PSU’s Judaic Studies celebrates the publication of Professor Nina Spiegel’s first book
Author: Jenn Director Knudsen, Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies
Posted: September 13, 2013

Please join the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University in celebrating the publication of Dr. Nina S. Spiegel’s first book, Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine. 

Judaic Studies’ book-launch event will be held Thurs., Oct. 24, at 7 p.m., in the Smith Memorial Student Union’s Browsing Lounge (rm. 238). The evening will include remarks and a conversation between the author and eminent sociologist, Dr. Calvin Goldscheider. Goldscheider is professor emeritus of sociology and Ungerleider professor emeritus of Judaic Studies of Brown University as well as Scholar in Residence at American University. Incorporating examples from then and now, the presentation will include film footage and a variety of images from the book. 

A dessert reception and a book signing will follow the main event. Copies of the book will be available for sale. The evening is free and open to the public. (Parking near campus and in campus parking lots is free after 7 p.m.) 

Published in June by Wayne State University Press, Embodying Hebrew Culture details the creation of a Hebrew cultural aesthetic that was intentionally and distinctly physical in the era from the British conquest of Palestine in 1917 during World War I until the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. In this detailed, multi-disciplinary work, Spiegel, the Rabbi Joshua Stampfer Professor of Israel Studies, demonstrates the ways that political and social issues can influence a new society and provides a dynamic framework for interpreting present-day Israeli culture. 

“Anchored in interdisciplinary perspectives, Dr. Spiegel weaves together an original, fascinating, and insightful story of the social and cultural life of the Yishuv [Jewish community in this era],” writes Goldscheider of Spiegel’s book. 

Drawing on a vast assortment of archives throughout Israel, Spiegel uses an array of untapped primary sources, from written documents to visual and oral materials, including films, photographs, posters, and interviews. Methodologically, Spiegel offers an original approach, integrating the fields of Israel studies, modern Jewish history, cultural history, gender studies, performance studies, dance theory and history, and sports studies. 

About the author 
Nina S. Spiegel is the Rabbi Joshua Stampfer Assistant Professor of Israel Studies at Portland State University. She holds a Ph.D. in history from Stanford University, and her articles have appeared in publications such as Jewish Cultural Studies, Jewish Folklore and Ethnology Review, and Rethinking History: The Journal of Theory and Practice. She also has served on the board of directors of the Congress on Research in Dance. 

About the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University 
Judaic Studies employs the critical methodologies of university scholarship to examine all aspects of the history, religion, culture, and social and political formations of the Jewish people. Judaic Studies therefore enhances our understanding of world history, and allows critical insight into a vital strand in the tapestry of world culture. It offers the opportunity for students of all backgrounds to explore a rich civilization that is both nourished by ancient traditions, and shaped through creative encounters and ongoing interactions with other cultures. At the Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at Portland State University, this enterprise is conducted through a variety of academic courses and summer programming, lectures and research symposia, scholarly conferences and cultural events. 

For further information, or to RSVP, please click to, or email

For book details, please go to: