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Naomi Seidman, 2016 Bender Visiting Scholar, to Explore Tevye’s Dream, Marriage

Naomi Seidman square smallThe Program in Jewish Studies is pleased to welcome scholar and translator Naomi Sheindel Seidman to serve as the 2016 Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar at the University of Colorado Boulder. Professor Seidman will be in residence March 9-11, 2016 and will present a public lecture entitled Tevye’s Dream, Or How Traditional Marriage Haunts Modern Romance, Thursday, March 10 at 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm in Old Main Theater on the University of Colorado Boulder campus. This event is free and open to the public. RSVPs are appreciated and can be made via email to CUJewishStudies@colorado.edu.

Naomi Seidman is Koret Professor of Jewish Culture at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley. Her scholarship focuses on contemporary Jewish thought, gender and sexuality, and modern Jewish literature and literary theory. In her public lecture at CU-Boulder, Seidman will argue that the usual reading of Sholem Aleichem’s Tevye stories as well as the musical based on them, “Fiddler on the Roof,” as a staging of the triumph of modern romance over traditional marriage fails to take account of Tevye’s dream, which demonstrates the haunting of Jewish modernity by the remembered and invented traditional past. In addition to her public lecture, Professor Seidman will present a graduate student and faculty colloquium and serve as a guest lecturer in a Jewish Studies course.

Seidman received a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of California Berkeley (1995) and was the former director of the Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, where she has taught since 1995. Her first book, “A Marriage Made in Heaven: The Sexual Politics of Hebrew and Yiddish” (University of California Press, 1997), examines the ways that Hebrew, the Holy Tongue, and Yiddish, the vernacular language of Ashkenazic Jews, came to represent the masculine and feminine faces, respectively, of Ashkenazic Jewish culture. Her sophisticated history is the first book-length exploration of the sexual politics underlying the “marriage” of Hebrew and Yiddish, and it has profound implications for understanding the centrality of language choices and ideologies in the construction of modern Jewish identity.

Her second book, “Faithful Renderings: Jewish-Christian Difference and the Politics of Translation” (University of Chicago Press, 2006), reads translation history through the lens of Jewish–Christian difference and, conversely, views Jewish–Christian difference as an effect of translation. Subjecting translation to a theological-political analysis, the book explores how the charged Jewish–Christian relationship—and more particularly the dependence of Christianity on the texts and translations of a rival religion—has haunted the theory and practice of translation in the West.

Her third book, “The Marriage Plot, Or, How Jews Fell in Love with Love, and with Literature,” is forthcoming from Stanford University Press this spring 2016. She is also presently working on a book about the founding of the Bais Yaakov girls’ school system in interwar Poland.

Sondra and HowardSeidman’s visit celebrates the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Endowed Fund, honoring the lives of Howard and Sondra Bender, devoted parents of four children and eleven grandchildren, including CU graduate Eileen Greenberg, and grandchildren CU graduates Joshua (and spouse Adriane), Rachael, and Daniel Greenberg. Active members of the community in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, MD, Howard and Sondra served on many boards and held leadership positions in many non-profit organizations. They were extraordinary builders of buildings, Jewish life, education, horse breeding, and family. The Bender Foundation has generously endowed the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholars Fund to honor the lives of Sondra and Howard, who cherished Jewish culture, celebrated education, and lived life to the fullest. Past visiting Bender scholars include Guggenheim Fellow Sarah Stein (2015), post-Holocaust American Judaism scholar Shaul Magid (2014), and renowned Holocaust scholar Deborah Lipstadt (2013).

Naomi Seidman’s visit is presented by the University of Colorado Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies. Special thank you to the Bender Foundation and the family of Eileen and Richard Greenberg for their generous support. For more information about this event, please visit Colorado.edu/JewishStudies or call 303.492.7143.


The Program in Jewish Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder provides an outstanding liberal arts education, fosters critical thought and instills an appreciation of humanity’s interrelatedness and diversity by studying one of the world’s oldest global people. With internationally acclaimed faculty engaged in cutting-edge research and opportunities for students to study with leaders working in the field of Jewish Studies, the program offers an innovative curriculum designed to provide a strong foundation in cultural education and connect Jewish thought and text to action and people’s lives.  The Program in Jewish Studies offers a Bachelor of Arts degree in Jewish Studies as well as minors in Jewish Studies and Hebrew/Israel Studies. For more information visit Colorado.edu/JewishStudies.

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