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Gross, Leibman to speak in Neilsen Lecture Series

February 11, 2022
Neilsen Foundation

The College of Idaho is excited to announce two guests this spring as part of the Neilsen Lecture Series in Judaic Studies.

On February 17, Rachel B. Gross, Ph.D., will speak at 5:00 p.m. in Katherine Albertson International Center 106. She will be discussing her recently published book, “Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice.”

Then, on April 28, Laura Liebman, Ph.D., will be the College’s guest to discuss Jews of color in early America.

“The Neilsen Lecture Series in Judaic Studies is an opportunity for students, staff, faculty, and the broader Treasure Valley community to hear from and engage with the field of Judaic studies and learn about exciting new research and approaches to the field,” said Dr. Nick Underwood, assistant professor of history and chair of Judaic studies at the College. “It is also an exciting cultural and educational opportunity that is free and open to the public. I am thrilled that The College of Idaho can provide these experiences.”

All events in the Neilsen Lecture Series in Judaic Studies are free and open to the public. These events bring Jewish scholars, dignitaries, and public figures to campus to speak about tolerance, diversity, history, culture, and current events. They are made possible by the generosity of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Rachel B. Gross is Assistant Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a religious studies scholar who studies 20th and 21st century American Jews. Her book, “Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice” (New York University Press, 2021), received an Honorable Mention for the 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize given by the American Jewish Historical Society.

Laura Leibman is Professor of English and Humanities at Reed College in Portland, Oregon. Her work focuses on how material culture changes our understanding of the role of women, children, and Jews of color in the early Atlantic World. Leibman’s discussion will be centered around her recently-published book, “Once We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family” (Oxford University Press, 2021), which was a finalist for the 2021 National Jewish Book Award.

Underwood hopes to host between two and four Neilsen Lecture Series events each year.

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation and its chairman, alumnus Ray Neilsen ’88, were major supporters of the College’s initiative to fund the first fully endowed chair in Judaic studies in the Intermountain West.

The College of Idaho has a 131-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition, and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences, and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom. For more information, visit