On Monday, the Youngstown Jewish Community Center hosted speaker Adolfo Roitman for a “lunch and learn” event on the Dead Sea Scrolls — some of the earliest discovered Judaic texts.
Roitman graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1993 with a Doctorate in Ancient Jewish Thought. He is an ordained conservative rabbi and serves as the curator of The Shrine of the Book, which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls in the Israeli Museum in Jerusalem.
Roitman has also authored a series of books on the Dead Sea Scrolls, and regularly delivers lectures at universities across the globe on a variety of topics covering Judaic history, religion, literature and the Dead Sea Scrolls.
“I am going to present the major intellectual revolution in Jewish studies,” Roitman said. “I know that the scrolls are very famous, but one of the problems, I realize, is that most of you have no idea why they are so important.”
Roitman discussed the extensive history of the Dead Sea Scrolls and touched on his and other scholars’ work in translating and understanding the scrolls.
His speech drew a crowd of over 200 people, which far surpassed the JCC’s prediction of 50 to 75 attendees.
“I know many people that actually have heard him and raved about his speaking ability and his topic,” said Sandy Kessler, the director of the Youngstown JCC. “So it wasn’t a hard decision to bring him here.”
The event is a result of the collaborative efforts of the JCC and The Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies at YSU. Helene Sinnreich, the Director of the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Studies, discovered in a meeting with Case Western Reserve’s Judaic Studies Program that Roitman would be coming to Cleveland to speak. With the help of Kessler, Sinnreich was able to bring Roitman to Youngstown as well.
“It is a very exciting opportunity to get a world class speaker, and it is not very usual that someone of that caliber is close by,” Sinnreich said.
This lecture is just the beginning of a series of joint ventures by the Center for Judaic and Holocaust Students with the JCC and the Jewish Federation. Between Oct. 6 and Oct. 29, the annual Jewish Film Festival will premiere a variety of Jewish cultural films in area theaters.
“I am thrilled that we are doing the first of our joint programs with the JCC. For this fall, we are very excited also about our film festival,” Sinnreich said. “We’re bringing in Gerda Klein, who is a holocaust survivor and a Presidential Medal of Freedom winner. She will be closing out the film festival.”