Congratulations to Robyn Ann Langley, the first SMU Jewish Studies minor

slnewCongratulations to Robyn Ann Langley, the first Jewish Studies minor. She was recently honored at a reception on Friday, May 13th hosted by the SMU Jewish Studies program and faculty advisor, Shira Lander. Robyn is a Fashion Media major in the Meadows School of the Arts and triple minor in Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, both housed in Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences, and Art.

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Robyn was born in Miami, FL and moved to Boca Raton when she was just four years old. She was enrolled in preschool at the Jewish Community Center and has continued her involvement in the community ever since. She attended Hebrew school at Congregation B’nai Israel and was confirmed in 10th grade. She continued working at B’nai Israel as a Madricha (teacher’s assistant) and was part of the synagogue’s Senior Youth Group (BISY, a National Federation of Temple Youth affiliate). She has been involved with many Jewish organizations, such as Ruth Rales Jewish Family Services, JAFCO-Jewish Adoption and Family Care Options, and the Otzar Program for Special Needs. She most enjoyed working as the lead art and design volunteer for the Otzar Special Needs Sunday school.

Twentieth Nate and Ann Levine Lecture in Jewish Studies

Event date: April 5, 2016
Time: 7:30 pm

“Imagining a Vibrant Future for American Judaism.” Dr. Arnold Eisen is one of the world’s leading experts on American Judaism and the Chancellor of the Jewish Theological Seminary. He will discuss and debunk the recent forecasts of gloom and doom when it comes to the future of non-Orthodox Judaism in America, a future that — so it is said — mirrors the decline of mainstream Christian groups and the triumph of the “nones”: individuals who turn away from any kind of religious belief or community. For more information: sfrolov@smu.edu

 

Mark Chancey, Religious Studies, comments on Bible Study in Public Schools

Education Week Blog, Curriculum Matters

Originally Posted: March 17, 2016

New bills on the table in Kentucky and Idaho would pave the path for more study of the Bible in public schools.

In Idaho, the state’s senate approved a bill that would “expressly permit” schools to use the Bible for academic study, the Associated Press reports. It specifies that the Bible can be used in studies of history, literature, and the arts.

The bill in Kentucky would allow schools to offer Bible Literacy classes as an elective passed the state senate’s education committee earlier this month, the Courier-Journal reports.

According to Mark Chancey, a professor of religious studies at Southern Methodist University who has studied the use of the Bible in public schools, the bills won’t likely permit anything that’s not already technically permissible under state and federal law.

A 1963 Supreme Court ruling affirmed that, while public schools cannot teach devotional practices, they can teach about the Bible “when presented objectively as part of a secular program of education.” READ MORE

Blue Like Me: The Art of Siona Benjamin

image DATE: March 1, 2016
TIME: 5:30 pm
LOCATION: Dedman Life Sciences Building 110

Siona Benjamin, a painter originally from Bombay now living in the U.S., will discuss her work and how it reflects her background of being raised as a Jew in a predominantly Hindu and Muslim India. Her paintings combine the imagery of her past with the role she plays in America today, making a mosaic inspired by Indian miniature painting and Judeo-Spanish icons. More information: http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/academics/programs/jewishstudies/events

 

Confucianism Then and Now

Event Date: Thursday February 25, 2016
Time: 5:15 p.m. Reception, 5:45 p.m. Lecture
Location: Meadows Museum, Jones Hall

Join SMU Professor and Chair of Religious Studies, Johan Elverskog as he continues the 2016 Spring Godbey Lecture Series. Please RSVP at https://godbey2016.eventbrite.com or 214-768-3527. For more information http://www.smu.edu/Dedman/DCII/Events

Religious Studies Professor Mark Chancey provides expertise for Smithsonian Magazine cover story

Smithsonian Magazine

Originally Posted: December 16, 2015

January/February 2016 issue

Unearthing the World of Jesus

By Ariel Sabar

As he paced the dusty shoreline of the Sea of Galilee, Father Juan Solana had a less-than-charitable thought about the archaeologists from the Israel Antiquities Authority: He wanted them to go away.

Everything else had fallen into place for the Christian retreat he planned to build here. . . (But) It was there, beneath a wing of the proposed guesthouse, that their picks clinked against the top of a buried wall.

Dina Avshalom-Gorni, an IAA official who oversaw digs in northern Israel, ordered all hands to this square of the excavation grid. The workers squatted in the mealy soil and dusted carefully with brushes. Soon, a series of rough-cut stone benches emerged around what looked like a sanctuary.

It can’t be, Avshalom-Gorni thought.

