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Adath Israel to present ‘Between Privilege and Peril’ virtual lecture

Dr. Devin Naar, a renowned historian and popular speaker, will present a virtual lecture on Jews and Structural Racism through the Adath Israel MOSAIC Cultural Series.

Formerly from Lawrenceville, Naar currently is the Isaac Alhadeff professor in Sephardic Studies, associate professor of History, and faculty at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies in the Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

He will speak at 4 p.m. Oct. 25 via Zoom.


A former Fulbright scholar with a PhD in History from Stanford University, Naar is a scholar of empire, nationalism, race, and migration, themes he examines through the lenses of Jewish history and culture. As founder and chair of the Sephardic Studies Program, Naar has transformed the University of Washington into a nationally and internationally recognized center for the study of Sephardic history, culture, and language as exemplified through the creation of the world’s largest digital repository of Ladino texts and a robust online and digital humanities presence, according to a prepared statement.

His first book, Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece, won a 2016 National Jewish Book Award and the 2017 prize for best book awarded by the Modern Greek Studies Association. His current book project, supported in 2020-21 through a fellowship from the UW Simpson Center for the Humanities’ Society of Scholars, investigates the multifaceted experiences of Sephardic and Ashkenazi Jews with American conceptions of race.

Naar has lectured widely at universities, museums, and community institutions across the country and abroad and also writes for popular venues, such as The Jewish Review of Books, Tablet Magazine, Jewish Currents, and Public Radio International. While he conducts research in six languages, Naar speaks his endangered ancestral language, Ladino, with his two small children, according to the statement.


Naar’s talk is entitled “Between Privilege and Peril: Jews and Structural Racism in the United States”. He will explore a series of key moments in American Jewish history from the 18th to 20th centuries that reveal the ways in both Ashkenazi and Sephardic Jews have simultaneously been targets and beneficiaries of racism and discrimination. He will look at how these dueling dynamics played out in relation to the question of American citizenship in 1790, Emma Lazarus and her famous 1883 poem “The New Colossus,” the lynching of Leo Frank in 1915, and the passage of the Immigration Restriction Act in 1924.

To register for the event, call Adath Israel Congregation at 609-896-4977 and leave your full name and email.


Dr. Devin Naar grew up in Lawrenceville, attended Lawrenceville Public Schools. The family was a member of Adath Israel Congregation and Devin had his Bar Mitzvah at Adath Israel. Devin’s dad was a professor at Rider University.


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