Academic journal article Shofar

The Midwest Jewish Studies Associat Ion: The Second Decade and Beyond

Academic journal article Shofar

The Midwest Jewish Studies Associat Ion: The Second Decade and Beyond

Article excerpt

In the fall of 1997 I attended my first Midwest Jewish Studies Association conference where I met Byron Sherwin, Peter Haas, Joe Haberer, and Gordon Young. I had no idea how important these people were to the organization. To me they were people who welcomed me warmly to the conference and encouraged my research and participation. Over the next 15 years, each of these men played an important role in my becoming a scholar of American Jewish Studies and current president of the MJSA. Byron Sherwin, still at Spertus, has been one of my faculty. Peter Haas, now at Case Western Reserve University, has become my mentor and teacher. Joe Haberer and Gordon Young, both at Purdue, became significant forces in encouraging me to take a more prominent role in the organization. Joe, in particular, was supportive when I became president of my development of the MJSA into a more student-focused organization.

When I first attended the conference, the emphasis was on pedagogy. In fact my first paper was "Teaching the Troops Trupin: A Jewish Text in a Non-Jewish Class," an examination of how I approached teaching Sophie Trupin's Jewish woman's homesteader memoir at a public university in the Bible Belt. While our mission statement still includes the word pedagogy, over time the papers presented have become more focused on research in Jewish Studies than on teaching Jewish Studies. In fact, at the 25th conference there was no paper on the act of teaching Jewish Studies in the modern university; although there have been quite a few papers in the last few years of pedagogical methods used in the past-an historical examination. This seems to reflect the state of Jewish Studies in the United States. As Judith Baskin explains in her essay, Jewish Studies has become part of the standard offerings at major universities. A generation of faculty has developed programs and pedagogical practices, so that the next generation has something to build from. Because of their hard work, those of us who have followed them do not have to struggle quite so much in our approaches to teaching Jewish Studies. The syllabi and methods are already in place and we can focus on tweaking them to the needs of our institutions and students.

Another part of our mission is to encourage research in Jewish Studies. We are a proud sponsor of Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies as Peter Haas explains in his essay. In 1990, the journal was equal parts article, book review, and poetry. Poetry is no longer regularly included, and the book review section has been much expanded, all the while the articles have broadened in topics. In 2008, Joe Haberer, the original editor, published an essay about the 25 years of the journal in the journal. He humbly called it "a premier journal of Jewish Studies." By 1988, there were "200 [subscribers], half of it from the Purdue community, the rest from across the country," clearly showing what Joe had suspected that there was a great need for a cross-disciplinary journal of Jewish Studies. It was in this year that his formal peer-reviewed process was incorporated. The first special issue on a specific topic was on teaching Judeo-Christian relations, a parallel to the pedagogical focus of the newly founded MJSA. In 1996 the journal moved from being published by Purdue University, to being published by Nebraska University press; this move from a university to university press only emphasized the quality of the product. Later it was moved back to Purdue University to be published by Purdue University Press. Shofar has always included articles on any aspect of Jewish Studies from pedagogy to literature, from archaeology to popular culture, and anything else to which one could apply an understanding of Jewish Studies. When the journal was picked up by Project Muse in 2006, the readership expanded exponentially. Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies is listed in Project Muse, with articles back to 1990 when it went from being a newsletter to a full-blown journal. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.