The next meeting will be Friday, November 2, at 10.30 in the Javits room, 2nd floor library. The speaker will be Robert Goldenberg of the History Department. His talk is tentatively entitled: Jews, Greeks, and Romans: Case Studies in the Transformation of Identities.
Bio: Robert Goldenberg is now completing his 29th year at Stony Brook University, where he serves as Professor of History and Judaic Studies. A scholar of ancient Judaism, Dr. Goldenberg has published articles on many aspects of Jewish life and thought, a book-length study of ancient Jewish attitudes toward the religions of other people called The Nations that Know Thee Not, and (most recently) a historical treatment of The Origins of Judaism. Dr. Goldenberg regularly teaches courses on Jewish history, Jewish thought (early and modern), and the ancient Greeks and Romans. In the Religious Studies Program he also occasionally takes on the course for majors and minors on Sources and Methods in the Study of Religion. Prof. Goldenberg holds degrees from Cornell and Brown Universities and has also received rabbinical ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He lives in Roslyn with his wife Dr. Nina Wacholder and their two children.
The threatened privatization of the university hospitals has been averted thanks to inputs to the politicians from many people (Judy Wishnia).
Our friend and sometimes assistant for emeritus talks Malcolm Bowman, has been instrumental is securing an exhibitiion of aboriginal art. It opens Oct 8 in the Wang center and there is to be a presidential lecture on Oct 10. See http://www.stonybrook.edu/sb/ourway/
Francis Bonner gave a eulogy for Natalie Wiess, who he described as the aboriginal faculty wife. At the time when the university was considering whether to host the annual congress of the international union of crystallography, Natalie was hired to be in charge of the arrangements. After this success she was continued as the executive secretary of the department of Chemistry, which post she occupied for over 20 years until she retired to Chapel Hill, NC. with her husband Ed (former Emeritus Prof, English). She died on May 27 not two weeks after emailing us how much she enjoyed reading this newsletter. Contributions in her memory can be made to the ACLU.
Homer Goldberg gave the eulogy for Richard Levine who died on Agust 16 of complications following surgery. Born in 1932 near Boston, Dick joined the SUSB English dept in 1969 in which he served as chair for over a decade. He was the author or editor of 5 books on Victorian literature and a critical study of the novels of Benjamin Disraeli. After retiring he published his own first novel in 2002, an academic satire called Tenure. Despite severely impaired vision he served as docent in the Santa Fe Fine Arts and Gorgia O'Keefe museums. Donations in his memory can be made to the Guide Dog Foundation in Smithtown or the NM Museum of Art, Palace Ave, Santa Fe, NM, 82501.
Karl Bottogheimer read a eulogy for Maria Luisa Nunes (Hispanic Languages and Literature) who died June 30 in Englewood, Florida. Of Cape Verdean origin, she graduated with a BA from Barnard in 1961, and went on to earn an M.A. from Columbia and a Ph.D. from CUNY. Professor Nunes taught at Yale and Pittsburgh before coming to Stony Brook, from which she retired in 1997 after 13 years of service. She was the author of five books about the literature and culture of the Portuguese speaking world. In her most important work, Becoming True to Ourselves, she examined the Portuguese, Brazilian, and African colonial experiences as viewed through the eyes of native contemporary writers. During her Emerita years she took an interest in environmental issues and studied music theory and piano. To her friends (and in her published autobiography, In the Light of Memory, 1999), she often expressed her gratitude for her good fortune.
Paul Zimansky, professor of ancient history, was then called upon to introduce our main speaker, Iraqi archaeologist Dr Donny George Youkhanna (for bio see the September newsletter).
DGY started by thanking the USB administration and emeritus community for their interest and effectively saving him and his family. He had given this similar talk in many places, but the present occasion was special to him. It soon became clear that another thing very special to him was the Iraq museum in Baghdad. He asserted this to be the only museum in the world to preserve a complete trace of human history from 500,000 years ago to the present. Prior to the US invasion he begged the museum board to do as had been done during the Lebanese war: - take everything to the basement and seal it behind concrete walls. But they said "As long as Saddam is here no one will dare". He was in his office on the 9th April 2003 as the American tanks approached. Their first action was to put a shell through the front of the 8th century gatehouse (allegedly because resistors were seen on the roof). Before the US forces entered the city they were given a list of sites to be protected in which the museum was second from the top and the oil ministry was number 16 near the bottom. A sick joke in Baghdad afterwards was that the American general had held this list upside down. At any rate for three crucial days the museum had no protection with no police and no guards. DGY was forced to leave because civilians with Kashalnikovs had entered the museum garden. He went to see the US command to plead for protection and give the coordinates of the museum. On the 14th the curator of the British museum was reached by satellite, whence the appeal travelled via 10 Downing Street and the State department. After this orders for protection were finally issued, but by then it was too late. When DGY made it back into the museum buildings, 15000 items had been stolen. What was attached too firmly to be removed was wantonly smashed. The perpetrators clearly had inside information about access though old covered up windows and which items were historically most important. In the next part of the talk DGYgave a tour of some of the highlights of the collection, and what happened to each, which would break your heart. After some period, and an amnesty was declared, in a variation of "Don't ask don't tell", DGY started to be visited by people with knowlege of the whereabouts of objects; 12 cases of items were confiscated from journalists crossing the Jordanian border; a statue of a Sumerian king was recovered in New York. By now 50% of the stolen items have been recovered and 3709 items restored with the help of Italian craftsmen. Other support has come from Japan, Switzerland, UNESCO, and the US State Dept. However there is continuing concern. At the transition from US to the first Iraqi government in 2004 the museum contents were taken and sealed behind concrete walls. After the kidnapping of 50 people in front of the museum and the shooting of museum guards in 2006 the front entrance was sealed behind one meter of concrete. This year a car bomb exploded just outside of this. Another remaining concern is the protection of the many archeological sites across the country which museum staff had been excavating. DGY ended his talk with thanks to the international community for its support in the restoration so far.
Brown bag tradition
The steering committee wishes to remind new members and old about the ongoing tradition of brown bag lunches in the Javits room immediately following each month's talk. Please take advantage of this opportunity to socialize and catch up with news of old friends.
Website of the month (A sometimes monthly postscript of information and comment from your webmaster)
The ways and means committee has finally reported out a bill HR 3046 to correct the social security abuses that you were warned about in this space last Spring (news archive --> Newsletter 124, May 2007). A good site to find the content and status of recent bills in congress is http://thomas.loc.gov/home/c110query.html (type into the search box: Social Security Number Privacy and Identity Theft Prevention Act).
The debate about the Children's Health Insurance bill recently passed by congress and vetoed by the president (type in SCHIP to thomas), and whether this is or is not socialism, prompted me to take another trip down memory lane. When I first came to this country in the 50's I was afraid to say much of anything in my visits to the doctor or dentist because my English accent would prompt a stream of invective on socialized medicine. My sole objective, then as now, was simply to get my teeth fixed without the price being increased or the novocaine being decreased. Slightly later when I came to work for SUNY I was required, like all recruits of that time, to sign a document swearing that I was not, nor had ever been, a Communist. This was very strange because the State University of New York itself was the most communistic organization that I had yet encountered. In particular, at that time, the smallest equipment purchase in Computer Science had to be reviewed by central apparatchiks in Albany as to whether it was scientifically appropriate and whether it conformed to negotiated state contracts. Of course computer technology was moving so rapidly that by the time their negotiators had locked in the contracts, any greenhorn on the street could buy superior equipment at a fraction of the price.