UC Berkeley’s “Sex and Shtetl” Yiddish conference got off to a hot start last night with bawdy Yiddish folksongs expertly performed by Cantor Sharon Bernstein. This was followed by Dr. Ada Rapoport-Albert’s juicy lecture on illicit sexual practices among the followers of the false Jewish messiah, Jacob Frank. Monday’s fare expects to be just as hot, with all manner of Yiddish gender-bending and sexual activity. Terrific films like “Mamele” and “Mizrekh un mayrev” have been chosen to accompany the conference. It doesn’t seem like this is going to be your typically dry academic conference. As Berkeley Professor Naomi Seidman told JWeekly, “I hope it’s a little damp.”
Dan Friedman is the director of content and communications at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America. Formerly the executive editor and whisky correspondent of the Forward, he is the author of an illuminating (and excellent value) book about Tears for Fears , the 80s emo rock band.