Summer Learning Series

A Wandering People: Jewish JourneysReal and Imagined 

Mondays starting June 7, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET 

As the pandemic surged and forced us into our homes, many of us dreamed with new intensity of being elsewhere. For Jews throughout the ages, the promises and perils of travel have been central to shaping the individual and collective experience. Notions of home and homeland have been redefined by Jewish wandering. Drawing on literary, spiritual, and historical sources and responses, JTS scholars will explore what happens when Jews—whether by force or voluntarily, whether in reality or in the imagination—travel from one place to another. 

The opening session, entitled “If I forget Thee, O Jerusalem”: The Idea of the Return to Zion in Jewish History, will be taught by Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, JTS Chancellor and Irving Lehrman Research Professor of American Jewish History. Explore the implications of living in a state of longing to return to Zion, how Jews attempted to reconcile the dream of return with the reality of Jewish exile, and how this dream was adapted and transformed with the emergence of modern Zionism.   

The series will take place each Monday from June 7 to August 23, from 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. ET. (Please note that there will be no session on July 5.)  

Register for the Series

Sessions and Faculty

June 7:

“If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem”: The Idea of the Return to Zion in Jewish History

With Dr. Shuly Rubin Schwartz, Chancellor and Irving Lehrman Research Professor of American Jewish History

June 14:

Home and Exile, Center and Periphery: Ambivalent Journeys in the Torah 

With Dr. Benjamin Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages

June 21:

Preparing for the Final Journey: The Tahara Ritual and its Significance

With Rabbi Eliezer Diamond, Rabbi Judah Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics

June 28:

“Jewish Travel”: Yehuda Amichai on Memory, Place, and Identity 

With Dr. Barbara Mann, Chana Kekst Professor of Jewish Literature

July 12:

Flight, Return, and Emigration: The Wanderings of a Yiddish Writer During and After the Holocaust

With Dr. David Fishman, Professor of Jewish History

July 19:

Finding Hijar: A Scholar’s Quest to Uncover the History of Her Jewish Community Through the Journey of Its Books

With Dr. Marjorie Lehman, Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, and Dr. Lucia Conte Aguilar, Adjunct lecturer, Humanities Department, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

July 26:

The Global Journey of a Jewish Stage Play: The Spectacular Story of Sh. Anski’s The Dybbuk and How it Transformed American Jewish Theatre  

With Dr. Edna Nahshon, Professor of Jewish Theater and Drama 

August 2:

The Early Modern Travel Pass: Controlling the Plague and Jewish Mobility in 16th Century Tuscany

With Dr. Stefanie Siegmund, Women’s League Chair in Jewish Gender and Women’s Studies

August 9:

Work-Life Balance in Ancient Times: Why the Rabbis Left Their Homes to Study Torah

With Dr. Rachel Rosenthal, Assistant Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics 

August 16:

Judah Halevi: Poet and Pilgrim 

With Dr. Raymond Scheindlin, Professor Emeritus of Medieval Hebrew Literature

August 23:

Travelling to Babylon—For Good

With Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics

Register for the Series


Did you know that you can sponsor a learning session to honor a loved one, celebrate an occasion, or commemorate a yahrzeit? To learn more, contact