2022-2023

UPCOMING

Judaism in the Sectarian Muslim World: Conflict and Normalization Following the Abraham Accords

Hosted by the The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life
Cosponsored by the Department of Jewish Studies, Department of Religion, and Center for Middle Eastern Studies

TzfadyaEzra Tzfadya
Spring 2023 Norman and Syril Reitman Visiting Professor, Rutgers University, Bildner Center

Tuesday, January 31, 2023
10:30 AM

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

Abraham AccordsThe Abraham Accords were facilitated in 2020 by prominent Jewish members in the Trump administration. Despite the obvious hard-power dynamics at play, the normalization of relations between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, and later Morocco was presented within an overarching framework of interreligious understanding. The Biden administration has since embraced and sought to consolidate the Accords and prominent American Jewish organizations such as the American Jewish Committee have also facilitated the soft-power dynamics by opening offices in the UAE and participating in interreligious dialogue forums in the UAE, Bahrain, and Saudia Arabia that present a reforming, more open Islam. 

This seminar will explore how Judaism is represented in the modern Middle East, with a focus on Iran, Iraq, and Lebanon. The Abraham Accords emerged within the context of a sectarian political and religious struggle between Shia dominated Iran and the Sunni states that are partners to the Accords--a struggle in which Israel as the self-proclaimed Jewish State has chosen clear sides in its alliance with these Sunni states against Shia Iran. The seminar will examine the existence of a variety of discourses about Judaism in contemporary Muslim public spheres that are increasingly constructed along sectarian lines. 

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Right Image: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif al-Zayani applaud at the ceremony (ARP via Getty Images)


Network Analysis, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Artificial Intelligence: Old Texts and New Methodologies in the Study of Antique Christians and Jews

Hosted by the Department of Jewish Studies
Cosponsored by the Department of Religion

Bar Asher SiegalMichal Bar-Asher Siegal
Professor, Ben Gurion University

Tuesday, February 14, 2023
10:30 AM

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

Digital ManuscriptThis seminar will explore the ways in which collaboration between the humanities and the sciences can shed light on ancient rabbinic literature. Network analysis developed in the biological sciences illuminates links between Jewish and Christian texts; cognitive neurosciences offers insights into the relationship between ancient authors and audiences; and artificial intelligence aids in reconstructing lost texts.

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Right Image: Manuscript displayed on a laptop (The Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts)


Responses to Apostasy: A Comparative Examination of Syriac-Christian and Jewish Babylonian Attitudes in the Early Islamic Period

Hosted by the The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life
Cosponsored by the Department of Jewish StudiesDepartment of Religion, and Center for Middle Eastern Studies

YoskovichAvraham Yoskovich
Spring 2023 Jerome and Lorraine Aresty Visiting Scholar, Rutgers University, Bildner Center

Tuesday, February 28, 2023
10:30 AM

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

Avraham SeminarA comparative look at Syriac Christian and Jewish Babylonian writers illustrates the conceptions and sanctions these authors had for challenging apostasy in a changing cultural and political sphere. This seminar will discuss different ways applied by these religious communities to both embrace and attract some of these returning apostates, while suggesting creative ways, such as mourning, grieving, extracting confessions, and threatening physical punishment, to sanction others.

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Right Image: St. Mark Monastery Jerusalem, MS. 129 (Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 4.0))


The Authentic Paganism of Shaul Tchernikhovsky

Hosted by the The Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life
Cosponsored by the Department of Jewish Studies, and Department of Religion

AlterRobert B. Alter
Professor Emeritus of Hebrew and Comparative Literature, UC Berkeley

Tuesday, April 18, 2023
10:30 AM

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

AphroditeShaul Tchernichovsky, writing in war-torn Odessa in 1919, chose to articulate his world-view as a vitalistic pantheist and to address large issues of culture and history in a demanding poetic form inherited from the Italian Renaissance, a corona of fifteen tightly interlocked sonnets. The result was one of the outstanding longer poems written in the 20th century.  The paganism it expresses does not seem to be ideological gesturing, like the use of pagan motifs elsewhere in modern literature, but an authentic response to the nature of the world as he saw it.

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Right Image: British Museum, London, Marble statue of Aphrodite crouching at her bath (Wikimedia Commons)


PREVIOUS

Jesus in Judeo-Arabic: Toledot Yeshu in the Medieval Near East

Hosted by the Department of Jewish Studies
Co-sponsored by AMESALLDepartment of HistoryDepartment of Religion, and the Program in Global Medieval Studies

goldstein.pngMiriam Goldstein 
Department of Arabic Language and Literature, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Gerard Weinstock Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies, Department of NELC, Harvard University

Tuesday, November 15, 2022
10:30 AM

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

Jesus_in_Judeo-Arabic.jpgToledot Yeshu (TY) is a long-lived polemical body of literature that treats the life of Jesus, entertaining to some, obnoxious to others. This anti-Christian narrative has been a best-seller among Jews since its initial anonymous composition in Late Antiquity and continuing through medieval and modern times. Recent research has highlighted the extent of its popularity and its wide variety of renditions among European Jewish communities. TY, though, was also highly popular among Jews living under Muslim rule in the Near East and Mediterranean. It is attested in a surprising variety of renditions in Judeo-Arabic, and also circulated extensively in the Near East in Hebrew. In my presentation, I will introduce the composition, highlighting and detailing its early and significant Judeo-Arabic attestations. I will also contextualize the Jewish presentation of Jesus within the Arabic-speaking contexts of the medieval Near East, considering how this parodical Jewish story transmitted so extensively forms part of a multi-confessional patchwork of traditions about Jesus in Arabic.

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Right Image: Scribes of the Cairo Geniza (Zooniverse, Scribes of the Cairo Geniza)