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Thomas and Diann Mann Symposia

The Thomas and Diann Mann Symposium Fund was established in 1997 to support annual symposia in The Ohio State University’s College of Humanities, in which eminent scholars, along with Ohio State University faculty, present lectures on a chosen topic around Jewish studies. Since the College of Humanities merged with other colleges to form Ohio State’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2010, the annual Mann Symposium has supported Jewish inquiry across the arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Past Symposia
2020 - A Rich Brew: How Cafés Created Modern Jewish Culture
Shachar Pinsker, Professor of Hebrew Literature and Culture at the University of Michigan discussed how Jewish modernity was born in the café, nourished, and sent out into the world by way of print, politics, literature, art, and theater based on his recent book. The program was held at a coffee shop near campus. 
2019 - “Below the Line”? The Feuilleton and Modern Jewish Cultures
This conference focused on nineteenth and twentieth century  Jewish writers, philosophers, political thinkers and poets who wrote feuilltons (European magazines with articles, poems, and short novels). The conference focused on the Jewishness of the feuilleton that engage issues related to Jewish identity or the Jewishness of form. 
Israeli and Palestinian Cuisine in Diaspora
Harry Kasdan, Postdoctoral Researcher in Global Mediterranean studies at Ohio State, discussed how cookbooks can be analyzed as literary objects, specifically in Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem cookbooks.
2018 - Metaphors of Time: An Interdisciplinary Conversation Across the Arts, Humanities, and Sciences
A two-day conference of cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural conversations with presenters from different disciplines. Topics included particle physics, Zen Buddhism, contemporary dance, the Ohio Earthworks, coral reefs, mosquito circadian rhythms, and a Palestinian film.
2017 - Jewish Dance Symposium. Scholars and practitioners of Jewish and Israeli dance participated in workshops on Jewish dance as part of the International Dance Conference held at Ohio State.
2015-2016 - American Judaism: The Last 50 Years and Beyond
 A year-long series of education programs about some of the major movements, shifts, and ideas driving American Judaism over the past half-century and how Jewish life has been shaped in the recent past and where things might be headed in the future. 
  • The first program was a day-long series of panel discussions featuring Rabbi Laura Geller, Richard Siegel, Shaul Magid (Indiana University), Riv-Ellen Prell (University of Minnesota), Or Mars (Wexner Foundation), and Pamela Nadell (American University). Topics included spirituality, women rabbis, Judaism at home, the renewal movement of the 1970’s, and the future of Jewish institutions.
  • The second program in the series featured Arnold Eisen, Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary, who spoke on the Conservative movement.
  • The final programs in the series focused on Chasidism, and a new wave of “liberal orthodox” rabbis.

2015 - China and the Jews
One day conference featuring an international group of scholars explored aspects of the relationship between Jews and China in modernity. Speakers: Noam Urbach, Bar-Ilan University, Moshe Bernstein, University of Western Australia, Jonathan Goldstein, University of West Georgia, Bei Gao, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, Rabbi Anson Laytner, Seattle University

2014 - Children of Abraham and Sarah: Conversion and Judaism
This three-part series approached the topic of conversion from various angles. Our partners for the series, Ohio State Hillel, Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, the Jewish Studies Student Association, the Jewish Federation of Columbus-Atid Division, Congregation Tifereth Israel and Congregation Agudas Achim, hosted four events over the weekend of Oct. 25-27 - 
  • Rabbi Andrea Myers, "The Choosing: A Rabbi’s Journey from Silent Nights to High Holy Days."
  • Shaye Cohen, Harvard University, Sylvia Barack Fishman, Brandeis University, “Nature and Nurture: Is Jewishness in our Genes?”
  • Tamar Rudavsky, OSU, "Was Maimonides a Convert?"
2013 - Spinoza: The ‘God-Intoxicated Atheist?’”
Professor Steven Nadler (University of Wisconsin-Madison), “Why Was Spinoza Excommunicated?”, and Professor Jacob Adler (University of Arkansas), and Michael Le Buffe (Texas A&M) also delivered papers at the conference.
2011 - al-Ghazali and the Jews conference
Talks on al-Ghazali’s impact on Maimonides and other Jewish thinkers were presented by leading scholars of Jewish philosophy from Israel and the United States.
The same year, Melton Center and OSU’s Department of Dance hosted the Modern Jewish Experience through the Lens of Dance conference, the first conference of its kind in the United States. Scholars and practitioners from across the US and Israel delivered paper presentations, workshops, and performances. 
2009/2010 - Israel and Its Neighbors, a series designed to offer a deeper understanding of the myriad issues affecting Israel and its relationship with its Arab neighbors. 
  • Menachem Kellner, Professor, Jewish Thought, University of Haifa, "Is There a New Anti-Semitism?"
  • Jonathan Cohen, Professor, Communications, University of Haifa, "“Shaping of the Media in a Global Context.” 
  • Avi Becker, Goldman Visiting Professor, Georgetown University, "Chosenness and its impact on the Middle East Crisis."
  • Dov Waxman, Professor of Political Science, Baruch College, "Can Israel End the Occupation?” 

