UCSC receives $150,000 grant for Jewish Studies program

UC Santa Cruz has been awarded a $150,000 grant from the David B. Gold Foundation to support a new project in the campus's Jewish Studies Program.

Titled "Crossing Boundaries and Building Bridges," the project will integrate contemporary issues that are most important to students, faculty, and the community-including the environment, science and technology, the arts, women's issues, and race relations-with a range of perspectives and methods unique to Jewish Studies.

The new project will include:

. An ongoing series of lectures and readings by prominent scholars and writers on such topics as "Jewish Women Writers," "Jews in Muslim Lands," and "Jewish Mysticism."

. An annual interdisciplinary conference that will redefine the boundaries of Jewish Studies and cross over into many different fields.

. An annual moderated dialogue between a UCSC Jewish Studies scholar and a renowned scholar from another field.

The first moderated dialogue is scheduled to take place in February 2009 between Professor Sudhir Venkatest of Columbia University-a sociologist featured in the acclaimed book Freakonomics, who is one of the nation's premier experts on inner-city poverty-and UCSC professor of history and literature Nathaniel Deutsch.

Titled "Shtetl and Ghetto," the event will contrast the Eastern European Jewish shtetl and the African American ghetto.

The first annual conference will take place in April 2009 and is titled "Jewish Studies at Santa Cruz: On the Cutting Edge of Tradition." The 2010 conference will focus on "Judaism and the Environment," and the topic for 2011 will be "Judaism and the Internet."

UCSC's Professor Deutsch is planning to publish a book with the University of California Press titled Virtual Religion: How the Internet is Transforming the Way We Worship God, Build Community, and Perform Ritual in conjunction with the "Judaism and the Internet" conference.

"With the generous support of the David B. Gold Foundation, UCSC's Jewish Studies program will be embarking on a series of exciting and important interdisciplinary dialogues, lectures, and conferences that will enrich both the campus and the wider Santa Cruz community," Deutsch noted.

"The commitment of the Gold Foundation will help UCSC to shape a distinctly Santa Cruz approach to Jewish studies, one that is both anchored in tradition, and cutting edge in sensibility."