Anthropologist of Jewish Life and an Innovative Middle Eastern Vocalist to Highlight JTS Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950

October 20, 2009, New York, NY

DardashtiA performance by Galeet Dardashti, a Middle Eastern vocal innovator, and a discussion on how new approaches to ancient rituals can be made to feel authentic by Dr. Vanessa L. Ochs, a scholar of religious studies, will highlight The Jewish Theological Seminary's Jack and Lewis Rudin Lecture on Sunday, November 15 at 2:30 p.m. The event, the concluding session of A Day of Reinventing Ritual, will take place at JTS, 3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street), New York City.

Dardashti will present an adaptation of her musical performance The Naming, a provocative exploration of the little-known lives of the Bible's phantom women. Through such stories as the Queen of Sheba's shaven legs, a witch's bitter prophecy, and the female superheroes who saved Moses, Dardashti draws on the Persian music deep in her bones to transform these women’s ghostly outlines into full-blown flesh-and-blood personalities, combining emotional Middle Eastern-inflected musical delivery with powerful storytelling.

OchsThrough her anthropological analysis of the day’s activities, Dr. Ochs, an assistant professor of Religious Studies at the University of Virginia, will consider: How do those who introduce new twists on rituals allay the anxieties many feel about Jewish innovation? How can novel approaches be made to feel "real" and "holy" in a short time? An anthropologist of Jewish life, Dr. Ochs is particularly interested in the study of Jewish rituals. She is the author of numerous works, including Inventing Jewish Ritual, winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, and Sarah Laughed.

A Day of Reinventing Ritual is being presented by JTS in collaboration with The Jewish Museum, which will feature workshops, performance, and commentary by artists and scholars on reinventing Jewish ritual. For further information and to register, visit

The Jack and Lewis Rudin Lectures provide the opportunity for eminent academics, religious leaders, intellectuals, and public figures to discuss topics of interest with the JTS community and the public at large.

Admission to the Rudin Lecture is free; reservations and photo ID are required. To RSVP, or for further information, please email or call (212) 280-6093. Space is limited and early replies are encouraged.