Feeling Jewish: Buying and Selling American Jewish Nostalgia

Thursday, June 15, 2017, 6:45 pm to 8:00 pm
Photo of Rachel Gross
Rachel B. Gross delivers her inaugural lecture as the John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies. Nostalgia, a sentimental longing a for past that cannot be recovered, is a powerful theme in 21st-century American Jewish culture that is communicated through what American Jews make, buy and sell. This talk examines how American Jews represent Eastern European Jewish immigration history and connect to it emotionally through Jewish genealogy, visiting historic synagogues, buying children's books and dolls and eating out at restaurants reimagining Ashkenazi cuisine. Through these commercial activities and others, contemporary American Jews express their longing for authentic Jewish pasts, build community in the present, and pass on their values to future generations. Reception: 6pm. Free.
Contemporary Jewish Museum, 736 Mission Street, San Francisco
Department of Jewish Studies, Contemporary Jewish Museum
Contemporary Jewish Museum
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Professor Gross joined the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State in fall 2016. She is a scholar in religious studies whose work focuses on the lives, spaces and objects of 20th-century and contemporary American Jews. She has published scholarly articles on Jews and food and is currently working on a manuscript, “Objects of Affection: The Material Religion of American Jewish Nostalgia.” Gross received her Ph.D. in religion from Princeton University. 

This lecture, following Professor Gross’ first academic year in San Francisco, introduces her to the public and to academic colleagues.


Photo by Hannah Anderson