The program is constantly being updated.
Historical and contemporary perspectives on Jewish women in Yugoslavia and the former Yugoslav countries
- Western Balkans Women Holocaust Survivors
- Biljana Albahari: Narrative on the exhibition Turning over the Pages of Time: Jewish Periodicals in Serbia 1888–2016
- Martina Bitunjac: Jewish Women in the Yugoslav Resistance (1941 – 1945)
- Danica Čigoja Piper: The Life of Ženi Lebl through Books and Documents
- Zorica Mršević: Position of trans women in Serbia
Contemporary women’s perspectives on Jewish tradition
- Barbara Borts: Kol Isha: Women’s Voices in the 21st Century Synagogue – Accepted, Rejected, or Subjected
- Yehudis Fletcher: Tiflut – when Torah is Forbidden
- Louise Hecht: Education through Jewish Prayers: From Fanny Neuda to Bertha Pappenheim
- Shulamit Reinharz: Tamar, the fifth (or eighth) matriarch?
- Tania Reytan-Marincheshka: Memory and Meals: Remembering and Representing Jewish & Migrant Cultural Codes and Identity Markers
- Myriam Tangi: Mechitza – Seen by Women
- Deborah Williger: Purity and Kashrut
Jewish Women’s History
- Susannah Heschel: Does Jewish History have a Gender?
- Katalin Pécsi Pollner: How to Preserve the Past for the Future Generations – Collecting Personal Narratives of Shoah Survivors and the 2nd Generation
Modern Jewish education
- Anastasia Badder: Teacher as Researcher, Teacher as Learner
Jewish Women in Arts and Literature
- Shoshana Gugenheim: Re-Inserting the Erased Body into Contemporary Jewish Art and Practice
- Anna Rozenfeld: Motherhood in Yiddish Poetry
Jewish Women in Politics
- Eleonore Lappin-Eppel: Alice Shalvi: Feminist, Educator and Peace Activist
- Nelly Las: Jewish Identity, Antisemitism, and Belonging.Women’s Voices in a Time of Crisis: Facing Antisemitism in France Today
- Ružica Mevorah: Women in Journalism – Being a Woman in Male Dominated World
- Tanya Ury: We are a small but steady and vociferous voice – loud and clear
- Living Library
- Birgit E. Klein: Filling the Gaps – Writing Feminist Midrashim and (Liturgical) Poems
- Layla Zami Zuckerman, Oxana Chi: Being Present: A Language and Movement Workshop
Concerts and Performances
- Layla Zami Zuckerman. Oxana Chi: Moving Herstory: from Claude Cahun’s Historical Resistance to Oxana Chi’s Contemporary resistDance/Killjoy
- Edita Jankov, Goran Levi: The Synagogues in Vojvodina that no longer exist
- Jelena Kručičanin, Centropa: When Friends Help Friends
- Jewish Tour of Belgrade (Thursday afternoon, Saturday 9:00-11:00 and 15:00-17:00)
- Jewish Cemetery Tour (Sunday 8:30-11:00)
The workshop where people stand in the place of libraries, opening themselves to the questions and talks and creating a safe and learning environment for all.
Western Balkans Women Holocaust Survivors
The panel discussion where women Holocaust survivors from Western Balkans share their memories and life stories
Biljana Albahari: Narrative on the exhibition Turning over the Pages of Time: Jewish Periodicals in Serbia 1888–2016
Except for a few extremely important bibliographical sources, magazine articles and book chapters, there are no comprehensive retrospective reviews, and certainly no organised and exhaustive resources that would enable to determine and analyse its impact on the Jewish community of Serbia or the society in which the Jews have lived in general. This presentation offers insights on the participants into this valuable material of Jewish periodicals. In addition, it will contribute to preserving the memory of a significant field of interest of the Jewish community of Serbia, which is also an essential part of Serbian history and society.
Biljana Albahari is from Sarajevo, where she graduated at the Department of Comparative Literature and Librarianship at theFaculty of Philosophy. Her final thesis was on the research of the Library of the Jewish Community in Sarajevo. Her professional interest relates to the promotion of the scientific work of researchers from Serbia, open access to scientific research as well as the researching of the cultural heritage of the Jewish national minority in Serbia.
