Delighted to share our presenters from Cambridge Limmud 2018:
Rebecca Abrams is the Royal Literary Fund Writing Fellow at Brasenose College, Oxford. An award-winning author and literary critic for the Financial Times, she is best known for The Jewish Journey: 4000 Years in 22 Objects, which traces Jewish history through 22 little-known objects in Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum. One object for every letter of the Hebrew alphabet – and each object tells a gripping story.
Anna Abulafia is the Professor of the Study of the Abrahamic Religions at the University of Oxford. She is a leading authority on interactions between Christians and Jews in the Dark (yet fascinating) Ages: disputations, religious intolerance, violence but also everyday life.
David Abulafia is Professor of Mediterranean History at Cambridge University and one of the world’s leading historians whose book on the Mediterranean, The Great Sea, was a bestseller. David knows all there is to know about those fascinating days when the interaction among Jews, Christians and Arabs along the shores and the shoals of the Great Sea forged modern times.
Tali Artman is a postdoctoral fellow in Hebrew and Semitic Studies at Cambridge University – her main subjects are Jewish and Christian constructions of gender and sexuality in the Late Antiquity, the interaction between Rabbinic literature and Graeco-Roman rhetoric and philosophy, and connections between Modern Hebrew literature and ancient Jewish texts.
Simon Baron Cohen is Professor of Developmental Psychopathology in Cambridge and the Director of the University’s Autism Research Centre. It is fair to say that he is not just the leading world expert into autism but that his international standing is so high that none of his contemporaries would be offended by this statement. A wonderful and eloquent populariser of clinical psychology.
Devorah Baum is a lecturer in English literature and critical theory at the University of Southampton. She is the author of Feeling Jewish (A Book for Just About Anyone) and of The Jewish Joke – which definitely is for absolutely everyone! And in more sober moments, she is concerned with the role of religion in modern and contemporary politics, literature and philosophy.
Daniel Boyarin is among the leading Talmudists of the age – but also a unique character: red braces, an ear-ring and a huge deal of informality and enthusiasm. He is one of Cambridge Day Limmud’s regulars – and for a good reason!
Amanda Craig is a major contemporary novelist, an author of seven broadly-linked novels exploring different aspects of British lives – from the interplay between fairy-tales and manic depression to the lives of legal and illegal immigrants in London. She was a children editor of The Times and is an award-winning freelance journalist whose articles define the perimeters of British quality press.
Keren David has been a journalist since she was a teenager, working for many national newspapers. She is now Associate Editor (Features) for the Jewish Chronicle. She’s also the award-winning author of ten books for Young Adults, including two published this year, Stranger (Atom) and True Sisters (Barrington Stoke). She is working with Paul Herbert and Lesley Ross to adapt her novel Lia’s Guide to Winning the Lottery as a musical. Karen lives in London.
Jeremy Dronfield is a novelist, a ghostwriter and a biographer. He has to his credit numerous books of (mostly) contemporary history. In particular, Limmudniks will be interested in The Stone Crusher, which describes the harrowing fight for survival of a father and a son in Auschwitz.
Tamar Drukker is a Senior Lecturer in Hebrew at SOAS University of London: the main area of her interest is Hebrew, spanning modern and medieval literature. And it is the later which is so replete with surprises: did you know that the Arthurian tales were translated into Hebrew in 1279?
Giles Fraser is a man of many parts: an Anglican priest, a journalist and an author (and sometimes philosophy lecturer). Whether you agree or disagree with his Guardian‘s articles, nobody can deny that they are full of sincerity and passion for a better, more just world. So, what is a nice half-Jewish boy doing at Limmud? Giles has an enduring passion about things Jewish and Israeli and he will tell us all about it.
Edie Friedman was born in Chicago. A student in the 1960’s, she was heavily influenced by the civil rights and peace movements. She came to England to study in Leeds and subsequently worked for Oxfam and the Community Relations Council in Ealing, west London. In 1976 she founded the Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE), of which she is now the executive director. In 2008 she co-authored Reluctant Refuge – The Story of Asylum in Britain. She has also authored and co-authored a series of race equality education resources covering the primary school to adult age ranges. In 2014 she co-founded Tzelem – the Rabbinic Call for Economic and Social Justice in the UK. She is a ‘distinguished friend’ of the Migration Museum and is a regular speaker and writer on race and asylum issues.
