Roundtable on ‘Building understanding across religious and cultural differences: The legacies of Martin Buber’, Senate Room, New College, 4-5.30pm, 21 February.

All welcome. Questions about the event should be addressed to Dr George R. Wilkes, Director of the Project on Religion and Ethics in the Making of War and Peace, at

Speakers will include:

George Pattison (Glasgow): Buber’s translator, Ronald Gregor Smith

Yaser Mirdamadi (Edinburgh): Buber in post-revolutionary Iran: when “it” turns “you”

Ellen Zhang (Hong Kong Baptist University): Buber’s dialogical mode of I-Thou in the light of Zhuangzi’s Daoist philosophy.

Christine Kupfer (Scottish Tagore Institute): The relationship between Tagore and Martin Buber


First event of the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies, “Jews: movement, migration, location”, 15 December, University of Glasgow

Venue:  Lecture Theatre A, Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, Glasgow
Time: 5-7pm

Ada Rapoport Albert (UCL), From Russia to Poland: Interwar Habad Hasidism in Exile

Mia Spiro (University of Glasgow), The Dybbuk’s Haunted Stage: Performing Jewish Mysticism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

Part of the Mysticism in Comparative Perspective Conference


Ada Rapoport-Albert is Professor emerita of Jewish Studies and former Head of Hebrew and Jewish UCL. She is a historian of the Jewish mystical tradition, with special interest in Hasidism, the messianic movement of Sabbatai Zevi, ascetic practice in a variety of pietistic circles, and gender issues in reference to all the above topics. Her publications include Women and the Messianic Heresy of Sabbatai Zevi 1666-1816 (2011) and, in Hebrew,Studies in Hasidism, Sabbatianism, and Gender (2015).

The paper focuses on a crucial turning point in the history of the Habad-Lubavitch school of Hasidism, when its leader, the 6th Rebbe, Joseph Isaac Schneersohn (1880-1950), fled his native Russia, where religious observance was vigorously suppressed by the Communist authorities, and established his headquarters (‘court’) in the then free Second Republic of Poland, having left behind the bulk of his traditionally large hasidic following, now effectively trapped in the Soviet Union. The strategies he adopted during this period for transplanting the distinctive Habad brand of Hasidism in an alien Jewish environment, densely populated by rival, indigenously Polish Hasidic ‘courts’, laid the foundations for every radical innovation, which was to secure Habad’s post-war survival and its transformation into a highly visible, international outreach movement.

Mia Spiro is Lecturer in Jewish Studies at the School of Critical Studies, University of Glasgow. She is the author of Anti-Nazi Modernism: The Challenges of Resistance in 1930s Fiction (Northwestern UP, 2013) and has published several articles on Jewish representation in literature and film in the period leading up to WWII and the Holocaust. She is currently working on a project, entitled ‘Monsters and Migration: Golems, Vampires, and the Ghosts of War’, which examines how elements of the supernatural have been used by modern writers and artists to grapple with oppression, migration, and antisemitism in the first half of the twentieth century.

In the preface to his play script, The Dybbuk (1914), a tale of a young bride possessed by the spirit of her dead beloved, S. Ansky writes: “throughout the play there is a battle between… the individual’s striving for happiness and the survival of the nation.” Thus Ansky, an ethnographer and historian who set out to recapture the already disappearing culture of the Jewish shtetl, reinvented in the Jewish imagination in what is surely Jewish theatre’s most popular theatrical production (over 2000 performances to date). This talk will explore how the idea of the “dybbuk” — the possessing spirit — transforms on stage and screen in the years leading up to WWII and in 1948-1954 productions in Glasgow, New York and Paris, as Jewish communities grapple with the haunting and very “undead” spirit of a Jewish cultural life on the wake of the Shoah.

Announcing the Astaire Seminar Series in Jewish Studies 2016/17:’Jews: movement, migration, location’

The Astaire Seminar Series 2016/17 is organised between the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, St Andrews, Durham and Manchester. Events are free and open to all. If you are planning to attend any of these seminars please contact the local organiser for details regarding venue and timing. The address is in the link for each location.