After finishing the training for archivists and librarians from Serbia, which was organized in YadVashemInternational School for Holocaust Studies in 2017, the field of her current and future interests is empowering Serbian librarians to better understand teaching and learning about the Holocaust in general, and the basics of the YadVashem educational philosophy in particular and to contribute to recognizing their own potential in creating and implementing educational and outreach programs based on their own materials and local history.
As an author, Biljana has had four books published as well as professional texts in journals and publications.
For the past two years, Anastasia Badder has been working on her PhD, focusing on Jewish education and how children learn what it is to be Jewish. Her research has been centered around the Jewish community in Luxembourg, and the very international congregation of the progressive synagogue in southwest Luxembourg in particular. In this presentation Anastasia Badder will share her story and discuss how, through the classes she created, the students and her are at once engaged in the activity of consolidating community and accommodating difference.
Anastasia Badder is currently pursuing my PhD in Education in an interdisciplinary unit at the University of Luxembourg. My project is centered around Jewishness and learning in Luxembourg.
Martina Bitunjac: Jewish Women in the Yugoslav Resistance (1941 – 1945)
The aim of the presentation is to illustrate the roles, motives and decisions of Jewish women partisans like the fighter and national hero Estreja Ovadija, the lawyer Olga Alkalaj, the physicians Dr. Roza Papo and Dr. Zora Goldschmidt and the war photographer Elvira Kohn. Moreover, I will look at their everyday life as partisans and during the war.
Martina Bitunjac holds a Ph.D. in modern history and in the history of Europe from the Humboldt University of Berlin and the Sapienza – University of Rome. She is working as a researcher and is the managing editor of the Journal of Religious and Cultural Studies / Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte at the Moses Mendelssohn Center for European-Jewish Studies. She is also a docent at the University of Potsdam. Her academic interests include gender studies, Jewish history, as well as the history of Southeast Europe. Most recent publications: Lea Deutsch. Ein Kind des Schauspiels, der Musik und des Tanzes (Lea Deutsch. A child of the theater, music and dance), Hentrich & Hentrich: Berlin/Leipzig 2019; Verwicklung. Beteiligung. Unrecht. Frauen und die Ustaša-Bewegung (Participation. Collaboration. Injustice. Women and the Ustaša movement), Duncker & Humblot: Berlin 2018.
Barbara Borts: Kol Isha: Women’s Voices in the 21st Century Synagogue – Accepted, Rejected, or Subjected
Women in the progressive Jewish world have long since found their voices, and serve as lay leaders, rabbis, and chazzanot. And in some parts of the Orthodox Jewish world, women are also speaking and singing in public spaces long reserved for men. Through the stories of a few women, this session will examine the ways in which women’s voices are accepted, rejected, or subjected to some strictures when they are raised in voice and in song in the public Jewish realm.
Rabbi Dr Barbara Borts has served pulpits in the UK, the USA and Canada. She is an honorary research fellow in anthropology at Durham University and a research fellow of Leo Baeck College, as well as a half-complete BaalatTefilah through EAJL. She has written many articles and papers, recently researching Jews and Christmas, rabbinic roles, and the conundrum of women’s voices in Judaism. She is the co-editor, with Rabbi Elizabeth Tikvah Sarah, of Women Rabbis in the Pulpit: A Collection of Sermons. Her PhD work was on Anglo-Reform Judaism through the lens of its music.
Danica Čigoja Piper: The Life of Ženi Lebl through Books and Documents
Yehudis Fletcher: Tiflut – when Torah is Forbidden
This presentation will look at historical struggles faced by the beginning of the beis yaakov movement and the current taboos still in place today that prevent Jewish women from engaging with the Oral Law, and consider solutions and initiatives that might allow women to take back their Torah.
Yehudis Fletcher is an Independent Sexual Violence Adviser, working with chareidi women who’s lives have been affected by sexual violence. She writes for Jewish publications and is ambassador for JOFA UK. She is also the co founder of Nahamu, a think tank tackling extremism.
Shoshana Gugenheim: Re-Inserting the Erased Body into Contemporary Jewish Art and Practice
In this lecture / public conversation, I will share the 20 + year journey of my work as a contemporary artist through the lenses of Erasure and Jewish feminist art practice. This conversation shines a light on the erasure of the female body in Jewish life beginning with Lillith and traverses the path to my training and practice as a female-bodied Torah scribe, founding director and curator of Women of the Book, parchment maker and ritualist.
