MIDDLETOWN, Pa. — The Center for Holocaust and Jewish Studies at Penn State Harrisburg will welcome Dina Danon, associate professor of Judaic studies and history at Binghamton University, for a virtual lecture at noon on Tuesday, Nov. 1. Her discussion will focus on the "Sephardic Jews of Ottoman Turkey."
The lecture will tell the story of an Ottoman Jewish community in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Drawing extensively on a rich body of previously untapped archival material, the lecture also will offer a new read on Jewish modernity.
Across Europe, Jews were often confronted with the notion that their religious and cultural distinctiveness was somehow incompatible with the modern age. Yet the view from Ottoman Izmir invites a different approach: what happens when Jewish difference is totally unremarkable? What happens when there is no “Jewish Question?” Through the voices of beggars on the street and mercantile elites, shoe-shiners and newspaper editors, rabbis and housewives, this lecture will underscore how it was new attitudes to poverty and social class, not Judaism, that most significantly framed this Sephardi community's encounter with the modern age.
Danon holds a doctoral degree in history from Stanford University. She is the author of “The Jews of Ottoman Izmir: A Modern History” (Stanford University Press, 2020), a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Culture. She was recently a fellow at the Katz Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where she began work on a new project on the marketplace of matchmaking, marriage and divorce in the eastern Sephardi diaspora. She is currently at work on a co-edited volume titled “Longing and Belonging: Jews and Muslims in the Modern Age.”