The Klutznick-Harris Symposium in Jewish Studies

Since 2001, the Harris Center has co-sponsored an annual international conference with the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization at Creighton University, Omaha. Each year’s theme is different, attracting scholars from a wide range of disciplines and from countries around the world. Papers based on the conference presentations are gathered in an annual edited volume in the series “Studies in Jewish Civilization,” published by Purdue University Press.

A complete list of participants and presentation titles for each annual symposium (2001-12) can be found below. For additional information, including a complete program and abstracts for each symposium, see the Klutznick Chair website.

The 2013 Symposium will be held Oct. 27-28, 2013, in Omaha. This year's theme is "Wealth and Poverty in Jewish Tradition." [Call for Papers]

Who is a Jew?
Reflections on History, Religion, and Culture25th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 28-29, 2012


Keynote speaker: Shaye Cohen (Harvard University), “Who is a Jew? Who Decides? Who Cares?”

Matthew Boxer (Brandeis University), “The Birthright Israel Generation: Being a Jewish Young Adult in Contemporary America”

Mara W. Cohen Ioannides (Missouri State University), “Creating a Community: Who Can Belong? ”

Netanel Fisher (Hebrew University, Jerusalem), “Who is a Jew in Israel? Did Israel Succeed in Untying the Knot?”

Aaron Hahn Tapper (University of San Francisco), “Will the ʻRealʼ Jew Please Stand Up? Kararites, Israelites, Kabbalists, Messianists, and the Politics of Identity”

Joseph Hodes (Tulane University), “The Bene Israel and the ʻWho is a Jew?ʼ Controversy in Israel”

Sarah Imhoff (Indiana University), “Traces of Race: Defining Jewishness in America”

Steven Leonard Jacobs (University of Alabama), “German-Jewish Identity: Problematic Then; Problematic Now”

Mark Goldfeder (Emory University Law School), “Timeless Principles and Timely Applications: Re-examining the Definition of A Jew in the Modern World”

Naomi Leite (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), “Ancestral Souls and Jewish Genes: Alternative Models of Jewishness from Portugalʼs Urban Marranos”

Leonard Levin (Jewish Theological Seminary), “Itʼs All in the Memes”

Menachem Mor (University of Haifa, Israel), “Who Is a A Samaritan?”

Misha Klein (University of Oklahoma), “Kosher Feijoada, or Blending Contradictions into Identities”

Katarzyna Person (Center for Jewish History, New York City), “ʼWe didnʼt even know they were Jewishʼ: Assimilated, Acculturated, and Baptized Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto, 1940-1943”

Naftali Rothenberg (The Van Leer Jerusalem Institute), “Conversion in Transition: Conceptual and Halakhic Changes in Israel”

Wesley K. Sutton (Lehman College/CUNY), “The Fallacy of Biological Judaism”

Fashioning Jews:
Clothing, Culture and Commerce24th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 23-24, 2011


Keynote speaker: Adam Mendelsohn (College of Charleston), “Shmattas in the North, Shmattas in the South: The Civil War and the Birth of the American Clothing Industry”

Asher Salah (Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design & the Hebrew University of Jerusalem: “How a Rabbi Should Be Dressed: The Question of Cassock and Clerical Clothing among Italian Rabbis from the Renaissance to Contemporary Times”

Kerry Wallach (Gettysburg College), “Weimar Jewish Chic from Wigs to Furs: Jewish Women and Fashion in 1920s Germany”

Nils Roemer (University of Texas at Dallas), “Jewish Photographers and the Body in the Weimar Republic”

Rachel Gordan (Harvard University), “Female Tallitot: Creating American Jewish Womenʼs Religious Experience through Fashion”

Phyllis Dillon (New York City), “The Evolution of the Jewish Apparel Industry in America: 1840-1940”

Ted Merwin (Dickinson College), “Clothes and the Weaving of American Jewish Comedy”

Flora Cassen (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), “The Jewish Badge in Renaissance Italy: the Iconic O, the Yellow Hat, and the Paradoxes of Distinctive Sign Legislation”

Christine Palmer (Hebrew Union College, Cincinnati), “The ʻDisinheritedʼ Priesthood: A Look into Biblical Israelʼs Unshod Priest”

Steven Fine (Yeshiva University), “Costume and Identity in the Dura Europos Synagogue Paintings”

