Arab Jewish Texts Conference

Open to the public. 

Tuesday, March 4 - Thursday, March 6

Regenstein Library, Room 122
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637

The conference explored the ways in which Jewish political thought and literature were transformed in the medieval and modern periods as a result of their interactions with Muslim and Arab cultures.

7:00 p.m.  Dinner (conference participants only)


10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.  Welcoming Remarks
                                             David Nirenberg, Roman Family Director of the Neubauer
                                             Collegium for Culture and Society;
                                             Josef Stern, Director of the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies
                                             Orit Bashkin (UChicago) and Walid Saleh (University of Toronto)

Session 1: Rethinking Jewish Culture: Judeo-Arabic and the new Arab-Jewish Literary
10:30 a.m. – 11: 00 a.m.  Ross Brann
                                                Arab-Jewish Literary Intellectuals of 11-12th Century al-Andalus
11:00 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.  Roxani Margariti
                                               The context of commerce: a thirteenth-century letter from Yemen in the Cairo Geniza
11:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.  Benjamin Hary
                                                Bible Translation in the Arab Jewish World: Saadia Tafsīr and Cairene and
                                               Ḥalabī Šurūḥ

12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.  Lunch (included)

Session 2: The Arab-Jewish Religious
1:30 p.m.  – 2:15 p.m.  Walid Saleh and Ronny Vollandt
                                               Ancient Jewish Historiography in Arabic Garb: Sefer Josippon
2:15 p.m. – 2:45 p.m.  Galit Hasan-Rokem
                                              Early narrative dialogues on mobility and genealogy between Hebrew and Arabic sources
2:45 p.m. – 3:15 p.m.  Martin Jacobs
                                               Linguistic Hybridity and the Muslim-Jewish Imaginary in Benjamin of Tudela’s
                                              Description of Baghdad
3:15 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.  Coffee/Cookies
3:45 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Discussion
7:00 p.m.  Dinner (conference participants only)


10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome, Orit Bashkin (UChicago)

Session 3: Arab Jewish Society: Language, Image, Memory

10:10 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.  Zainab Saleh
                                               A Dying Dialect, A Vanishing Community:
                                               Iraqi Jews in the London Diaspora
10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Uri Horesh
                                              Palestinian Arabic in contemporary Jaffa: A (non-?) Jewish
                                             language in a (non-?) Jewish land
11:10 a.m. – 11:40 a.m.  Chana Morgenstern
                                              “Let the People’s Men of Letters Come Out Into the Light”:
                                              The Palestinian and Arab-Jewish Communist Udaba and the
                                              Formation of Arab Socialist Realism in Israel/Palestine

11:40 a.m. – 1:00   p.m.  Lunch (included)

Session 4: The Promise of Arab-Jewish Modernity
1:00 p.m.  – 1:30 p.m.  Jonathan Gribetz
                                                The PLO's Defense of the Talmud
1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.  Hanan Harif
                                                Judeo-Islamic Tradition: Pan-Semitic critique of the Zionist Culture
2:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.  Hillel Cohen
                                                The Arab-Jew in the Palestinian discourse
2:30 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.  Coffee/Cookies
3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.  Discussion
6:30 p.m.  Dinner & Poetry Session (conference participants and by invite only)



10:00 a.m. – 10:10 a.m.  Welcome – Orit Bashkin (UChicago)

Session 5: Modern Arab-Jewish Cultures
10:10 a.m. – 10:40 a.m.  Orit Bashkin
                                                Arab Jewish Poetry
10:40 a.m. – 11:10 a.m.  Deborah Starr
                                                Maurice Shammas’s “Café Lanciano” (1979): Voices from Cairo’s Ḥarat al-Yahud
11:10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.  Discussion
12:30 p.m.   Lunch (included)

Learn more about the project, What are Arab Jewish Texts? Texts and Questions of Context >>

The conference was funded by the Neubauer Collegium for Culture and Society with support from the Franke Institute for the HumanitiesCenter for Jewish Studies and the Center for Middle Eastern Studies.

Please click below for translated texts being presented by participants.