15 December 2016, University of Glasgow
Venue:  Lecture Theatre A, Boyd Orr Building, University Avenue, Glasgow
Time: 5-7pm

Ada Rapoport Albert (UCL), From Russia to Poland: Interwar Habad Hasidism in Exile

Mia Spiro (University of Glasgow), The Dybbuk’s Haunted Stage: Performing Jewish Mysticism in the Aftermath of the Holocaust

This event is part of the Mysticism in Comparative Perspective Conference

21 March 2017, University of Manchester
Venue: A113 Samuel Alexander Building, University of Manchester
Time: 5-7pm

Sander Gilman (Emory University), Jews as Exiles and their Representations after 1933

Cathy Gelbin (University of Manchester), German Jews and the Cosmopolitan Ideal in Exile from National Socialism

26 April 2017, University of St Andrews
Venue: Old Class Library, School of History, 69 South Street, St Andrews
Time: 2-4pm

Adam Shear (University of Pittsburgh), Jews and their Books on the Move in Early Modern Europe

Emily Finer (University of St Andrews), Jewish Migration and Metamorphosis in Early Soviet Fiction

This event is co-sponsored by USTC and the School of History

9 May 2017, University of Durham
Elad Lapidot (Freie Universität Berlin), Deterritorialized Immigrant: The Talmudic Ger as a Cross-Border Figure

Ilan Baron (University of Durham), The International Cultural Politics of Israeli Cuisine

11 July 2017, University of Edinburgh
Hana Wirth-Nesher (University of Tel Aviv), To Move, to Translate, To Write: Jewish American Immigrant Voices

This event is a keynote lecture at the British Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference.

‘The Holocaust and the Novel: Can an Atrocity be Fictionalized? ‘ Thane Rosenbaum in Conversation, 22 November 2016, New College

Thane Rosenbaum in conversation with Dr Nina Fischer. Introduced by Dr Hannah Holtschneider.

Tuesday 22 November 2016, 4-6pm, Martin Hall, New College

Thane Rosenbaum is a novelist, essayist and law professor, the author of numerous books of fiction and nonfiction including The Golems of GothamSecond Hand Smoke and, most recently, How Sweet It Is! He appears frequently in such publications as the New York TimesWall Street JournalWashington Post, Huffington Post, and the Daily Beast, among other national publications. He is a Distinguished Fellow at New York University School of Law, where he directs the Forum on Law, Culture & Society.

Professor David Purdie: David Daiches – a life, 5 October 2016, 1-2pm, IASH, University of Edinburgh

One of the finest literary scholars of the 20th century, David Daiches combined mastery of the history and practice of literary criticism with wit and eloquence both at the podium and on the printed page. He produced creative literature of his own, not least in Two Worlds his memoirs of a Jewish childhood in Edinburgh and, in A Third World, his later academic life in the US. He made his mark, however, as a teacher, critic and historian of English literature. The son of Rabbi Salis Daiches, he was educated at George Watson’s College and Edinburgh University before going south to a Fellowship at Balliol where he later completed his Doctorate on the Hebrew sources of the King James Bible. In 1937, having gone to Chicago University as assistant professor of English, he left for New York in 1943 to work for the British Information Service (an arm of MI6) before becoming 2nd Secretary at our Embassy in Washington DC. Here has was a colleague of Sir Isaiah Berlin under the coldly patrician gaze of Lord Halifax. After the war, Daiches and his family went to Cornell University, in Ithaca, NY as Professor of English, before returning to the UK in 1951 as Lecturer in English at Jesus College, Oxford. He produced a stream of literary biographies on such as Milton, R.L. Stevenson, Scott and Robert Burns – as well as his masterly A Critical History of English Literature. He retired to Edinburgh in 1977 after more than a decade as Head of English at Sussex University and became an early Director of IASH at his alma mater. He died in 2004, full of years and honours having rounded off his remarkable career with such works as A Companion to Scottish Culture – and on one of its more sobering ingredients; Scotch Whisky… In this lecture, Professor David Purdie will review the life and works of David Daiches, drawing out his contributions to literary scholarship as well as to the development of the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities.