Sixteen years ago the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center at the University of California, Santa Barbara received a gift from the Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation which is enabling us to bring to our campus leading writers, artists, scholars, critics, and activists engaged in work of great distinction related to the Jewish experience.

The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies were inaugurated with appearances by Art Spiegelman (Fall, 1997), Leah Rabin (Winter, 1998), and Rabbi Michael Lerner (Spring, 1998). Since then our featured guests have included Steven Katz (Fall, 1998), Rabbi Arthur Hertzberg (Spring, 1999), Amos Oz (Fall, 2000), Thomas Friedman (Fall, 1999), Theatre Company Jerusalem (Winter, 2000), The Jerusalem Trio (Fall, 2000), Morris Dees (Fall, 2000), David Shipler (Winter, 2001), Ruth Gruber (Fall, 2001), A.B. Yehoshua (Winter, 2002), Elie Wiesel (Spring, 2002), Tom Segev (Winter 2003), Jacques Derrida (Fall 2003), Moshe Idel (Spring, 2004), Ambassador Dennis Ross (Fall, 2004), Aaron David Miller (Winter, 2005), Jonathan Sarna (Spring 2005), Yossi Klein Halevi (Fall 2005), Bernard-Henri Lévy (Spring, 2006), Rabbi Daniel Gordis (Fall, 2006), Judea and Ruth Pearl (Winter, 2007), Saul Friedlander (Spring, 2007), Michael Oren (Fall 2008), Nathan Englander (Spring 2008), Allegra Goodman (Spring, 2008), David Grossman (Fall 2008), Rabbi David Saperstein (Winter, 2009), Rabbi Reuven Firestone (Spring, 2009), David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari (Fall, 2009), Anita Diamant (Fall, 2009), Ethan Bronner (Winter 2010), Michael Fishbane (Spring 2010), Ian Buruma (Spring 2010), Moshe Halbertal and Raghida Dergham (Fall 2011), Dara Horn (Winter, 2012), Yehuda Bauer (Spring,2012), Maggie Anton (Fall, 2012), Ambassador Martin Indyk (Fall, 2012), Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks (Fall, 2012), Ambassador Daniel Kurtzer (Fall, 2013), Leon Wieseltier (Fall 2013).

In 1998-99, we began screening films such as The Shoah Foundation's Academy Award-winning documentary, The Last Days, which chronicles the experiences of five Holocaust survivors who lived in Hungary, Amir Bar-Lev's Fighter which garnered numerous film festival awards for its portrait of two old friends engaged in an original and unorthodox exploration of the Holocaust, the Emmy Award winning documentary, Promises, which explores the Middle East Conflict through the lives of seven Palestinian and Israeli children from Jerusalem, and Seeds, which offers an intimate and candid glimpse of the incredible experiences of young leaders from four conflict regions who meet at the Seeds of Peace International Camp in Maine. Since then we have regularly previewed documentaries which were just entering the film festival circuit before their commercial release, such as Four Seasons Lodge with an appearance by photographer Rick Nahmias, Constantine’s Sword with an appearance by Boston Globe journalist James Carroll, The Journalist and the Jihadi: The Murder of Daniel Pearl with an appearance by Judea and Ruth Pearl, God’s House, with an appearance by fine art photographer Norman Gershman, And Crown Thy Good: Varian Fry in Marseille with an appearance by Pierre Sauvage, and Orchestra of Exiles with an appearance by Josh Aronson.

The Herman P. and Sophia Taubman Foundation Endowed Symposia in Jewish Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a program of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, is cosponsored by UCSB Arts & Lectures, Department of Religious Studies, Congregation B’nai B’rith, Jewish Federation of Greater Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Hillel.

For event information, please call the Capps Center at (805) 893-2317.

Past Events

2015 - 2016

Eva Kor

"Surviving the Angel of Death"

May 1st, 2016

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Anat Hoffman (Executive Director, the Israeli Religious Action Center)

"The Search for Cracks in the City of Stone: An Anatomy of the Struggles for Pluralism in Modern Jerusalem"

March 10th, 2016

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David Makovsky and Ghaith al-Omari (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

"Israelis and Palestinians: A New Paradigm?"

February 24th, 2016

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Shaul Bassi (Ca' Foscari University of Venice, Italy)

"Shylock in Venice: Staging Shakespeare in the Ghetto"

January 26th, 2016

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Ambassador Dennis Ross

"Doomed to Succeed: U.S.-Israeli Relations During a Time of Change"

November 20th, 2015

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Yoram Peri (Abraham S. and Jack Kay Chair in Israel Studies at the University Maryland at College Park)

"The Second Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the Cultural War in Israel"

October 18th, 2015

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"Run Boy Run"

September 11th, 2015

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2014 - 2015

"The Zionist Idea: A History of Zionism and Its Impact on Jews, Arabs and the World"

April 20th, 2015

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Glenn Kurtz (author)

"Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film"

April 16th, 2015

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Paul Mendes-Flohr (Modern Jewish History and Thought, University of Chicago Divinity School)

"The Life and Legacy of Martin Buber: Paul Mendes-Flohr in Conversation with Richard Hecht"

