Oakton announces new Jewish Studies speaker series

The speakers, including Foti, will provide insight into Jewish history and culture. (Picture provided by Foti.)
Des Plaines, Ill. (Jan. 19, 2023) – As International Holocaust Remembrance Day approaches, Oakton’s Jewish Studies program has announced a series of free virtual events — open to the public — to highlight Jewish history and culture and contributions made by Jewish people.

Judaism is one of the world's oldest religions that is still in practice today. Beyond faith, Jewish people and culture have profoundly impacted society, history, language, literature and the arts.

"With the rise of hate groups, it is critical that we learn more about Jewish history and other religions and cultures to help us better understand one another and gain an appreciation of our diversity and perspectives," says Distinguished Professor of History and Jewish Studies Coordinator Wendy Adele-Marie, Ph.D.

From Marilyn Monroe and her conversion to Judaism, to uncovering a family secret to learning more about Jews in today’s America, the topics and presentations provide insight into Jewish history and culture.

The Nazi's granddaughter: How I discovered my grandfather was a war criminal
Thursday, Feb. 9, 11 a.m.
Silvia Foti, the author of the memoir "Storm in the land of rain: A mother’s dying wish becomes her daughter’s nightmare,” is an award-winning investigative journalist in Chicago and a high school literature teacher. Foti made a deathbed promise to her mother to write a book about her famous World War II hero grandfather, Jonas Noreika. She had no idea her discoveries would bring her to a personal crisis, unearth Holocaust denial, and expose an official cover-up by the Lithuanian government.

How happiness thinks
Thursday, March 2, 6 p.m.
Drawing on classical Jewish and mystical teachings, this course will present you with a deeper understanding of yourself and help you flourish by suggesting practical advice, which when implemented, will radically enhance the happiness quotient of your life. Rabbi Meir Shimon Moscowitz is the regional director of Lubavitch Chabad of Illinois. He is the senior Rabbi of Lubavitch Chabad of Northbrook and a longtime instructor with the Jewish Learning Institute.

Nursing and the American Civil War
Thursday, March 23, 11 a.m.
The presentation highlights key Jewish figures' invaluable contributions in medicine during the Civil War. Their work helped forge the development of the modern field of nursing, advanced hospital systems and new concepts in treating the mental and emotional scars of war. The speaker, Brad Stone, has presented on various Civil War topics at several venues, including the Gettysburg Heritage Center.

Marilyn Monroe and Judaism
Tuesday, May 2, 11 a.m.
This talk will examine Marilyn Monroe's relationship with religion and her later-in-life devotion to Judaism. Participants will learn about Monroe’s evangelical childhood, her relationship with Christian Science and how, towards the end of her life, she described herself as an "atheist Jew." The speaker April VeVea has studied and written about Monroe for nearly two decades. Her latest book, "Marilyn Monroe: A day in the life," examines Monroe's life through a timeline biography.

Jews in America today
Tuesday, May 9, 11 a.m.
How many Jews are there in America today? Where do they live, and what is their economic status? How do they identify as Jews? Kenneth Berger, DHL, will provide a snapshot of Jews and the Jewish community in America. A native of Chicago, Rabbi Berger has served on the Executive Committee of the Chicago Board of Rabbis. He teaches adult classes at Moriah Congregation and has taught courses at the Spertus Institute for Jewish Learning and Leadership and at the Rochelle Zell Jewish High School.

For more information about the events, please visit events.oakton.edu or email jewishstudies@oakton.edu.