Ancient Ornamentalism conference on how Jews, Christians, and members of other Middle Eastern relgions in antiquity interacted as they composed prayers and poetry of their faiths.

2008 - Jewish and Christian Mystical and Messianic Movements in their Social and Religious Contexts: The Eastern European Case
This conference focused encounter between Jewish and Christian mystics in Eastern Europe, the impact of the Eastern European context on Jewish mystics who remained within the Jewish fold, and border transgressions among Jewish and Christian mystics alike.
Participants: Professors Sergei Zhuk (Ohio State); Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern (Northwestern University); Glenn Dynner (Sarah Lawrence College); Chaim Hames (Ben Gurion University of the Negev); Harris Lenowitz (University of Utah); Moshe Idel (Hebrew University; James Lenaghan (Ohio State); Nicholas Breyfogle (Ohio State); Pawel Maciejko (Hebrew University); Hanna Wegrzynek (University of Warsaw); Paul Radensky (University of Utah); Mircea Platon (Ohio State); Matt Goldish (Ohio State); Dr. Marsha Keith Schuchard.
2007 - Jewish Cities
  • Lois Dubin, Professor of Religion and Jewish Studies, Smith College, "Trieste: Ashkenaz on the Adriatic."
  • Howard Lupovitch, Pulver Family Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, Colby College, "Coming of Age in Times of Crisis: Budapest Jewry and the Great Flood."
  • Deborah Dash Moore, Frederick G. L. Huetwell Professor of History at the University of Michigan and Director of the Jean and Samuel Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, "Imaging Gotham: New York Photographers at Mid-Century."
2006- Yiddish Culture in Transition
  • Yiddish films 
  • Dov-Ber Kerler, Professor of Jewish Studies and Yiddish Language and Literature, Cohn Chair in Yiddish Studies, Indiana University, Beyond When All Is Said and Done: The Last Living Remnants of Jewish Culture in the Ukraine 
  • Neil Jacobs, Professor of Yiddish Linguistics, OSU, A Code of Many Colors: The Language of Jewish Caberet.  
  • Performance: The Klezmatics 
2004-2005 - The Legacy of Maimonides, 1204-2004, a one-day conference at OSU Hillel. 
  • Alfred L. lvry, Skirball Professor of Jewish Thought, New York University, "The Confrontation of Philosophy and Theology in Maimonides' Thought" 
  • Charles H. Manekin, Associate Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland, "Maimonides' Philosophical Journey" 
  • James T. Robinson, Assistant Professor of the History of Judaism, University of Chicago Divinity School, "Maimonides and Maimonideanism in Southern France: On the Growth of a Philosophical Tradition." 
  • Josef Stern, Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago, "The Unbinding of Isaac: A Case-Study of Maimonidean Philosophical Scriptural Exegesis." 
2003/2004 -  Beyond the People of the Book
Lecture by Professor Andrew Gow, University of Alberta, Canada, "Real and Imaginary Jews in Maps." 
  • Faculty Panel Discussion - OSU Professors Matt Goldish, Tamar Rudavsky, and Sam Meier, "Habent sua fata Jibe/Ii: Unusual Tales of Jewish Books and their Fate." 
  • Lecture by Brad Sabin Hill, Dean and Senior Research Librarian, VIVO Institute for Jewish Research, NY, "The Art of the Hebrew Book."  
  • Stefan C. Reif, Director of the Taylor-Schechter Genizah Research Unit, Cambridge University Library, "The Importance of the Genizah for Jewish Scholarship." 
2002/2003 - Resetting the Margins of Jewish Folklore
  • Concerts with Avihu Medina and Khevrisa - The Roots of Klezmer Music. 
  • Lecture by Amy Horowitz, The Ohio State University, "Dissonant Melodies in Search of Resolution: Contemporary Music of Israeli Jews from Islamic Lands." 
