Tag Archives: Jewish History

The Ner Tamid Lectures #9 – The Jewish Psychologists

Beginning with Sigmund and Anna Freud and continuing through Abraham Maslow, Alfred Adler, Bruno Bettleheim, Noam Chomsky and many others, the field of psychology has in many ways been shaped by Jewish minds. Join us for a fun and fact-filled discussion on the Jewish roots of this branch of science and for a discussion on how psychology aligns with and grew out of Jewish culture at the time and the impact of Nazism on the formation of psychology.

(Requires PowerPoint or Google Slides) 9_The Jewish Psychologists

(Requires Acrobat or another PDF reader) 9_The Jewish Psychologists (With Notes)


The Ner Tamid Lectures #2 – The Cry For Social Justice

The second in my series of lectures on the Jewish American Experience this is an examination of the Jewish commitment and contributions to Social Justice in America. Highlights include the role of Jews before and during the Civil War; Brandeis on the Supreme Court; Gompers and AFL; Rabbi Heschel and MLK; Betty Freidan and Womens’ March.

(Requires PowerPoint or Google Slides) 2_Social Justice

(Requires Acrobat or another PDF reader) 2_Social Justice

Ellis Island Reenactment

Today, at the JCS of Ann Arbor, I was privileged to take part in a reenactment of the Ellis Island experience, as follows:

For millions of immigrant families, Ellis Island represented the last hurdle that needed to be overcome on the long journey to America. Ellis Island was a place of hope for, after long and often difficult struggles, the New World was in sight; but at the same time, it was a place of fear and desperation, because individuals or families could be refused admittance and sent back. It was an important part of the American Jewish experience. On May 6th, 2012, the students, parents and faculty of the JCS of Ann Arbor staged a reenactment of the Ellis Island experience as a capstone to the 2011-2012 school year.

Students, along with some parents, were given packets including biographies. The biography that you drew determined your economic and professional status, what language your spoke and whether you had an American sponsor. Assuming the roles of immigrants seeking admittance from Europe, students had to negotiate their ways through a series of checkpoints, manned by officials.  In order to gain acceptance to America, each immigrant had to pass through the Immigration station, be checked and passed by Medical, get the help of the person at the Hebrew Immigration Aid Station (HIAS) and finally have their Passport stamped. If any official wanted to, they could have an immigrant pulled off the line and sent to Detention or sent back to the country of origin. Officials could even change a person’s name depending on what they heard or to make it sound “more American.” It took all a person’s wits to negotiate, cajole and sometimes bribe your way through. The reenactment was a great success, with students discussing afterwards how it gave them a real feel for the experiences of their forbearers.

A light lunch was served afterwards, including traditional Jewish foods. As a final part of the day’s activities, students were given hand-outs of Famous Jews Who Changed Their Names (Jack Benny was born Benny Kubelsky, Tony Curtis was born Bernard Schwartz and Kirk Douglas started life as Issur Danielovitch Demsky) and a glossary of Yiddish words and phrases.  They learned that it took a certain amount of chutzpah to get through Ellis Island and if you weren’t careful, you could find yourself in real tsuris!

Thanks go out to JCS Principal Wendy Sadler for putting together such a great and educational program. For more information about this or any other JCS program, please visit the website at http://jewishculturalsociety.org/ or through email at info@jewishculturalsociety.org or in person at the JCS offices at 2935 Birch Hollow Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48108.