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LMU’s Jewish Studies Program Sees a Busy Second Year

Loyola Marymount University’s Jewish Studies Program is offering much food for thought this semester. Also chocolate, cheese and wine.

The program opens its second year with a get-together Sept. 17 to meet faculty who are teaching Jewish Studies courses. The Chocolate, Cheese and Wine Reception, which is co-sponsored by Hillel, the national Jewish college campus group, will offer an opportunity to see what is new in the Jewish Studies Program and to learn about speakers invited to campus and programs being planned. The gathering will also welcome to campus Rabbi Carrie Benveniste, who will work part-time with Campus Ministry and advise the LMU Hillel chapter. “I am looking forward to meeting everybody -- students, faculty and staff,” Benveniste said. “I hope to create a positive space for a strong and vibrant Jewish community on campus. Anyone who is interested in participating should come to the event or look for me at Campus Ministry.”

In October, the program will present an interreligious forum in honor of Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who smuggled about 2,500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto during World War II and saved their lives with the cooperation of a network of resisters. The forum, “Am I My Brother’s Keeper? The Duty to Rescue,” co-sponsored by the Polish Consulate in Los Angeles, will look at the question from Muslim, Jewish and Catholic perspectives. The panel will include: Amir Hussain, professor of theological studies; Arthur Gross-Schaefer, chair of the Marketing and Business Law Department in LMU’s College of Business Administration; and Roberto Dell’Oro, professor of theological studies.

“We’re honoring the spirit of Irena Sendler,” said Holli Levitsky, director of the Jewish Studies Program. “Her response to the horrific conditions in wartime Poland showed that humane acts live beyond the moment.”

In addition to the reception and forum, the Jewish Studies program will co-sponsor an exhibit of photographs by Richard Ehrlich in LMU’s Laband Art Gallery (Sept. 19-Nov. 22, http://cfa.lmu.edu/laband), and a presentation with Gina Nahai, professor of creative writing at USC and author of “Caspian Rain,” a novel about a Jewish family in Iran before the Islamic revolution in 1979. Nahai will discuss her novel with Sabah Soomekh, who will be teaching a Jewish Studies course this semester on the history of modern Israel. The Jewish Studies Program will also sponsor Nov. 8 the university’s commemoration of Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass” in November 1938 when Germany’s Nazi regime burned synagogues, destroyed Jewish businesses and began the mass deportation of Jews to concentration camps. Kristallnacht is considered the beginning of the Holocaust. For more information about the Jewish Studies Program at Loyola Marymount University, go to http://bellarmine.lmu.edu/jewishstudies.htm.

Posted Sept. 14, 2009