ROBBINS COLLECTION ANNUAL LECTURE IN JEWISH LAW, THOUGHT, AND IDENTITY: From Sinai to Ethiopia, and Back to Israel: The Halakhic and Conceptual World of Ethiopian Jewry

Prof. Rabbi Sharon Shalom, Ono College and Bar-Ilan University 5:30 pm Reception, 6 PM Lecture, Room 105

In his talk, Prof. Rabbi Shalom delves into the history, customs, and law of the Beta Israel, codifying the ancient cultural heritage of Ethiopian Jewry and contrasting it with Orthodox rabbinic law. Navigating tensions between religion and culture, he offers suggestions for honoring Beta Israel tradition while fully participating in the greater Jewish community.

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Desert in the Promised Land: Nature, Settlement, and the Politics of Space in Israel

Professor Yael Zerubavel, Rutgers University 5:30 PM Lecture, 6 PM Reception. The Great Hall, Bancroft Hotel

Yael Zerubavel tells the story of the desert from the early twentieth century to the present, shedding light on romantic-mythical associations, settlement and security concerns, environmental sympathies, and the commodifying tourist gaze. Drawing on literary narratives, educational texts, newspaper articles, tourist materials, films, popular songs, posters, photographs, and cartoons, Zerubavel reveals the complexities and contradictions that mark Israeli society’s semiotics of space in relation to the Middle East, and the central role of the “besieged island” trope in Israeli culture and politics.

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Israeli Women in Combat

Professor Ayelet Harel-Shalev, Ben Gurion University 5:30 PM Reception, 6 PM Lecture, Room 110

Professor Ayelet Harel-Shalev draws on interviews with 100 women military veterans about their experiences in combat. Focusing on women in the Israeli Defense Forces, she provides different perspectives about what their experiences teach us, why such research is important, and how to consider soldiers and veterans both as citizens and as violent state actors—an issue with which scholars are often reluctant to engage.

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