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Skidmore College
Jacob Perlow Series

Fall 2017 lectures

Admission is free and open to the public

Recalling Jewish Calcutta 

A lecture by Jael Silliman, scholar, author and curator of
with an introduction by Yelena Biberman-Ocakli,
assistant professor of political science, Skidmore College

Wednesday, November 8
7:30 p.m., Davis Auditorium, Palamountain Hall

Jael Silliman

Jael Silliman is the founder and curator of the digital archive titled “Recalling Jewish Calcutta” (

Silliman is a world-renowned researcher dedicated to preserving the history of Kolkata, India’s Jewish heritage. Kolkata’s Jewish community came to India from Baghdad at the time of the British Raj. The Kolkata Jews have since left a few traces behind. Among them are three impressive and large synagogues, two schools and a cemetery. As Silliman explains: “Today, with barely 30 Jews left in the community, most very elderly, the community lives on as a memory. Soon those who knew Jewish Calcutta will no longer be with us.”

Among Silliman’s many accomplishments are multiple honors, including a Senior Nehru Fulbright Scholar Award, International Human Rights Award from the Iowa City Human Rights Commission and Outstanding Book Award for Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organizing for Reproductive Justice. Among her other books are Policing the National Body; Jewish Portraits, Indian Frames and Dangerous Intersections: Feminist Perspectives on Population, Environment, and Development. Her articles on development and gender issues are have been published worldwide in journals and media outlets including Time and the Huffington Post.

Prior to dedicating herself full-time to preserving Kolkata’s Jewish heritage, Silliman was a tenured associate professor at the Women’s Studies Department at the University of Iowa.

Kolkata exhibits remarkable but little-known cultural diversity. Silliman is the leading voice in preserving it.

This presentation is part of the Jacob Perlow Event Series and is co-sponsored by the Office of the Dean of Special Programs, the Political Science Department and MDOCS. Funding is also provided by a gift from Beatrice Troupin.

About the Jacob Perlow Series: A generous grant from the estate of Jacob Perlow—an immigrant to the United States in the 1920s, a successful businessman deeply interested in religion and philosophy and a man who was committed to furthering Jewish education—supports annual lectures and presentations to the College and Capital District community on issues broadly related to Jews and Judaism.