2021-2022

Executing Jewish Informers in Medieval Spain: History and Literature in Yitzhak Aboab’s Menorat Ha-Maor


Lasri Seminar
Ron Lasri
Spring 2022 Aresty Visiting Scholar, Rutgers University, Bildner Center
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Hebrew Literature

Tuesday, February 22, 2022
10:30 AM

Held in-person at Miller Hall room 115 (14 College Ave.)

Ron LasriComposed amid great social tensions in fourteenth-century Castile, the anthology of ethical literature known as the Menorat Ha-Maor (“The Lamp of Enlightenment”) by the talmudist Yitzhak Aboab includes three talmudic stories about Jewish sages executing Jewish informers. By analyzing the compilation process of the Menorat Ha-Maor and comparing these stories to contemporaneous rabbinic responsa, Ron Lasri will show that these stories are vital to understanding Jewish culture in medieval Castile. More broadly, Lasri will reflect on the ways literary anthologies can serve as key primary sources for the study of cultural history.

Open to faculty and graduate students.

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Daf (Yomi) of Her Own: Gendered Space, Digital Religion, and Transnational Post-Covid Orthodox Judaism


Ferziger Seminar
Adam Ferziger
Spring 2022 Aresty Visiting Scholar, Rutgers University, Bildner Center
Bar-Ilan University, Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry

Tuesday, March 22, 2022
10:30 AM

Held in-person at Miller Hall room 115 (14 College Ave.)

Adam FerzigerNew Year’s Day 2020 saw a crowd of over 90,000 Jews assemble in freezing temperatures at New Jersey’s MetLife Stadium. Instead of the usual football game, the attraction was the Siyum ha-Shas of Daf Yomi, a ceremony celebrating the completion of the study of the entire Talmud over the course of 7.5 years by learning one page (a daf) per day (yomi). Scores of parallel events took place on five other continents. Since the inception of the daf yomi cycle in the 1920s, the overwhelming majority of partakers have been men. While this remains the case, the 2020 festivities marked a watershed when over 3,000 women congregated in Jerusalem's Binyanei ha-Umah Auditorium for the inaugural “Women’s Siyum Shas.” Exploring the processes that precipitated this conspicuous moment, Professor Adam Ferziger will contextualize the expansion of women’s daf yomi within contemporary Orthodox Judaism’s struggles over the religious standing of women and the ways digital technology is reshaping religious practices.

Open to faculty and graduate students.

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Generally Speaking: An Invitation to Concept-Driven Research

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology

Zerubavel Generally SpeakingEviatar Zerubavel
Rutgers University, Department of Sociology

Tuesday, April 12, 2022
10:30 AM

Held in-person at Miller Hall room 115 (14 College Ave.)

Zerubavel EviatarBased on Eviatar Zerubavel’s most recent book, this seminar examines a yet unarticulated and thus far never systematized method of theorizing (“Social Pattern Analysis”) by making the process underlying the practice of “concept-driven” research more explicit. We often tend to study the specific at the expense of also studying the generic. To correct this imbalance, Zerubavel examines the theoretico-methodological process by which one can “distill” generic social patterns from the culturally, historically, and situationally specific contexts in which one encounters them, championing “generic” research that is pronouncedly transcontextual in its scope. In order to uncover generic social patterns, data are collected in a wide range of social contexts. Such diversity is manifested multiple-culturally, multihistorically, as well as multisituationally by drawing on numerous examples from diverse cultural contexts and historical periods and a wide range of social domains, as well as by disregarding scale. Emphasizing cross-contextual commonality, such research reveals formal “parallels” across seemingly disparate contexts. The seminar examines the four main types of cross-contextual analogies “generic” researchers use (cross-cultural, cross-historical, cross-domain, and cross-level), disregarding conventionally noted substantive differences in order to note conventionally disregarded formal equivalences.

Open to faculty and graduate students.

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Movement as Politics: Disability Dance and the Politics of Corporeal Aesthetics

The Henry Schwartzman Faculty Seminar

KramerGili Hammer
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Tuesday, October 12, 2021
10:30 AM - 11:30 AM

The case study of disability/integrated dance – an art form in which dancers with and without disabilities dance together – raises fundamental questions about the body's relationship to the concept of "disability." Disability dance offers insights into the ways bodily differences are represented, negotiated, and experienced through artistic expression. In this art form, choreographers, directors, and practitioners employ the moving body and mobility apparatuses, such as wheelchairs, prosthetics, and crutches, to expand participation of disabled dancers. Disability dance thus offers a means of resisting the medical diagnosis of disability as a pathology as well as the normative aesthetic category of the fit, able-bodied dancer. Based on six years of ethnographic fieldwork with integrated dance projects in Israel and the US, this talk will explore the intersection of somatics, politics, and aesthetics in disability dance, arguing for the ways it serves as a microcosm of larger political struggles for inclusion. 

Open to faculty and graduate students.

Hammer GiliGili Hammer is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and the Program in Cultural Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In her doctoral research at the Hebrew University, she focused on the social constructions of gender and femininity among blind women, and on the cultural construction of blindness and sight in the Israeli public sphere. Her current research examines sensory practices and embodied politics within the “disability culture” phenomenon, exploring integrated dance projects that bring together dancers with and without disabilities in Israel and the United States. Her work focuses on the ways that “corporeal otherness” is represented, negotiated, and regulated in the public sphere, and the meeting of diverse body types. Her fields of research include disability studies, anthropology of the senses, gender studies, research of visual culture, anthropological and sociological theory, and performance studies. She is the author of Blindness through the Looking Glass: The Performance of Blindness, Gender, and the Sensory Body (University of Michigan Press, 2019), and her articles have appeared in Gender & SocietySignsDisability Studies QuarterlyMedical Anthropology QuarterlyJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, and American Anthropologist.


Not Just Rabbis: Rethinking Jewish Communal Leadership in Medieval Europe 

Co-sponsored by the History Department and the Program in Global Medieval Studies

KramerEphraim (Effie) Shoham-SteinerGregg Drinkwater 
Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Department of Jewish History 

Tuesday, November 16, 2021
10:30 AM

Held in-person at Miller Hall room 115 (14 College Ave.)

Archaeological discoveries and fresh readings of rabbinic texts are revolutionizing understandings of Jewish communal leadership in medieval Europe. Previously, this leadership was imagined as a scholarly religious elite that governed on the basis of Jewish law. Now, by contrast, it is increasingly recognized that laymen were key players in urban governance. Professor Effie Shoham-Steiner will share his research on these dynamics with a focus on the city of Cologne and the ways lay leadership shaped communal decision-making.

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