Jewish families to be key topic at Greenfield Summer Institute | Wisconsin Jewish Chronicle

Jewish families to be key topic at Greenfield Summer Institute


The Jewish family can be considered the core of Jewish identity. At a four-day event, attendees can develop a rich understanding about the history and function of family in a Jewish context, according to organizers.  

“In many ways, the Jewish story is a family story,” said Cara Rock-Singer, co-chair of the Greenfield Institute Committee. “There are so many different formations and meanings of family related to issues about how families function and work to produce and reproduce Jewish life.” 

The 22nd annual Greenfield Summer Institute, which is part of the George L. Mosse and Laurence A. Weinstein Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, will be held July 11-14, 2022, featuring the theme of “The Jewish Family across Time and Place.” 

The Institute was started by alum Larry Greenfield who wanted a way for alumni to extend their learning in Jewish history, culture and religion and to enjoy each other’s company every summer. Although he died some years ago, his wife Ros remains a generous supporter of the Greenfield Institute, according to Center for Jewish Studies Director Tony Michels.  

Speakers include alumni, faculty and professors or experts in the field of Jewish study from across the country. This year, the theme of Jewish families was chosen due to the complexity and intricacies embedded in the topic. 

“It’s such a multifaceted theme for us to really think about issues from depictions in media, to ritual practice, to new formations of family and new kinds of Jewish life,” Rock-Singer said. “It’s a really rich and capacious theme.” 

From the narrative in Genesis about the formation of kinship to the development of the Jewish family into its role in the modern era, scholars will be speaking about their research and passions through in-depth lectures and events, according to organizers.  

Rock-Singer is also an assistant professor of religious studies at UW-Madison. She will be giving a talk at the Institute about Jewish birth traditions. 

“I’ll be talking about what we can learn about the nature of Jewish tradition from looking at Jewish birthing practices, in particular the stories of birth attendants, midwives and doulas,” Rock-Singer said. “I’ll also be speaking about what we can know about how Jewish people live, particularly Jewish women, through the stories of how they give birth.” 

Other highlights of the event include a performance and lecture by academic and singer Galeet Dardashti about Persian Jewish music from her personal family tradition, and Annie Polland, the president of the Tenement Museum in New York City, who will be speaking about the expectations of Jewish mothers as studied through Yiddish cookbooks. 

The fee to attend is $215, which includes some meals and access to each event. Lectures will be held at Grainger Hall, 975 University Avenue and is open to all community members and alumni. 

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What: Greenfield Summer Institute, “The Jewish Family across Time and Place” 

When: July 11-14, 2022 

Cost: $215 

Register/more info: