Our Lectures

We are pleased to invite you to our lectures that focus on art, travel, and Jewish history around the world. See the up-to-date program listing below. Most events are free and open to the public. You will find lecture dates and locations in the Lecture Schedule.

Educators and program coordinators: To book one of our lectures for your organization or group, please send us an email: Contact us.

Some of the venues where we present include Museum of Jewish Heritage NYC; Anti-Defamation League, NYC; the Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Maltz Museum of Jewish Heritage; Society for Crypto-Judaic Studies; Mandel JCC; Lifelong Learning Rose Institute; the Cleveland Cinemateque; the Cleveland Play House; NASA; Touro Law School; public libraries in Cleveland, Michigan, New York, and New Jersey; Fairmount Temple; Park Synagogue; The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve; Opus Art Gallery; The Jewish Federation of Tulsa, Oklahoma; the Hidden Child Foundation; and the literary Coffee Phix Café.

Most events are free and open to the public. Please check our Lecture Schedule.

Special interest lecture series: Seeking Jewish Narrative All Over the World

In Search of a Jewish Story in China  great wall of China

Seeking a Jewish story in China, Irene Shaland leads us on a unique journey spanning over 2,000 years through the Silk Road and six cities, including Harbin, Kaifeng, Luoyang, and Shanghai.  What are the Jewish secrets of the Gobi Desert and the Silk Road? Where the oldest Jewish prayer was found? What do the most anti-Semitic of Russian Tsars, a railroad, a Chinese fishing village, and Russian-Yiddish culture have in common? Take a journey to China and find out the answers to many perplexing questions. read more

Taj Mahal, IndiaIn Search of a Happy Jewish Story in India

Join internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland, as she invites you to “grow into India.” Discover the most refined beauty and the deepest spirituality of this country. Learn about India’s history, arts, architecture and religions. Hear fascinating stories about the synagogue near the tomb of a Persian emperor, Jewish atheist’s shrine in a mosque, India’s role in the Holocaust, and Muslim youths defending the synagogue of Mumbai. Irene will share little known stories of the oldest continuously living Jewish community in the world, its myths of origin, and sense of identity.   read more

Africa LectureFace-to-Face with Africa through the Eyes of a Jewish ExplorerAs a writer focused on Jewish communities around the world, Irene presents her personal Jewish stories she discovered in Africa. This mysterious continent remains one of the most enchanting and fascinating destinations for both Irene and Alex. From the Nairobi Synagogue and its energetic community, to Masai Tribe village with their Old Testament-like legends, from the Great Rift Valley, where life on earth began, to the Great Migration in Kenya and Tanzania, Africa presents itself as a never-ending journey of mystery and discovery.
Through photographs and stories, Alex and Irene will share their amazing experience from Africa by taking the audience on a unique journey through Masai Mara. Amboseli, Ngorongoro Crater, and Serengeti Parks. read more
Stones Fill the Void: Visiting the Murdered Jews of Vienna   read more

We will journey through 2,000 years of Jewish history in Austria and Vienna, from the Roman times and Middle Ages, to the Enlightenment and Fin de siècle. We discuss distinguished contributions the Jews of Vienna made to the creation of that city’s great culture: from music to medicine, from arts to philosophy. Then we travel from Vienna of the Waltzes to Vienna of the Dead: from Habsburg palaces to Leopoldstadt, a former neighborhood of vibrant Jewish life turned into a ghetto after the Anschluss. We will follow the “Stepping Stones,” the brass plates with names of the victims and learn their stories along with a peculiar Austrian response to the Holocaust.

Scandinavian flagsScandinavia through the Eyes of a Jewish Traveler   read more

Join internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland as she takes us through Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, known for their stunning natural beauty, magnificent royal capitals, and stark modern architecture. Discover the Jewish history of these countries, the role each one played during the Holocaust, understand what it means to live as a Jew in Scandinavia today.

Palermo cathedral, SicilyThe Return of the Jew: Jewish Renaissance in Sicily and Sardinia

Irene Shaland invites you to travel to the islands of Sicily and Sardinia that present an unusually optimistic chapter in the history of Jewish Diaspora. You will discover a world of little-known Jewish narrative: centuries marked by fear and secrets, decades filled with the search for one’s identity, and courage to defy conventions by reinventing oneself. These are the stories of B’nei Anousim, or “children of the forced ones” from the South of Italy. The elimination of institutional Judaism by the infamous 1492 Edict of Expulsion and the Inquisition did not mean the end of Judaism itself. The destruction of synagogues and the burning of “Judaizes” five centuries ago forced the Jews of Sicily and Sardinia to take their traditions into the cellars of their homes where the memories and stories were kept alive, even when descendants forgot their exact meaning. And now, the number of those with a “call of blood,” who think they have Jewish ancestry and want to learn more about it, or even embrace their newly-discovered heritage, is on the rise throughout these islands. Let the story of the Anousim lead you into the world of hope – the cultural and spiritual reawakening.  read more