The Gospels say that Jesus taught and “proclaimed the good news” in synagogues “throughout all Galilee.” But despite decades of digging in the towns Jesus visited, no early first-century synagogue had ever been found. . .

But as Avshalom-Gorni stood at the edge of the pit, studying the arrangement of benches along the walls, she could no longer deny it: They’d found a synagogue from the time of Jesus, in the hometown of Mary Magdalene. Though big enough for just 200 people, it was, for its time and place, opulent. It had a mosaic floor; frescoes in pleasing geometries of red, yellow and blue; separate chambers for public Torah readings, private study and storage of the scrolls; a bowl outside for the ritual washing of hands. . .

The ultimate find—physical proof of Jesus himself—has also been elusory. “The sorts of evidence other historical figures leave behind are not the sort we’d expect with Jesus,” says Mark Chancey, a religious studies professor at Southern Methodist University and a leading authority on Galilean history. “He wasn’t a political leader, so we don’t have coins, for example, that have his bust or name. He wasn’t a sufficiently high-profile social leader to leave behind inscriptions. In his own lifetime, he was a marginal figure and he was active in marginalized circles.” READ MORE

Joan of Arc docudrama features Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams and Bonnie Wheeler

The Gospel Herald

Originally Posted: November 18, 2015

Joan of Arc, a groundbreaking docudrama featuring the true story of the young heroine-turned-saint who led the French army to victory over the British during the Hundred Years’ War, will premiere this Thanksgiving holiday on BUYtv.

The thrilling new docudrama was written and directed by Emmy award-winning filmmaker Russell Holt and shares the incredible story of how the deep faith of a humble farm girl enabled her to lead her country to victory, making her one of the most revered Christian figures in all of history. ”

Joan of Arc tells the tale of a simple girl whose steadfast commitment to her personal beliefs and religious faith led her to become a martyr, a military leader and the patron Saint of France by the age of 19,” reads the film’s press release. “Her profound dedication to her faith coupled with her ability to establish strong principles at a young age guided her, France and eventually the United States, to greatness.”

Filmed in France, the docudrama is told in Joan’s own words and uses actual 15th century records of her trial for heresy. In addition, Ryan Little, the award-winning director of photography, brings to life historically accurate dramatic re-enactments of events and battles in their actual locations throughout France. ”

While the story of Joan of Arc has been presented on-screen before and most often told through the lens of the battlefield, our film is told in Joan’s own words from a perspective of faith,” said Derek Marquis, managing director of BYUtv. ”

Although we depict elaborate battle scenes and military strategy, we present a unique mixture of her history and faith, interspersing expert commentary, dramatic re-enactments and angelic visitations. By examining in-depth the short, yet focused life of Joan – a young farm girl who was chosen by God to crown a King and save a nation – our program provides viewers a detailed explanation as to why her tale resonates with people of all faiths.”

The docudrama will also feature a number of renowned historians and religious leaders, including Helen R. Castor Ph.D., Bye-Fellow, Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, Author of Joan of Arc: A History, Jeremy DuQuesnay Adams Ph.D., Professor and Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor Medieval Europe, Southern Methodist University, Daniel Hobbins Ph.D., Associate Professor of History, Notre Dame University, Bonnie Wheeler Ph.D., Associate Professor and Director of Medieval Studies, Southern Methodist University and Director, International Joan of Arc Society, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland, Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and Gérald R. Caussé, Presiding Bishop, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This groundbreaking, family-friendly docudrama will premiere on Nov. 26th on BYUtv at 6pm MT/8pm ET, followed by a 10-minute behind-the-scenes special and will be rebroadcast throughout the 2015 Holiday Season.

Although she died many years ago, Joan of Arc continues to be an inspirational role model today for people of all ages, as her story is one of undying faith, perseverance, honor and courage.

“We know more about Joan of Arc than most medieval historic figures due to the detailed transcripts from her trial,” said Mr. Holt. “Joan of Arc played a fundamental role in shaping world history by leading the French army to victory against the English forces. The French Navy would later play an indispensable role in United States’ Revolutionary War. Without Joan of Arc’s heroic and divine mission, one could argue the nation of France and the Unites States would not exist as they do today.” READ MORE

LISTEN: SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran on KERA

KERA

Originally Posted: September 21, 2015

Pope Francis Comes To America

This week, Pope Francis visits the U.S. for the first time, making stops in Washington, New York and Philadelphia. This hour, we’ll talk about what his visit means for American Catholics – and about how their beliefs align with church teachings, with SMU religion experts Matthew Wilson and Charles Curran. LISTEN