News

Dorbrecht Grant Recipient Publishes Research

Edith Brotman has recently published Mussar Yoga: Blending an Ancient Jewish Spiritual Practice with Yoga to Transform Body and Soul (Woodstock, VT: Jewish Lights Publishing, 2014), using research funded by the Dorbrecht grant.  

Book abstract

While there are no statistics on the number of Jews participating in so-called Eastern religious practices, yoga and Buddhism anecdotally appear popular among liberal Jews in North America and even in Israel. According to Rodger Kamemetz, author of The Jew and the Lotus, the first known American convert to Buddhism in the late 19th century was a Jew named Charles Strauss. In the 1960s and 70s the term Jubu (or interchangeably, Buju) emerged as a way to refer to a person of Jewish religious and ethnic heritage who practices Buddhism in some manner or degree. The term is sometimes ironically used to refer to Jews who simply have a lifestyle that is highly infused with Eastern traditions such as yoga or meditation.

With the seeming rise of interest in yoga, there is growing curiosity and acceptance of spiritual parallels between Judaism and yoga’s philosophy and practices. Mussar Yoga draws on my own research into the similarities of the Jewish tradition of Mussar and yoga to offer a blended practice which draws on the similarities and strengths of the two.

Both Mussar and yoga are products of both the ancient and contemporary worlds. The yoga sutras date from around the Fourth Century CE, but yoga as we know it today is a likely outgrowth of the creation of the modern Indian nation-state. About the same time that the yoga sutras were written, Mussar, which means “instruction” was a recognized ethical discipline. In late nineteenth-century Eastern Europe, the Mussar Movement headed by Rabbi Israel Salantar developed as a community and yeshiva based approach to Mussar study. For many decades Mussar appeared to be another victim of the Holocaust. Currently, however, the practice is experiencing a revival.

The concurrent resurgence of both Mussar and yoga spotlights parallels between the two.  One parallel is the ethical principles—such as truth, zeal, loving kindness, order and moderation.  Another are the methods. Both practices work as conversations between the behaviors of every day life and the precepts of sacred texts. And, meditation, mantras and chanting are employed by both Mussar and yoga. The spotlight also reveals differences as well such a yoga’s greater use of the physical body as template for change, and the Jewish emphasis on action rather than intention.

The book, Mussar Yoga, works as an approachable “how to” manual with a discussion of the two traditions and how together they can facilitate transformation of body and soul.  The book offers insight into thirteen different middot (ethical precepts) from both Jewish and yogic perspectives and includes photos and instructions for yoga poses, suggested mantras and questions for daily journalling.

Conference Travel Grant Award Winners Announced

The NCIS Awards Committee is pleased to announce the recipients of the 2014 Conference Support Grant: Neil Dukas and Jolanta Wrobel Best. Dr. Dukas will be participating in the first NCIS-cosponsored session of the American Historical Association Annual Meeting, “From Surviving to Thriving: Practicing History as an Independent Scholar,” giving a talk entitled, “The Independent Historian and the Questions of 'Academic” Rigor.” Dr. Wrobel Best will be presenting a paper entitled “Vilnius, Czeslaw Milosz, and Facing the River,” as part of the panel “Like a Pendulum Swinging Back and Forth: Images of Vilnius/Wilno in Polish Culture after 1989,” at the conference of the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.  Unfortunately Dr. Wrobel Best will be unable to attend the meeting in person and has therefore declined the grant.  She will present her paper remotely.
There were no Research Support Grants awarded this cycle, due to insufficient entries.

Congratulations to the winners of the first Conference Support Grants.  The Awards Committee is now accepting applications for the next grant cycle. Deadline: April 1, 2015.  For more information visit http://ncis.org/grants/all.

Conference CFP Released

In conjunction with its 25th anniversary, National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS) is presenting Traditions & Transitions: Independent Scholars and the Digital Landscape, scheduled for June 18-21, 2015, at Yale University in New Haven. Traditions & Transitions, the 16th NCIS conference, aims to celebrate independent scholarship and to explore and critique digital humanities praxis and tools for research, publishing, and sharing scholarship.  Keynote speaker Lawrence K. Grossman, Vice Chair and co-founder of the National Center for Research in Advanced Information and Digital Technologies’ “Digital Promise” campaign, will address the conference.  Conference coordinators are now accepting proposals for original papers from any discipline in the humanities and sciences that fall within the broadly defined theme of traditions and transitions.  Selected papers will be organized into panels by conference coordinators.  Proposals for themed panels of three or more speakers are also being accepted.  Click here to read the full CFP. For more information on the conference, visit ncis.org/conference.

Independent Scholar Wins MacArthur Foundation Award

Excerpted from The Washington Post article, September 17, 2014:
 
Pamela Long, 71, an independent scholar based in Washington, works from home and almost never answers her phone. So when she received an e-mail from the MacArthur Foundation asking her to call, she thought it was for an interview about someone else who had been nominated. Then she was told she had won. In the days that followed, her initial reaction — shock — slowly gave way to relief.
 
As a historian not affiliated with a university, she never knows how she will afford to do her work — research on the science and technology of 15th- and 16th-century Europe — from year to year. So far she has supported herself through grants. “But I don’t think you can get a grant every year for the rest of your entire life,” she said on a video call from Rome, where she is studying archival material for a book tentatively titled “Engineering the Eternal City.”
 
“Therefore I didn’t quite know how I was going to continue. Even though I was going to continue because I’m obsessed with what I’m doing, so there’s nothing that could really stop me. But it’s a wonderful thing because I don’t have to worry about that anymore.”

JPASS Benefit

JPASS: A New Benefit for NCIS Members

The National Coalition of Independent Scholars (NCIS) is pleased to offer a 50% discount on JPASS –JSTOR’s individual access plans.
JSTOR is one of the most heavily used research and teaching platform for academic libraries. Scholars use JSTOR to discover, read, and build upon a wide range of academic journals that are archived from the very first issue published.
For the first time, JPASS connects unaffiliated scholars—independent researchers, faculty with limited JSTOR access, and anyone working outside the academy—to the 1,600+ scholarly journals in the JSTOR archive on a monthly or annual basis. Designed specifically for those with limited or no JSTOR access,  JPASS acts as your “personal library card” where you pay a fee and get unlimited reading and limited downloading to JSTOR’s rich digital library.
NCIS members can access the annual JPASS for $99—a 50% discount off what others will pay.  A $19.50 monthly plan is also available to those seeking short term JSTOR access.
You can register for your JPASS account in the members only area of this site. Logon to your account first, then go to http://ncis.org/members-only/jpass-access.
You can also view the full title list and learn more about JPASS here:  http://jpass.jstor.org/collections. Please note that this custom link will expire 12/31/2014.  To renew your JPASS for next year, we will furnish a new link to guarantee your member discount rate.  Please contact support@jstor.org with any questions.

 

Amendment to the Bylaws Passed

As of its meeting of April 16, 2014, the Executive Committee recommended to the Board an amendment to the Bylaws for immediate action. On April 19, the Board completed its voting, which was unanimous.  Members submitted their votes on May 25, 2013 and the amendment was passed.  

As NCIS grows and changes, the need for new executive positions grows as well. With the participation of the voting membership who approved a new amendment to the Bylaws, NCIS has created its first Membership Officer.

THE TEXT OF THE AMENDMENT READS:

"The Board shall from time to time create a new officer position as needed."

 

OFFICER, EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE, BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Every Officer, either appointed or elected, is a member of the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee is the leadership group that manages the daily activities and business of NCIS between Board meetings

Officers and Board Members comprise the Board of Directors.

REASONS FOR THIS PROPOSAL

The Membership Chair is one of the most important positions that any Board member can hold. Currently the position is managed by a Board member. We feel it is important to elevate the position of Membership Chair to that of Membership Officer, a position on the Executive Committee. This is a position that now exists broadly throughout the nonprofit sector. The Membership Officer would, by default, chair the Membership Committee.

