WMU News

Jewish scholar to discuss narratives

Feb. 14, 2002

KALAMAZOO -- Noted Jewish scholar Dr. Dean Phillip Bell will explore Jewish historical narratives and the Ben Ezra Synagogue in Cairo, Egypt, when he visits Western Michigan University Wednesday, Feb. 27.

Bell, dean and chief academic officer at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies in Chicago, will make two presentations in Walwood Commons on WMU's East Campus. Sponsored by WMU's Graduate Student Advisory Committee, the History Graduate Student Organization and the Medieval Institute, his presentations are free and open to the public.

Bell's first lecture, at 4 p.m., will address "Remembered Pasts: Jewish Historical Narratives and Communal Identity in Early Modern Germany." Based on his recent book, "Sacred Communities: Jewish and Christian Identities in Fifteenth-Century Germany," his presentation will consider the role of historical Jewish narratives and the relationship between Jewish communal identity and memories of the past in early modern Germany.

Bell's second presentation, at 7 p.m., will be a slide tour of the exhibit "A Gateway to Medieval Mediterranean Life: The Ben Ezra Synagogue and Cairo Geniza," which is currently on display at the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. The exhibit brings together documents and artifacts from around the world, and Bell will offer reflections on the synagogue's historical and geographical setting and the scope and significance of its geniza, which is a storeroom housing centuries old documents that shed light on what life was like in the medieval Mediterranean world.

For more information, contact Doris Dirks, chairperson of the GSAC, at (269) 387-8207.

Media contact: Marie Lee, 269 387-8400, marie.lee@wmich.edu

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