Videos of Past Events

Couldn't make it to one of our events? Watch them on our website, or check out our YouTube channel.

The Rise and Fall of Jewish American Literature with Dr. Ben Schreier
April 15, 2019

The Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies welcomed Dr. Ben Schreier for a talk on "The Rise and Fall of Jewish American Literature: A Brief World-History" in April 2019. Dr. Schreier (Pennsylvania State University) is the Mitrani Family Professor of Jewish Studies, Professor of English and Jewish Studies, the Director of the Jewish Studies Program, and Editor of Studies in American Jewish Literature, a journal published by Penn State Press.

The Great Hatred: Maurice Samuel (1895-1972) on Antisemitism with Dr. Alan Levenson
April 4, 2019

Maurice Samuel, an American Jewish humanist, was raised in Manchester, UK and spent most of his life in New York City. Samuel’s fame rested on four contributions: First, Samuel presented the Zionist cause and the Arab-Jewish conflict in five books, a blend of reportage and history. Second, he introduced American readers to the Yiddish classics in accessible renderings such as The World of Sholom Aleichem (1943). Third, he conducted nearly 20 years of NBC radio broadcasts with Columbia University’s Mark van Doren on the Bible. Fourth, Samuel polemicized against popular and professorial antisemitism. Samuel was brilliant, widely read – and then largely neglected.

Alan Levenson is the Schusterman/Josey Chair of Jewish History and the Director of the Schusterman Center for Judaic and Israel Studies at the University of Oklahoma.

Zionism and Anti-Semitism: Ideologies or Emotions? With Dr. Derek J. Penslar
January 24, 2019

Like other forms of racism, anti-Semitism provides an ideological veneer for a bundle of negative emotions such as fear, resentment, despair, and shame. Like other forms of nationalism, Zionism employs ideology to sustain an emotional community united by a blend of negative emotions and positive ones such as hope, love, and pride.

On Thursday, January 24, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies welcomed Dr. Derek J. Penslar (Harvard University) to discuss the emotional elements of Zionism and anti-Semitism. Focusing on the 1890s through 1920s, and on the Zionist leaders Theodor Herzl and Chaim Weizmann, this talk examined the emotional components of Zionist diplomacy and compares their impact on Zionists and anti-Semites alike. Possessed of radically dissimilar personalities and operating under different geo-political circumstances, Herzl elevated antisemitism into an ideology, while Weizmann engaged with it as an emotion.

This event is part of the Israel in Context Lecture Series, which brings a renowned scholar to campus each Spring to address new developments in academic research on Israeli history, culture, politics, or society.

Berlin Jews - Enemy Aliens with Dr. Chana Schütz
November 28, 2018

In the early morning of October 28th, 1938, Berlin’s police force raided flats and streets to arrest, and then expel, over 1,500 Jewish locals. Targeted for their Polish, and not German, nationalities, these arrestees—which eventually numbered 8,000 across the German Reich—were transported to Poland’s border, across which they marched, under duress, to the town of Zbaczyn (Bentschen, in German). Shoveled into detention camps and thus internment, they became stranded here for nearly ten months. This Polenaktion (or, “Polish Action”) marked a new phase of radicalised persecution by the Nazis.

Berlin Jews – Enemy Aliens textures this trauma across four foci, drawing from: 1) the Polenaktion’s general background; 2) the personal experiences of victims; 3) the reactions of German Jewish institutions to the Polenaktion; and 4) on the compellingly uplifting story behind a Zbacyzn photograph taken by Roman Vishniac in November 1938, which managed to save a young life.

Dr. Chana Schütz studied art history and history across a sundry of locales: in Berlin, Jerusalem, and finally, in Bonn, where she earned her doctorate in 1988 (the University of Bonn). A curator and project director, she has conceived and supervised several exhibitions on German-Jewish art and history—work she presently furthers as Deputy Director of Berlin’s New Synagogue - Centrum Judaicum Foundation.  Dr. Schütz was a visiting scholar at the Schustermann Center in both 2016 and 2017.