Journey of Conscience: Countries around the World Respond to the Holocaust
“…memory is the keyword, which combines past and present, past and future…” Elie Wiesel.  An internationally-published writer and educator Irene Shaland invites you to embark on a journey through the painful past and often controversial present of nine countries on three continents to understand how and why various nations around the world respond to the Holocaust remembrance.
Inside the Grand Temple sanctuaryJews of the Jungles (and Cities) in Brazil
Join Irene Shaland, an internationally-published travel writer and author of several books for a captivating journey through 500 years of Jewish history in Brazil. Encounter little-known stories of Brazil discovery in the context a twisted world of the 15th century politics, deceptions, and intrigues. Learn about the key role the Crypto-Jews played in this country’s exploration and development.
Find out why Anna Novinsky, a renowned expert in Jewish history residing in Sao Paolo, claimed that “Brazil was built by the Jews!” Journey from the 15th to the 21st century of Brazilian history and visit Salvador Bahia, Manaus, the Amazon, Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, and the Iguassu Falls to uncover fascinating Jewish narratives of this unique country and to meet the Brazilian Jews who dwell in its cities and in the jungle.
Cuban flag against blue skyJewish Story through 500 Years of Cuban History
The Cuban Jewish story reflects a struggle for survival through assimilation and acculturation. It is also based on a narrative depicting not a single community but rather a mosaic of several communities that varied greatly in their languages and cultures, and which was built by five distinctly different waves of Crypto-Jewish and Jewish immigrants.
The contemporary Cuban Jewish narrative depicts a fascinating trajectory. First, a descent from vibrancy and prosperity to almost oblivion after the mass exodus of the 1960s and direct efforts to destroy the Jewishness during the years of revolutionary atheism. Then, a recent phenomenon: a sudden ascent to becoming a Celebrity of Tropical Diaspora, turning into, arguably, the most visited and photographed of the world’s Jewish communities.
The extraordinary characteristic of the Jewish experience in Cuba one finds today is the fundamental sense of community that survived an almost complete dissolution after Castro’s revolution, followed by decades of a totalitarian regime with its poverty, deprivation, and strong anti-Israeli attitudes.
Jews in Myanmar and Cambodia
The road to Myanmar is definitely less-travelled, even for a seasoned globe-trotter. But those who do venture along it are wooed by the country’s sparkling beauty and the sincere friendliness of its people. The Myanmar’s temple art is matchless in its elegance. The deepest spirituality of its ancient form of Buddhism seamlessly blends with the pagan spirits of the Burmese universe. It is hard to imagine a religious Jew with his family arriving in this, “unlike any other” land. But they did, and many built significant fortunes, while playing an important role in turning British Burma, especially Rangoon, into one of the most prosperous regions in Southeast Asia.  They were the Baghdadi, a special breed of the Jewish tribe. And so, the Burmese Jewish narrative is, first and foremost, the Baghdadi story.
Travel with Irene Shaland to the ancient land of rice fields and countless golden Buddhas and pagodas to discover the little-known narrative of the once thriving Jewish community of Burma that was all but decimated during World War II.
Understand why this small group of immigrants throughout their history in Asia became so successful commercially and powerful politically only to disappear to almost oblivion after the 1940s and 1960s. Learn about the Jewish renaissance in this country today and the brave new world of the Myanmar Jewry.
In Cambodia, we will visit a small synagogue across the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh and discover what the Rabbi’s usual day looks like in the country of Angkor Wat.