Lisa Silverman, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee), “Picturing Viennaʼs New Woman Madame dʼOra meets Ella Zwieback-Zirner”

Eric Silverman (Wheelock College), “Aboriginal Yarmulkes, Ambivalent Attire, and Ironies of Contemporary Jewish Identity”

Brian Amkraut (Siegal College), “Fashioning Jews on the Screen: The Impact of Dress of Crafting the Jewish image in Film and Television”

Jews in the Gym:
Judaism, Sports, and Athletics23rd Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 24-25, 2010


Keynote speaker: Jeffrey Gurock (Yeshiva University), “American Jewry’s Contemporary Scoreboard: Home and Away”

Nathan Abrams (Bangor University, Wales), “The Jew in the Gym: Judaism, Sports, and Athletics on Film”

Rebecca Alpert (Temple University), “Who is that Masked Man: Buster Haywood and Black Baseball’s Invisible Jews”

Linda J. Borish (Western Michigan University), “Jewish Women in the American Gym: Basketball, Ethnicity, and Gender in the Early Twentieth Century”

Mihály Kálmán (Harvard University), “Cutting Their Way to Success: Hungarian Jewish Sportsmen at the Olympic Games, 1928-1936”

William Kornblum, Phillip Oberlander, and Erin Sodmaik (Graduate Center, CUNY), “Grappling with Ghosts: Jewish Wrestlers and Antisemitism” 

David J. Leonard (Washington State University), “A Global Game: Omri Casspi and the Future of Jewish Ballers”

Steven Riekes (Omaha, Nebraska), “Is Life a Game? Athletic Competition as a Metaphor for the Meaning of Life”

Steven A. Riess (Northwestern Illinois University), “Antisemitism and Sport in Central Europe and the United States, c. 1870-1932”

Danny Rosenberg (Brock University), “The Jewish Athlete of Faith: On the Limits of Sport”

Ori Z. Soltes (Georgetown University), “From Benny Leonard to Abi Olajuwon: Jews, Muslims, Evangelicals, and the Evolving Challenges of Being an American Athlete”

Nina Spiegel (American University), “Sporting a Nation: The Origins of the Maccabiah Games”

Loren R. Spielman (Portland State University), “Playing Roman in Jerusalem”

Jews and Humor22nd Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 25-26, 2009


Keynote speaker: Joyce Antler (Brandeis University), "‘One Clove Away From a Pomander Ball’: The Subversive Tradition of Jewish Female Humor”

Theodore Albrecht (Kent State University), “They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus Anymore': The Musical Humor of Kinky Friedman and His Texas Jewboys in Historical and Geographical Perspective”

David Brodsky (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), "Why Did the Widow Have a Goat in Her Bed? Midrash and the Making of Jewish Humor”

Giovanna Del Negro (Texas A&M University), "The Bad Girls of Jewish Comedy: Gender, Class, Assimilation, and Whiteness in Post WWII America”

Eliezer Diamond (Jewish Theological Seminary of America), "You Had to Be There: A Preliminary Taxonomy of Narrative Humor in Rabbinic Literature”

David Gillota (University of Wisconsin Platteville), "The New Jewish Blackface: African American Tropes in Contemporary Jewish Humor”

Peter Hass (Case Western Reserve University), "Massechet Purim”

Leonard Helfgott (Western Washington University), "Groucho, Harpo, Chico and Karl: Immigrant Humor and the Depression”

Charles David Isbell (Louisiana State University), "Humor in the Bible”

Jason Kalman (HUC-JIR, Cincinnati), "Heckling the Divine: Woody Allen, the Book of Job, and Jewish Theology”

Joan Latchaw & David Peterson (University of Nebraska at Omaha), "Jewish Humor, Comedy, and Collaborative Resistance in Mel Brooks' To Be or Not to Be”

Michael Rubinoff (Arizona State University), "Nuances and Subtleties in Jewish Film Humor”

Joanna Sliwa (Clark University), "The Creation of Polish Public Perception of Jews through Jewish Humor.

