Reserve/Release: Jewish Wealth, Philanthropy, and the Disruptive Potential of Shemita
The biblical practice of shemita (sabbatical year) includes mandates to cancel outstanding debts between borrowers and lenders, and to relinquish personal ownership of land and its crop. How should we think about these mandates in the context of contemporary economics, wealth distribution, and philanthropy? Conversely, how might we assess the state of our global economy, and the world’s growing wealth gap in light of these mandates?
Join B’nai Jeshurun and Harvard Hillel for three unique events that bring leading thinkers into conversation with the ancient ideas of shemita and their potential application to our world today. Temple University professor Lila Corwin Berman and visual artist Danielle Durchslag will share their work about the complex histories and representations of American Jewish class ascension. Their conversation will also reflect on where the vision and values of shemita align and conflict with the realities of American Jewish wealth and philanthropy.
Lila Corwin Berman holds the Murray Friedman Chair of American Jewish History at Temple University, where she directs the Feinstein Center for American Jewish History. Her most recent book, The American Jewish Philanthropic Complex: The History of a Multibillion-Dollar Institution, has been awarded prizes from the Organization of American Historians and the American Jewish Historical Society. She is author of several other books and articles, and has written guest columns for the Washington Post, the Forward, the Chronicle of Philanthropy, and the Jewish Week. Berman is currently working on a new book called “America’s Jewish Question” about the inclusions and exclusions of American liberalism. She is a graduate of Amherst College and received her Ph.D. from Yale University.
Danielle Durchslag is an artist and filmmaker based in Brooklyn, NY. She has exhibited at art spaces and film festivals around the world, at venues including The Jewish Museum, the Toronto Shorts International Film Festival, the Invisible Dog Art Center, The UK Jewish Film Festival, Winkleman Gallery, The Bronx Museum, Foley Gallery, The Ackland Art Museum, The Moscow Jewish Film Festival, Davidson Gallery, The Cannes Short Film Festival, Yale University, The New York Jewish Film Festival, and Denny Dimin Gallery. Danielle’s work has been discussed in The Huffington Post, Hyperallergic, The Independent, The Forward, and The New York Observer, among others. She is a selected fellow of the New Jewish Culture Fellowship, and a grant recipient from the inaugural cycle of the NYFA Women’s Fund for Media, Music, and Theatre. Learn more about her work on her website.