Join us for Shabbat Services: Friday at 6:00 pm, Saturday at 9:30 am
An egalitarian Conservative congregation serving the diverse Orange County Jewish Community

The Jews of Italy: History, Culture, Literature, Arts, Music and Food

Please Join Congregation B’nai Israel for a Scholar-In-Residence Series Sponsored by The Spencer B. Gilbert, M.D. Memorial Fund

Professor Marc Michael Epstein: The Jews of Italy: History, Culture, Literature, Arts, Music and Food

Friday, March 8th
6:00 pm: Shabbat Evening Services
7:00 pm: Special Italian Shabbat Dinner
($15/Adult, $5/Child from 3-12 years)
8:00 pm: Lecture with Professor Epstein (no charge)
“Frank” Conversations: Reflections on Judaism and Catholicism in Rome
In 1986, Pope John Paul II visited the Great Synagogue in Rome. This was an historic occasion, but it raised many questions for Jews and Catholics about the nature of the relationship of the two religions. This past March Professor Epstein met Pope Francis I. But he almost didn’t. He’ll tell his story against the backdrop of the broader issues of Jewish-Christian relations, with a particular focus on the Italian context.

Saturday, March 9th
9:30 am Shabbat Morning Services
Noon Kiddush Luncheon (no charge)
1:00 pm Lecture with Professor Epstein (no charge)
Setting Up Our Tabernacle: Jews and Aesthetics in the First Diaspora
The week’s Torah portion, Pekudei, describes the building of the Tabernacle in the Wilderness, the template and blueprint for the two subsequent Jewish Temples in Jerusalem. With the destruction of the second of Temple, Jews found themselves taken as slaves to Rome, and thus began a relationship with Italian culture spanning two millennia. Professor Epstein’s talk will concentrate on the cultural and aesthetic aspects of that relationship and demonstrate how intertwined Jewish and Italian culture have been through the ages.

Marc Michael Epstein is the product of a mixed marriage between the scions of Slonimer and Lubavitcher Hassidim and Romanian socialists. He has been Professor of Religion at Vassar College since 1992, and was the first Director of Jewish Studies. He is a graduate of Oberlin College, received the PhD at Yale University, and did much of his graduate research at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.