This Week: Toward a History of Jewish – Native American Relations

Portrait of Chief Ouray and Otto Mears
Portrait of Chief Ouray and Otto Mears

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Program in Jewish Studies and cosponsors welcome David S. Koffman as Jewish Studies’ 2020 Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar. Professor Koffman will present a public lecture titled “Toward a History of Jewish – Native American Relations,” on the CU campus on Thursday, February 6, 2020 at 7:00 pm in Old Main Theater, 1600 Pleasant St, Boulder, CO 80302. The event is free and open to the public.

In this lecture, Professor David Koffman will map the broad contours of the American Jewish – Native American encounter from the middle of the nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth. On the one hand, Jews in the American west acted as agents of colonialism, seeing Native Americans as impediments to immigrant aspirations for social inclusion and economic mobility. On the other hand, enfranchised Jews of the mid-twentieth century – lawyers, social scientists, educators and journalists – promoted tools of progressive pro-Native ideology and policy. Koffman considers how Jewish interactions with Native Americans provide a unique lens through which to re-think Jewish modernity as part and parcel of the complexities of colonial/immigration history.

RSVP to “Toward a History of Jewish – Native American Relations”

David S. Koffman (PhD, NYU, 2011) is a cultural and social historian of the American and Canadian Jewish life. He holds the J. Richard Shiff Chair for the Study of Canadian Jewry, and is an associate professor in the Department of History at York University in Toronto, where he teaches courses on Canadian Jewish history, religion in American life, the meanings of money, genealogy as history, modern antisemitism, and religion and capitalism. His first monograph, The Jews’ Indian: Colonialism, Pluralism, and Belonging in America (Rutgers University Press, 2019), explores the American Jewish encounter with Native America in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His published work has appeared in several volumes of collected essays, and in journals including The Journal of American Ethnic History, The Journal of Jewish Education, Contemporary Jewry, and Canadian Jewish Studies. His newest book project, an edited volume entitled No Better Place? Canada, Its Jews, and the Idea of Home, will be published by the University of Toronto Press in spring 2020. He serves as the associate director of York’s Israel & Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, and as the editor-in-chief of the journal Canadian Jewish Studies / Études juives canadiennes


About the Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar

Professor Koffman is the Program in Jewish Studies’ eighth annual Sondra and Howard Bender Visiting Scholar. His 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 graduates. Active members of the community in Washington, D.C. and Bethesda, MD, Howard and Sondra served on multiple boards and held leadership positions in many non-profit organizations. They were extraordinary builders of buildings, Jewish life, and education, as well as devotees of family and horse breeding. 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.

Professor Koffman’s visit is hosted by the Program in Jewish Studies and cosponsored by CU’s Department of Ethnic Studies and Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies.

About Vanessa Frye

Vanessa is the Communication & Outreach Administrator with the Program in Jewish Studies at CU Boulder.

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