New Jewish Music Forum

The Jewish Music Forum, a new initiative of the American Society for Jewish
Music, an affiliate of the American Jewish Historical Society at the Center
for Jewish History, is pleased to announce its inaugural academic seminar
series. This ongoing seminar will feature leading scholars presenting new
research findings and theoretical contributions to the academic study of
Jewish music. All events are free and open to the public.

Jewish Music Forum
Spring 2005 Academic Seminar
“The Study of Music in Jewish Life”

January 28
Professor Kay Kaufman Shelemay, G. Gordon Watts Professor of Music at
Harvard University, Inaugural Lecture, “Memory and History in Jewish Music”

February 11
Professor Edwin Seroussi, Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology at the
Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “Studying Jewish Music in Israel:
Achievements, Failures and Challenges for the Future”
Guest chair and respondent: Professor Stephen Blum, City University of New

March 11
Professor Judah M. Cohen, New York University, “Who Will Reclaim the Golden
Sounds?: Judaism, Tradition, and Music Scholarship in an American Context”
Guest chair and respondent: Professor Mark Slobin, Wesleyan University

April 8
Professor Mark Kligman, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion,
“Beyond Yiddishland: New Studies from the Jewish Musical Mediterranean”
Guest chair and respondent: Professor Uri Sharvit, Bar-Ilan University

May 13
James Loeffler, Columbia University, “Between Wissenschaft and Etnografiia:
The Search for a Jewish Musical Science in Eurasia, Past and Present”
Guest chair and respondent: Dr. Ludmila Sholokhova, YIVO Institute for
Jewish Research

All session will take place on Friday mornings, beginning at 10:00 AM at the
Center for Jewish History. Please RSVP to the American Society for Jewish
Music at asjm@cjh.orgor

Introducing the Jewish Music Forum
The American Society for Jewish Music (ASJM) is pleased to announce the
formation of a major new project, the Jewish Music Forum (JMF). Taking its
name and inspiration from an earlier chapter of ASJM’s history, the new
Jewish Music Forum will serve both as a regular meeting place and an
international network for scholars and researchers who are actively studying
Jewish music, as well as a key cultural resource for artists and educators
creating new Jewish music today.
The Jewish Music Forum (JMF) will concentrate on three main areas of
activity. First, JMF will host an annual series of regular academic seminars
at the Center for Jewish History, where AJHS is a partner and ASJM an
affiliate organization. There, participants will come together to present
new research findings, theories and works-in-progress for an audience of
scholars, graduate students and other interested Jewish music specialists.
The aim will be to build up a core group of New York-based participants
representing interdisciplinary interests who will be joined by visiting
researchers. New media technology will allow these sessions to be recorded
and archived on DVDs for interested individuals and academic institutions
well beyond New York.
Beyond this series of academic seminars, JMF will work together with
performers, educators and composers to complement the fruits of academic
labor and create artistic programs for the general public. The academic
seminars will be coordinated with concerts and workshops held at the Center
for Jewish History and elsewhere, providing the public an opportunity to
experience both the rich diversity of Jewish music and the important,
revealing efforts of Jewish music scholarship. The JMF will aim to support
and amplify the efforts of the journal Musica Judaica to bring original
academic research to a wide audience.
Finally, in the interest of promoting the study of Jewish music in larger
American and international academic circles, JMF will also join in
sponsoring events and forums at academic conferences, such as annual
meetings of the Association for Jewish Studies, the American Musicological
Society and the Society for Ethnomusicology. JMF will also serve as the
American affiliate of the Jewish Music Research Centre of the Hebrew
University of Jerusalem. These efforts will serve to promote awareness of
the important research going on in the field of Jewish music today. By
linking up scholars of Jewish music from disciplines ranging from musicology
to anthropology to history and beyond, JMF intends to develop a professional
network of specialists in Jewish music, who can serve as resources to each
other and the different communities where they live, work and teach.
To lead the project, the American Society for Jewish Music has named James
Loeffler of Columbia University as Executive Director of the Jewish Music
Forum, ASJM Board Member Mark Kligman of Hebrew Union College-Jewish
Institute of Religion as Academic Chair, and Judah M. Cohen of New York
University as Vice-Academic Chair. They are joined as well by a steering
committee comprised of leading scholars from the United States and Israel.
Together this team has assembled the schedule for the first semester of
academic programs centered on the series of academic seminars to be held at
the Center for Jewish History beginning in January 2005.
For further information about the activities of the Jewish Music Forum,
please contact the American Society for Jewish Music by email at or telephone at 212-294-8328.
“The Study of Music in Jewish Life”
Seminar Jan. – May 2005
The study of Jewish music has its roots in the nineteenth
century European Wissenschaft tradition. The first studies of Jewish music
initially centered on the European Jewish liturgical music, with the prime
focus on the Ashkenazic tradition and only occasional forays into Western
Sephardic traditions. At the turn of the twentieth century the field grew
significantly through major individual and collective efforts in Central and
Eastern Europe as well as Palestine. Studies of artistic and folk traditions
came to form part of the burgeoning academic fields of European musicology
and ethnomusicology. The first attempts at global views of Jewish music
also began to appear in the first two decades of the twentieth century.
Idelsohn’s Jewish Music in Its Historical Development (1929) is one early
prime example.
During the course of the twentieth century studies of Jewish
music have become more specifically delineated with attempts to uncover
specific aspects of a regional or single tradition rather than a
comprehensive global view. Contemporary studies of Jewish music cover a
wide geographic area documenting various traditions around the world and are
situated within one or more disciplines, including musicology,
ethnomusicology, Judaic studies, linguistics, anthropology and history. In
addition, the emphasis in recent decades on interdisciplinary studies has
opened new opportunities and new challenges for scholars. This first seminar
series will thus focus on questions of the historical development of
methodology and discipline in the study of Jewish music.