Rites of Passage:
How Today’s Jews Celebrate, Commemorate, and Commiserate21st Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 26-27, 2008


Keynote speaker: Vanessa Ochs (University of Virginia), “Same-Sex and Heterosexual Jewish Wedding Ceremonies in Conversation With Each Other”

Penina Adelman (Brandeis University), “'Who am I Supposed to Be?' The Bat Mitzvah as a Transformative Ritual”

Leslie Ginsparg (New York University), “Becoming Orthodox Women: Rites of Passage in the Orthodox Community”

Irit Koren (Rutgers University), “Discourse About the Wedding Ritual: Hierarchies of Gender, Knowledge, and Authority”

Rachel Kranson (New York University), “'More Bar Than Mitzvah': Anxieties Over Wedding and Bar Mitzvah Celebrations in Post-War America”

Daniel Lasker (Ben Gurion University), “Karaism: An Alternate Form of Jewish Celebration”

Oliver Leaman (University of Kentucky), “New Jewish Rites of Passage and the Holocaust”

The Mandall Family and Jerrold Hirsch (Kirksville, MO), “Without a Minyan: Adjusting to Jewish Life in a Small Midwestern Town”

Erika Meitner (Virginia Tech), “Materializing New Jewish Ritual: Jews with Jewish Tattoos”

Cantor Steven Puzarne (Los Angeles, CA), “Nes Gadol: B'nei Mitzvah Program for Children with Autism”

Ori Soltes (Georgetown University), “Memory, Questions, and Definitions: Images of Old and New Rites of Passage”

Arthur Waskow (The Shalom Center), “'Lest the Earth be Utterly Destroyed': Elijah's Covenant Between the Generations”

The Mountains Shall Drip Wine:
Jews and the Environment20th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 28-29, 2007


Keynote speaker: Alon Tal (Blaustein Institute for Desert Research, Ben-Gurion University), “What Makes Jewish Environmentalism Jewish?”

Dean Bell (Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies), “The Trembling of the Earth: Jewish Descriptions of Earthquakes in the Early Modern World”

Ellen Bernstein (Hebrew College), “The Natural Intelligence of the Song of Songs”

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus (Wheaton College, MA), “Kabbalah, Food, and Sustainability”

Daniel Hillel (Center for Climate Systems Research, Columbia University), “The Role of the Environment in Shaping the Evolution of Jewish Culture, as Reflected in the Hebrew Bible”

Philip Hollander (Tulane University), “Ideology and Changing Attitudes Toward the Environment in Two Israeli Films: Sallah Shabbati and James’ Journey to Jerusalem”

Barbara Lerman-Golomb (Hazon), “Reconnecting to Nature for Our Very Survival”

Sandra B. Lubarsky (Northern Arizona University), “Hiddur Mitzvah as an Eco-Theological Imperative”

Natan Margalit (Hazon), “A Tree of Life: Text and Nature Working Together”

Gary A. Rendsburg (Rutgers University), “From Desert to Sown: Israel’s Encounter With the Land of Canaan”

Nigel Savage (Hazon), “Food For Thought: How the New Jewish Food Movement Provides a Fresh Route Into ‘Judaism and The Environment’”

Martin Shukert (Omaha, NE), “Green Judaism and the Design of Communities: A Practitioner’s View”

Jonah Steinberg (Hebrew College), “Classical Rabbinic Steps Toward a Theology of Cosmic and Environmental Torah”

Lawrence Troster (Green Faith and Bard College), “The Promise of Creation: A Jewish Environmental Theology of Redemption”

I Will Sing and Make Music:
Jewish Music and Musicians Throughout the Ages19th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 29-30, 2006


Keynote speaker: Joshua Jacobson (Northeastern University and Zamir Chorale of Boston), “Jewish Music: What Is That?"

Theodore Albrecht (Kent State University), "Beethoven's Quotation of Kol Nidrei: A Circumstantial Case for Sherlock Holmes”

Paul Eisenstein Baker (University of St. Thomas, Houston), "Leo Zeitlin and the Early Twentieth Century Society for Jewish Folk Music”

Emily A. Bell (University of Florida), "Revitalizing the Synagogue Ritual: Cantor David Putterman's Annual Service of New Music at New York's Park Avenue Synagogue”

Dan W. Clanton, Jr. (Englewood, CO), "'From Biblical Times to Lyrical Rhymes': The Assertion of Jewish Identity in Music as Cultural Resistance”

Marsha Bryan Edelman (Gratz College), "What Do You Mean, 'It Doesn't Sound Jewish?': Debunking Myths and Defining Models for Extra-Liturgical Music”

