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Neilsen Foundation Lectureship kicks off Thursday

February 18, 2019

The College of Idaho will welcome two guests over the next month as part of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies.

Professor Liora Halperin from the University of Washington will visit campus on February 21. Professor Shari Rabin of the College of Charleston will be in Caldwell on March 7.

“It’s a fantastic opportunity to hear from creative, engaging scholars,” said Elizabeth Imber, Assistant Professor of History at The College of Idaho as well as the Chair of Judaic Studies. “It’s a nice cultural opportunity on campus; it’s fantastic that we, as an institution, can provide this sort of programming.”

The College is one of the few in the intermountain west with an endowed chair in Judaic Studies.

Halperin will appear at the Langroise Center for Performing & Fine Arts on February 21 from 6:00 - 8:00 p.m. The first hour will be a reception with Halperin’s lecture beginning at 7:00, where she will discuss the history and politics of Arabic language in the Jewish community in Palestine/Israel.

Rabin’s visit on March 7 will be a lunch-and-learn lecture, where people are invited to the Hendren room in Simplot Dining Hall from 11:30 to 1:00 to eat and listen to Rabin discuss how “Frontier Jews” in places like Idaho helped to create American Judaism.

Imber pointed out that there is important Jewish history right here in Idaho.

“The first practicing Jewish governor (Moses Alexander, who served from 1915 to 1919) of any state was in Idaho,” Imber said. “And the synagogue in Boise is the longest continuously-operating synagogue west of the Mississippi River, so there actually is a very important and distinctive Jewish history here.”

Alexander served as the mayor of Boise as well, elected to the post in 1897 and again in 1901.

Both events in the lectureship series are free and open to the public. Through a generous gift from the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation, the College has the resources to bring guests to Idaho for events like this.

The College of Idaho has a 128-year-old legacy of excellence. The C of I 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