Musically illustrated lecture about sacred music and the faces of contemporary Jewish spirituality. Thursday, February 12, 2009

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY — “Songs of the Lord in Strange Lands: Sacred Music and the Faces of Contemporary Jewish Spirituality,” will be the topic of a musically illustrated lecture by Haifa University professor J. H. Chajes, who will be accompanied by his daughter violinist Levana Chajes, on Thursday, February 12, at Vassar College. This annual Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture, free and open to the public, will begin at 5:30 pm in Sanders Auditorium (Room 212).


At Haifa University, J. H. Chajes teaches medieval and early modern Jewish cultural history. A former Fulbright, Wexner, and Hartman Fellow, Chajes has also served as visiting professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York and as a fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.  His book, Between Worlds:  Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism (UPenn Press), was a Koret Jewish History Book Award finalist.

A former student and accompanist of R. Shlomo Carlebach, Chajes is also in demand as a musical prayer-leader and folk musician. Following his parents who worked as professional classical musicians - his father a Vienna-educated composer and his mother a mezzo-soprano - he became an accomplished pianist at a young age, beginning to perform with orchestras at age eleven.  He has toured the United States, Europe, and Israel and is often accompanied by his musical children.


In 1984 Mrs. Arlene Sitomer honored her husband by endowing the Dr. Maurice Sitomer Lecture Fund.  The income of the endowment is used to invite to Vassar College, speakers who enlighten, inspire, and encourage understanding of Jewish culture and concerns.

Dr. Maurice Sitomer was an active leader in the Poughkeepsie community. He served on the Board of B’nai B’rith and was also the president of the Hudson Valley Council of B’nai B’rith. He was chairman of the Democratic Party for the Town of Poughkeepsie; helped to organize Arlington Post #1302 of the American Legion; served as the President of the Arlington Businessmen’s Association; and was vice president of funding for the Dutchess Council Branch of the Hudson Valley Philharmonic.  Professionally he served as president of the Dutchess County Dental Society and on the staff of Vassar Brothers and St. Francis hospitals. In 1984 he was honored as the Man of the Year by the Arlington Rotary, of which he was a charter member.

People with disabilities requiring accommodations should contact the Office of Campus Activities at (845) 437-5370. Directions to the Vassar campus are available at

Vassar College is a highly selective, coeducational, independent, residential liberal arts college founded in 1861.

Posted by Office of Communications Wednesday, January 21, 2009