Shoshana Gugenheim Kedem is an interdisciplinary artist, Torah scribe, curator and educator. Shoshana is occupied with questions about religiosity and ritual, feminism and patriarchy and social critiques of systems of oppression that lead to new imaginings through public curation. Some subjects of her work include ritual craft and leadership, branding, citizenship, silence, loss, fertility and death and dying. Shoshana’s work often reimagines and reinvents traditional or patriarchal practices, primarily but not solely, Jewish ones, and reinserts them with new forms into traditional or familiar contexts.
Shoshana was one of the first women in modern times to train and practice as a Torah scribe. Her scribal work inspired her international collaboration, Women of the Book, launched with the Jerusalem Biennale 2015, and is informing her current work on sustainable parchment manufacturing. While much of Shoshana’s practice takes place outside of the studio, when in the studio she engages in printmaking methods, mixed media, fiber arts, book arts, mosaics and more. Shoshana has served as artist-in-residence in Israel and the US where she has also exhibited her studio work and social collaborations.
Louise Hecht: Education through Jewish Prayers: From Fanny Neuda to Bertha Pappenheim
The presentation seeks to explore the reasons for Neuda’s success, relating it to a mix of religious conservativism and renewal as well as female sensitivity. Finally, Neuda’s prayer book will be compared to the intimate prayers of Bertha Pappenheim (1859-1936) that were published in 1935 and inspired the founding generation of Bet Debora.
Dr. Louise Hecht is a senior researcher in Jewish Studies at the University of Potsdam.
This presentation will focus on the historical background: how the field of Jewish history, which took shape in the 19th century in Germany, established the field as a masculine endeavor and presented both Jewish historical experience and the religion of Judaism in male-centered terms and using male gendered metaphors. It will also offer examples from contemporary scholarship, and recommendations for the future which would provide a more inclusive and accurate portrayal of Jewish history and religion.
Edita Jankov, Goran Levi: The Synagogues in Vojvodina that no longer exist
Up until the Second World War, over seventy synagogues had been built all over Vojvodina. The Holocaust caused great tragedies. Most of the synagogues were demolished either during the war or soon after the liberation. This exhibition helps remembering and honouring them.
Edita Jankov has been taking an active part in the work of the Novi Sad Jewish Community over twenty years now. She has participated at several community leadership seminars and Judaism related conferences. Among various activities while leading the Women’s Club, one is worth distinguishing, which is being editor of a book comprising Jewish women’s life stories by using the oral history method. As a volunteer, she is in charge of cultural programs, which beside the community members, are also open to the citizens, offering various lectures, debates and film screenings mostly on Jewish topics. She worked jointly on this exhibition giving her contribution mainly while translating the catalogue.
Edita Jankov graduated from the Faculty of Philosophy at Novi Sad University and worked with Vojvodina TV at the Foreign Programs Department.
Goran Levi was born in Zagreb, in 1949. He attended primary school in Sarajevo and Belgrade. He graduated from Belgrade’s 14th High School and got his B.A. Sc. degree at the Mining and Geology Faculty at Belgrade University. He was employed for over 35 years with the former Nafta-Gas Oil Company in Novi Sad and the Oil Industry of Serbia.
Goran Levi was at the position of president of the Jewish Community in Novi Sad in two successive mandates, from 2010 until 2017. He is currently a board member at the community.
Birgit E. Klein: Filling the Gaps – Writing Feminist Midrashim and (Liturgical) Poems
In classical rabbinic literature midrashim fill the gaps that are left in the Torah and thus raise questions, for example: What did Sarah think about Abraham’s willingness to offer her son? How could Jochebed leave Moses with Pharaoh’s daughter? What did Miriam do during the seven days when she was excluded from the camp?
In the workshop I will present midrashim answering these questions in order to initiate the creative writing of the participants in the second step: Each participant will choose a Biblical text and write her own midrash or poem on this text. A sample of Biblical texts with gaps will be provided for those who have not brought their own. At the end, the midrashim and poems should be shared with the other participants and perhaps also with the broader audience, maybe as part of a service.