The Membership Officer would work on issues and policies that affect NCIS and would be in charge of membership recruitment and retention. In addition, and just as important, this officer would be working closely with the Communications Officer and continue to collaborate with the Benefits Committee and other committees, as needed.

Membership Officers are far more important positions today than in the past when their responsibilities were far fewer and their positions of seemingly lesser importance. That has changed, and we need to move forward with an outreach campaign to grow the numbers of NCIS members. The Board needs the Membership Chair to play an important role in the management of the daily activities of NCIS, one whose overall responsibility will be the membership, work to spearhead the outreach, and work collegially with the Board to accomplish our very needed expansion.

We have reached the point where we require such an officer for the present and future growth of NCIS.

2015 NCIS Conference Bulletin

NCIS is planning a two-day conference in New Haven, Connecticut, for 2015! We hope to see you at roundtables, presenting papers, sitting on panels, networking with your NCIS colleagues as well as sharing tours and dining and a bit of sightseeing.

But we can't accomplish this without you. NCIS events such as this are member-driven, so it’s up to you to make this conference happen by volunteering to work on conference planning and implementation.

Without your committed participation, there will be no conference. A few essential hours a month from each of you will create a memorable conference in a fascinating city with a great university - Yale. Please read through the descriptions of the committees and let our Volunteer Liaison know on which you'd like to serve.
 
The Program Committee creates the conference's bone structure: the program. A separate affiliated peer-review group selects the conference papers and panels, which means that you can work on the Program Committee and still submit a paper or panel. Ultimately, the committee's work culminates in the program brochure that attendees need to guide them through the conference. The Program Committee are the architects of the conference.
 
The Local Arrangements Committee deals with the myriad practical requirements for holding a conference. To the members of this committee fall decisions about lodging for attendees, meals and coffee breaks, what venues we'll require and what spaces we'll need there, what necessities to have in place like AV/sound/podium, and much more. This committee needs detail-oriented people who aren’t afraid of the nitty-gritty.
 
The Publicity Committee is responsible for reaching out to the world and inviting them to the conference. Flyers, press releases, etc., will be the beginning of the work. This committee will form slightly later than the other two, but it is a vital effort and we want to sign you up now. Your communication skills are what we need.
Simply put: the conference won't happen without you.
We need to hear from you promptly - by midnight MONDAY, MAY 12 - to move forward.
To volunteer for committee service, please contact our Volunteer Liaison: Janet Wasserman, secretary@ncis.org

NCIS Nominating Committee Seeks Nominations for the Board of Directors

The Nominating Committee is now accepting nominations for Board candidates. Our Bylaws state:
“Candidates shall be selected by a Nominating Committee from a pool of NCIS Members by operation of one of the following:
a) proposed by members of the Nominating Committee
b) self-proposed
c) proposed by other NCIS Members.”
We have several open seats on the Board for appointment and one seat for election in November. You may volunteer yourself, and/or you may propose another NCIS Member. Please check first with the persons you want to nominate that they are wiling to have their names put forward. Nominees will be contacted personally and we will explain the nomination process and discuss what Board service entails.
Please respond to:
Janet Wasserman
Chair, Nominating Committee
Secretary, NCIS
secretary@ncis.org

Call for Images

We are currently redesigning the NCIS website and would like to invite members to submit images to be featured on the website's future Home page.  In this way we hope to further promote the work of NCIS members.  Such illustrations may include copyright-free images related to your research, images of your publications, and photos from conferences and other speaking engagements.  These images may then be linked to your NCIS web page (public profile).  

Please submit only high-resolution (300 dpi) JPEG images in an email attachment to info@ncis.org

Membership Renewals

Renewing your membership online is easy.  
 
1. Login to your account with your username and password: http://www.ncis.org/user/login  
Be sure to login with the same email address you originally used to register your account.
If you've forgotten your username or password, email membership@ncis.org

2. Once you are logged in, go to http://www.ncis.org/renew and select "Renew."  Complete your payment information.
For questions or to pay by check contact membership@ncis.org
 

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