Our guest scholar Jonathan Pollack has been teaching history at Madison Area Technical College since 1998. Since 2012, he has also been an Honorary Fellow in UW-Madison’s Center for Jewish Studies. He has published several articles on the Jewish history of the Midwest in academic journals, and he is a frequent guest on Wisconsin Public Radio and other media.
Saturday, November 11, 2017 10:00 am
“Keturah: The Family We Don’t Talk About” Torah Study Lunch to follow.
The second half of this week’s parsha deals with the offspring of Keturah, a concubine of Abraham’s who doesn’t appear in the Torah until after Sarah’s death at the start of the parsha. Although Abraham’s concubine Hagar, the mother of Ishmael, is an important figure in the Torah, Keturah is rarely mentioned. Keturah’s children include the ancestors of nations that appear as rivals and adversaries to the Israelites in later books of the Torah, so why don’t we know more about her? Today’s d’var will explore possibilities from traditional and modern commentaries as we attempt to understand why Keturah is so obscure. Pollack’s talk begins the Swarsensky Lecture weekend and kicks off the Adult Education Committee’s year-long focus on family and community history.
Sunday, November 12, 2017 9:45 am
Brunch and Keynote “Rudolph Jessner: Recovering the Community History We Don’t Talk About”
Deerfield-born Rudolph Jessner’s parents were the first Russian Jews to settle in Dane County, arriving in the late 1880s. He lived a turbulent and tragic life en route to becoming one of Madison’s most notorious speakeasy operators during Prohibition. His assassination of a Madison police officer and subsequent imprisonment at Waupun embarrassed Madison’s Jewish community and, arguably, hastened the Jewish exodus from the Greenbush neighborhood. In addition to telling the lurid tale of Rudolph Jessner, Jonathan Pollack’s talk will show us how to recover the histories of community and family members-- that no one wants to talk about-- through census records, newspapers, archival sources, and more. This talk is the second of Jonathan’s Swarsensky Lectures, and part of the Adult Education Committee’s yearlong look at family and community history.