Anat Feinberg (College of Jewish Studies, Heidelberg), "To Play or Not to Play: Jewish Musicians in Germany After 1945”

Susan M. Filler (Chicago, IL), "The Music of Yiddish Theater and Its Influence on Broadway”

Rabbi Jonathan Gross (Omaha, NE), "Make a Note of That: The Importance of Cantilation in Understanding the Torah”

Charles Isbell, Louisiana State University), "Musical Notations in the Biblical Book of Psalms”

Daniel Jette, University of Heidelberg), "Public Space and Jewish Music in Renaissance Italy”

Charles Jurgensmeier, SJ (Creighton University), "Solomon Sulzer and Franz Schubert: A Musical Collaboration”

Rita Ottens (City University of London), "'It'll Still Take Some Time Until We Will Get Over It': A Field Report from the Klezmer Scene of the New Germany”

Joel E. Rubin (University of Virginia), "'They Danced It, We Played It': Adaptation and Revitalization in Post-1920s New York Klezmer Music”

Love—Ideal and Real—in the Jewish Tradition
from the Hebrew Bible to Modern Times18th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • September 18-19, 2005


Keynote speaker: Lawrence H. Schiffman (New York University), "Commandment or Emotion? Love of God, Family, and Humanity in Classical Judaism”

Susan A. Brayford (Centenary College), "What's Love Got to Do With It?"

Yudit Greenberg (Rollins College), "Constructing a Jewish Philosophy of Love: Possibilities and Challenges”

Joel Hecker (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), "Kissing Kabbalists: Hierarchy, Reciprocity, and Equality”

Charles D. Isbell (Louisiana State University), "Love in the Palace: Some Things Just Aren't Done”

Gail Labovitz (The University of Judaism), "Is Rav's Wife 'a Dish'?), Food and Eating Metaphors in Rabbinic Discourse on Sexuality and Gender Relations”

Daniel J. Lasker (Ben Gurion University), "Can Jewish Philosophers Love God?"

Oliver Leaman (University of Kentucky), "The Secular and the Erotic in Jewish Treatments of Love: The Song of Songs”

Keren R. McGinity (Brown University), "Were Women Who Intermarried Still Jewish?: A Twentieth Century History of Identity in America”

Phillip Munoa (Hope College), "Love at First Sight: Aseneth's Love for Joseph in Joseph and Aseneth”

Alisha Pomazon (McMaster University), "Love of the Neighbor: Hermann Cohen's Response to Nineteenth Century Biblical Exegesis”

Panthea Reid (Princeton), "From Osipovichi to Omaha: Sources for Tillie Olsen's 'Tell Me a Riddle'“

Zion Zohar (Florida International University), "Peace and Love (Sexuality) in the Book of Zohar”

350 Years of American Judaism in Popular Culture17th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 24-25, 2004


Keynote speaker: Jenna Weissman Joselit (Princeton University), “Harness My Zebras”: American Jews and Popular Culture in 20th Century America"

Lawrence Baron (San Diego State University), “Projecting Prejudice: Depicting Anti-Semitism in American Movies”

Steven Carr (Indiana University-Purdue), “Hollywood, the Holocaust, and World War II”

Dan Clanton, Jr. (University of Colorado-Colorado Springs), “From Mr. Hankey to The Hebrew Hammer: Hanukkah in Popular Culture”

Dereck Daschke (Truman State University), “‘Oh, Mama, Could This Really Be the End?’ Bob Dylan Apocalyptically”

Ben Furnish (University of Missouri-Kansas City), “From Sholem Aleichem to Harvey Fierstein: Love Makes a Family—and History—in Jewish-American Performance”

Jeffrey Gurock (Yeshiva University), “The Crowning of a “Jewish Jordan”: Tamir Goodman, the American Sports Media, and Modern Orthodox Jewry’s Fantasy World”

Richard Hecht (University of California-Santa Barbara), “The Middle East Conflict in American Tabloids”

Steven Horowitz (University of Iowa), “Absolutely Kosher Music: The Story of American Jews in Rock and Roll”

Thomas Kuhlman (Creighton University, “A Passion for Words for the Witty: S. J. Perelman, Jewish-American Satirist”

Judith Neulander (Case Western Reserve University), “Tchotchkes: Patterns of Acculturation/Enculturation in Popular Culture”

