I write to you at the close of my year as interim director of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TIJS). In its 13 years of existence, TIJS can be proud of its great success on the national (and international) level through its excellent undergraduate and graduate programs and the productivity and quality of research conducted by the 19 members of its core faculty. TIJS continues to evaluate, update, and make appropriate changes in its programs to suit the needs of its constituents (students, faculty, and community alike). We persist in seeking opportunities to excel in interdisciplinary activities involving learning and research by revising major and minor requirements; developing new courses; updating the curriculum; building creative synergies between ourselves and existing schools, departments, programs, and individuals; and providing excellent programming for all those interested in the study of Jewish civilization.
We began the year by successfully concluding the Blank Challenge, the fund-raising effort spurred by the endowment gift of the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, which named the Tam Institute and which required matching funds for completion. In September we dedicated the Brodsky Family Seminar Room, made possible by a gift from the Bert Brodsky Family to the Holocaust Denial on Trial (HDOT.org) project. Later in the fall, we inaugurated the Judith London Evans Directorship of TIJS with a dedication ceremony and gala luncheon. This fund provides much-needed and much-appreciated discretionary funding for the use of the TIJS director and faculty in addressing the programmatic priorities of the institute.
This was an extraordinarily busy year for academic events sponsored and co-sponsored by TIJS. In fall 2011 TIJS co-sponsored the symposium "Reconsidering the 'German Jew' in America: Images and Identities," organized by Eric Goldstein and the Visiting DAAD Professor Cornelia Wilhelm. Another event was the screening of the Israeli-German movie Walk on Water, which included bringing the scriptwriter Gal Uchovsky from Israel. This event was followed in the spring by a lecture series titled "America and the Germans: Conflict and Cooperation" also sponsored by the DAAD and TIJS, plus another film screening with Pierre Sauvage discussing his film Weapons of the Spirit.
The Seminar Series in Jewish Studies—an integral part of our graduate program—has been a great success in promoting interdisciplinary conversation around Jewish studies topics. Each event in this series engages a presenter from Emory or another institution/organization in a conversation that includes a formal presentation followed by a response from an Emory faculty member (not necessarily affiliated with TIJS) and a discussion with the audience.
The annual Tenenbaum lecture was held on February 2, 2012; the presenter this year was Neal Gabler, a distinguished author, cultural historian, and television commentator, who spoke on the topic "Jewish American Filmmakers: From Sidney Lumet to Judd Apatow." He also conducted a seminar on the topic "The Post-Idea World" involving a panel of faculty from several departments. This event was followed on April 24 by the Rothschild Seminar, presented by Jeffrey Gurock of Yeshiva University on the topic "Race, Class, and Neighborhood: New York Jews and African Americans, 1960–1971." These events always attract many participants from Emory and the general community.
Four new graduate students were awarded TIJS graduate fellowships beginning in fall 2011; you can read about these students here. As in past years, TIJS awarded the Annual Blumenthal Award for the Best Paper in Jewish Studies. This year the award was given to Allison Klein for "Holocaust Survivors and Jim Crow" (undergraduate submission) and to Amanda Baker for "A Higher Authority: Judicial Review of Religious Tribunals" (graduate submission). Click here for more about those excellent papers, students who were awarded research funds, and other student news.
TIJS also welcomed a new faculty member in fall 2011: Ellie Schainker, the Blank Family Foundation Assistant Professor of History and Jewish Studies joined the faculty, began teaching and participating in other program activities, and is working hard toward the publication of her first book. Click here for more news about Jewish studies faculty activities this past year.
We are extremely proud of the achievements of our alumni, one of whom, Jennifer Laszlo Mizrahi 86C, is profiled here. We are also proud of the placement record for our graduate students: during the past five years, we have helped place three history students, two Graduate Division of Religion (GDR) students, and one anthropology student in tenure-track jobs. This year TIJS affiliate student Jennifer Thompson (of the GDR) won a named, tenure-track position as Assistant Professor of Applied Jewish Ethics at University of California–Riverside. Find more alumni news, including new books, here. You may also view this year's photo gallery.
We are grateful to the generous donors who make so many of the TIJS programs possible. Please join us in thanking them for their support.
As always, we welcome your participation in our activities. For up-to-date information on upcoming events, please visit our website at js.emory.edu.
Judith London Evans Director
Tam Institute for Jewish Studies