  • Professor Dan Ben Amos, University of Pennsylvania - "Jewish Canon and the Folktale: Challenges and Negotiations" 
  • Lecture by Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett, New York University, Kodak Moments, "Flashbulb Memories: Jewish Responses to Memory and Trauma after 9/11." 
2001/2002 -  Jewish Music, East and West
  • Lecture by Professor Edwin Seroussi, Hebrew University, "Israel -Sound and Music of the Synagogue." 
  • Performance - The OSU Chorale, Hilary Apfelstadt, conductor and by the OSU Symphonic Choir, James Gallagher, conductor. 
  • 19th Century Synagogue Music From Hamburg, Paris, Vienna and Livorno, Italy 
  • Performance - Chamber Music From the St. Petersburg Schoo/ - Performed by Ohio State faculty and guest artists. 
  • Performance - Chamber Music from the Mediterranean School. Performed by Ohio State faculty and guest artists. 
  • Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay, Harvard University Echoes from Beyond Europe's Borders: Music and the Beta Israel (Ethiopian Jewish) Transformation. 
2000/2001 -  One Thousand Years of German-Jewry: Assimilation and Dissimilation
  • Professor Shulamit Volkov, Tel Aviv University, "Israel Language as a Site of Confronting Jews and Judaism in Germany (1782-1933)." 
  • Professor Ephraim Kanarfogel, Yeshiva University, New York, "Looking to the Future in an Era of Decline: The Life and Works of Meir of Rothenburg." 
  • Professor Robin Judd, The Ohio State University, "The Making of Modern Jewish Politics in Germany." 
  • Professor David Sorkin, The University of Wisconsin, Madison, Did German Jews Assimilate? 
1999/2000  - Artifacts of Memory
  • Katherine H. Burkman, Professor Emerita of English, OSU, "Memory and Guilt: Albert Speer as Key to Harold Pinter's Ashes to Ashes." 
  • Harold Pinter's play "Ashes to Ashes" produced by WOMEN AT PLAY - Directed by Katherine H. Burkman - Performed by David Fawcett and Christy Stanlak.
  • Arie Nadler, Professor of Social Psychology, Tel Aviv University, "Shifting Perceptions of Holocaust Survivors in Israeli Society." 
  • James Edward Young, Professor of Judaic & Near Eastern Studies, University of Massachusetts, "After-Image: The Uncanny Arts of Holocaust Memory." 
  • Geoffrey Hartman, Professor of Comparative Literature, Yale University - "Holocaust Testimony, Videography and Education" 
1998/1999  - The Image and the Word 
  • Professor Isaiah Gafni, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem , "Re-imaging the Holy Land: On the Nature and Functions of 'Eretz Yisrael’ in Babylonian Talmud." 
  • Professor Moshe ldel, The Hebrew University, "Jerusalem Colored Tetragrammata in Mystical Jewish Prayer."
  • Professor Michael Swartz, The Ohio State University, "The Priestly Vestments in Jewish Interpretation."
  • Professor Joseph Yahalom, The Hebrew University, Jerusalem - "Iconography and Poetry in the Ancient Synagogue." 
  • Professor Elliot R. Wolfson, New York University, "Imaging and Imageless: Iconic Representations of God in Kabbalistic Symbolism."  
1997/1998 - Science, Religion and Judaism
  • Dr. David Biale, Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, California and Rachel Biale, M.S.W., author and senior clinician with Jewish Family and Children's Service of the East Bay, "Jewish Sexuality."
  • Prof. David Ruderman, University of Pennsylvania, "Science, Medicine and the Transformation of Jewish Culture in Early Modern Europe Biology and Culture."
  • Professor Aryeh Kasher, Tel Aviv University, "The Origin and Background of Anti-Semitism in the Greco-Roman World."
  • Professor Tamar Rudavsky, OSU, "Genesis, Big Bang Cosmology and God: A Jewish Appraisal."
  • Professor Tzvi Langermann, Bar llan University, "Science, Astronomy and Theology in the Medieval Jewish World."