Thus, the workshop will not only reflect “contemporary women’s perspectives on Jewish tradition” but also create new Jewish traditions.
Birgit E. Klein holds the chair for the “History of the Jewish People” at the Hochschule fürJüdische Studien Heidelberg since 2006. Her teaching and research focuses on the social and religious history and on Gender studies. After rabbinical studies at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Wyncote (near Philadelphia, USA) from 2014-2017, she was ordained as a rabbi in 2017. She served as a rabbi of the Liberal community in Strasbourg (France) and other congregations.
Jelena Kručičanin, Centropa: When Friends Help Friends
The exhibition follows the activities of La Benevolencija, a local Jewish humanitarian organization in Bosnia and their activities during the ‘90s in Sarajevo. Paired with a 12 minutes film.
Eleonore Lappin-Eppel: Alice Shalvi: Feminist, Educator and Peace Activist
My talk will be based on the autobiography of Alice Shalvi that was published this year. I will present some of the key issues of Shalvi’s life work like women’s rights and the position of women in traditional Judaism, women’s advocacy, the Israeli peace movement will discuss them with the participants.
Eleonore Lappin-Eppel is a historian living in Vienna. She is staff member at the Austrian Academy of Sciences where she directs the Project: „Jewish Responses to the Holocaust in Austria: A Source Edition“.
She is founding member and Vize President of the Jewish liberal Community, Or Chadash in Vienna and Chair woman of New Israel Fund Austria. Eleonore has organized several Bet Debora Conferences and is member of the board.
Nelly Las: Jewish Identity, Antisemitism, and Belonging.Women’s Voices in a Time of Crisis: Facing Antisemitism in France Today
My question is how did a feminist perspective shape understandings of Jewishness, Judaism, antisemitism and anti-Zionism? Some events in France in the last few years should have certainly encouraged thought about the situation, with a number of incidents having direct or indirect implications for both feminism and the Jewish community. These include upsurges of antisemitism connected with fundamentalist Islam, the Islamic veil controversy, “communal isolationism,” forums of global justice movements, the extreme right, the extreme left, anti-Americanism or anti-Zionism—countless areas of disagreement which have sparked many a discussion and dissension among French feminists.
By highlighting the positions of French feminists and comparing them with their counterparts in other countries—especially Americans who since the 1970s have published widely on these topics—we can introduce a little-known discussion starting to make its appearance on the French stage.
Ružica Mevorah: Women in Journalism – Being a Woman in Male Dominated World
Zorica Mršević:Position of trans women in Serbia
Accepting of differences among people is still difficult in some parts of Serbian society. Although many intelectuals in Serbia, take pride in their tolerance for people of different religion or different ethnicity, some minority groups, specifically the Roma, sometimes Jews too, people of different sexual orientation and gender identity often are excluded as the stereotypical “other”. Thus there is the still unmet need to protect all people, including transgender people, from discrimination, violence, different forms of victimization, and other impacts of neglecting gender identity. Terms used in the media often is a way to mark the trans minority members as excluded and „foreign“ although everywhere they are a domestic, not an imported product. Recorded are events indicatig trans women vulnerability due to the occurrence of transphobic violence, tolerated transphobic hate speech in public discourse and legally unrecognized legal status, disrespect, discrimination, threats, intimidation, attacks both verbal and physical. There are also slow but inevitable changes to the better, as well as the entire LGBTI population (regular pride marches, opening and functioning the Info pride center in the Belgrade’s downtown, contact persons in police, etc). There are also steps to legal regulation of trans identity, at least for those who has undergone the complete surgery. However, there is still a significant lack of legal regulations on overall status of transgender persons, which implies that there is much room for improvement in this area.
