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December, 2008

22Dec10:00 am- 5:00 pmItaly at the Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies10:00 am - 5:00 pm Italian Jewish Studies Seminar:Italian Jewish Studies Seminar

Event Details

Outside the Ashkenazi/Sephardic Divide: Italian Jewish Studies in Italy and Beyond

This Round Table focuses on the issues of Jewish identity raised by the Italian Jewish experience, as seen through the academic network of Italian Jewish Studies. Academic interest in Italian Jewry began in the mid-19th century in Italy and Germany, and has since developed into a wide-ranging field of research that involves scholars in Europe, Israel and the United States. Interest and awareness for Italian Jewish culture has grown exponentially during the last decades.

Participants: Mauro Perani, David Malkiel, Gadi Luzzatto Voghera, Francesca Bregoli. Moderator: Francesco Spagnolo

This Round Table focuses on the issues of Jewish identity raised by the Italian Jewish experience, as seen through the academic network of Italian Jewish Studies. Academic interest in Italian Jewry began in the mid-19th century in Italy and Germany, and has since developed into a wide-ranging field of research that involves scholars in Europe, Israel and the United States. Interest and awareness for Italian Jewish culture has grown exponentially during the last decades.

Since its inception, scholarship on Italian Jewry offered a dichotomy between local investigations and global approaches. General overviews of Italian Jewish history paved the way to the creation of an institutionalized field of research, established through the efforts of Umberto Cassuto since the 1910’s, which in 1924 culminated in the publication of Italia Judaica, a bibliography edited by Giuseppe Gabrieli, chief librarian at the Regia Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei.

The volume was part of the bibliographic guides published by the Fondazione Leonardo (Rome), presided by Giovanni Gentile, then Minister of Public Education for the recently established Fascist regime, and whose aim was to “intensify within Italy and publicize abroad Italian intellectual life.” Sustained by pioneers like Cecil Roth and Attilio Milano, this path generated a wide-ranging debate concerning the particularities of the “Italian Jewish cultural identity.” Local investigations, also initiated in the mid-19th century, were systematized by pioneering contributions such as those by Berliner, Vogelstein and Rieger, followed in Italy by Morpurgo, Cassuto, and Foa, and eventually by Roth. Their approach has hitherto produced outstanding scholarly works on a variety of aspects of local Jewish life throughout the peninsula, epitomized by the Documentary History of the Jews of Italy, edited by Shlomo Simonsohn.

The cultural history of Italian Jewry presents a host of topics that typically exists beyond set chronological and geographical divides, ranging from the late antiquity to the present, from Ashkenazi to Sephardic cultures, from Jewish-Christian relations to the Holocaust, from the study (and conservation) of primary sources to the emergence of virtual Jewish culture. Discussants will examine the particular interaction of diverse Jewish cultures in Italy, the state of the study of Italian Jewry within the field of Jewish studies today, and the creation international academic partnerships.

The discussion will feature a presentation by Mauro Perani, University of Bologna, Secretary of the Italian Association for Jewish Studies and President of the European Associations for Jewish Studies, in conversation with scholars from Italy, Israel and the United States, moderated by Francesco Spagnolo (Judah L. Magnes Museum, Berkeley).

Participants include Gadi Luzzatto Voghera (University of Padova and Boston University), David Malkiel (Bar Ilan University), Arthur Kiron (University of Pennsylvania) and Murray Baumgarten (UC, Santa Cruz, and co-director of the NEH Venice program).

The Round Table will include short presentations  (5-10 minutes) that focus on particular examples and raise issues for discussion. Participation in a roundtable, which qualifies as a discussant, does not preclude presenting a paper on another panel.

Presented by the Primo Levi Center New York

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