University of Minnesota
Center for Jewish Studies

Center for Jewish Studies

Center for Jewish Studies

About Us

At the Center for Jewish Studies, we are dedicated to exploring the important questions about Jewish history and culture from antiquity to the modern age. Our acclaimed faculty, path-breaking research, expanding undergraduate program, and focus on deepening ties within the University attest to the success and ongoing promise of our mission: to foster a new understanding of Jewish culture and history.

We support the academic study of the historical, cultural, linguistic, ethnic, geographic, and religious diversity of the full range of peoples who identify themselves as Jewish, while fulfilling the educational mission of the liberal arts to promote critical thought, reflection on values, and analysis of sources.


  • Vanessa Ochs' Community Lecture now on Youtube

    On Monday, April 7th, 2014, Professor Vanessa Ochs spoke to the community at Temple Israel giving a talk entitled, "Women of the Wall: The Inside Story." A video of that talk is now available to watch on the Center's Youtube channel.

    (Continue Reading)04/10/14
  • Next Community Lecture - Partial Visions: Art Today in Israel

    A lecture by Carol Zemel, York University, Toronto
    Monday, April 28th, 2014
    7:30 p.m.
    Adath Jeshurun Congregation
    10500 Hillside Lane W.
    Minnetonka, MN 55305

    Contemporary art from Israel is widely exhibited and praised in international venues. However, works by Israeli artists today forego the utopian visions of earlier generations and now critically explore the issues of land, history, social change, and cultural diversity. Carol Zemel considers art by both Jewish and Arab Israelis, and their visions of change and renewal in the modern state. Artists to be discussed include: Michal Rovner, Roee Rosen, Yael Bartana, Hanna Farah, Rafram Haddad, Nasrin Abu Becer, Eden Ofrat, and Oded Hirsch.

    (Continue Reading)04/08/14
  • CJS to Host Symposium on "Figural Jews"

    Figural Jews: Jewish Identity in Modern Literature and Philosophy
    Thursday, April 17, 2014: 1pm - 5pm
    Friday, April 18, 2014: 9am - 12pm
    Shepherd Room, Weisman Art Museum
    This event is free and open to the public; however, a reservation is required. Please visit to register.

    image for figural jew smaller size.jpg

    The sign reads, "We are all German Jews."

    The goal of this symposium is to reflect on the question of Jew as metaphor in theology, philosophy, history, literature, literary theory and film. "Troping" the Jew has a long history that can be traced back to Paul and the overcoming of the letter/law. The Jew "in the spirit," the Jew "in the heart," arguably designates the first avatar of the "figural Jew."

    (Continue Reading)02/12/14

Center News

  • CJS and other University departments and centers comment on the Gasthof dinner

    Minneapolis group 'plays' Nazi: Sorry, it's no trifle

    Star Tribune
    March 19, 2014

    It's an insult to those who suffered in the Holocaust and to those who campaigned then (and since) against such evil.

    Late last week, City Pages published photographs that showed men dressed in German SS uniforms seated in the main dining room of the northeast Minneapolis restaurant Gasthof zur Gemutlichkeit, surrounded by Nazi flags. According to a participant, this was a World War II historical re-enactment meeting, "just like any club that has a party."
    In Germany and several other European states, laws prohibit the public use of symbols of Nazism -- in particular, flags, insignia and uniforms. The reason: It assaults the human dignity of others by insulting, maliciously smearing or defaming segments of the population.

    While in the United States the First Amendment gives constitutional protection to this type of conduct -- no matter how offensive its content -- the public display of racist or extremist symbolism usually has been followed by indignation, outrage and demands for action.

    To read the entire article please click here.

    (Continue Reading)03/31/14
  •, Art in Israel Today, and other topics: Celebrating Ten Years of Community Lectures

    The University of Minnesota Center for Jewish Studies is pleased to present its Tenth Annual Community Lecture Series, in cooperation with synagogues and other sponsoring partners across Minneapolis and St. Paul. Join us as writers, filmmakers, and scholars from varied fields address intriguing questions relevant to the Jewish experience today.

    This series is made possible by a generous gift in memory of Julia K. & Harold Segall.

    Events are free and open to the public. A reception follows each lecture.

    (Continue Reading)08/30/13


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