27 November 2009

New York: Jews of Spain conference, Dec. 5-7

The historic link between Spain and the Jewish people will be explored at an international conference - "The Jews of Spain: Past and Present" - set for December 5-7, organized by the American Sephardi Federation/Sephardic House.

The event, at New York City's Center for Jewish History, will bring together experts and scholars from the US, Canada and Israel, with the participation of senior Spanish government officials.

Renowned as both the historic birthplace of Sephardic culture, Spain was also the site of dark moments in Jewish history.addressing both the triumphs and travails of the Sephardic Jewish legacy in Spain.

The event is being organized by ASF with the assistance of the Consulate General of Spain in New York.

Saturday night's opening will feature a gala concert and dessert reception with Spain's Paco Díez, showcasing his voice, guitar, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, percussion and folk traditions from diverse regions in Spain.

The program covers contributions of Jews to Spain through scholarship, culture, the tragic medieval period, and contemporary issues.

Speakers include:
-- From Insiders to Outcasts: A History of the Jews in Spain - Prof. Jane S. Gerber (CUNY)

-- Yehuda Halevi, Poet and Pilgrim - Prof. Raymond P. Scheindlin (JTS)

-- The Challenge of Philosopy on Religious Thought: The World of Moses Maimonides - Dr. Albert L. Ivry (NYU)

-- Jewish Thought: The Mystical Traditions - Prof. Elliot Wolfson (NYU)

-- The Reconquista: Jews and the New Realities of Christian Spain - Prof. Jonathan S. Ray (Georgetown University)

-- The Unknown Jewish Artists of Spain - Dr. Vivan Mann (JTS)

-- Jews and the City in Medieval Spain - Prof. Eleazar Gutwirth (Tel Aviv University)

-- The Inquisition/The Expulsion of 1492 and Don Isaac Abravanel - Prof. Eric Lawee (York University)

-- Spain and the Jews Today - Enrique Mugica Herzog (ombudsman, Spain)

-- The Jewish Communities in Contemporary Spain - Jacobo Israel (president, Federation of Jewish Communities in Spain)

-- The Sephardic Heritage as a Living Part of Spanish Culture - Diego de Ojeda (director general, Casa Sefarad/Israel, Madir) and Assumpcio Hosta Rebes (secretary general, Red de Juderias, Girona)

A book will be published on the conference topics, documenting Sephardic heritage's deep roots in Spain. Translated into Spanish, it will be distributed throughout Spain to universities, libraries and other centers.

Tickets are daily attendance or a Sunday-Monday package ($95, with a discount for ASF members/NextGen members for $75). Fee includes a kosher buffet lunch each day. The Saturday night program is $35/$25, for concert and dessert reception. Reservation deadline is November 30.

The program is funded by the Edmond J. Safra Philanthropic Foundation. Other participating organizations are Casa Sefarad/Israel (Madrid); Red de Juderias (Girona), the Instituto Cervantes (New York) and The Catalan Center (NYU).

ASF/SH is committed to promoting this program to a wider Jewish and non-Jewish audience to enrich public knowledge about the Sephardic Jewish experience.

ASF has a library and archives exclusively devoted to Sephardic/Mizrahi topics and authors - the only one in the western hemisphere open to the public. Its mission is to collect, preserve and provide access to resources for the study of Jews tracing their ancestry to the Iberian Peninsula, North Africa, the Middle East, the Balkans and the Orient. Click for the Online Catalog.

"The Jews of Spain: Past and Present" is a year-long ASF initiative. Other components include:

Exhibition: "Jerusalem and the Jews of Spain: Longing and Reality." Free and open to the public through May 2010.

Film Festival: The Sephardic Jewish Film Festival (February 4-11, 2010, New York) will feature selected films on Spain.

Lecture Series: Such topics as "Maimonides, Spinoza and Us;" "Daughters of Sara, Mothers of Israel;" and "The Jewish Presence in Contemporary Catalan Literature."

See the ASF site link above for much more information.

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