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Lecture Focuses on Impact of Spanish Inquisition on the Yiddish Stage
UAlbany Center for Jewish Studies and Colonie Jewish Community Association launch their annual program with a Nov. 18 lecture by Joel Berkowitz

Contact: Karl Luntta (518) 437-4980

ALBANY, N.Y. (November 2, 2004) -- The Center for Jewish Studies at UAlbany and the Colonie Jewish Community Association will present UAlbany Professor Joel Berkowitz of the Judaic Studies Department lecturing on "The Spanish Inquisition on the Yiddish Stage." The lecture, the initial presentation of the annual educational program, will be held Thursday, November 18, 7:30 p.m., at the William K. Sanford Town Library in Loudonville. Light, kosher refreshments will be served. The event is free and open to the public, and all facilities are wheelchair accessible.

Berkowitz contends that in the early 1880s, the Yiddish theatre developed a striking preoccupation with historical subjects, and no single period after biblical times was more prominent in Yiddish drama than the era of the Spanish Inquisition and expulsion.  Initially, the subject inspired a wave of musicals and melodramas, but even at their most escapist these plays used the Inquisition to examine Jews' place in a predominantly non-Jewish world.  As Yiddish drama matured, some of its most respected writers--Sholem Asch, Alter Kacyzne, and Kadia Molodowsky--also dramatized episodes from the Inquisition, each time approaching the subject in new ways according to the writers' sensibilities and the ever-changing conditions of modern Jewry.

The Center for Jewish Studies and Colonie Jewish Community Association collaboration was created to promote greater understanding of Jewish heritage and community in the Capital Region. The annual educational program highlights topics about Jewish life and culture, and is organized by the UAlbany Center for Jewish Studies. The program underscores the Center's goal of promoting a deeper understanding of the social, religious and historical dimensions of Jewish life through educational lectures and activities. By including topics such as Jewish art, music and culture, the program seeks to attract a broad range of participants of all ages and backgrounds - from both the University community and greater Capital region. Moreover, the program provides for an academic forum for individuals who are interested in enriching their knowledge about Jewish culture, thus, also supporting the core mission of the University - to educate and advance knowledge in society.


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