JEM Flier 3, February 2016

February 29, 2016: Family Ties: Kinship and Community in Ancient Israel ~ Andrea Di Giovanni
The social structure in Ancient Israel can be illuminated by observing a three-fold system of organization: the tribe,
the clan, and the Father’s House (bet’av). Each of these provided for aspects of protection, social security, and
intra-familial organization. But how would you survive if you found yourself outside of this structure? This
presentation will explore some of the biblical texts that shed light on the importance of the social structure and the
roles that both men and women played in maintaining it. In particular, it will examine the story of Ruth as a woman
who works within the structure, while prompting questions about the permanence of the structure itself.
Andrea Di Giovanni holds degrees in English Literature and Theology from the University of Toronto and St.
Michael’s College. She is an instructor of biblical studies at King’s University College and St. Peter’s Seminary in
London. Her areas of interest centre on constructions of social identity in Ancient Israel and how these are
expressed in ritual and movement.
March 7: Imag(in)ing Jews in Medieval Southern Italy ~ Linda Safran
This illustrated lecture will discuss how Jews were represented in wall paintings in medieval South Italian churches.
We will consider the evidence for interactions between Jews and Christians and ask whether these images represent
actual, contemporary Jews or imaginative constructions of “Jews.”
Dr. Linda Safran earned her Ph.D. at Yale University and is a Research Fellow at the Pontifical Institute of
Mediaeval Studies in Toronto. She has taught Art History at the University of Toronto and the Catholic University
of America. Her latest book, The Medieval Salento: Art and Identity in Southern Italy (University of Pennsylvania
Press), was published in 2014; she is currently writing a textbook on medieval art and architecture for Cornell
University Press. With her husband, Adam S. Cohen, Dr. Safran is the editor of Gesta, the journal of the
International Center of Medieval Art. She is also a participant in a Getty-funded Connecting Art Histories project
between the University of Toronto and the Guangzhou Academy of Fine Arts.
March 14: Funny Pictures: Signs of Humour in Jewish Visual Art ~ Carol Zemel
Jewish humour is widely acknowledged in western culture. From Sholem Aleichem to Woody Allen to Michael
Chabon, funny Jews are everywhere. Whether in story, film, or comedy routine, this tradition has been bound to
text and narrative and has been less considered in connection to visual images. Dr. Zemel will examine not only
what makes images funny, but also how they perform the subversions and critiques that, along with delight, are
humour’s domain.
Professor Carol Zemel has taught in York University’s Department of Visual Arts since 2000. Her areas of research
include the modern art market, feminism in the arts, Jewish visual culture, and 19th and 20th century European art.
An authority on the work of Vincent Van Gogh, she is the author of Van Gogh’s Progress: Utopia and Modernity
in Late Nineteenth-Century Art (University of California Press, 1997), and numerous scholarly articles. In 20002001, she was a Fellow at the Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. She is co-founder and
co-director of Project Mosaica, a web-based exploration of Jewish cultural expression in the arts.
This presentation is sponsored by friends of the late Max Valinsky.
March 21: Hebrew and Yiddish: Alive and Well and Living in English ~ Katherine Barber
Hebrew and Yiddish words have enriched the English language for over 1200 years and continue to do so today. In
this entertaining and revealing talk, Katherine Barber will explore how, from maven to Messiah, Sabbath to
schnook, English wouldn’t be the same without its Jewish heritage. And for that fact, we can all say a fervent
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March 21: Hebrew and Yiddish: Alive and Well and Living in English (continued from page 1)
“Canada’s Word Lady,” Katherine Barber is an authority on English usage in Canada. She was founding Editor of
the Canadian Oxford Dictionary, and is known to legions of fans for her hilarious talks that make the stories behind
our words lively and captivating. Her bestselling book, Six Words You Never Knew Had Something to do With Pigs,
is a provocative romp through the history of the English language, while Only in Canada, You Say: A Treasury of
Canadian Language looks at what is unique about Canadian English. Her informative and amusing “Wordlady”
blog at attracts over 15,000 visitors per month.
This presentation is sponsored by Dr. Hy Goldberg.
March 28: Divine Eroticism: The Song of Songs ~ Carl Ehrlich
This presentation has been designed to launch and to complement the opening of the Israeli Quilt Art Exhibit whose
theme is Song of Songs, one of the books that nearly didn’t make it into the Bible. It is a collection of inspiring and
highly erotic love poetry which has set the standard for the genre over the centuries. We will look at Song of Songs
to attempt to understand its place in religious literature and its influence on culture.
Dr. Carl S. Ehrlich (Ph.D. Harvard ’91) is Professor of Hebrew Bible and Director of the Centre for Jewish Studies
at York University. Among his areas of interest are synchronic, diachronic, and contextual approaches to the
biblical text and Israelite civilization. His most recent publications include the co-edited collections, From an
Antique Land: An Introduction to Ancient Near Eastern Literature (2009) and Purity, Holiness, and Identity in
Judaism and Christianity: Essays in Memory of Susan Haber (2013). Current projects include a cultural history of
Moses and a commentary on Chronicles.
This presentation is sponsored by Gail Bass, in memory of her husband, Martin.
April 4 (final session for the season): The Illustrated Haggadah: Freedom Then, Freedom Now ~ Adam Cohen
This illustrated presentation will examine Haggadot from the last seven centuries to investigate how artists
grappled visually with the concept of freedom that is so fundamental to the Passover holiday. We will see both
striking continuities as well as disturbing differences between how we and our ancestors imagined slavery and
freedom. It is hoped that the presentation will provide useful insights in the weeks leading to this year’s seders.
Adam Cohen attended Columbia University and completed his Ph.D. at Johns Hopkins University. He worked in
the Manuscripts Department at the J. Paul Getty Museum and taught at the University of Texas at Austin, the
University of California at Berkeley, and the College of William and Mary. Since 2003, he has taught at the
University of Toronto, where he has introduced a course called “Problems in Jewish Art.” His research interests
include illuminated manuscripts and Anglo-Saxon and German art of the 11th and 12th centuries. With his wife,
Linda Safran, he is the editor of Gesta, the journal of the International Center of Medieval Art. His forthcoming
book is on the history of the illustrated Haggadah.
This presentation is sponsored by an anonymous donor.
JEM will return in the autumn of 2016 with another lineup of edifying,
stimulating, and entertaining presentations.
JEM is co-sponsored by Congregation Or Shalom and the Martin Bass Fund for Human Resources of Or Shalom, Temple
Israel, and The London Jewish Federation, with additional support from The Lamplighter Inn & Conference Centre and
numerous individual donors.
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