Shirli Gilbert’s much acclaimed book, Music in the Holocaust, is the definitive work on the role of music in Nazi ghettos and camps and the insight it offers into victims’ responses. She is Professor of Modern History at the University of Southampton, specialising in modern Jewish history. Her more recent research explores the ways in which the Holocaust shaped responses to apartheid in South Africa between 1948 and 1994 and, more generally, the ways the Holocaust has informed engagement with concepts of `race’ and racism from the 1940s until the present.
Simon Goldhill is – to dispense with formalities – the Professor of Greek Literature and the John Harvard Professor in Humanities and Social Sciences at Cambridge and the Director of Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences, and Humanities and diverse other titles, distinctions and positions. But, most importantly, he is a gifted and sought-after lecturer and broadcaster on all matters Greek, but also all matters Jewish, sparkling and witty and great fun. (He is also a great kosher cook but no, he is not in charge of Limmud catering.)
Julian Huppert is a biological chemist, a Liberal Democrat politician who was the MP for Cambridge – perhaps the only scientist to grace the green benches of the House of Commons in recent times. He is eloquent and outspoken on a wide range of issues, from the role of science in society to civil liberties all the way to safety for cyclists. (Here in Cambridge cycling is taken at least as seriously as science or civil liberties!) He now runs the Intellectual Forum at Jesus College – apparently having finally found Jesus!
Arieh Iserles is a Cambridge mathematician, specialising in applied and computational analysis, who recently retired from Professorship in Numerical Analysis of Differential Equations – yet he solemnly promises not to mention a single mathematical formula during his presentation. For the last twenty years he has been shouting (OK, not from the rooftops) about the forthcoming data and information revolution and lately has been involved in setting national and Cambridge structures to deal with Big Data.
Trisha Oakley Kessler is completing her PhD at the School of History, University College Dublin. Her research explores how Fianna Fáil’s economic nationalism shaped Irish society through the prism of Jewish refugee industries in provincial Ireland. She teaches on a special subject paper in the History Faculty at Cambridge University, An Alternative History of Ireland: Religious Minorities and Identity in the 26 Counties, 1900–1959 and is a Convenor of the Modern Irish History Seminar. She is also a Research Associate at the Woolf Institute, Cambridge.
Noa Landau is the diplomatic correspondent of that most venerable and reknown of Israeli newspapers, HaAretz, having previously edited its English edition. Noa Landau was a 2016 fellow at The Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism in Oxford. She does not shy away from controversy and expresses her opinions in a measured, yet forceful manner. One of the most exciting voices coming from Israel!
Nicholas de Lange is Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies in Cambridge, also a Reform rabbi. He is an expert on Jewish history and Judaism, but also arguably the most celebrated translator into English of the leading Israeli writers: Amos Oz, S. Yizhar, A.B. Yehoshua… You know you made it in the Hebrew literary world once Nick de Lange translates you!
Clive Lawton is many things – an educator, broadcaster, lecturer at London School of Jewish Studies , writer,… But beyond all this he is Mister Limmud, the founder and the living spirit of the organisation from its humble beginnings in London to current globe-spanning activities. Unsurprisingly perhaps, his enthusiasm for all things Jewish and educational is contagious.
David Lehmann is a Cambridge social scientist who views and explores society from a very broad perspective: from contemporary Latin America to Israel to multiculturalism, from development to religious identity to race and social justice in Brazil.
Mike Levy is the heart and soul of the Cambridge Jewish community. A playwright, historian, actor, singer, composer but, beyond anything else, a mercurial spinner of a good and fascinating tale, a raconteur and a narrator who keeps the audience spellbound.
Lea Mühlstein is the Rabbi of Northwood & Pinner Liberal Synagogue with passion for social action and engagement, be it asylum seeker drop-in centre or tea parties for elderly members. She is also the new international chair of ARZENU, the umbrella organisation of Reform and Progressive Religious Zionists.
Jacqueline Nicholls is an artist who explores traditional Jewish ideas in a modern, untraditional ways. Be it paper-cuts, embroidery, corsetry, drawings and print, clothing,… – all explore Jewish existence in oft-surprising ways. Add to this draw yomi, the project to draw one page of Talmud a day: a parallel of the traditional דף יומי (daf yomi, daily page) of Talmudic study, yet fascinating and refreshing in its modern look, creativity and humour.