Click here to read more about the current exhibition "Expelled! Berlin October 28, 1938" at the Centrum Judaicum in Berlin.

Yiddish as a Minority Language in Sweden with Dr. Jan Schwarz
November 14, 2018

In 2000, the Swedish government designated Yiddish one of the country’s five official minority languages. On Wednesday, November 14 2018, Dr. Jan Schwarz (Lund University) discussed the significance of this language policy and discuss its wider implications for minority identities and heritage in Sweden and more broadly in the European Union.

How Judaism Became an American Religion with Dr. Rachel Gordan
November 7, 2018



In the mid-twentieth century, Jews and Judaism in America underwent dramatic transformation. In the first half of the twentieth century, Jews in America had been viewed as aliens, members of a not-quite-white, persecuted and marginalized race – by midcentury, theirs was understood to be the country’s “third faith.” How did this happen? On Wednesday, November 7 2018, the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies at UT Austin welcomed Dr. Rachel Gordan (University of Florida, Gainesville) to discuss this transformational moment in the American Jewish experience, with particular attention to the role of middlebrow culture.

The Book Smugglers: A Book Talk with Dr. David Fishman
October 3, 2018

When the YIVO Institute called Dr. David Fishman to evaluate a cache of Jewish material found in a former church in Vilnius, Lithuania, he had no idea quite what he had stumbled upon. How did this stack of books, documents, and manuscripts end up here?

In The Book Smugglers: Partisans, Poets, and the Race to Save Jewish Treasures from the Nazis, Dr. Fishman tells the nearly unbelievable story of the daring effort to rescue Jewish books, manuscripts, Torah scrolls, and other treasures from the Nazis in the Vilna Ghetto. On October 3rd 2018, the Schusterman Center welcomed Dr. Fishman, Professor of History at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, to discuss his new book.  

Fishman’s talk began with a vibrant sketch of Jewish life in Vilna before the war. The “Jerusalem of Lithuania,” Vilna was truly a center of the book with its rich tradition of Jewish learning, scholarship, libraries, and print culture. At its peak, Fishman notes, there were as many as five Yiddish-language daily newspapers for a Jewish population of 60,000 on the eve of the Second World War.

As Fishman describes, the Nazis not only wanted to eradicate Europe’s Jews, but to plunder and destroy their cultural traditions, property, and institutions as well. There was an agency established for this very purpose: The Reichsleiter Rosenberg Taskforce was dedicated to the looting of cultural property across Europe, and Vilna was no exception. In the Vilna Ghetto, the Nazis created a brigade of Jewish slave laborers – intellectuals, scholars, educators, artists, and librarians – to sort and select which cultural materials would be sent to Germany for “research” related to the ‘Jewish Question,’ and which would be destroyed.

Nicknamed the “paper brigade,” these rescuers managed to smuggle thousands of books, manuscripts, and documents on their bodies past German guards and into concealed basements and underground bunkers. Watch the video recording of Fishman’s talk to learn more about the individuals who risked their lives in a defiant act of cultural resistance during the Holocaust.

Medical Ethics and the Holocaust
September 9, 2007

Some of the world's most influential scientists, physicians, educators and authors, including three Nobel Laureates, offered their views on some of the most challenging questions of modern medical, ethical, scientific, legal and public health policy in the public Dr. Michael E. DeBakey Medical Ethics Lecture Series presented by Holocaust Museum Houston from September 7, 2007 through February 3, 2008.

The lecture series explored how the medical practices of the Third Reich continue to challenge modern medical ethics. Speakers covered topics such as euthanasia and the Human Genome Project, the lasting legacy of the Nuremberg trials, pre-implantation genetic diagnosis and how the doctor-patient relationship has changed over the years since the Holocaust.

Click here to watch the individual lectures.