The Kirby-Greer Endowed Lectures are supported by William Joseph (Jay) and Catherine Craig Kirby and George and Jane Greer.
Jay graduated from Penn State in 1959 with a degree in labor management and received his master’s degree from Cornell University. Catherine graduated from Penn State in 1961 with an arts & letters degree. Jay is the retired senior vice president of FMC Corporation in Chicago, IL, a leading producer of chemicals for agriculture, food, and pharmaceutical markets. Together they established the William J. and Catherine Craig Kirby Professorship in Language Learning in the College of the Liberal Arts in 1998.
After graduating with an arts and letters degree from Penn State in 1954, George earned his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania in 1957 before starting a 37-year career at H.J. Heinz Company in Pittsburgh. He retired in 1997 as Vice President for Organizational Development and Administration. During his tenure at the company, he assisted and supported the greater Pittsburgh community, including projects with Penn State, through the H.J. Heinz Company Foundation. He and his wife, Jane, established the George C. and Jane G. Greer Professorship in Language Acquisition in the College of the Liberal Arts in 2005.
Speaker: Sarah Bunin Benor
Date of Talk: April 5, 2024
Title: Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps
Abstract: At most American Jewish summer camps, programs are conducted primarily in English, but the environment is infused with Hebrew words, signs, songs, and activities. Hebrew-English sentences are common: “Madrichim [counselors], please bring your chanichim [campers] to the teatron [theater] immediately after Birkat Hamazon [Grace After Meals].” Why do some camps infuse Hebrew in these unusual ways? How do participants feel about this language mixing? Drawing from Dr. Benor’s most recent book, this talk offers lessons for any community interested in fostering connection to an ancestral or sacred language.
Bio: Sarah Bunin Benor is Vice Provost and Professor of Contemporary Jewish Studies at Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion and Adjunct Professor in the University of Southern California Linguistics Department. She received her B.A. from Columbia University in Comparative Literature in 1997 and her Ph.D. from Stanford University in Linguistics in 2004. She is the author of Becoming Frum: How Newcomers Learn the Language and Culture of Orthodox Judaism (Rutgers University Press, 2012) and Hebrew Infusion: Language and Community at American Jewish Summer Camps (Rutgers University Press, 2020), as well as many articles about Jewish languages, Yiddish, and American Jews. Dr. Benor has received several fellowships and prizes, including the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, the Sami Rohr Choice Award for Jewish Literature, and the National Jewish Book Award in Education and Jewish Identity. She is founding co-editor of the Journal of Jewish Languages and co-editor of Languages in Jewish Communities, Past and Present (De Gruyter Mouton, 2018) and We the Resilient: Wisdom for America from Women Born Before Suffrage (Luminare Press, 2017). She founded the HUC-JIR Jewish Language Project, which produces the Jewish Language Website and the Jewish English Lexicon. She and her husband live in Los Angeles and have three teenage children.