Lynn Rapaport (Pomona College), “Hang Hitler: The Three Stooges Take Potshots at Nazis”

Nora Rubel (University of North Carolina- Chapel Hill), ““Muggers in Black Coats”: Contemporary Jewish American Tales of Oppression and Liberation in Ultra-Orthodox Communities”

G. Andrew Tooze (Rockville, Maryland), “David of Hollywood: Israelite King or American Superhero?”


The Jews of Eastern Europe16th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • September 14-15, 2003


Presented in conjunction with the Annual Meeting of the Midwestern Jewish Studies Association. [Combined Conference Program]


Food and Judaism15th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 27-28th, 2002


Keynote speaker: Joan Nathan (New York, New York), "From Beans to Bagels: A Social History of Jewish Food in America"

Ruth Abusch-Magder (Yale University), "Kashrut: Women as Gatekeepers of Jewish Identity"

Jonathan Brumberg-Kraus (Wheaton College, Mass.), "Does God Care What We Eat?" "Food and Table Talk in the Early Rabbinic Seder and the Last Supper in Luke's Gospel"

Cara De Silva (New York, New York), "In Memory's Kitchen: Reflections on Recently Discovered Forms of Holocaust Literature"

Maria Diemling (Hebrew University of Jerusalem), "Garlic in Jewish-Christian Polemical Discourse in Early Modern Ashkenaz"

Marcie Cohen Ferris (George Washington University), "Matzah Ball Gumbo, Gasper Goo Gefilte Fish, and Big Momma's Kreplach: Exploring Southern Jewish Foodways"

Joel Hecker (Reconstructionist Rabbinical College), "The Blessing in the Belly: Mystical Meals in Medieval Kabbalah"

Eve Jochnowitz (New York University), "Smoked Salmon Sushi and Sturgeon Stomachs: The Russian Jewish Foodscapes of New York"

Jenna Weissman Joselit (Princeton University), "Jewish in Dishes: Food, Faith, and Community in Modern America"

David Kraemer (Jewish Theological Seminary of America "Separating the Dishes"

Allan Nadler (Drew University), "Holy Kugel! The Sanctification of East European Jewish Ethnic Foods at the Hasidic Tish"

Alice Nakhimovsky (Colgate University), "Public Holidays and Private Foods: The Fugitive World of Russian-Jewish Cooking"

Oliver B. Pollak (University of Nebraska at Omaha), "101 Years of Nebraska Jewish Charitable Cookbooks"

Gary A. Rendsburg (Cornell University), "The Vegetarian Ideal in the Bible"

Brannon Wheeler (University of Washington), "Food of the Book or Food of Israel? Israelite and Jewish Food Laws in the Muslim Exegesis of Quran 9:30"


Women in Judaism14th Annual Klutznick-Harris Symposium • October 28-29, 2001


Keynote speaker: Gail Twersky Reimer (Director, The Jewish Women's Archive), "Women on the Wall: Posters & the Changing Representations of Jewish Women's History"

Esther Fuchs, (University of Arizona), "Jewish Feminist Scholarship: Between a Rock and a Hard Place"

Henry Abramson, Florida Atlantic University), "A Derivative Hatred: Representations of Jewish Women in Modern Anti-Semitic Culture"

Speaker: Brenda E. Brasher, (Mount Union College), "Gender and Religious Aggression in the Middle East: Case Study of the Western Wall"

Dan W. Clanton, Jr., (Iliff School of Theology, University of Denver), "Judy in Disguise: D. W. Griffith's Judith of Bethulia"

Karla Goldman, (The Jewish Women's Archive), "Women and American Reform Judaism: Rhetoric and Reality"

Sidnie White Crawford, (University of Nebraska-Lincoln), "Portraits of Women in the Non-Legal Texts from Qumran"

S. Daniel Breslauer, (University of Kansas-Lawrence), "Negotiating Gender Roles: Three Stories"

Jayne K. Guberman, (The Jewish Women's Archives), "Hidden Stories/Living Memories: Women's Narratives as Lens on American Jewish History"

Charles David Isbell, (Louisiana State University), "Nice Jewish Girls, Liquor, Sex, and Power in Antiquity"

Susan A. Brayford, (Centenary College), "The Domestication of Sarah: From Jewish Matriarch to Hellenistic Matron"