February 9th, 2015

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Eric Lichtblau (reporter, The New York Times)

"The Nazis Next Door: How America Became a Safe Haven for Hitler’s Men"

January 26th, 2015

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Ari Shavit (Senior Correspondent, Haaretz)

"21st Century Zion: America, Israel and the Challenges of a New Era"

December 2nd, 2014

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Rabbi David Wolpe (Sinai Temple, Los Angeles)

"David: The Divided Heart"

November 16th, 2014

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Kati Marton (former NPR and ABC News Correspondent and bestselling author)

"The Great Escape: Nine Jews Who Fled Hitler and Changed the World"

October 29th, 2014

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2013 - 2014

Rabbi Laura Geller (Temple Emanuel, Beverly Hills)

"Nice Jewish Girls- Radicals, Acitivists, and Rabbis"

May 28th, 2014

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April 28th, 2014

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E. Randol Schoenberg (Burris, Schoenberg & Walden, LLP)

"The Recovery of Nazi-Looted Art: The Bloch-Bauer Klimt Paintings"

February 20th, 2014

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Barbara Mann (The Jewish Theological Seminary)

"CANCELLED Makom: The Place of Space in Jewish Cultures"

January 23rd, 2014

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Gideon Raff (Director, Prisoners of War)

"Prisoners of War and Homeland"

November 24th, 2013

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Leon Wieseltier (Literary Editor, The New Republic)

"Israel and America: Two Zions?"

November 14th, 2013

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Ambassador Daniel C. Kurtzer

"Pathways to Peace: America and the Arab-Israeli Conflict"

October 20th, 2013

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2012 - 2013

Karen Wilson (History, UCLA)

"Jews in the Los Angeles Mosaic"

May 30th, 2013

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Josh Aronson (director)

"Orchestra of Exiles"

April 7th, 2013

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Dov Waxman (Political Science, CUNY)

"The Palestinian Minority in Israel: Between Coexistence and Conflict"

February 11th, 2013

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Martin S. Indyk (Vice President, Director for Foreign Policy, the Brookings Institution)

"Ambassador Martin S. Indyk: The Middle East in Turmoil: What Does It Mean For Israel?"

November 4th, 2012

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Maggie Anton (Author, Rashi's Daughters)

"Rav Hisda’s Daughter"

October 17th, 2012

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2011 - 2012

Rabbi Rick Jacobs (President-Elect, Union for Reform Judaism)

"A Force for Good and for God – Judaism in the 21st Century"

May 20th, 2012

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Lawrence Baron (History, San Diego State University)

"The Jazz Singer: From the Melting Pot to a Multicultural America"

May 14th, 2012

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Yehuda Bauer (Academic Advisor, Yad Vashem)

"Holocaust and Genocide"

April 19th, 2012

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Ron Hassner (Political Science, UC Berkeley)

"Sharing Jerusalem’s Holy Places"

February 6th, 2012

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2010 - 2011

Samuel Heilman, Harold Proshansky Chair in Jewish Studies, Graduate Center, CUNY

"The Rebbe and The Resurgence of Orthodox Judaism"

May 8th, 2011

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Judy Klitsner, Senior Faculty Member, Pardes Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem

"The Tent, the Field, and the Battlefield: How the Stories of Biblical Matriarchs Mine and Undermine Each Other"

February 6th, 2011

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Pierre Sauvage, Documentary Filmmaker of Weapons of the Spirit

"America and the Holocaust

January 18th, 2011

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Sue Fishkoff, National Correspondent for the Jewish Telegraphic Agency

"Kosher Nation: Why More and More of America’s Food Answers to a Higher Authority"

November 11th, 2010

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2009 - 2010

Norman H. Gershman, fine art photographer

"Besa: Muslims Who Saved Jews in WWII"

April 11th, 2010

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Michael Fishbane, Nathan Cummings Professor of Jewish Studies, University of Chicago Divinity School

"Sacred Attunement: Judaism and the Cultivation of Mindfulness in the Everyday"

March 2nd, 2010

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Ethan Bronner, Jerusalem Bureau Chief, New York Times

"Covering the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict in 2010: A Report from the Ground"

February 8th, 2010

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Harold M. Schulweis, Rabbi Emeritus of Temple Valley Beth Shalom, Encino, CA

"Judaism as a World Religion in a Global Universe"

December 6th, 2009

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Anita Diamant

"An Evening with Anita Diamant"

November 12th, 2009

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2008 - 2009

Rabbi Reuven Firestone Professor of Medieval Jewish and Islamic Studies, Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion

"Who Are the Real Chosen People? The Meaning of Chosenness in Judaism, Christianity and Islam"

May 19th, 2009

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In Commemoration of Yom HaShoah

"Four Seasons Lodge"

April 19th, 2009

Screening Followed by Panel Discussion Featuring local Holocaust survivors, Stan Ostern and Edith Ostern, and photographer Rick Nahmias moderated by Dr. Richard Hecht

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Rabbi David Saperstein, Director, Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, Washington, DC

"Being the Hands of God: Jewish Perspectives on America’s Social Justice Agenda"

March 22nd, 2009

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