2020 - 2021

This will be a Virtual Lecture 
  • Flyer for Yona Event

Previous Lectures 

  • Headshot of Moriel Rothman Zecher
Public Reading with Visiting Israeli Novelist Moriel Rothman-Zecher

April 15, 2019 - 7:30 pm
Philadelphia Alumni Writer's House Reading Room

"Sadness follows Jonathan/Yonatan, a border-bouncing young Jew who shares some biographical details with the author - Israeli-American upbringing, facility in Arabic, Palestinian relationships - with a crucial distinction: Yonatan (the Israeli version of his name) eventually joins the Israel Defense Forces, while Rothman-Zercher was jailed for refusing to enlist." (ABC News).

"Searing in its beauty, devastating in its emotional power, and dazzling in its insights, Moriel Rothman-Zecher's debut novel, Sadness Is a White Bird, is, I promise you, like nothing you've ever read." (Washington Independent Review of Books).

Moriel Rothman-Zecher, an Israeli American novelist and poet, is a National Book Foundation '5 Under 35' Honoree, and the recipient of a 2017 MacDowell Colony Fellowship in Literature. His writing has been published in The New York Times, The Paris Review's "The Daily," Haaretz, ZYZZYVA, the Common, and elsewhere.

  • Photo courtesy of Ilan Peleg
Israel at 70: Confronting Issues of Identity & Politics

Tuesday, March 19, 2019
7:00 pm
Brooks College House

Professor Ilan Peleg is the Charles A. Dana Professor of Government & Law at Lafayette College.

In many ways, the Zionist movement and its creation, the State of Israel, has been one of the greatest success stories of the modern era. After 2000 years, the Jewish State has reemberged as an economically, politically and culturally vibrant society. On the other hand, it still has a huge number of challenges: its relationship with the Palestinians, the quality of its democracy, and its status in the world at large. Professor Peleg will assess Israel at its 70th year, applying his analysis to the forthcoming, April 9 elections. His presentation will be followed by a Q&A session.

  • Photo of Nancy Berg
Hebrew, Sushi, and Bad Tattoos

Tuesday, March 26, 2019
5:30 pm
Klehr Center Multipurpose Room - First Floor

Nancy Berg - professor of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at Washington University, and a past president of the National Association of Professors of Hebrew.

Why Hebrew, here and now? What is its value for contemporary Americans? In this talk I will explore series of urgent questions that arise from the changing status of Hebrew in the United States, marvel over the revival story, illustrate the vibrancy of Hebrew literature, and present a plan for how Hebrew can save the humanities. 

  • Poster for film


The Sign for Love
Screening and discussion with director Elad Cohen

Thursday, February 14, 2019
7:00 pm
Bonchek Lecture Hall - LSP

Director Elad Cohen grew up deaf and gay in a hearing family in Israel. He never felt at home, especially after his mother’s death. Fearing he won’t find a partner in their small deaf community, Cohen decides to have a baby with his best friend, Yaeli, who is also deaf. They raise the baby together, revealing the challenges of parenting and the ways that a child can repair a family.



 Screening of "The Last Laugh" and Q&A with Ferne Pearlstein

Wednesday, November 7, 2018
7:00 pm
LSP 142 - Bonchek Lecture Hall 

THE LAST LAUGH is a feature documentary that proceeds from the premise that the Holocaust would seem to be an absolutely off-limits topic for comedy. But is it? History shows that even the victims of the Nazi concentration camps themselves used humor as a means of survival and resistance. Still, any use of comedy in connection with this horror risks diminishing the suffering of millions. So where is the line? If we make the Holocaust off limits, what are the implications for other controversial subjects—9/11, AIDS, racism—in a society that prizes freedom of speech?

This thought-provoking film artfully weaves together an intimate cinema verité portrait of Auschwitz survivor Renee Firestone alongside interviews with influential comedians and thinkers ranging from Mel Brooks, Sarah Silverman, and Gilbert Gottfried, to authors Etgar Keret and Shalom Auslander, to Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League and many others (including survivors), as well as archival material ranging from "The Producers" and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” to clips of comics such as Louis CK, Joan Rivers, and Chris Rock, to newly discovered footage of Jerry Lewis’ never-released film Holocaust comedy "The Day the Clown Cried," to rare footage of cabarets inside the concentration camps themselves. In the process, THE LAST LAUGH offers fresh insights into the Holocaust in a way we haven't seen before. After premiering at the Tribeca Film Festival and screening at over a hundred distinguished film festivals around the world—and being Certified Fresh at 98% on Rotten Tomatoes—THE LAST LAUGH was released theatrically in March 2017 and broadcast on PBS's Independent Lens series in April 2017, where it was runner-up for their Audience Award.


Lectures from 2017-2018 

  • Poster of Joy Ladin reading/lecture

Reading and Talk by Joy Ladin
Tuesday, March 27

Poetry Reading: 4:30pm at Writers House

Evening Talk: “A Jewish Journey through Genders”
7:30pm at the Klehr Center for Jewish Life

Joy Ladin teaches at the Stern College of Yeshiva University, where she holds the David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in English and is the first openly transgender employee of Yeshiva University, an Orthodox Jewish institution. Ladin has published seven poetry collections:Impersonation, The Definition of JoyComing to LifePsalmsTransmigrationThe Book of Anna, and Alternatives to History. Ladin is also the author of a memoir, Through the Door of Life: A Jewish Journey Between Genders. Often devotional and at times based in history and utilizing sacred Jewish texts, Ladin’s early poetry “offers a personal view of the big truths,” writes Stanley Moss. Ladin is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Hadassah Brandeis Research Fellowship, two Forward Fives awards, an American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, and a Fulbright Scholarship.