Jews in the Midwest Symposium

“Jews in the Midwest,” a one-day symposium open to the public, celebrates both the 19th and early 20th century Jewish settlers in the Heartland of America and the encyclopedia project of the same name under the direction of David Katzman, emeritus professor of American History at The University of Kansas.

Topic: Jews in the Midwest: c. 1850 to c. 1950

When: November 12 (Sunday), 2017, 9:00am – 6:30pm

Cost: This event is free and open to the public

Where: At the Oread Hotel, Hancock Ballroom, 1200 Oread Ave., Lawrence KS 66044


9:00am Breakfast and coffee
9:45am Welcome
10:00am Tobias Brinkmann, “Western Jews”
11:00am Hasia Diner “Immigrant Jewish Peddlers”
12:00-1:30pm Lunch break
2:00pm Ava Kahn, “Linked by Letters”
3:00pm Lee Shai Weissbach, “Synagogues in the Midwest”
4:00pm Break
4:30pm Keynote Speaker: David Katzman, “Midwestern Small-Town Jewish Life”
5:30pm Reception

Food & Transportation

Dining options at the Oread can be found on The Oread’s website . A Kosher breakfast and lunch option are available by request. Please request your certified Kosher meal before November 1, 2017. For more information, please contact or (785) 864-4664.

Bus service is available between the Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City and The Oread Hotel, free of charge. Reservations are given on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact or (785) 864-4664 for more information. Bus departs at 8:00 a.m. from the parking lot in front of the Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy on the KC JCC campus, and arrives at The Oread Hotel at 9:00 a.m. The bus then departs from The Oread Hotel at 6:30 p.m. and arrives to the KC JCC at 7:30 p.m.


We thank our KU sponsors: Office of the Chancellor; Office of the Provost; College of Liberal Arts & Sciences; Office of Diversity and Equity; The Hall Center for the Humanities; University Honors Program; School of Languages, Literatures & Cultures; Center for Global and International Studies; and the Departments of Religious Studies, English, Anthropology, Sociology, History, American Studies, Political Science, African and African-American Studies, and Women, Gender & Sexuality Studies.

This Program is funded in part by The Community Legacy Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Greater Kansas City.


Tobias Brinkmann, Penn State University, University Park, PA
Western Jews: Becoming American and Embracing Modernity

Hasia Diner, New York University, New York, NY
Immigrant Jewish Peddlers and the Founding of Midwestern Jewish Communities

Ava Kahn, Independent Scholar, Berkeley, CA
1918 Linked by Letters: Men, Jewish Family, and Deception

David Katzman, The University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS
The Significance of Midwestern Small-Town Jewish Life

Lee Shai Weissbach, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
Synagogues in the Midwest and Beyond: What These Buildings Tell Us

Read more about the presenters and abstracts of their papers .