Nov. 18, 1999
Vol. 19 No. 5

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    [debate buttons]

    Ongoing controversy to be debated again

    By Arthur Fournier
    News Office

    At the twilight of the 20th century, four University professors will converge in a public forum to discuss an issue that has occupied scholars since time immemorial: which are better, latkes (potato pancakes) or hamentaschen (triangular-shaped pastries)?

    For the Latke Hamentasch Symposium of the Millennium––the 53rd incarnation of the gathering––the Newberger Hillel Center at the University has assembled a diverse array of scholars and learned experts to settle ongoing controversies over the relative merits of these classics of Jewish cuisine.

    Joel Kraemer, William Meadow, W.J.T. Mitchell and Ross Stolzenberg will muster the best cutting-edge scholarship from their fields to present unique arguments that support the delicacy of their choice.

    The symposium will convene at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 23, in Mandel Hall. More than 1,000 people are expected to cheer on their favorite morsel during what has become one of the most popular and long-running public events on campus.

    Kraemer, Professor in the Divinity School, pursues research interests that include cultural and religious themes within Islam and Judaica.

    Meadow, Associate Professor in Pediatrics, is an internationally respected neonatologist. Mitchell, the Gaylord Donnelly Distinguished Service Professor in English Language & Literature, is the editor of Critical Inquiry and a well-known author and scholar of art, literature, mass media and visual culture. Stolzenberg, Professor in Sociology, is an expert on employment, statistical methods and social stratification. As in recent years, Ted Cohen, Professor in Philosophy and author of Jokes––Philosophical Thoughts on Laughing Matters, will moderate the discussion.

    Following the Jewish practice of making light of teachers and mimicking rabbinical tradition during Purim, the annual Latke Hamentasch symposia have become legendary for their lighthearted wit and for the audacity of their participants’ tactics.

    Previous debates have featured arguments based on biological chemical analysis, sociological claims as to the effect of latkes and hamentaschen on civilizations, songs, costumes and inventive stage props. In testament to the merriment that began at Chicago, the event has been copied at other institutions around the country and featured in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune.

    The Latke Hamentasch Symposium of the Millennium, which is free and open to the public, will be followed by an opportunity to sample the contested comestibles in Hutchinson Commons for $3 per person.

    For more information, contact the Newberger Hillel Center at (773) 752-1127.