Zorica Mršević currently works as a senior research fellow at the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade. She was graduated (BA 1997 and MA 1983) at the Faculty of Law of the University of Belgrade where she also obtained the PhD title in 1986. She has been working in the Institute for Criminological and Sociological Research until 1999, and since 1999 she has been at the Institute of Social Sciences in Belgrade. As a gender advisor of the OSCE Mission to Serbia for Gender Equality she spent from 2001 to 2008. From 2008 to 2010, she was the deputy of the Republican Ombudsman mandated for gender equality and the rights of persons with disabilities. From 2008 to 2013 she taught Phenomenology of Violence and Gender Studies at the Faculty of European Legal and Political Studies in Novi Sad. She taught the Comparative Feminist Jurisprudence at the Law School of the University of Iowa School 1996/97. From 2002 to 2005 she was a visiting professor at the Central European University in Budapest, where she taught the Theory of Violence and Women’s Human Rights. She is the author of 24 books and over 400 scientific papers from the field of theory of human rights of the marginalized groups, violence, gender equality, criminology, inclusivesecurity. www.zoricamrsevic.in.rs https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zorica_Mr%C5%A1evi%C4%87
Katalin Pécsi Pollner: How to Preserve the Past for the Future Generations – Collecting Personal Narratives of Shoah Survivors and the 2nd Generation
Katalin Pescsi will demonstrate how she emphasized the specific women’s narratives by her two anthologies of Untold Stories by Jewish Women; by her interviews with 54 Hungarian Zionist Women – helpers and rescuers of fellow Jews – and by a travelling exhibition which presents the personal stories of Hungarian Holocaust survivor women.
Katalin Pécsi-Pollner Ph.D. is a lecturer and essayist in contemporary Jewish literature and Holocaust Studies. She is an ICJW (International Council of Jewish Women) Executive member and founder and president of the Hungarian ICJW affiliate, Esthers’House Association in Budapest, which focuses on contemporary Jewish culture and feminist values.
Shulamit Reinharz: Tamar, the fifth (or eighth) matriarch?
Both traditional sources and contemporary Jewish feminist scholarship have engaged the question of “who is a matriarch.” My interest in Tamar extends the debate about Zilpah and Bilha. Tamar married into the tribe of Judah, the fourth son of Leah and Jacob, and strove to produce a child. Her eventual success led to the future birth of David, certainly “a son of distinction.” By making the case for Tamar’s inclusion as a matriarch, I hope to contribute to the larger discussion of women’s roles in the Bible.
Shulamit Reinharz, Ph.D., is the Jacob Potofsky Professor Emerita of Sociology from Brandeis University. I retired in July 2017. I served as head of the Brandeis Women’s Studies Program from 1990-2000, during which time I created the first graduate program in Jewish Women’s Studies. In 1997, I created the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute whose mission is to develop new ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide. In 2001, I founded the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center. The same year I opened the Kniznick Gallery for Feminist art. In 2017, I was a research scholar at International Gender Studies at Oxford University. A 3-issue Festschrift in my honor was published in Nashim. I am the author of numerous books and articles, including Feminist Methods in Social Research (Oxford) and research on Jewish women in the history of Israel.
Tania Reytan-Marincheshka: Memory and Meals: Remembering and Representing Jewish & Migrant Cultural Codes and Identity Markers
Despite its immense cultural importance, food studies have only recently started to gain the scholarly attention it deserves. Right from the time of Structuralists like Claude Levi-Strauss and Roland Barthes, food has been recognized to be as significant a human behavioural code as language. Literary and critical engagements with food relate to complex cultural debates regarding identity, history, modernity, religion and gender. For ethnic communities like the Jews who are held together by a problematic concept of homeland, food practices denote and connote a way of defining these cultures, occupying borders, and negotiating with issues of power, memory, dislocation and belonging. Migrant food culture is invested with great emotional ambivalence, for it unites as well as divides people. It involves the discourses of control and exclusion, whereby certain objects and behaviour are defined as acceptable or deviant, marking a sense of belonging or of dissension. The presentation will offer an examination of & a discussion on the intermingling of culinary cultures and codes of consumption and how they generate affective associations and appropriations pertaining to memory and markers of identity in modern Jewish & other Migrant communities on the Balkans as elsewhere.
Tania Reytan-Marincheshka, PhD, holds an MA in International Relations & International Law, and a PhD in Political Philosophy. In the 1990s she worked in the field of refugees’ & migrants’ protection and specialized in Migration studies. In 2001-2002 she started her specialization in Anthropology at the Women Studies’ Research Center of Brandeis University and keeps building on it till today. In 2009 she organized the 5th Bet Debora Conference on “Migration, Communication & Home” in Sofia, Bulgaria and edited its’ collection, published in 2011. Currently she is a free-lance researcher, learner and translator
Anna Rozenfeld: Motherhood in Yiddish Poetry
In my presentation I would like to focus on Women Yiddish Poets bringing up the topic of motherhood in their poems. The lecture will be illustrated with selected poems.
