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Jewish Ceremonial Art: Continuing the Conversation

Tuesday, April 13
12 – 1:30 p.m.

Please join us for a program in memory of Vivian B. Mann, featuring Reed College’s Laura Arnold Leibman and Bar-Ilan University’s Maya Balakirsky Katz in conversation with Fordham University’s Magda Teter.

Jewish ceremonial objects have been studied and collected for nearly 150 years. In the past few decades, however, their importance in understanding social, historic, and aesthetic issues in a variety of cultural contexts has begun to increase. This program is dedicated to the memory of Vivian B. Mann, a long-time Judaica curator at The Jewish Museum in New York and head of the graduate program in Jewish Art and Visual Culture at The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. Among her many accomplishments, Mann started initiatives to ensure that the rigorous study of Judaica would become part of the discourse of wider disciplines, such as art history, history, and Jewish studies. Building on her legacy, Arnold Leibman and Balakirsky Katz will each speak about a ceremonial object from the vantage point of their different disciplines, and then engage in a conversation with Teter about the state of the field today and the possibilities for the future.

About the Speakers
Arnold Leibman is a professor of English and humanities at Reed College. Her work focuses on religion and the daily lives of women and children in early America, and uses everyday objects to help bring their stories back to life. Her latest work, The Art of the Jewish Family, examines objects owned by Jewish women living in New York several centuries ago in order to recreate their biographies and restore their agency as creators of Jewish identity. Another of her books, Messianism, Secrecy and Mysticism: A New Interpretation of Early American Jewish Life, won the Jewish National Book Award.

Balakirsky Katz is an associate professor of Jewish art at Bar-Ilan University. Coming from the discipline of art history, she is interested in the relationship between perception and the psyche, art and psychoanalysis, visual culture, and religion. In her 2010 book, The Visual Culture of Chabad, she sets out to demonstrate the importance of objects and the visual experience in the study of faith communities. She recently published Intersections between Jews and Media, and is co-editor of Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture.

Teter is a professor of history and the Shvilder Chair in Judaic Studies at Fordham University. She is the author of Jews and Heretics in Catholic Poland (2005), Sinners on Trial (2011), and Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth (2020). Her work has been supported by the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, YIVO Institute, and the Yad Ha-Nadiv Foundation. This year she is the NEH Senior Scholar at the Center for Jewish History in New York City.

This program is presented in partnership with the Jewish Museum.


This event is open to alumni, faculty/staff, parents, students, and the public.