Jews of Color: American Jews, Race and History

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A philosopher, an historian, and a rabbinical student explore both the vibrancy and the challenge of a diverse American Jewish community

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As the American Jewish community responds to the upheavals of 2020 and delves into its own multicultural, multiracial composition, it is also grappling anew with its complex identity. Join a philosopher, an historian, and a rabbinical student who draw on their research and their own life experiences to explore both the vibrancy and the challenge of a diverse American Jewish community.

Laura Leibman is a professor of English and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Leibman is currently a Distinguished Lecturer for the Association of Jewish Studies, and is the author of the 2020 National Jewish Book Award-winning The Art of the Jewish Family: A History of Women in Early New York in Five Objects.

Lewis Gordon is a professor and the head of the Philosophy department at the University of Connecticut. Gordon's specializations include Africana philosophy, Afro-Judaism, and Jewish history in the Caribbean.

Kelly Whitehead is a rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion ('24), after graduating with a B.A in history from American University ('15). Whitehead has been involved in the Reform Movement's "Jew V' Nation" Jews of Color Fellowship.

Moderated by Lauren Strauss, Scholar in Residence and Director of Undergraduate Studies in American University's Jewish Studies Program.

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American University's Jewish Studies Program, with its award-winning faculty, offers a blend of history, literature, religion, politics, sociology, theater, gender studies, and other disciplines, to study the history and culture of the Jewish people. Jewish civilization is analyzed from Biblical times through the present, and from all corners of the globe. In addition to coursework, students have the incomparable opportunity to pursue related internships in the D.C. area and beyond, and to participate in study abroad programs. The Jewish Studies Program offers both a major and a minor, and several of its courses fulfill AU CORE requirements.

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Organizer Center for Israel Studies

Organizer of Jews of Color: American Jews, Race and History

American University’s Center for Israel Studies is one of the nation’s premier centers for educating about today’s Israel—its achievements and its challenges. Our approach is multidisciplinary, going beyond the Arab-Israeli conflict to study modern Israel’s history, vibrant society, culture, multiethnic democracy, and complex geopolitical issues. The center’s goal is to enhance scholarship and knowledge in the university and the wider community about a multifaceted Israel. Using AU’s expertise in global education, and its central location in Washington, D.C., CIS seeks to connect Israel to the next generation of young leaders and to serve as a national and international hub for nurturing and catalyzing Israel studies.


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