The Art of Travel Lecture Series

Cuba:the Land, the People, the Arts –60 years after Castro’s Revolution
Cuba defies conventional thinking: with half the land and people of the whole Caribbean, it seems more of a continent than an island. At the crossroads of the Western hemisphere for over 500 years, 20thcentury Cuba became a country where the clocks stopped for many decades. Its recent troubled history presents a story of brutal oppression and deprivation, but which is at the same time intriguing and fascinating.From the hot music clubs to Che Guevara murals, sensuality and socialism rub shoulders in Cuba’s great cities; and the newly-allowed art galleries display cutting-edge paintings and sculptures that might make New York or Santa Fe envious. Dilapidated mansions neglected for decades stand side-by-side with beautiful newly renovated colonial, art nouveau and art deco buildings.Take a journey with internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland to rediscover this island against the background of its 500 plus year history. Travel from Santiago to Havana, from Cienfuegos to Trinidad – to learn how Cuba is finding its way back to the future.
Little-Known Stories from the Human Rights Struggle in Australia
In early December 1938 a delegation of Aboriginal people walked from Footstray township to Melbourne in Australian state of Victoria. This was not a protest against a State or Federal government in defense of Aborigines. It was a brave action in defense of …the Jews of Europe. In front of the Germany Consulate in downtown Melbourne the delegation demanded the Nazis to stop “cruel persecution of the Jewish people.” The leader was William Cooper, a founder of the Australian Aboriginal League and an unsung hero of the Aboriginal human rights struggle in his country, where he and his people had no legal rights and until 1967 were officially classified as an equivalent of “flora and fauna.”  What inspired Cooper to speak in defense of the Jews from faraway Europe?
Cooper’s own country maintained the “White Australia Polices” and considered Jews, though not classified as “colored,” to be “others” who should not be allowed entrance visas. How did Australia become the country that opened its doors to numerous refugees from Europe, second only to Israel by the ratio of the Holocaust survivors to its population? Was it a coincidence that the Australian Jews stepped into the forefront of the struggle for Aboriginal rights in defense of the indigenous Australians?
Nature, History, and Isolation: Rediscovering Icelandic, Australian, and New Zealand Food Cultures
Both Iceland and New Zealand are mere babies in geological terms. The countries are situated on the youngest landmasses in the world forged by fire and water: ice for Iceland and ocean for New Zealand. Their people live in the shadow of disaster: volcano eruptions for Iceland and earthquakes for New Zealand, and they consider dramatic changes and abrupt disruptions as mere facts of life. On the contrary, Australia, the world’s largest island, is believed to be the oldest, flattest, and driest continent. And indigenous Australians or Aboriginals have been custodians of this land for at least 60,000 years.
Travel with internationally-published writer and educator Irene Shaland through these three countries to rediscover how their isolated location, unforgivable
nature, and history of settlement shaped their food culture.
The Art of Travel: India as a Personal Journey
Join internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland, as she invites you to “grow into India.” Crisscross with Irene the subcontinent of India, the country unique among the world civilizations with its seven thousand years of uninterrupted traditions. Discover – like “peeling the onion,” layer after layer – India’s most refined beauty and the deepest spirituality. Travel through historic periods, cultural traditions, artistic and architectural styles, stopping in Deli, Varanasi, Khajuraho, Agra, Fatehpur Sikri, Jaipur, Udaipur, Aurangabad, Ellora and Ajanta caves, Cochin, and finally – Mumbai.

Asia Lectures

China

The Great Chinese Wall

In Search of a Jewish Story in China 

Seeking a Jewish story in China, Irene Shaland leads us on a unique journey spanning over 2,000 years through the Silk Road and six cities, including Harbin, Kaifeng, Luoyang, and Shanghai.  What are the Jewish secrets of the Gobi Desert and the Silk Road? Where the oldest Jewish prayer was found? What do the most anti-Semitic of Russian Tsars, a railroad, a Chinese fishing village, and Russian-Yiddish culture have in common? Take a journey to China and find out the answers to many perplexing questions.

[go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

 

India

Lectures India

Peeling the Onion: Discover India and Yourself (in less than 2 weeks)

Seeking a (happy) Jewish Story in India

Spiritualism of the Erotic: Temple Sculptures in Khajuraho, India

[go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

Japan

Japan Pictures, Koyasan, tori gates, Kyoto

Exploring and Understanding Japan

How to See and Understand the Japanese Art

The Temples in the Clouds: Two Days with the Monks in Koyasan, Japan

[go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

 Africa Lectures

South Africa and East Africa

African Safari: Face to Face with Big Five near Kruger National Park, SAR

Discover the South Africa

Mysteries of Africa  [see photo gallery]

Face-to-Face with Africa from the Jewish Perspective [see lecture description]

Big Five Face-to-Face: The Safari Adventure

Zimbabwe

Zimbabwe Victoria Falls and Homestead

 

The Wisdom of the Ancestors: One Day in a Zimbabwe Homestead

[go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

South America Lectures

Easter Island, Chile

The Mysteries of the Easter Island

[go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

Europe Lectures

Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic

Hungary, Austria, Czech Republic

The Habsburgs and the Communists: Exploring the Heart of the Central Europe

The Breathtaking Beauty: Art Nouveau in Budapest, Vienna and Prague

Kafka in Prague and Prague in Kafka

Stones Fill the Void: Exploring Jewish Vienna

Scandinavia: Denmark, Norway, Sweden

Scandinavia through the Eyes of a Jewish Traveler

Join internationally published art and travel writer Irene Shaland as she takes us through Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, known for their stunning natural beauty, magnificent royal capitals, and stark modern architecture. Discover the Jewish history of these countries, the role each one played during the Holocaust, understand what it means to live as a Jew in Scandinavia today.

[home]   [go to Lecture Schedule]   [go to Lecture Comments]

Comments are closed.