Yeshiva University News » Summer Course

With Rockets Soaring Overhead, YU Students Take Part in Successful Archaeological Excavation in Biblical City of Gath 

Most college students haven’t had the opportunity to immerse themselves in centuries-old history through a hands-on archaeological dig in Israel, and even fewer have done so amid blaring sirens warning of impending rocket attacks.

archaeology course

Yael Eisenberg, Shani Guterman, Dr. Jill Katz, Sarale Pool, Sima Fried and Asher Perez dig for artifacts in Tell es-Safi, Israel.

For five Yeshiva University undergraduates, a summer course that focused on investigating the archaeology, ecology and history of Tell es-Safi, the biblical city of Gath, took an unexpected twist when they found themselves in rocket range during Israel’s current Operation Protective Edge military offensive against Hamas in Gaza. The YU group, led by Dr. Jill Katz, clinical assistant professor of archaeology, was at Kibbutz Revadim on the southern coast of Israel near the Ashdod and Ashkelon regions when the conflict began.

“We were located 40 kilometers from Gaza and thus had about 45 seconds to run into a bomb shelter once we heard the siren,” said Katz. “While the kibbutz where we were staying had many accessible shelters, the dig site did not, and our instructions were simply to lie down in our excavation trenches for several minutes when the siren went off at the nearby power plant.” Read the rest of this entry…

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From left to right: Eva Simons, Frida Fridman, Aliza Forman, Annie Berman, Chani Etengoff, Jennie Richton and Alana Rubenstein pose in front of a theater after seeing a play.

Jun 29, 2005 — Classes may have just ended for most Yeshiva University students, but not for seven Stern College students who traveled to London May 29 to June 9 for an intensive S. Daniel Abraham Honors Program course on British literature.

Taught by English professor Nora Nachumi, “Literary London” explored the relationship between literature and the city of London between 1600 and 1900. Students studied works by British authors including William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, Samuel Pepys, Frances Burney, and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, and learned about the cultural, political, and historical context in which the works were written, read, or experienced.

Prof. Nachumi, who specializes in 18th- and 19th-century British literature, said the idea for the course’s topic came about after attending a conference in London last summer on the city’s representation in literature.

“I wondered what it would be like to teach British literature to American students in the context of the city where they’re actually located,” she said. “And I wanted them to envision what was being described in the literature.”

Mornings were dedicated to seminars led by either Prof. Nachumi or guest lecturers from Kingston University, University College London, and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Students spent the afternoons taking tours around the city that focused on Shakespeare’s London, London in the 18th Century, the London of Sherlock Holmes, and Jewish London, as well as visiting museums and attractions such as the Tower of London, the British Library, and the Tate Museum. Evenings were spent enjoying performances at the Globe Theatre, the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park, and the Royal Shakespeare Theater at Stratford-upon-Avon.

“I wanted students to see several styles of playing Shakespeare, ranging from innovative productions like ‘Pericles’ to more traditional versions,” Prof. Nachumi said.

Students received three English credits and were required to write two reviews of plays, keep a journal, and submit a research paper on the interrelationship of the city and a selected text. In addition to Prof. Nachumi, Hadassah Bienenfeld, member of the SCW Board of Directors, and Miriam Schecter, director of Stern’s academic advisement center, went on the trip.

Aliza Forman, 19, an English major from Teaneck, NJ, said she went on the trip to see her favorite texts “spring to life in the land of their origins.”

“Seeing the manuscript of Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion on her actual writing desk was inspiring,” she said. “It’s my favorite novel and to see it in its creator’s hand, with cross-outs and smudges, gave me a newfound appreciation for both the novel and the author.”