14/1 Orit Bashkin and Na’ama Rokem: “Jews in Context”

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In our first social meeting of the quarter, Orit Bashkin and Na’ama Rokem, University of Chicago, will discuss the scholarly examination of Jews within majority culture in the context of their recent book projects: New Babylonians (Bashkin) and Prosaic Conditions (Rokem). Please download and read the introduction for Rokem’s book here, and chapter 4 from Bashkin’s book here. Come to Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr’s house. 7:00-9:00 pm. Light dinner will be served. Please RSVP at owerdiger@uchicago.edu.

Winter 2014 Schedule











© Tove Janson.


Welcome back to wintery Chicago.

Here is our schedule for this winter. As you will notice, this winter we have more workshops concerned with things medieval, while not forsaking contemporary issues too. Following on the successful meeting last quarter, we are hosting another workshop at the house of Prof. Mendes-Flohr, this time with a discussion by Professors Orit Bashkin and Na’ama Rokem.

January 7: “Abraham and the absoluteness of God,” Jon Levenson (Harvard University). 4:30-6:00 pm. Swift lecture hall (3rd floor). Co-sponsored with the Lumen Christi Institute. Check here more details.

January 14: “Jews in context: the scholarly examination of Jews within majority culture,” Orit Bashkin and Na’ama Rokem (University of Chicago). 7:00-9:00pm. At the house of Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr. with Light dinner. Please RSVP at owerdiger@uchicago.edu.

January 29: “Animals in the Garden of Eden: Carnivorousness and Eschatology in Medieval Jewish Thought,” David Shyovitz (Northwestern University). 4:30-6:00pm. Rosenwald 405. Cosponsored with the Animal Studies workshop.

February 11: “The Preacher and the Jews: The View from the Maghreb,” Liran Yadgar (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago). 1:30-3:00pm. Swift 406.

February 25: “Kant and Judaism,” Adam Yale Stern (visiting PhD student, Harvard University). respondent: Larisa Reznik (UChicago) 1:30-3:00pm. Swift 406.

March 11: “Short(hand) Stories: Unexplicated Story Cues in the Babylonian Talmud,” Daniel Rosenberg (PhD candidate, NYU). 1:30-3:00 pm. Swift 406.

3/12 Erik Dreff: “Contributing to the study of Spinoza and his legacy: a proposal”

© Charles Schulz.

Erik Dreff, PhD student at the Divinity School, will present his dissertation proposal, dealing with the issue of the Love of God in Spinoza’s thought. Please email Ori at owerdiger@uchicago.edu to be sent the text of Erik’s proposal. Scott Ferguson, PhD at the Divinity school will respond.

Swift 406. 4:30-6:00 pm. Tea, coffee, and other Hanuka related refreshments.




19/11 Assaf Harel: “The times of Jewish settlers in the West Bank”

© Assaf Harel 2010

Assaf Harel, Phd candidate at the Department of Anthropology at Rutgers, works on the anthropology of time.  Harel will speak with us about his research, conducted among West Bank Jewish settlers. In preparation for Assaf’s presentation, please read the articles by Eldar and Zertal and by Ravitzky, and also the Miracle Stories from the Gaza Strip. Yaqub Hilal, PhD student, Department of Anthropology, UChicago, will respond. co-hosted with the Literature and Philosophy workshop. Swift 208. 4:30-6:00. Tea, Coffee and refreshments.

22/10 David Myers: “A Hasidic municipality in New York: As American as Apple Pie?“


© 2011. kjvoice.com.


David N. Myers, Professor of Modern Jewish thought and chair of the Department of History at UCLA, will discuss a chapter from his book project on the Satmar Hassidic community in Kirjas Joel, a Hasidic- only municipality in NY. Please read Professor Myers’s short introduction , his table of contents, and his chapter.

Professor Galit Hasan-Rokem, Max and Margarethe Grunwald Professor Emerita of Folklore at the Hebrew University, will be responding and then we will open it up for general discussion and questions.

Tuesday, October 22. 4:00- 5:30. Swift 106. (Please note: we will begin 30 minutes earlier than our usual schedule due to time constraints.) co-sponsored with CCJS and SAJE – the student alliance for Jewish enrichment. Coffee, tea and snacks will be served.

Autumn 2013 Schedule

Nail_polish_with_tipex,2013  © 2013 Michal Na’aman


Welcome back to a new workshop year. This Autumn Quarter we will be meeting every second Tuesday between 4:30 and 6:00 pm, at the Joseph Regenstein Library, room 503 unless noted otherwise.

This year we are going to put an emphasis on the wider context of Jewish studies, as an academic field which cannot be studied separate from its cultural, geographical, intellectual and historical terrain. As you will notice, this quarter our focus is—what is called, anyway—modern. Next term will be more directed toward late antiquity and the medieval period. It is circumstance and schedule that dictates this, mostly; we are skeptical of rigid periodization, classification, all that.

