October 19, 2021
Conversation with Professor May Berenbaum
Professor Berenbaum is an entomologist at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, studying the interactions between insects and their host plants and a longtime member of the CU Jewish community. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the editor-in-chief of its journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. She is also a member of the American Philosophical Society and a fellow of the American Academic of Arts and sciences.At the University of Illinois, she is a Maybelle Leland Swanland Endowed Chair Professor—the highest title a professor can hold at the university, and she was awarded the National Medal of Science in 2014. Professor Berenbaum is very passionate about her research and raising public awareness about the importance of insects for our environment and our lives. As part of her work with the public, she has authored three books about insects for the general public and she is one of the organizers of the annual Insect Fear Film Festival at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
She will talk about her life and career and how being a Jewish woman has shaped her path and way of approaching the (human and animal) world.
February 2, 2021
The Jewish community is diverse and includes people from a variety of backgrounds and with a variety of perspectives, experiences, customs, life causes and passions. This very diversity enriches our lives. Yet, it is not often that we have an opportunity to come together to share about how being Jewish has impacted our ongoing life journeys. Three members of our community will talk a bit about their personal journeys, and then participants will be invited to join a group discussion about the themes and stories what were shared. Come connect and get inspired along with us.
September 22, 2020
Confessions of a Dramaturg and the Shylock Midrash
This will be a virtual conversation with Professor & Dramaturg Michael Shapiro about how Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice and, in particular, the controversial and complex character of the Jew Shylock, have been interpreted in different productions and adaptations.
Professor Shapiro taught Shakespeare, dramatic literature and other courses as a member of the English Department at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for over 40 years. He also has held visiting positions at Cornell, Reading (England), Tamkang (Taiwan) and Loyola in Chicago. He is the author of several books, as well as numerous articles and reviews, and most recently, is the co-editor of Wrestling With Shylock: Jewish Responses to the Merchant of Venice (published by Cambridge University Press in 2017). At the University of Illinois, he was the co-founder and artistic director of the Revels Players (an amateur troupe devoted to early English drama), as well as the co-founder and director of the program in Jewish studies. He also did occasional theater reviews for the University radio station and directed plays at Sinai Temple in Champaign.
The event will consist of a 45- to 50-minute presentation followed by 15-20 minutes of open Q&A.
December 10, 2020
Nigunim, the Soul of Jewish Music
Join musician Zach Mayer, who will explain the history and significance of nigunim (wordless melodies from the Hasidic tradition) and talk about how they are sung today by different individuals, groups, and congregations. He will teach a traditional nigun, followed by an original melody of his own composition, and explain which elements of the melody are rooted in tradition, and which elements are new.
This event is part of the Chai Seniors series, but is open to everyone, young and old, in our community!
March 3, 2020
Lunch Conversation with Local Writers and Scholars About Books, Writing, Society and Culture
Our Guests: Brett Kaplan, Professor in Comparative and World Literature, Alice McGinty, Award-Winning Children's Book Author and Writing Coach, and Dov Cohen, Professor of Social and Cultural Psychology.
This will be the second of a series of lunch-and-learn events designed to introduce members of our CU Jewish community who work in the arts, business, services, academia, government and religious organizations. In each meeting, two to four speakers representing one or two of these areas will share a bit about their personal and professional lives.
The March lunch-and-learn will be a moderated conversation and Q-and-A session with local scholars and writers. They will talk about books and scholarly papers they have written and are in the process of writing, their process for writing and for getting inspiration, and they may share their findings, reflections and insights on society and culture.
August 18, 2020
Conversation with Four Local Rabbis
Grab a cup of coffee and get to know Rabbi Ariel Naveh of Hillel, Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel of Illini Chabad and Rabbi Alan Cook of Sinai Temple and Rabbi Jody Cook of Sinai Temple.
This is a Chai Seniors event, but you’re welcome to join, no matter what your age! We’ll learn about their work, their organizations and hear their thoughts on issues important to them and our Jewish community.
February 18, 2020
Lunch Conversation with Local Artists About Their Art, Lives and Businesses
Our Guests: Jacki Loewenstein (theater), Arielle Weinstein (music), Jon Dessen and Larry Kanfer (photography)
This will be the first of a series of lunch-and-learn events designed to introduce members of our CU Jewish community who work in the arts, business, services, academia, government and religious organizations. In each meeting, two to four speakers representing one of these areas will share a bit about their lives, experiences and work.
The upcoming lunch-and-learn will be a moderated conversation and Q-and-A session with local artists.
November 19, 2019
Preparing Agriculture for Global Climate Change
Our Guest: Lisa Ainsworth
Global climate change will alter the future crop production environment. Atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration, average temperature, and tropospheric ozone concentration will be higher, droughts will be more frequent and severe, more intense precipitation events will lead to increased flooding, and climatic extremes will be more likely to occur. The Soybean Free Air Concentration Enrichment (SoyFACE) facility is an open-air field “laboratory” for investigating the effects of atmospheric and climate change on crops, including soybean and maize. For two decades, experiments have examined the productivity, physiology and genetics of crop responses to atmospheric and climatic change in the field under replicated, fully open-air conditions. This presentation will describe our research to prepare agriculture for the challenges imposed by global climate change.
September 17, 2019
Klezmer Music: A Living Tradition
Our Guest: Frances Harris
Klezmer music is the traditional simcha music of the Ashkenazi Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. It is rooted in a Yiddish culture that spanned modern-day Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, Hungary, Russia, Moldava, Ukraine, Turkey, and more. Today the klezmer music scene is more vibrant than ever, blossoming in Europe as well as on this side of the AtlanticÑand even as far away as Japan! Frances will give an overview of this rich and varied tradition, illustrating with sound clips and video. She may even bring her fiddle.
The CHAI committee provides visits and holiday gift bags to nursing home residents and people who are ill or bereaved, and hosts daytime programs of interest to seniors. The CHAI committee also plans daytime talks and lectures. There is a small fee, which covers lunch for attendees.