The University of New Mexico International Studies Institute presents its inaugural lecture in the Contemporary Jewish Studies Lecture Series, featuring Michael Brenner, delivering, "Jewish Life in Europe Today: Crisis or Revival," on Friday, Feb. 27 from 10 to 10:50 a.m. in Keller Hall in the UNM Center for the Arts. A Q & A is set after the lecture, with light refreshments to follow. The event is free and open to the public. 

Brenner is professor of Jewish History and Culture at the University of Munich, Germany; and the Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University. He has authored six books, coauthored numerous articles and is editor of a Jewish studies book series. Brenner was the Ina Levin Invitational Scholar Fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, where he researched modern German-Jewish history.

His current research, he said, "Deals with the tension between the original Zionist vision to bring normalcy to the Jewish people by establishing a state of their own and the challenges Israel faces today to be regarded as a 'normal state.'"

News organizations around the world have been reporting on the recent Charlie Hebdo and Jewish supermarket killings in Paris and their broader implications in Europe. The killings at the kosher supermarket, in particular, and more recently, in the Copenhagen synagogue, are a reminder of the sporadic but ongoing violence toward the Jewish community in Europe and beyond. Significant as this news coverage is, reporting only on instances of violence towards the Jewish or Muslim communities perpetuates the impression that a particular culture is only newsworthy when associated with incidents of hate and intolerance. 

Jews in Europe today face numerous new challenges including the rise of extreme right-wing populist parties, a mixture of anti-Seminitism and anti-Zionism among radical Islamists and diminishing awareness of the Holocaust among younger generations. Some communities experience existential threats and an exodus of their members. Yet, other communities flourish. This lecture shows both crisis and revival of European Jewry today.

The UNM International Studies Institute strives to create a forum for a range of positions and presentations and encourages students, faculty and the wider community to attend events with an open mind and a commitment to dialogue. Part of a university's responsibility is to educate the community on the history and cultural contributions of each people, while also examining political events as they unfold at the moment. 

This lecture series is sponsored in part by a grant from the Jewish Community Foundation of New Mexico.