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Center for Cultural Judaism Convenes on Campus

March 17, 2010 11:45 AM
New Wave staff newwave@tulane.edu

A gathering of Jewish intellectuals whose expertise lies in Judaism as a vibrant culture — not solely a religion — will convene on the Tulane University uptown campus March 20–22. The Tulane Jewish Studies Program is hosting the annual convocation of universities that receive grants from the Center for Cultural Judaism.

The center administers Posen Foundation grants in North America.

An open forum on "A Conversation on Cultural Judaism" will take place at 8 p.m. on Saturday (March 20) in the Stone Auditorium of the Woldenberg Art Center. Felix Posen, founder and chair of the Posen Foundation will participate in a conversation with David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History at the University of California–Davis. The forum is free and open to the public.

Likely discussion topics include Posen's efforts to build a library of Jewish culture and civilization as well as Biale's forthcoming intellectual history of Jewish secularism.

"Funding from the Center for Cultural Judaism has allowed us to provide many more courses for undergraduates, including a core course on building Jewish identities," says Brian Horowitz, who holds the Sizeler Family Chair of Jewish Studies and directs the Tulane Jewish Studies Program.

The funding also has brought visiting professors to Tulane and enhanced programming through lectures and the popular sushi movie series.

"The introduction of these courses made us aware of the secular undercurrent in Jewish history," Horowitz says. "The secular Jewish concept resonates with the kind of student who attends Tulane University — Jewish and non-Jewish."

The Center for Cultural Judaism also has been a boon for scholarly research, says Horowitz, who has an article in the current issue of Contemplate, the center's international journal, reviewing a recent volume about the writer, ethnographer and freethinker S. Ansky.