Norman E. Alexander Lectures

In 2008, The Columbia University Libraries received a gift of $4 million to establish the Norman E. Alexander Library for Jewish Studies which included three new endowments: a Jewish Studies Librarian, the General Jewish Studies Collection and the Special Collections in Judaica.  In gratitude for this generous gift, the Columbia University Libraries established the Annual Norman E. Alexander Lectures in Jewish Studies.

Celebration of Collections 2023

November 9, 2023 at 12:00 PM EST

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This year's Norman E. Alexander Celebration of Collections centers around the physical aspects of books and manuscripts. Rabbi Dr Jacob J. Schacter will discuss what he learned about Rabbis Ya'akov Emden and Tsevi Hirsch Ashekenazi through examination of their annotations in books; Abigail Slawik will discuss some of the processes involved in conserving a 700 year old manuscript, and Shai Zamir will discuss what he discovered when he examined two Ladino polemical works that seemed remarkably similar in form.

Alexander 2023

Celebration of Collections 2022

The 2022 Norman E. Alexander Celebration of Collections on November 14 featured Charles E. Steinman, Dr. Susan Einbinder, and Dan Klein. Collections discussed included a medieval French manuscript that echoes the expulsion of the Jews from France, a 17th century manuscript discussing the plague in Padua, and a 19th century Italian commentary of the Bible!

Alexander 2022

Lecture 2021

2021: Places and Space, Sights and Sounds in the Norman E. Alexander Library, featuring Dr. Francesca Bregoli, Dr. phil. habil. Lea Schäfer, and Dr. M. (Maarten) Hell.  Collections featured include the Franchetti Archive, the Language and Culture Archive of Ashkenazic Jewry, and the Spinoza Collection.

Alexander Lecture 2021_1

Lecture 2020

2020: Celebrating Ten Years of the Norman E. Alexander Lectures in Jewish Studies


Lecture 2019

2019: Jeffrey Shandler (Rutgers University) Jewish Museum Practices: A Modern Cultural Innovation

AlexanderLecture 2019 - Poster

Past Lectures:


2018: Benjamin R. Gampel (Jewish Theological Seminary), "Reembracing the Lachrymose Theory of Jewish History: Dialogue with a Columbia Tradition"



2017: Alexander Gorlin, FAIA (Alexander Gorlin Architects), "Kabbalah in Art and Architecture."


2016: Jenna Weissman Joselit (George Washington University), "Rock Solid:  America's Relationship to the Ten Commandments."

Alexander Lecture 4

2015: David Ruderman, "Missionaries, Meshumadim, and Maskilim: An Entangled History of Christians, Jews and Those In Between in Nineteenth-Century Europe"

Alexander Lecture 2015

2014: James Kugel, "Behind the Biblical Story of Joseph, or: The Divine Travel Agent"

Alexander Lecture 2

2013:  Neal Gabler, "How (and Why) the Jews Invented Hollywood"


2012: Ruth Wisse, Martin Peretz Professor of Yiddish Literature and Professor of Comparative Literature, Harvard University, "Father's Court and Mother's Sabbaths: Fiction in Service of Truth that is Greater than Fiction"

Alexander Lecture 2012 - Poster

2011: Jonathan Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University, "General Grant and the Jews"

Alexander Lecture 2011 - Poster