This is a lecture I delivered at the University of Central Florida back in October 2004 (my hair was quite a bit darker and, well, there). Found the CD when I was cleaning out some old files. There’s a PPT that goes with this lecture, and I’m going to try to find a way to post it. Anyway, this is the summer, so I won’t be sending out too many new lectures, thought I would add this one as well. Isaac Bashevis Singer (1902-1991) was a Nobel Laureate for Literature, the first Yiddish writer to receive this distinguished award. He was also a resident of my current home in Surfside, Florida. Hope you enjoy it!
A presentation on the life and work of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson (1902-1994), the Seventh Rebbe of the Chabad-Lubavitch movement. A native of Nikolaev, Ukraine, and educated in Germany and France, his leadership transformed his Hasidic followers into an international movement that continues to shape the lives of Jews world wide. The lecture was held at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour on Wednesday, June 5th.
A presentation on the life and work of Betty Friedan, a prominent American Jewish feminist leader. The author of the landmark The Feminine Mystique (1963), she later became the Founder of the National Organization of Women, and an important political activist for women’s rights. The lecture was held at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour on May 29, 2013.
A presentation on Albert Einstein (1879-1955), one of the best-known Jews of the twentieth century. Although he had a complicated relationship with Judaism, he maintained a distinct pride in his Jewish identity, and once said “A Jew who abandons his Judaism is like a snail that abandons its shell. It’s still a snail.” The lecture was delivered at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour on May 22, 2013.
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A presentation on the life and work of Stephen Samuel Wise (1874-1949), an important American communal leader. The lecture will take a broader focus, looking at the history of Jewish settlement in the United States during the 19th century and the major issues facing this immigrant community through the middle of the twentieth century. The lecture was held at Young Israel of Bal Harbour.
Notes from the Presentation:
Stephen Samuel Wise
Touro College South
Young Israel of Bal harbour
Stephen Silver Wise
Born Budapest 1874
Major Jewish Activist
Controversial leadership during Holocaust
Haredi to Neolog
Long line of Rabbis
Grandfather Joseph Hirsch Weisz ultra-Orthodox
Father Aaron also ultra-Orthodox, immigrates to USA and becomes founding member of Jewish Theological Seminary
Stephen Samuel Wise prominent Reform leader, founder of Jewish Institute of Religion (later merges with Hebrew Union College)
The Denominational Spectrum
Immigration to the USA
Father Aaron Rabbi, social liberal
Attempts to unionize workers in father-in-law’s porcelain factory
Father-in-law buys him one-way ticket to New York
German vs Eastern European immigration
Earliest Jewish immigrants: Sefardic Jews
German Jews mid-19th century
Massive wave of Eastern European Jewry after 1881
Ordination 1893 (Adolph Jellinek of Vienna)
Columbia PhD, 1901
Dissertation: translation of Shlomo ibn Gabriol
American mid-century model of “Scholar-Rabbi”
Married Louise Waterman, 1900, took position at Temple in Portland, Oregon
Disciple of Felix Adler’s Ethical Culture movement
Translator, author, social activist
Son author, art specialist (wrote biography of mother)
Daughter author, judge, advisor to Eleanor Roosevelt
The Free pulpit
1906 turned down offer to lead Congregation Emanu-el over issue of a “free pulpit”
Returns to Oregon but comes back to NYC one year later, founds The Free Synagogue
Free pulpit, free seats
Co-founder of National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP, 1909)
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU, 1920)
Promoted labor causes, attacked corruption
forced resignation of New York mayor James Walker (1932)
Founded and led American Jewish Congress (more activist than American Jewish Committee)
Classical Reform position on Zionism
Founded New York Federation of Zionist Societies (1897)
Worked closely with Herzl
American secretary in World Zionist Congress in Basle (1898)
Involved in drafting text of the Balfour declaration
Ethnic Voting Patterns, 2008
Jewish Denominational Voting Patterns (2008)
Close to President Wilson
Represented Zionism at Versailles Peace Conference
Multiple volumes of memoirs, speeches, sermons
Leadership During the Holocaust
How much pressure to put on Roosevelt, State Department?
Advocated strong anti-Nazi policy since 1930s, but criticized for tepid response during war
The Riegner Telegram
Telegram addressed to Wise, but intercepted at State Department
Confirmed existence of the “Final Solution”
Wise received it from British parliament
Met with Roosevelt in 1943
30 minutes, mainly Roosevelt talking
Should Wise have invoked his fiery rhetoric and public persona?
Defining American Jewish liberalism for a century
Defining American Jewish Zionism
A study of the life of Menachem Begin (1913-1992). A native of Poland, he was a proponent of Vladimir Jabotinsky’s Revisionist party that stood in dramatic contrast to the dominant left-wing tendency in the Zionist movement. A major figure in Israel’s struggle for statehood, and a founder of the Likud party, he was elected to the office of Prime Minister in 1977. Despite his hawkish ideology, he was the first Israeli leader to sign a peace treaty with an Arab country. Lecture was recorded on Wednesday, May 1 at the Young Israel of Bal Harbour.
This lecture presents a broad overview of the three main intellectual-religious trends present in 19th century Jewish Eastern Europe: the traditionalist Mitnagdim, the innovative Hasidim, and the modernizing Maskilim. Good as an overall introduction, although I go into more detail on all of these movements in other lectures on this website. Taped on April 21, 2013 as a lecture to the Jewish Geneaological Society of Broward Country.
Here’s the improved TorahCafe version. Please click on the icon below:
A presentation of the life of Golda Meir (1898-1978), spanning her immigration to Israel in 1921 through the end of her term as the fourth Prime Minister of Israel in 1974. The lecture will discuss the foundations of the Yishuv, the pre-state Jewish community, and touch on the major social and military conflicts that Israel endured during the first three decades of its existence. The lecture was held at Young Israel of Bal Harbour.