Evenings devoted to music and literature will highlight a three-day conference at Vanderbilt University examining the cultural practices of Jewish women from around the globe.
The “On the Lip(s) of Miriam‘s Well: Jews/Women/Cultures” conference will be held March 18-20. The title comes from the legend of the well in the wilderness associated with the biblical Miriam – the sister of Moses and Aaron – which came to symbolize women‘s acts of caring and love as well as the drought of recognition for women‘s talents during their lives and the seldom quenching drops thereafter.
The conference, which is free and open to the public, will be held at the Ben Schulman Center for Jewish Life, the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center and Sarratt Cinema, all on the Vanderbilt campus.
The conference will begin with an evening of music and art on Sunday, March 18. Musicians Galeet Dardashti and Lila Sklar will combine talents with visual artist Siona Benjamin for a night celebrating woman of the Bible.
Dardashti is an anthropologist, cantor, founder and leader of the nationally renowned all-female Mizrahi/Sephardi ensemble Divahn. Sklar is a violinist who specializes in Balkan and Middle Eastern music with Divahn and other major groups.
Benjamin, a Jewish visual artist from Bombay, has used her recent work to explore the complexities of identity and the omission of Jewish and non-Jewish women artists from centuries of exhibitions and mainstream art history.
The “Evening of Musical and Visual Midrash of Biblical Women begins at 7:30 p.m. Sunday, March 18, at Sarratt Cinema.
At 7 p.m. Monday, March 19, in the Schulman Center, four prominent Jewish women authors will have a public conversation about their Jewish identity and writing, moderated by Colin Dayan, Vanderbilt‘s Robert Penn Warren Professor in the Humanities.
Goodman‘s most recent novel is Intuition and her first, Kaaterskill Falls, was a 1998 National Book Award finalist. Reisman, assistant professor of English at Vanderbilt, won the Samuel Goldberg Award in Fiction from the National Foundation of Jewish Culture for her novel The First Desire. Agosin has authored nearly 40 books of poetry, fiction and literary criticism and won recognition from the United Nations for her work campaigning for human rights. Dischereit, a Berlin-based German-Jewish writer, is internationally renowned for her novels, essays, and stage and radio dramas.
Other events on the conference schedule:
9 a.m. Monday, March 19, in the auditorium of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center: Siona Benjamin, Galeet Dardeshti and Nancy Reisman discuss the relationship between (non)religious content and Jewish identification and other concerns of Jewish woman artists.
1:30 p.m. Monday, March 19, in the auditorium of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center: Scholars Renee Levine Melammed, Allison Schachter and Nina Warnke discuss the contributions of Jewish women artists.
9 a.m. Tuesday, March 20, in the auditorium of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center: Scholars Ellen Koskoff, Joelle Bahloul and Chava Weissler discuss how Jewish women sought expression in their domestic practices when excluded from “high-culture.”
1:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 20, in the auditorium of the Bishop Joseph Johnson Black Cultural Center: Scholars Barbara Hahn, Howard Tzvi Adelman and Laura Levitt discuss how Jewish women became patrons, muses, and impresarios when denied or limited expression in socially valued cultural media.
The “On the Lip(s) of Miriam‘s Well: Jews/Women/Cultures” conference is sponsored by Vanderbilt‘s Program in Jewish Studies, with assistance from more than twenty other Vanderbilt offices as well as members of the Nashville Jewish community.
Media contact: Jim Patterson, (615) 322-NEWS