Foer to lecture on faith and literature
On Wednesday, Nov. 16, author Jonathan Safran Foer, this year’s Lipman lecturer, will deliver his speech, “When Jews laugh at things that aren’t funny,” in which Foer will discuss “faith, its role in his life and its impact on his literary career,” according to the Henry Walker Agency’s speaker listings.
Foer is well renowned for his two novels Everything is Illuminated, which was made into a motion picture with Elijah Wood, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which explores 9/11 through the eyes of nine-year-old Oskar Schell.
Over the years, the Lipman lecture, sponsored by the Jewish studies program and endowed by the Lipman family, has “[explored] subjects as diverse as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and Jews in rock-and-roll, and has featured such notables as Elie Wiesel,” according to the College’s Jewish studies website.
Bernard H. Lipman ’31, founder, chief executive officer and president of Lipman Bros. Inc., now deceased, and his wife Thelma, established the Lipman Library Fund in 1996 for purchasing materials for Jewish studies, also endowing the lecture series with the Lipman Lecture Fund. “[The lecture] has to be related to something to do with Jewish culture, civilization, history, Jewish people…Jewish life in America, in Israel, diaspora, Jewish language,” Professor of Classics and Lipman committee member Joseph “Yossi” Roisman said. As for the lecturer, he said, “It could be an author, a historian, an activist…so it’s pretty broad.”
Previous lecturers have included Israeli historian Tom Segev in 2010 with his speech entitled, “Simon Wiesenthal, Nazi Hunter: The Man who Refused to Forget,” and the Brandeis University Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History Jonathan Sarna in 2007 with his speech entitled, “The Future of the American Jew: American Judaism in the 21st Century.”
The Lipman committee meets once a year to nominate speaker candidates and to vote on the final selection. The committee includes faculty and students from Hillel. The vote to invite Foer to the College was unanimous, Roisman said.
“He is not just a fiction author.…He is more than just someone who is ensconced in his study, writing books. He tries to be a social activist and I find it commendable,” Roisman said.
Eating Animals, one of Foer’s more recent books, is a work of nonfiction “rethinking the notion of eating meat,” Roisman said. “Eating Animals explores the many stories we use to justify our eating habits—folklore and pop culture, family traditions and national myth, apparent facts and inherent fictions—and how such tales can lull is into a brutal forgetting,” according to his website eatinganimals.com.
Foer will speak in the Ostrove Auditorium in the Diamond Building on Nov. 16 at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.