Understanding the Czech Jewish Narrative and Kafka

old jewish cemetery in Prague

Please join our free virtual (Zoom) lecture on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 

Time:  7:00pm – 8:30pm

Presenter: Irene Shaland

This event is hosted by New City Library, NY

This free and open to the public program will take place online, but registration is required.

To Register and for the Zoom information follow the link below:


The history of the Jews in the Czech lands, which included the modern Czech Republic as well as Bohemia, Czech Silesia, and Moravia, goes back more than a thousand years. Jews are believed to have settled in Prague in the 10th century. By the end of the 19th century, most Czech Jews within the Austro-Hungarian Empire lived in large cities, spoke German, and considered themselves Germans.

In this presentation, we will explore the fascinating and little-studied phenomenon: the formation of the complex and fluid Jewish/non-Jewish sense of identity by peering into the mind of the greatest European modernist writer, Franz Kafka (1883-1924).  

Kafka was born and raised as a Jew and lived all his life in Prague. We will focus our exploration on Kafka in Prague and Prague in Kafka’s writing, even though, in his works we find no direct reference to Judaism or to the specific places of Prague or  Bohemia. However, Kafka took a keen interest in- and learned- Yiddish and Hebrew, and his diaries and letters reveal a repeated reflection on his identity as a Jew and on European Jewish life. He also anticipated the incoming Holocaust of the European Jewry.

Seeking Kafka in Prague and Prague in Kafka, we will attempt to understand the Jewish Czech narrative through reconciling this contradiction: strong Jewish and East European interest in life and lack of explicit reference to these interests in the great author’s literary work. If Kafka had not been born and raised as a Jew, would he become Kafka?


Jews of the Jungles (and cities) in Brazil

Interior of Grand Temple, Rio de Janeiro

Irene Shaland’s Virtual Lecture

Thursday                     December 16th           2021                              7:30 PM

This virtual presentation is hosted by Adath Shalom Synagogue, Morris Plains, NJ.

Join Irene Shaland, a Jewish historian, internationally-published art and travel writer, and author of five books for a captivating journey through 500 years of Jewish history in Brazil. Encounter little-known stories of Brazil discovery in the 15th century’s context of a twisted world of 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 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.

To attend, click on the “Zoom Link” 10 minutes prior to the event on the Adath Shalom site:



Check out our Lecture Schedule.