Stroum Lectures Archive

Thirty years of thought-provoking talks on Jewish life & culture

The Stroum Lectures in Jewish Studies are an annual series of talks given by luminaries in the field of Jewish Studies, hosted by Stroum Jewish Studies at the University of Washington. For more than forty years, through the generosity of Samuel and Althea Stroum, Jewish Studies has been able to bolster public scholarship around Judaism. View highlights from the past thirty years below, or scroll further to learn more about the history of the lectures and view the full archive.

Stroum Lectures Highlights

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History of the Stroum Lectures

It has been over 40 years since Murray Shiff, then Executive Director of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and Edward Alexander, chair of the Jewish Studies Committee at the UW, got an idea that was quite ambitious for a relatively small and isolated Jewish community: to bring to the UW each year an internationally known Jewish studies scholar for a series of lectures — lectures that would reach not only the Seattle community but, through publications, a nationwide audience as well.

Shiff asked one person after another for the financial resources needed. One after another, they turned him down – until he talked with Sam Stroum, who proved willing to add support for what became the Samuel & Althea Stroum Lectureship in Jewish Studies to the very long list of worthy causes to which he was already committed. The lectures have put the Center, the UW, and Seattle on the Jewish Studies “map” worldwide.

With the Stroum’s support, The University of Washington Press has published over 16 books based on the lectures; the books have collectively sold tens of thousands of copies. Several have won national book awards, and many are used in university courses around the country. To learn more about the series, visit the UW Press website.

Full Lecture Archive


Anthony Mordechai Tzvi Russell

Words, Music, Yiddish and Culture

May 2
Signs and Wonders: A Melodeklamatsiye

May 4
Between Me and the Other World: A Tikkun


Dr. Lila Corwin Berman, Temple University

America’s Jewish Question

May 10
Does the United States Have a Jewish Question?

May 12
Belonging in Question: Jews in American Civic and Legal Imagination


Dr. Julia Watts Belser, Georgetown University

Reading Jewish Texts in an Age of Climate Change

May 25
Grappling with Risk, Reimagining Hope

May 27
The Afterlives of Noah’s Ark – Gender, Disability, and the Politics of Survival


Dr. David Stern, Harvard University

May 22
The History of a Page: Reflecting on the Talmud as a Physical Book


Dr. Marina Rustow, Princeton University

Jewish Manuscripts in the Digital Age: The Cairo Geniza and the New Materiality

May 14
Lost Archives, Sacred Wastebins, and Jews of the Medieval Islamic World

May 16
The Cairo Geniza and the New Materiality


Professor Jonathan Israel, Institute for Advanced Study

“Spinoza as Revolutionary”

May 21
Spinoza as a Revolutionary Thinker

May 23
Jewish Emancipation & the Radical Enlightenment


Dr. Dara Horn & Dr. Ilan Stavans, Amherst College

“Hebrew & the Creative Imagination”

May 23
Living in Hebrew – Dara Horn

May 24
Dying in Hebrew – Ilan Stavans

2015, Spring

Dr. Ruth Behar, University of Michigan

“Dreams of Sefarad: Explorations of Modern Sephardic Identity”

May 18
Places: Loss and Memory

May 20
People: Longing & Reinvention

2014, Spring

Dr. Marianne Hirsch, Columbia University & Dr. Leo Spitzer, Dartmouth College

“School Photos and Their Afterlives: A Comparative Jewish Perspective”

March 31
School Photos in the Era of Assimilation: Jews, Indians, and Blacks

April 2
Framing Children: The Holocaust and After

2012, Fall

Professor David Ruderman, University of Pennsylvania

“Behind a Best Seller:
Kabbalah, Science, and Loving One’s Neighbor in Pinhas Hurwitz’s Sefer ha-Brit

October 22
A Remarkable Modern Jewish Book and its Entrepreneurial Author

October 24
Who Were the Readers of Sefer ha-Brit and Why Did They Read it?


Professor Jonathan Sarna, Brandeis University

“Revivals and Awakenings in American Judaism”

May 9
The Shaping of American Judaism– includes a special tribute to Althea Stroum

May 11
The Reshaping of American Judaism


Professor Ilana Pardes, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“Agnon’s Moonstruck Lovers: the Song of Songs in Israeli Culture”

These lectures are available as audio recordings

April 25
‘Upon the Handles of the Lock’: Agnon, Balak and the Israeli Bible

April 27
Agnon’s Ethnographies of Love and the Quest for the Ultimate Song


Professor Yael Zerubavel, Rutgers University

“Encounters with the Past: Remembering the ‘Bygone’ in Israeli Culture”

May 17th
Bridges to Antiquity

May 19th
Mirrors of Galut (Exile) in the Homeland

May 21st
When the New Becomes Old


Professor Michael Walzer, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton

“Biblical Politics”

Part 1
Where Were the Elders?

Part 2
Prophecy and Social Criticism

 Part 3
The Meaning of Kingship

2006, Fall

Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, New York University

“Creation, Revelation & Redemption: The Religion of the Dead Sea Scrolls”

Part 1
God, Humanity and the Universe in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Part 2
Scripture, Law and Life in the Dead Sea Scrolls

Part 3
Apocalyptics, Messiahs and the End of Days

2006, Spring

Professor Anita Norich, University of Michigan

“Speaking in Tongues: Translating Yiddish in the 20th Century”

Part 1
How Tevye Learned to Fiddle

Part 2
Remembering the Past in Yiddish

Part 3
Becoming American: Yiddish in the Golden Land


Professor Aron Rodrigue, Stanford University

“Sephardi Jewries and the Holocaust”

Part 1
The Holocaust and the End of Judeo-Spanish Culture in the Balkans

Part 2
Rhodes: The Island of Memory

Part 3
North African Jewry and the Trauma of WWII


Professor Susan Handelman, Bar-Ilan University, Tel Aviv

“Find Yourself a Teacher: The Mentor/Disciple Relation in Classical Jewish Thought and Contemporary Practice”

Part 1
Teacher-Student Reciprocity

Part 2
Teachers and Study Partners

Part 3
Becoming a Living Book


Professor Chava Weissler, Lehigh University

“Spirituality in America: The Jewish Renewal Movement”

Part 1
Jewish Renewal in the American Spiritual Marketplace

Part 2
Four Worlds and Kabbalah

Part 3
Gender and Jewish Renewal


Professor Michael Stanislawski, Columbia University

“Autobiographical Jews: Essays in Jewish Self-Fashioning”

Part 1
Asher of Reichshofen and Glikl of Hameln

Part 2
Two Russian Jews: Moshe Leib Lilienblum and Osip Mandelstam

Part 3
Autobiography as Farewell: Stephan Zweig and Sarah Kofman


Professor Paul Mendes-Flohr, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

“Post-Traditional Jewish Identities”

Part 1
Cultural Disjunctions and Modern Jewish Identity

Part 2
Jewish Cultural Memory: Its Multiple Configurations

Part 3
Jewish Learning, Jewish Hope