In 1999 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), Marc Ginsberg (Fall 2014), Eva Kor (2015), and Dennis Ross (2016).
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, Orchestra of Exiles with an appearance by Josh Aronson, and Run Boy Run.