Anna Rozenfeld – a researcher of Jewish history, Yiddish language and culture, a painter and an actress; translator and language instructor of Yiddish. Co-founder of theִ „ייִדישלעבט” project (“yidishlebt,” / “Yiddish is Alive”), she is deeply engaged in preserving and promoting the Yiddish culture in both today’s Poland and abroad. Until 2012 she hosted “NayeKhvalyes,” a radio program in Yiddish broadcast by the Polish Radio External Service. She worked in the Education Department of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, as well as being the co-organizer of the New Jewish Music Festival and the editor of the Art section of the Cwiszn quarterly magazine. Until 2017 she taught as a lecturer for Yiddish at the Center for Yiddish Culture in Warsaw. She pursues her own artistic, research and educational projects, cooperates with numerous institutions and Jewish culture festivals. She is associated with the Zentrum für Jüdische Studien Berlin-Brandenburg and the University of Warsaw. Happy mom of two children: David and Lea.
When I started my photographic essay Mehitza – Seen by Women, I was well aware and enthusiastic about being a woman photographer in a Jewish sacred space. Mehitza offers a new perspective and contribution to studies on religion and gender by questioning male and female territories while unveiling another layer in the complexity of contemporary Judaism.
Myriam Tangi: Born, work and live in Paris – In past work, I have explored many different aspects of my identity through photography, painting and poetry (3 books published).
Tanya Ury: We are a small but steady and vociferous voice – loud and clear
Many JS members are Israelis who have personally witnessed the unjust treatment of Palestinians at the hands of Israel’s government and its unfair policies. We are united as a voice, because we are Jewish – while Israel claims to speak for us, we have to say: “Not in our Name!”, and because we feel we cannot witness the disregard of human rights of Palestinians in Palestine without being moved to speak out. We are a small but steady and vociferous voice – loud and clear.
Born 1951 in London. Tanya Ury is a British-German artist and writer. She studied for a Batchelor in Fine Art at Exeter College of Art and Design 1985-1988 and 1 semester at the Institute for Theatre, Film and Television Studies, Cologne University (D) in 1989. 1990, she graduated from Reading University with a Masters in Fine Arts. 1991-1992 she was guest lecturer at Sheffield Hallam University, with the Colin Walker Fellowship in Fine Art. Ury was a jury member of the Hans and Lea Grundig Prize, with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, Berlin (D) from 2014-2017.
Tanya Ury has presented her work internationally. As a writer, activist, and in her photography, installations, performance, videos, poems and improvised poetry, Ury deals with questions of Judeo-German identity, the handling of German society with its history, the role of the subaltern women against a background of migration and racism. In recent years she has often spoken and published articles calling on equal rights for Palestinians in Palestine/Israel.
Tanya Ury has been living and working in Cologne, Germany, since 1993. Most of her family lived here before being murdered or having to flee into exile because of their Jewish origins.
Deborah Williger: Purity and Kashrut
Sustainability of natural resources is an important part of Halakah and the Kosher kitchen. Many people nowadays criticize and refuse globalization, nutrition imperialism and universality with good cause. Most people in the western world are nevertheless still preferring all kinds of kitchen cultures from foreign countries. Due to tradition the Kosher kitchen offers particularly elaborate vegan and vegetarian components and has become fashionable even in non-Jewish circles. Hopefully, via nutrition the bond between foreign nations and cultures can be tightened. Instead of fighting against each other, traditionalist and critical minds should realize their common aim to save the planet and unite to fight for it more efficiently.
Dr. Deborah Williger received her PhD in agricultural sciences with special expertise in milk cows from the university Kiel and her Master of Science in International Agricultural Development from the TU Berlin. She worked in Germany, Austria and India, including as estate manager of an organic farm, consultant for rural agricultural development, in product management, as well as to control genetically modified feed for life stock. Switching careers, she received her MA in Jewish Theology from the University of Potsdam and currently serves as lecturer and member of the Board of the Institute of Theological Zoology, ITZ, at the Philosophisch-Theologische Hochschule Münster.
