Samson in Vienna: The Theatrics of Jewish Masculinity

Monday, February 3, 2003

Dr. Sharon Gillerman, Associate Professor of Jewish History at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and adjunct Assistant Professor of History at University of Southern California, will present “Samson in Vienna: The Theatrics of Jewish Masculinity” at the next Food for Thought Luncheon Lecture. This special Monday presentation of Food for Thought will take place at noon on March 3, 2003 at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion’s Mayerson Hall Auditorium, 3101 Clifton Avenue.

During this fascinating lecture, Dr. Gillerman will focus on the career of Zishe Breitbart, the Polish Jewish strongman and vaudeville performer who was billed as “The Strongest Man in the World” in the 1920’s. “This New Samson” performed remarkable feats of strength through bending iron and biting through iron chains, and attracted a mass following in Berlin, Vienna, New York, Prague, and Warsaw. Breitbart’s reception by Jewish and non-Jewish audiences in Europe and the United States will also be explored.

Dr. Gillerman received her doctorate in history from UCLA in 1996 and wrote her dissertation on the crisis of the Jewish family during the Weimar Republic. Her other research interests include gender and Jewish history, the history of the family, and the history of Berlin. She has published articles on the German-Jewish family, the history of Holocaust education, and Holocaust memorialization. Currently, she is working on her book, Redeeming the Jewish Family: Social Policy and Regeneration in the Weimar Republic. In addition to teaching at HUC-JIR and USC, Dr. Gillerman has also taught at Brandeis University, UCLA, and the University of Hamburg.

In its thirteenth season, Food For Thought features scholars and members of the HUC-JIR community who discuss their fields of interest, expertise, and recent research with the public. The Department of Outreach Education invites the community to attend this lecture with Dr. Sharon Gillerman. A hot buffet lunch will be available for $8; reservations are necessary. There is a $2 fee to attend the lecture only. To learn more about Food For Thought, the Department of Outreach Education of HUC-JIR, or to make reservation contact Marcia Cruse, (513) 221-1875 ext. 353.


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu