only take testimony from the survivors themselves but also introduce some extreme attempts by some of the younger generation to capture these numbers, and all they symbolize, and hold onto them.
One middle-aged woman interviewed explains how her family has come to use her father’s Auschwitz number in their lives − it serves as the house alarm code, for example, the bank code, and the Internet password. When her father passed away recently, she takes this a step further, going to get his number tattooed on her ankle − with unforeseen results.
Another young man does the same with his grandfather’s number. “This is our connection,” says the grandson, posing for a photo with his elderly grandfather − each holding out an arm with the identical number etched onto it. “I don’t want it to fade.”
April 23: Judith Plaskow on Jewish feminism
Dr. Judith Plaskow, the author of Standing Again at Sinai (1990) and The Coming of Lilith (2005) spoke at Ithaca College on April 23, 2013, at 7:30 pm in Textor 103 on “Judaism through a Feminist Lens: Feminism in a Post-Feminist Era."
Judith Plaskow is a professor emerita of Religious Studies at Manhattan College. She is a Jewish feminist theologian who has been teaching, writing and speaking about Jewish feminism and feminist studies in religion for over forty years.
She is serving as the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professor of Jewish Women’s Studies at the New York campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR) during the 2012-13 academic year. She is teaching "Sexual Ethics" in the Fall and "Creating a Personal Theology" in the Spring. Additionally, in the Spring, she will deliver a public lecture at the New York campus and will convene a roundtable discussion for alumni and faculty that will meet approximately every other week.
Co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, she is author or editor of several works in feminist theology, including Standing Again at Sinai: Judaism from a Feminist Perspective and The Coming of Lilith: Essays on Feminism, Judaism, and Sexual Ethics 1972-2003.
For more information about her life and work, see the entry about her in theHistorical Encyclopedia of Jewish Women:http://jwa.org/encyclopedia/article/plaskow-judith.
To learn more about Dr. Plaskow's feminist theology, see an article in theForward that marks twenty years since the publication of Standing Again at Sinai - "Judith Plaskow is Still Standing, Twenty Years On: Two Decades After ‘Standing Again at Sinai,’ Not Enough Has Changed."