Modern Activism Discussed Through Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Lecture at Fairfield University-November 28

Modern Activism Discussed Through Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Lecture at Fairfield University-November 28

Media Contact: Susan Cipollaro, , 203-254-4000, ext. 2726

FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 15, 2017)—Fairfield University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies is hosting a lecture that will discuss the contemporary lessons of the Free Soviet Jewry movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Lecture entitled, How American Jews Mobilized to Free Soviet Jewry: Lessons for Activism Today, will be delivered by the Associate Professor of Sociology and Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University, Shaul Kelner, PhD, on Tuesday, Nov. 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Dr. Kelner will describe how the Soviet Jewry movement was a defining movement that shaped American Judaism for a generation, but then disappeared in an instant. The Soviet Jewry Movement during the Cold War was an international human rights campaign that fought for the right of Jews in the Soviet Union to emigrate to the United States. The movement shaped the political contours of American Jews and strengthened the community. What started as a grassroots advocacy campaign ended with over 250,000 people protesting at the White House on behalf of Soviet Jewry. Dr. Kelner’s work focuses on recovering the lessons that activists learned from that movement in order to engage American Jews in religious infused activism today.

“I am grateful to Dr. Kelner for accepting my invitation to deliver this year's Schnurmacher Lecture,” said Ellen Umansky, PhD, professor of religious studies and the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Chair in Judaic Studies. “I look forward to a talk that promises to be both eye-opening and inspirational.”

The intersection of culture and politics lies at the forefront of Dr. Kelner’s research, and he focuses particularly on how cultural practices are mobilized to shape contemporary Jewish political identities. Dr. Kelner’s first book, Tours That Bind: Diaspora, Pilgrimage and Israeli Birthright Tourism (NYU Press, 2010), examines how modern mass travel is being drafted into the service of Jewish nationalism and transnationalism. Dr. Kelner was director of Vanderbilt University’s Program in Jewish Studies from 2012 to 2015, where he also taught Sociology and Jewish Studies, and served as Fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advance Judaic Studies and the University of Michigan.

This lecture is made possible through the generosity of the Adolph and Ruth Schnurmacher Foundation. Contact the Bennett Center at or call (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 for reservations.

Posted On: 11-28-2017 11:11 AM

Volume: 50 Number: 79

Fairfield University is a modern, Jesuit Catholic university rooted in one of the world’s oldest intellectual and spiritual traditions. More than 5,000 undergraduate and graduate students from the U.S. and across the globe are pursuing degrees in the University’s five schools. Fairfield embraces a liberal humanistic approach to education, encouraging critical thinking, cultivating free and open inquiry, and fostering ethical and religious values. The University is located on a stunning 200- acre campus on the scenic Connecticut coast just an hour from New York City.