The Department of Jewish Studies at UCI is about to set out on a unique adventure under the creative tutelage of its new director, Dr. Matthias B. Lehmann. His goal is to build a full-fledged program for Jewish students to major or double major, rather than minor, in the study of the Jewish people from early modern (thirteenth to fourteenth centuries) to modern day. His hope is ultimately to join with Hebrew Union College in Los Angeles.
As associate professor of history and Teller Family Chair in Jewish History at UCI, Lehmann has planned a seminar of scholars on Jewish literature, each presentation followed by a discussion. The first, on November 26, will highlight Russian Jewish literature by Camelia Glaser from the University of California at San Diego.
Also in Lehmann’s plans, for the fall of 2013, is an international conference bringing scholars from Europe to speak on the Jews and Jewish culture in present-day Europe. He believes that the Jewish community in Europe is under-explored, especially, as an example, literature in France and Germany.
At UCI , with diverse humanistic interests, Lehmann’s courses will encompass modern Jewish history and the history of Jerusalem, beginning with the enlightenment of the eighteenth century, and continuing to the Zionist movement and the Holocaust. Special emphasis will focus on Sephardic history – Spain of the Middle Ages, the origin of many of today’s synagogue prayers. “When Jews interact with different kinds of people,” Lehmann believes, “they enrich their own country.”
At the University of Indiana, from which he has just arrived, his students learned about their background and their diverse histories. Lehmann holds a specialty as an “historian of early modern (fifteenth to eighteenth centuries) and modern Jewish history with an immersion in the history of the Spanish Jews and the Sephardi Diaspora in the Mediterranean world.” He is the author of Ladino Rabbinic Literature and the Ottoman Sephardic Culture.
Lehmann’s current project will look at “rabbinic networks of support for the Jewish communities of Palestine in the Sephardi Diaspora prior to the advent of European and European-Jewish international organizations in the second half of the nineteenth century.”
Professor Lehmann studied at the universities of Freiburg, Berlin and Jerusalem and did his graduate work at Frie Universitat of Berlin and the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas in Madrid.
Professor Lehmann may be contacted via email at
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Student Leaders Speak
This year I hope to unify all five Jewish organizations on the UC Irvine campus by collaborating more for our Shabbat dinners and programming. I am also looking forward to working with my student board to create a variety of programs and activities for our general members to enjoy!
Laryn Hineman, President, Hillel at UCI; AIPAC Campus Legislative Coordinator, UCI
I look forward to an enriching year. By celebrating and promoting Israel awareness both culturally and politically, I hope to continue building and strengthening relationships with other campus leaders and organizations. Through dialogue and friendship, we can transform conflict into consciousness.
Naomi Warfield, President, Anteaters For Israel,
The Movement for Peace in the Middle East, MPME, is a student run organization that strives to advocate and educate on behalf of justice, freedom and self determination for groups indigenous to the Middle East. MPME designs programs to educate interested students on the history of the region to push a comprehensive understanding of current events.
Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi), serves to provide the best possible college experience for the Jewish male. At UCI AEPi breeds Jewish leaders within both the Greek community and on campus Jewish community. I look forward to continued academic achievement, continued leadership development, everlasting brotherhood, and after all, a great time!
Robert Berkson, President, Alpha Epsilon Pi
Hillel at Cal State Fullerton is excited to create another year of fun social and religious activities for our community. Throughout the year, students will build valuable relationships with their colleagues; so much so that they’ll be eating dinner together twenty years from now.
Eric Don, President and Founder of Hillel, Cal State Fullerton
I recently attended the 99th convention for AEPi. This year I hope to help Jewish life prosper at Chapman through throwing various philanthropy events, by hosting Shabbat dinners and providing a close brotherhood for Jewish men.
Founding President, AEPi Alpha Omega Colony, Chapman University
This year I am excited for all the new girls we will have join our sorority. I look forward to seeing my girls grow, thrive, and continue to maintain the highest GPA on campus. I cannot wait for all the Greek Life events (such as Greek Week and Songfest) and raising money for our philanthropies.
Morgan Williams, President, AEPhi, UCI