Nurit Novis Deutsch lives in the Galilee and is a clinical psychologist and a researcher in psychology of religion at Haifa University and at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Nurit researches various aspects of religious and national prejudice in the Israeli context including the relationship between various types of God concepts and prejudice and the role of ideology in delineating out-groups. Weighty topics that are bound to spark much discussion at this Limmud.
Ben Outhwaite is Head of the Genizah Research Unit in Cambridge University Library. The Cairo Genizah was the huge depository of Jewish manuscripts in the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Fustat, Cairo, and most of it now resides in Cambridge University Library. This is not just the greatest Jewish collection of Medieval documents – on worship, literature, medicine, daily life – but arguably the most important collection of manuscripts on everyday Medieval life, that tells thousands of fascinating tales!
Griselda Pollock is the director of the Centre for Cultural Analysis, Theory and History at the University of Leeds. A world-class expert in cultural history, her focus is on postcolonial feminist studies in the visual arts. She has had enduring influence on feminist theory, feminist art history and gender studies.
Deborah Posel is currently a Leverhulme visiting professor at the Institute for Advanced Study, UCL. Prior to this, she has been professor of sociology at the University of Cape Town and founding director there of the Institute for Humanities in Africa (HUMA). Deborah has written extensively on various aspects of South Africa’s past and present, with a particular interest in its racial order. This includes The Making of Apartheid, 1948 – 1961; Apartheid’s Genesis (with P. Delius and P.Bonner); Commissioning the Truth: Understanding the SA Truth and Reconciliation Commission (with G. Simpson); Ethical Quandaries in Social Research (with F. Ross); Conspicuous Consumption in Africa (with I van Wyk).
Dave Rich is an Associate at the Pears Institute for the Study of Antisemitism and Head of Policy of the Community Security Trust. His recent book The Left’s Jewish Problem: Jeremy Corbyn, Israel and Anti‑Semitism cannot be more topical to current concerns of British Jews and to the issues underlying the way Labour Party is grappling with Anti-Semitism.
Jonathan Romain is the Minister of Maidenhead Synagogue and one of the leaders of the Reform Movement. He is widely known as an author, journalist and broadcaster featured in The Times, The Independent, The Guardian, The Huffington Post and of course The Jewish Chronicle, eloquently expressing the world view of progressive Judaism on a wide range of issues, from same-sex marriage to dignity in dying.
Joshua Rozenberg, often to be seen on BBC and with a distinguished track record at The Telegraph and London Evening Standard, is unarguably the foremost British legal commentator and a QC. His depth of legal knowledge is legendary, as is his ability to render it in a clear and accessible manner.
Miri Rubin, Professor of Early Modern History at Queen Mary University of London, knows how to render medieval history in fascinating terms and bring it to life. A favourite of many Cambridge Limmuds, she is the acclaimed author of Mother of God: A History of the Virgin Mary – one nice Jewish girl writing about another nice Jewish girl…
Shahed Saleem is an architect and academic whose particular research and practice interests are in the architecture of migrant and post-migrant communities. His recently published The British Mosque provides an overview and explanation of Islamic architecture in Britain. He notes that a mosque is more about process and its design is often a slow iterative business by which a community defines its needs, finds a site, raises money and commissions a building: sounds familiar to the Cambridge Jewish Reform community in their new synagogue.
Marc Saperstein is Professor of Jewish History and Homiletics at Leo Baeck College, following five years as Principal of the College. Before relocating to the UK in 2006, he taught Jewish history and culture at three American Universities. His primary area of research and publication has been the history of Jewish preaching; his most recent of six books is Jewish Preaching in Times of War: 1800–2001. His own riveting sermons have captured audiences at the Congregation of Beth Shalom and many other communities in the UK and the US.
Dan Squires QC is a Cambridge boy made good: a barrister at Matrix Chambers, specialising in administrative and public law, civil liberties and education, as well as a Visiting Professor at Queen Mary University of London and Deputy High Court Judge. Dan has been involved in many European Court of Human Rights and Supreme Court cases at the heart of our civil liberties – from airport stops under the Terrorism Act to religious freedoms in the workplace to the retention of DNA by police.
Ilana Webster-Kogen is the Joe Loss Lecturer in the department of music at SOAS. She received her PhD in ethnomusicology from SOAS. Her research focuses on migration and diaspora, examining urban music of the Middle East and Northeast Africa. She has published on Ethiopian musicians in Tel Aviv and her current research focuses on Arab music in Tel Aviv where she comes fresh from conducting field work this year.