The Bildner Center brings visiting scholars to Rutgers to promote research and scholarly exchange and to teach courses in Jewish Studies. Visiting scholars contribute to the intellectual vigor and diversity of Rutgers' educational experience, adding to its growing reputation as a center of excellence in the burgeoning field of Jewish studies. Visiting scholars participate in faculty seminars and contribute to the Bildner Center educational activities within the university as well as its outreach programs for the community.
Faculty and visitors affiliated with the Center pursue a wide range of research areas within the field of Jewish Studies, such as Eastern European Jewish history, Jewish immigrants in America, Jewish religious movements, early Rabbinic Midrash, Hebrew and Yiddish literature and culture, Jewish identity and education, Jewish memory, Israeli politics, Israeli society and culture, Jews and the media, and the ethnography of Jewish communities.
As leading academicians in their fields, visiting scholars enrich the course offerings of the Department of Jewish Studies and serve as ambassadors who further the Bildner Center’s mission of creating a bridge between the university and the broader community.
Course instruction, both within and beyond the undergraduate classroom, is at the core of a visiting scholar’s role. With specialties that differ from those of departmental faculty, they teach classes, lecture to educators participating in the Master Teacher Institute, lead faculty seminars, and develop online mini-courses that are available to the public free of charge on the Bildner Center’s website. In addition, they address audiences at the Rutgers New Jersey Jewish Film Festival and present public lectures on a wide array of subjects.
Still, the particular strengths of each scholar may stretch the bounds of the exchange even further. In 2007–2008, Professor Roni Stauber of Tel Aviv University, then the Aresty Visiting Scholar, presented an undergraduate course entitled “The Holocaust and Israel.” Recognizing the potential for wider impact, the Bildner Center asked him to develop an innovative, eight¬session “History of the Holocaust” course for New Jersey educators teaching the subject in districts statewide.
Thanks to a special grant from the American Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, Stauber remained for a second year. In 2008–2009, as the Schusterman Visiting Scholar in Israel Studies, he taught two additional courses: “Anti-Semitism in Modern Times” and “The History of Zionism.” He also created a five-session course on Israel’s unresolved conflicts, an extracurricular evening series for students, cosponsored by the Bildner Center and Rutgers Hillel.
Looking back on the experience, Stauber has observed, “The opportunity to engage with teachers of the Holocaust in order to develop their historical sensibilities was the highlight of my time here as a visiting scholar. I hope the knowledge and understanding they have acquired through exposure to our seminars will be transmitted to their students, now and in the future.”