13/5 Alexandra Zirkle: “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung.”


Shabbat Afternoon/ Moritz Daniel Oppenheim 1866

Alexandra Zirkle, PhD Candidate at the University of Chicago’s Divinity School, will present a chapter from her dissertation which examines 19th century German-Jewish exegetical approaches to the temple and sacrifice as reflecting how German Jews negotiated their understanding of the tenets of Jewish thought and practice in light of their commitments as 19th century Germans. The chapter, entitled “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung,” discusses the intellectual project of Rabbi Dr. Salomon Herxheimer, one of the most influential German rabbis in the 19th century.

Adam Yale Stern, visiting PhD candidate from Harvard, will respond. Please download the paper here.

Swift 406. 4:30-6:00pm. Tea, Coffee, and more.


Spring Schedule

Kiss of the Earth/ Nicholas Roerich 1912


After a long and cold winter, welcome to our Spring quarter! As is our custom, we begin with a big social and intellectual event, this time co-hosted with Northwestern Jewish studies students, and after Passover we are hosting Yale’s Eliyahu Stern and other exciting workshop speakers from Chicago.

April 6: “Ways of Knowing,” a joint Jewish studies event at Northwestern Evanston campus. 3:00-7:00pm. For more details email Michal at michalpa@uchicago.edu

April 29: “The Secularization of the Kabbalah and the Origins of Jewish Socialism.” Eliyahu Stern (Professor, Religious Studies, Yale). 4:30-6:00pm. Location – TBA.

May 13: “Formative Exegesis: Herxheimer’s Hermeneutics and the Project of Bildung.” Alexandra Zirkle (PhD Candidate, University of Chicago Divinity School). 4:30-6:00pm. Swift 406.

May 27: “Democracy and Theocracy in Jewish Political Thought: From Baruch Spinoza to Michael Walzer.”Julie Cooper (University of Chicago). 6pm.

June 10: “A Transnational Approach to the Experiences and Identities of Latin American Jews in the United States: Chicago as a Case Study.” Yael Siman (Visiting Scholar, University of Chicago). 4:30-6:00 pm. Swift 406. – this event is temporarily cancelled.




25/2 Adam Yale Stern: “Kant and Judaism”


American Gothic. Grant Wood. 1930

Adam Yale Stern, visiting PhD candidate from Harvard University, will present his paper on Kant and Judaism. Larisa Reznik, PhD candidate at UChicago Divinity School will respond. To receive the paper please email Ori at owerdiger@uchicago.edu. See you in Swift 406. 1:30-3:00 pm.


11/2 Liran Yadgar: “The Preacher and the Jews: The View from the Maghrib”




Eugène Delacroix, “Seated Arab, a Chalk Drawing with Watercolour” (1832)


Liran Yadgar, Phd candidate at department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations, UChicago, will present part of his dissertation, which is focused on Jewish-Muslim relations in the Later Middle Period (1200-1500 C.E.). The paper will discuss the contents and the historical background of an anti-Jewish polemical treatise, Risala fi al-Yahud, written around 1492 by a Maliki preacher from Tlemcen. Mohamad Ballan, PhD candiate at the History department, UChicago, will respond.

Please email owerdiger@uchicago.edu to receive the paper in advance. In addition, please download this Fatwa dealing with Jews and houses of prayer.

Swift 406. 1:30-3:00 pm. Tea and coffee for everyone.





29/1 David Shyovitz “Animals in the Garden of Eden”

Hireonymus Bosch/ The Garden of Earthly Delights

David Shyovitz, Northwestern University, will present his paper: “Animals in the Garden of Eden: Carnivorousness and Eschatology in Medieval Jewish Thought”. To download the paper please visit the Animal Studies workshop’s website and use the password: animalstudies. Wednesday. 4:30 pm. Rosenwald 405. Refreshment will be served. This sessions is co-sponsored by the Animal Studies workshop and the Chicago Center for Jewish Studies.


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

newbabylo.bashkin prosaic.rokem












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.