Public and Professional Activities
Although service in the university context sometimes erroneously is considered to be the poor cousin of higher profile activities such as teaching and research, not only is service what makes the academic world go round but it is also an activity that, as Northrop Frye suggested of ordinary textual criticism in contrast to loftier philosophy or aesthetics, can remind literary scholars of the core aims and motivations of their vocation. In my service to the University of Victoria, to my scholarly field, and to the broader community, I have tried to keep in mind that service is a mode of demonstrating the highest values of generosity, conscientiousness and caring in public and university contexts. It is also a sphere in which collegial and supportive relations between individuals most often are manifested concretely. I have learned, as well, that beyond its fulfillment as a professional necessity and psychological need, service is rarely altruistic in a sacrificial sense, for it is also a means of creating opportunities for oneself among satisfied associates understandably willing to vest new responsibilities in a trusted collaborator. My community and professional service has taken a variety of forms, some of which I present below.
I am currently Vice-President 1, and have served several terms as a board member, of Congregation Emanu-El, Victoria's historic downtown Conservative Jewish synagogue. I chair the Communications Committee, which oversees the congregational website, newsletter, social media, and online technologies. I redesigned the website in 2013 and administered it directly for 4 years.
English Department Committees
I have served in various capacities on the Department's Equity (now EDI, which I chair as of 2022), Postcolonialism Area, Visiting Speakers, Library, Graduate, Undergraduate, and Research, Tenure and Promotion (RPT) Committees. I regularly evaluate graduate students' French and Spanish translation exams. I supervised the English Department's website redesign in 2007 and administered the website for five years.
I have served on the University's Technology and Information Infrastructure Committee and have participated in several committees to develop UVic's Media Studies interdisciplinary program. I served a 2-year term as the Faculty of Graduate Studies representative to the Senate Committee on Academic Standards (2011-2013). Major issues included revising the University's Policy on Academic Integrity, devising a new registration designation for no-fault withdrawals, and oversight of the transition to percentage grading.
Victoria Film Festival
I served as the Middle East and North Africa Section Programmer (2018-2022) for the Victoria Film Festival, one of the largest film festivals in Canada. The Festival screens some 80 international films during its typical 11-day annual run. I screened entries and selected between 2 and 4 films from the Middle East and North Africa region per year.
Vancouver Jewish Film Festival
Since 2015, I have served as a member of the film jury for the Vancouver Jewish Film Festival. The Festival, one of the oldest and largest Jewish film festivals in Canada, annually presents some two dozen new films from around the world on topics related to Jewish identity and culture.
Victoria International Jewish Film Festival
I was the director of the Victoria International Jewish Film Festival from 2017-19, after having served as its programmer for two years. With the jury, I reviewed more than a hundred Jewish-themed films every year for the Festival, which takes place in mid-November over four days. The Festival, which is sponsored by the Jewish Community Centre of Victoria, brings to Victoria a diverse range of international films on Jewish topics with the aim of enriching audiences' understanding of Jewish culture.
I was a section editor responsible for subject areas related to the Caribbean and Middle East, among others, for the online, open-access academic journal Postcolonial Text from 2012–2016. For the journal, I was responsible for the evaluation, review and editing of a range of article submissions under the founder and past editor-in-chief, Ranjini Mendis, and her successor, Chantal Zabus.
Caribbean Studies Association
I chaired a four-member special Presidential Task Force of the Caribbean Studies Association in 2011-12. The Committee was responsible for investigating communications technology for the Association and presenting a written final report and recommendations. For my work, I was awarded the Presidential Award for Outstanding Leadership and Service by president Holger Henke.
I supervised the production of a series of English Department outreach videos directed by students. Three are informational videos — humorous "movie trailers" for the Department's academic writing courses — and the last is a history of the Department from its inception in the 1950s. You can watch these and other related videos on the English Department's YouTube channel.
I have written anonymous peer reviews of article submissions for Green Letters, Postcolonial Text, Modern Intellectual History, Animation, Comparative Literature, and for the student journal, The Arbutus Review, as well as a book manuscript for Palgrave Macmillan. As is usual for faculty members, I regularly evaluate my colleagues' teaching when asked for purposes of promotion or tenure.
If Not Now, When?
I co-founded and serve as a principal organizer of If Not Now, When?, a Victoria-based activist organization sharing information about and advocating on behalf of Canadian Jews who seek just and peaceful alternatives to the violent conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.
Jewish Voice for Peace
I was an original member and then, while still a student, leader (1996-2000) of Jewish Voice for Peace, a Jewish human rights activist organization that concerns itself primarily with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The organization was launched by three Jewish women students at UC Berkeley and has grown, since its founding in 1996, into the largest Jewish activist organization of its kind in North America. While I no longer have a role in the organisation nor share all of its positions, I am proud of the role I took in helping to organise and leading JVP in its early livingroom years.
Human Rightns DocFest
I was a juror for the 2009 Human Rights DocFest, presented by Journalists for Human Rights in partnership with the National Film Board of Canada's (NFB) online initiative Citizenshift and Dab Gallery of Victoria.
Jewish Peace News
I was the founder and a co-editor, from 2000-2011, with six other academics and activists, of Jewish Peace News, an online blog and news commentary distribution-list that was initially a project of Jewish Voice for Peace and later operated independently.
Infant Plus Daycare Centre
I designed and administer the website for Infant Plus Daycare Centre, which is run by the non-profit James Bay Child Care Society. I am the past vice president of the Society's Board of Directors and I sit on the Expansion Committee.