Upcoming Appearances:

May 12-14, 2024 – American Jewish Historical Society Scholars Conference, New York City

Revisiting Jewish New York: Centers and Peripheries

May 13, 3:30 pm Forming and (Re)forming Communities: Deconstructing the Complex Geography of Jewish New York

May 14, 9:00 am Hasia Diner and the Study of Jewish Economy, Philanthropy, and Mobility

Selected Previous Appearances:

April 19, 2024 – New York Public Library (Vartan Gregorian Center for Research in the Humanities)

Problematizing “Poor Physique”: American Jews Contest the Constraints of the American Body Politic

(click to watch video)

In this talk, based on Hannah’s research as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow, she uses the New York Public Library’s primary source archives to reanimate a decades-long debate between American Jewish attorney Max Kohler and Ellis Island immigration commissioner William Williams, who fought to define American citizenship as either inclusive or exclusive of disability. This question more deeply probes a key idea in Hannah’s book project, which breaks new ground by broadening the already mercurial concept of disability to include a wider set of “disabling factors” that the United States used to limit immigration, including gender, age, poverty, race and ethnicity, and sexuality, alongside physical and mental disabilities.

Dec. 17, 2023 – Association for Jewish Studies Annual Conference, San Francisco, CA

Subjectively Defective: American Jews Contend with Disability and Belonging in the Early 20th Century

When the United States Congress revised the public charge provision that it had first passed in 1882, it enshrined the commodification of health and the pathologization of poverty in federal law. Simply put, the statute mandated the exclusion and deportation of any immigrant considered “likely to become a public charge” due to their physical, mental, or financial condition. Though the tendrils of public charge implicated all immigrants, the capricious manner in which Ellis Island immigration authorities enforced it impacted eastern European Jews in strikingly particular ways, capturing the attention of American Jews active in immigration advocacy. Examining the protracted conflict between American Jewish attorney Max Kohler and Ellis Island Commissioner William Williams, and integrating disability as an analytical lens into American Jewish historiography, I examine its fundamental role in determining literal “fitness” for prospective American citizenship, through a close study of Kohler’s legal advocacy and interventions and Williams’ interpretation and enforcement of immigration law.

Nov. 18, 2023 – Temple Bet Am Shalom, White Plains, NY

Acharei Kiddush: Jewish Ritual Mourning Practices. Commemorating Transgender Day of Remembrance

The process of dying, Jewish tradition suggests, is not complete until the last living person forgets your name. What does that mean for those of us whose true name – or even identity – is not openly known to the community? Hannah Zaves-Greene, visiting professor of Jewish Studies at Sarah Lawrence College, will explore historical and modern rituals of Jewish mourning, including a discussion of how these practices, typically centered around the twin themes of history and memory, become more complicated when mourning members of a marginalized group.

“Covid-19 Through the Lens of Disability.” Organization of American Historians Annual Meeting—Conference on American History, Chicago, Illinois. April 15-18, 2021.

“Likely to Become a Public Charge: Disability and American Jewish Immigration.” Association for Jewish Studies, 52nd Annual Conference. December 13-17, 2020.