What can we learn about American Judaism from these photos from a cornerstone laying ceremony for a new Seattle Temple in 1901? At first glance, there is nothing in these photos that would indicate that the individuals gathered to celebrate the building of a new Jewish community are Jewish at all. The clothing that these individuals are wearing is quite similar to the general clothing of Seattle in the 1900s. The dress is pioneer formal that would indicate the status of a group of successful Seattleites. Their clothing looks quite similar to this image demonstrating proper dress from 1904. The up-to-date fashion in this photo is not coincidence. Indeed, a number of the leading owners of clothing and millinery stores in Seattle are present in the picture. The clothing demonstrates the level of acculturation that this group of Jewish immigrants to the Pacific Northwest had reached by 1901. n addition to the dress of these individuals there are other key signs of acculturation. Note the integration of men and women in the photo on the right. Jewish houses of worship traditionally distinguished between men and women.
Yet, this photo demonstrates the inclusion of women. Indeed, the woman standing on the far left of the right photo is Esther Levy, an influential player in the establishment of this new community. Esther was married to David Levy, the proprietor of the Cooper-Levy dry goods store in Pioneer Square. The Cooper Levy store was the primary outfitter for the 1896-98 Alaska-Yukon Gold rush. As a member of such an established and well-off family, Esther’s support shows the inclusion of women in building Jewish religious community at the turn of the century. A level of participation in religious life that […]
A conference I helped organize at Brandeis…
For all its astonishing success in recent years, academic Jewish studies has yet to explore how it can most fully engage the lives and minds of its students and of the larger communities of which it is a part.
The Project on Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies has recruited a group of professors of Jewish studies to confront directly the issues facing Jewish studies and to build together new pedagogic models that respond to the challenges and opportunities of student engagement.
The phrase “pedagogies of engagement” signals:
new ways of teaching that show promise of engaging students more fully;
a closer attention to and focus on students’ experience and students’ learning in academic courses, whether they employ new or more traditional ways of teaching ;
a concern for civic and communal engagement on the part of our students, as a desirable outcome of our teaching;
a bolder view about the role of Jewish studies in the community, including engagement of community members beyond the particular students who show up in our classes.
For more, see Pedagogies of Engagement in Jewish Studies | Research | Mandel | Brandeis University.