If you are interested in presenting at our workshop this Winter or Spring, please contact Ori at owerdiger@uchicago.edu

October 8: opening party! at the home of Paul Mendes-Flohr—Dorothy Grant Maclear Professor of Modern Jewish Thought

Come to our first workshop of the year, meet new and old faces, drink something adult, and hear Professor Mendes-Flohr’s pedagogcal reflections—and introduction of our year—”Jewish studies as a field not a discipline.” (Note: Divinity students may consider this a craft-of-teaching event.)

7:30 P.M. Check back here for location information.

October 21 [Monday]:  “Modernity Thinks with Judaism”—David Nirenberg, Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought; Director, Neubauer Family Collegium for Culture and Society

This meeting is hosted by the Political Theory Workshop. Professor Nirenberg will discuss a chapter from his book. 12:00–1:20 pm. Pick hall 506.

October 22: “A Hasidic Municipality in New York: As American as Apple Pie?”—David N. Myers, Professor of Jewish history and Chairman of the Department of History, University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA)

Professor Myers will discuss his recent research of the Hasidic community in Kiryas Joel, New York State. 4:00–5:30pm. Location: Swift 106.

November 5: “Rosenzweig’s Luther: Or, Germanness Gone ‘Mad'”—Larisa Resnik, Ph.D. candidate at the Theology program, University of Chicago Divinity School.

November 19: “The Times of Jewish Settlers in the West Bank”—Assaf Harel, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University

Harel works on the anthropology of time, and he will speak with us about his research, conducted among West Bank Jewish settlers. Co-hosted with the Philosohpy and Literature Workshop. Swift 208.

December 3: “Contributing to the study of Spinoza and his legacy: A Proposal—Erik Dreff, Ph.D. candidate at the History of Judaism Program,  University of Chicago Divinity School. Scott Ferguson, PhD student at the Divinity school, will respond. Swift 406. Continue reading

Davi Strauss Bernstein — “The Bitburg Crisis”

 Davi Strauss Bernstein (PhD student in History) will present his paper “The Bitburg Crisis.” Please download the paper here, and read it in advance.

Coffee, tea, and snacks will be served. 

Tuesday, May 7th at 4:30 in Swift 208 (note change of location!)

If you are in need of special assitance, please contact shonkoff@uchicago.edu.


4/23 Shaul Magid—Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism and the ‘Christianization’ of Modern Judaism

Shaul Magid (Jay and Jeanie Schottenstein Chair in Jewish Studies at Indiana University) will present a chapter from his manuscript-in-progress, Hasidism Incarnate: Hasidism and the ‘Christianization’ of Modern JudaismThe chapter itself is entitled “Divinization and ‘Incarnational Thinking’ in Hasidism: An Overview.” Please download the chapter here and read it in advance. Also, in order to get a better sense of the project as a whole, see the table of contents here. Dr. Magid is the author of Hasidism on the Margin: Reconciliation, Antinomianism, and Messianism (Wisconsin University Press, 2004), From Metaphysics to Midrash: Myth, History, and the Interpretation of Scripture in Lurianic Kabbalah (Indiana University Press, 2008) and American Post-Judaism: Identity and Renewal in a Postethnic Society (Indiana University Press, 2013).

Rachel Elior, Visiting Professor at the U of C this quarter, will offer a brief response, and then we will open it up for general discussion and questions.

Coffee, tea, and whiskey will be served.

See you there!

If you are in need of special assistance, please contact shonkoff@uchicago.edu. 

David Nirenberg on Writing for Non-Academic Audiences

Thursday, March 7th at 12 noon in Classics 110 — Professor David Nirenberg (Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought) will facilitate a discussion with us about what it means and entails to write as an academic scholar for non-academic audiences. As we plunge deeper and deeper into scholarly specializations and focused projects, many of us undoubtedly wrestle with how to meaningfully “translate” our academic concerns for broader audiences. As Prof. Nirenberg wrote last year in The Nation“What is my work? How can I make that work visible, its interest tangible? Since the early nineteenth century the artist’s studio has been a space of excited visitation…But the solitary sitter in the historian’s study attracts no voyeurs. What thrill is to be found in hours of stillness, the occasional rustle of paper, the all too intermittent clicking of computer keys?” In this joint meeting of the Jewish Studies and Medieval Studies workshops, Prof. Nirenberg will share reflections on these crucial questions, and converse with us about the joys, challenges, and importance of scholarly communication with the public. Prior to the meeting, please read Prof. Nirenberg’s review of Adina Hoffman and Peter Cole’s Sacred Trash in The Nation, and his review of Ruth HaCohen’s The Music Libel against the Jews in the New Republic
This program is co-sponsored by the Medieval Studies Workshop.
If you have any questions or need special assistance, please email shonkoff@uchicago.edu.