Conference explores language and culture

Michael Abrahams-Sprod

THE role that language plays in identity and culture will be a central theme at this year’s Australian Association of Jewish Studies (AAJS) conference being held next month.

“Jewish Languages, Jewish Cultures: The Shaping of Jewish Civilisation” will bring academics from around Australia and overseas to the Sydney Jewish Museum on Sunday, February 10 and the University of Sydney (USYD) on Monday, February 11.

“The annual conference this year not only celebrates the vitality and richness of academic scholarship that the conference regularly draws from across the globe, but importantly this year marks the 25th conference of the association and is a true testament to all scholars involved in Jewish studies in Australia,” said AAJS president Dr Michael Abrahams-Sprod.

A diverse panel of academics will present on a variety of topics, including classical Hebrew, the use of language as a tool of emotion, the history of Egyptian Jewry, and arts and culture as an expression of language.

Associate Professor Ian Young, chair of the Department of Hebrew, Biblical and Jewish Studies at USYD, will be the keynote speaker.

Other speakers at the conference include Professor Suzanne Rutland from USYD, Monash University’s Professor Andrew Markus, and Melbourne University’s Dr Dvir Abramovich.

One of the more unique presenters is leading Muslim-Jewish relations activist Dr Navras Jaat Aafreedi from India, who will discuss “The Indian Muslim Involvement with the Hebrew Language”.

One difference this year is the conference’s change of venue, as it was previously held at Mandelbaum House.

“It was no accident we chose the Jewish Museum,” Abrahams-Sprod said. “It means the people who are also not from Sydney … can be encouraged to visit the museum, they’re actually on site, [and] the library at the museum is also a wonderful resource just for people to actually get to know.”

Switching Monday’s program from Mandelbaum House to an on-site location at the university will also be a first. “It’s a great way of publicising what we do in the department at Sydney Uni, because we’ve never actually had our conference on main campus,” Abrahams-Sprod said.

Registration for the conference is essential via


AAJS president Michael Abrahams-Sprod.