A salon-style series exploring some of the major themes of Jewish history in Europe (and its empires) from the early Middle Ages through the Dreyfus affair.

Five lectures by noted scholar Alan Rauch, professor of English at UNCC, will explore the various interpretations and expressions of Jewish Identity in America.


January 16

New Countries for Old Jews: Emigrating, Adapting, and Assimilating


January 23

Can I say Schm-ck on Television?

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January 30

Der Jude and a Pound of Flesh: Marked and Rejected


February 6

Include Me Out: Did Spartacus Speak Yiddish?


February 13

Jew Yesterday, Jew Tomorrow, but Never Jew Today: Who are We Now?


All lectures are from 5:30-7 PM and held at the Levine Sklut Judaic Library at the Center for Jewish Education. Details provided at time of registration. This Salon series is free and open to the public, however registration is required. RSVP at www.jewishcharlotte.org/cje or for more information contact Tair.Giudice@Jewishcharlotte.org




Join the Center for Jewish Education (CJE) and the College of Liberal Arts & Sciences at UNC Charlotte for a salon-style series exploring some of the major themes and trends of Jewish Identity and assimilation in history and modern days.

For thousands of years, Jews have been embattled. Surrounded by enemies seeking to convert us, remove us, even exterminate us, we have developed collective defense mechanisms highly adaptive to combating persecution by anti-Semites. But in the contemporary world, American Jews – as individuals – have never been more secure, more accepted, more affluent, and less victimized by discrimination. Though Jewish Americans emigrated from many nations, once they were in the United States, there was a concerted effort to fit it – to think like Americans, and to be American. Not only was the pressure on the newcomers to assimilate very strong, but immigrants also regarded assimilation as the only path to integration – many went to English classes at night, adopting American dress and customs. It was seen as a very good thing to lose most of the traits you brought with you from your former home. The term assimilation then was originally coined to describe the success of Diaspora Jews overcoming centuries of persecution and discrimination, and being allowed into respectable society. It was only later that the term assumed the additional, and more negative, meaning for cultural or religious “suicide.”

Today, there is greater freedom to choose one’s identity or identities than was possible in the past. So what do we mean when we talk about assimilation and Jewish identity? Professor Alan Rauch will lead us through five lectures exploring the Jewish immigrant’s journey as an example of choice. We will explore topics such as: Who is a Jew? How do Jewish authors, play-writes, artists, movie-directors and others depict a complicated combined identity (Jewish and American)? And what happens when one makes the decision to pass as someone other than oneself? We will use film, literature and history as case studies to explore some of these provocative topics.

Alan Rauch is a dedicated and award-winning English professor at UNC Charlotte. Born in Montréal, Québec, Rauch received his B.Sc. in biology from McGill University. After completing his MA in Zoology, he studied English Literature at Rutgers University, where he obtained both the M.A. and the Ph.D.  As a child he attended Shaare Zion Academy and subsequently afternoon Hebrew High School, receiving an award from the Keren Haturbut Association of Canada. While in Graduate School in the Midwest, he even had a very brief stint as a stand-in chazzan for High Holy Days.

Rauch, who was on the faculty at Georgia Tech for over a decade before coming to UNC Charlotte, typically explores the intersections among science, technology, and culture particularly in the Romantic and Victorian eras. His published work includes Useful Knowledge (Duke, 2001), One Culture, The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century, and England in 1815. His most recent book, Dolphin –which includes photos and illustrations by Rauch—is a scientific, social, and cultural view of all dolphin species.

Rauch has served as President of the Society for Literature, Science, and Art and is currently completing his term as President of the Council of Editors of Learned Journals. In Fall 2019, he’ll be teaching — with both fear and excitement – a course called “The Bible as Literature.”

All lectures are from 5:30-7 PM at the Levine Sklut Judaic Libray.

Please RSVP at www.jewishcharlotte.org/cje; for more information contact Tair Giudice, Director of Education and Engagement, tair.giudice@jewishcharlotte.org.

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