Faculty Seminars 2016-2017
Open to faculty and graduate students only
The Department of Jewish Studies and the Bildner Center at Rutgers invites you to a faculty seminar.
Seeds for the Land of Goshen: Philanthropy, Language, and Identity at Yiddish Farm
Joshua B. Friedman, Aresty Visiting Scholar
Tuesday, September 27, 2016, 10:00-11:30 AM
12 College Avenue, Room 107
Diaspora Jews boast a long history of ideologically informed, agricultural projects. That history seems, at first, the appropriate context for Yiddish Farm. Located in Goshen, New York, just an hour’s drive north of Manhattan, the organization has sought to create a holistic environment where language learners farm organically and live communally in Yiddish. But Yiddish Farm is also an American Jewish nonprofit, and thus must be understood in the context of American Jewish philanthropy, and its historically shifting political economy. This talk considers the emergence of Yiddish Farm in relationship to structural and ideological transformations to the American Jewish non-profit complex specifically, and to American political economy, in general. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted at the Farm it asks: what can contemporary Yiddish culture tell us about the philanthropic production of American Judaism? How have philanthropy’s organizational logics, programmatic forms and social expectations structured how young American Jews experience Jewish culture and community?
Joshua B. Friedman is a cultural anthropologist and Jewish studies scholar with an ethnographic focus on contemporary American Jews. His research interests include the political economy of philanthropy, the American Jewish non-profit sector, and the politics of Yiddish in American Jewish life. His work addresses topics of religion and secularism, kinship and inheritance, public culture, language and identity politics. He is currently working on a book manuscript, Yiddish Returns: Language and Economy in American Jewish Life.