FACULTY AND STAFF
CJS Welcomes Sari Havis and Jonathan Sciarcon
CJS Welcomes 2 new Judaic Studies Faculty Offering New Courses in Hebrew, Israeli Culture, and History of Jews of Middle East
CJS is very excited to welcome two new Judaic Studies faculty to the team – Prof. Sari Havis and Prof. Jonathan Sciarcon.
Prof. Havis joins CJS and the Department of Languages and Literatures as our new Hebrew Lecturer. Sari heads up a vibrant new Hebrew Language Program for DU, teaching courses in Beginners and Intermediate Hebrew, as well as new courses on Israeli culture – including a brand new Israeli Culture Through Film class in Winter and Spring of 2011. Prof. Jonathan Sciarcon, a new Assistant Professor with CJS and the Department of History, brings with him a wealth of expertise in Middle East History, including research on Iraqi Jewish History, and new courses on Israel and the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
According to CJS director, Prof. Sarah Pessin, these two new faculty contribute vital energy to a number of CJS’s growing initiatives: “All of us at CJS are really thrilled to have Sari and Jonathan join our Judaic Studies team. In addition to being wonderful teachers and colleagues, Sari and Jonathan bring with them areas of expertise that fit very powerfully into our ever-growing teaching and research commitments to Israel Studies, Intercultural Bridge-Building, and Global Studies. We look forward to the many amazing new opportunities that Sari and Jonathan bring to CJS and to DU – and to the entire region.”
Sari Havis: Hebrew Language, Israeli Culture and Film, and Cutting-Edge Pedagogy
Sari Havis is a native Israeli with a love for the Hebrew language and Israeli culture. She comes to Denver most recently from University of Kansas where she developed and coordinated an extremely successful Hebrew language program. During her first quarter at DU, Havis has already begun integrating cutting-edge multimedia pedagogical techniques into the Hebrew classrooms at DU, and Havis’ students (and even some of the students’ parents!) have already begun singing her praises. A master Hebrew teacher, Havis is already putting DU on the map for Hebrew language pedagogy in the U.S.: this October, she is co-organizing a Hebrew Seminar at DU – a national gathering of Hebrew program directors and Hebrew teachers in connection with the The National Middle East Language Resource Center. This program is just one illustration of the kind of powerful Hebrew language instruction skills that Havis brings to our students and to Denver. Working under her leadership, CJS is proud to sponsor a number of local Denver Jewish Day School teachers as part of this important new Hebrew education event.
“Sari is not only bringing a cutting-edge national Hebrew conference to DU, but she is already an invaluable asset in helping CJS continue to grow meaningful new partnerships with teachers and community members across Colorado,” notes Pessin.
The Center also eagerly looks forward to the many new Israeli Culture classes and guest scholars whom Havis will help bring to DU over the coming months and years.
Her love of teaching the Hebrew language is evident to anyone who meets her. "I am passionate about Hebrew and its acquisition and aim to reach every student who wishes to learn it” says Havis.
“I believe that language can be acquired by everyone, but I also recognize that each student might shine differently, in various degrees and in diverse proficiencies. It is my vision that gradually the Hebrew program at DU will grow in numbers and in its course offerings. The enthusiastic CJS faculty team and their phenomenal commitment to excellence in education and engagement in cultural and community activities are inspiring. Through my Israeli Culture Through Film course and by facilitating future Israeli guests on campus, I hope to enrich not only DU students and faculty, but also Denver at large."
Jonathan Sciarcon: Middle East History, Ottoman Jewry, and Israeli and Sephardic / Mizrahi Studies
Jonathan Sciarcon, born and raised in Rhode Island, received his doctorate in Modern Middle East History at the University of California at Santa Barbara where he recently completed a project on the history of Jews in Iraq entitled: “An Ancient People in a New Middle East: Communal Boundaries, Memory, and Identity in Iraqi-Jewish Narratives, 1885-1960.”
“What brings me to my subject is perhaps personal,” says Sciarcon. “My father’s side of the family lived peacefully in the Ottoman Empire for hundreds of years, and my father still speaks Ladino.”
Sciarcon brings a depth of knowledge to the Denver community, and greatly enhances the Israel Studies experience for students at CJS through important new courses on the history of the Arab-Israeli conflict, the history of Israel, and the history of US-Israeli Relations.
“It is so important to have someone of Jonathan’s caliber and integrity teaching Middle East history at DU,” says Pessin. “Jonathan is not only a serious scholar, but is sensitive to fostering a respectful classroom environment where students can learn about Israel, ask questions openly, and voice a range of opinions and ideas – all in a safe environment with immediate access to historically accurate information and important resources for further study. This kind of respectful opportunity for learning is critical when it comes to any subject – but seems especially critical when it comes to studying the Middle East; we are fortunate to have Jonathan on board.”
Interested in helping CJS to foster ongoing partnerships, Sciarcon looks forward to sharing his expertise over the years with various student and community groups. In this spirit, he is already working with CJS and the campus Hillel to help organize an opportunity for students to meet informally with him – and with other CJS faculty – to talk about the unique challenges and opportunities of studying the history of Israel with various scholarly resources, and within the context of a multicultural campus classroom. In light of his research interests and personal background, Sciarcon also looks forward over the years to helping CJS feature important new conversations about Sephardic and Mizrahi Jewish history and culture.
In addition to being an expert in Middle East History, Sciarcon is also an avid Boston sports fan who asks students enrolling in his courses to “prepare themselves for Seinfeld references and the occasional pro-Red Sox comment.”