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Oblivion and memorialisation: legacies of Nazi persecution in Europe

Thea G R Cassel6 February 2014

With the approach of Holocaust Memorial Day, this Lunch Hour Lecture was aptly timed. I entered the lecture with feelings of interest and curiosity, but also inevitable apprehension

Auschwitz entrance Credit –http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Auschwitz entrance
Credit http://www.flickr.com/photos/kasiaflickr/

Having attended another of Professor Mary Fulbrook’s (UCL German) lectures on the Holocaust at last year’s UCL Festival of the Arts, I knew that she was a passionate and brilliant speaker who provokes the audience into questioning not just what has happened in the past, but also how we remember it today.

However, the subject being as sensitive and traumatic as it is, I wasn’t expecting an easy ride. I was pleasantly surprised.

Remembered sites
Professor Fulbrook didn’t delve too far into gory details and instead focused on the places and people we remember from the Holocaust, and what they tell us about what and who we remember at the expense of others who have been marginalised by our memorialisation.

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Female Bodies, Male Souls: Asceticism and Gender in the Jewish Tradition

news editor7 March 2012

Review of the valedictory lecture by Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert, 28 February, by Lindsey Taylor-Guthartz.

Why have there never been any female Jewish mystics or ascetics?

This intriguing question lay at the heart of Professor Ada Rapoport-Albert’s lecture, a tour de force crowning her 44 years at the UCL Department of Hebrew and Jewish Studies.

Academic ambivalence
Professor Rapoport-Albert set the scene by reminding us of the ambivalence of attitudes towards mysticism and asceticism, both in the academic world and that of the early rabbis.

Up to the 1930s, mysticism was characterised by academics as primitive, illogical and somewhat shameful, a view that was only changed in Jewish studies by the revolutionary work of Gershom Scholem. Similarly, asceticism was regarded with suspicion and ‘banished’ to Christianity and Gnosticism. It was not judged worthy of serious academic research until after the waning of the sexual revolution of the 1960s.

The appearance of AIDS in the 1980s and the corresponding revaluation of sexual abstinence played a vital role in changing the academic climate, and both Jewish mysticism and asceticism now attract a great deal of scholarly interest.

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