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Pepperdine University


A Focus on Rebecca Golbert

Visiting Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies
Seaver College

In her first semester teaching at Pepperdine, Professor Rebecca Golbert led Introduction to Judaism and Jewish Cultures Around the World. She also gave a guest lecture on Judaism in Tim Pownall's class on Religion and Dispute Resolution, and has been instrumental bringing guest lecturers to campus. After her students read it for class, Rabbi David Wolpe came to speak about his book Why Faith Matters on October 1 in the Hahn Fireside Room to a group of 40 students and faculty. On November 18, Rabbi Mark Diamond and Reverend James Butler had an intimate conversation about Christian-Jewish Dialogue in the Hahn Fireside Room. This event was co-organized with the SAAJ classes (with the help of Professor Jeff Banks).

Rabbi Wendy Spears came to speak in Professor Golbert's Introduction to Judaism class about the experience of being a female rabbi. Additionally, a close friend of Professor Golbert's, Valerie Kronsburg, who is a Moroccan Jew, came to speak about the Jews of Morocco in Golbert's Jewish Cultures class. Finally, Professor Golbert took students from her Jewish Cultures class (along with several students who joined them from her Introduction to Judaism class) to the Skirball Cultural Center for a docent led tour of the permanent exhibit.

In the spring of 2010, Professor Golbert continued her momentum, teaching a first-year seminar on Jewish Cultures, a directed study on Holocaust Memory, History, and Representation, and a French 151 class. She gave a guest lecture on Politics and Judaism in Chris Soper's class on Religion and Politics and a guest lecture on Culture and Mediation in Professor Robert Lloyd's class on International Conflict Resolution. Rabbi Judith HaLevy of the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue came to speak in Professor Golbert's first-year seminar about Judaism, Purim, and the experience of being a female rabbi.

Experiential learning has counterbalanced lectures, readings, and discussions in the classroom. Students in that first-year seminar have used social science fieldwork methods to explore themes in Jewish culture; they conducted ritual observations in synagogues and Jewish homes (the Malibu Jewish Center and Synagogue as well as synagogues closer to their respective homes during spring break); and conducted interviews with Jewish friends, family members, acquaintances, and total strangers.

Finally, distinguished professor John Roth gave two guest lectures later in the semester. The lunchtime talk (sponsored by ISL and the Glazer Institute) was titled "The Right Side of History? Mass Atrocity Crimes and Their Prevention." Professor Roth then gave an afternoon talk in Payson Library (sponsored by Payson Library and the Glazer Institute) as part of the Kresge Room Series. The afternoon talk was titled "Is God 'Dead'? Some Aftereffects and Aftershocks of the Holocaust."

In the fall of 2010, Golbert will expand the Jewish Studies program and will teach two sections of the first-year seminar on Jewish Cultures as well as a new course on Religious and Cultural Life Cycle Rituals around the World. In addition, she is currently working on bringing some photographic exhibitions on Jewish Life to the Payson Library for the fall of 2010. One exhibition will be based on a book by Jonathan Webber and the traveling exhibition, Rediscovering Traces of Memory: The Jewish Heritage of Polish Galicia. The photographs by Chris Schwartz are from the Galicia Jewish Museum in Krakow. The other exhibition is based on the photographs of Shelley Gazin documenting Persian Jewish Life in Los Angeles.