Sandi Wisenberg: Written in Blood: Seven Ways of Looking at the Mikvah, a reading/performance
This piece looks at the mikvah ritual, from its biblical origins through pre-modern and modern practice through contemporary modifications. The mikvah separates clean and unclean. Should we tolerate the notion of women as unclean? In the past few decades women have seized the ritual and reshaped it according to their own needs. They’ve use the water ritual as a way to mark divorce, the beginning of menopause, the end of cancer treatment. Can it ever be separated from its origins and be truly feminist? Should we be thinking further—of more radical new rituals to reflect our values and life-cycle events? What if we concentrated on the blood and not water? What if we refused to consider ourselves unclean? What have women performance artists done that could help us re-think the mikvah? Sandi Wisenberg will perform these questions and involve participants in a consideration of what has been meaningful in the past and what might make meaningful new rituals.
Layla Zami Zuckerman. Oxana Chi: Moving Herstory: from Claude Cahun’s Historical Resistance to Oxana Chi’s Contemporary resistDance/Killjoy
In this academic-artistic lecture-performance, Dr. Layla Zami and Oxana Chi explore the roles of the moving body in relation to the historical trauma of the Holocaust, present feminist realities and future possibilities.
Layla Zami Zuckerman, Oxana Chi: Being Present: A Language and Movement Workshop
The workshop starts with a discussion about the lecture-performance. We will talk about the presence and absence of Jewish women in memory discourses and practices. We will continue with a creative writing exercise on the topic of memory and translation. The workshop also includes some easy movement and breathing practice.
Dr Layla Zami is an interdisciplinary academic and artist of Jewish-German-Russian and Afro-Indian-Caribbean descent. Based in New York, she is Visiting Assistant Professor of Humanities and Media Studies at Pratt Institute. Zami obtained a magna cum laude PhD from the Center for Transdisciplinary Gender Studies at Humboldt-University in Berlin, where she also earned the Teaching Award First Prize (Fakultätspreis für gute Lehre) for her course Performing Memory. She received a Doctoral Fellowship from the BMBF / ELES Scholarship Fund, and a stipend from the Stiftung Zurückgeben for Jewish Women in Arts and Science, for her participation in the exhibition Tanzende Erinnerungen curated by Oxana Chi. Dr. Zami published across Europe with editors and journals such as transcript, Orlanda Frauenverlag, Lambda Nordica, Hentrich & Hentrich. She spent half of her life in Berlin, Germany and proudly celebrated her bat mitzvah at the MJLF in her city of birth, Paris. As a Resident Artist with Oxana Chi, Layla Zami creates and performs multi-instrumental music, poetry, theater and scholarship in dialogue with the choreography. The married duo presented and performed across the globe, and co-chaired the Moving Memory symposium (TU Berlin) and Moving Archives (The Center for the Humanities, NYC).
Oxana Chi is a German choreographer, dancer, filmmaker, curator, author and mentor of Eastern Nigerian and Eastern European descent. She is Co-Curator of Dance at the International Human Rights Art Festival in New York. As the Founder and Director of Oxana Chi & Ensemble Xinren (since 1991), she created 19 productions, including two commissioned works for Humboldt-University. Her work received support from the Berlin City Council, Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah (Paris), Heinrich-Boell-Stiftung, Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung, Amadeu-Antonio-Stiftung, Abrons Arts Center AIRspace Grant for Performing Artists. She presented works in Germany, France, India, Indonesia, Finland, Taiwan, Martinique, Turkey, Singapore, Canada, USA and the UK at festivals and venues such as Jewish Music and Theater Week Dresden, HAU-Theater, WdK Berlin, Maison Heinrich-Heine Paris and in many universities such as University of Toronto, New York University, Humboldt-Universität, Goldsmith University, City University of New York. She was featured in Daphne Chernobilsky’s Purim / Nur die eine Nacht at the Berlin Academy of Arts (Jüdischer Kulturbund exhibition). Oxana Chi was honored as an Ambassador of Peace and Filmmaker of Inspiration (DOSHIMA, Jakarta 2016) for her documentary Dancing Through Gardens, co-produced with her wife Layla Zami in memory of the Jewish dancer Tatjana Barbakoff.