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Spring 2009 Calendar of Events

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"Beer, the Bible, and Archaeology"
- Michael Homan (Xavier University, Louisiana)

Part of the Mediterranean Archaeology Lecture Series.

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009
7:00 p.m.
Carlos Museum

"Coffee and the Moral Order: How Ethiopian Jewish Pentecostals and Messianic Jews are Challenging the Meaning of Jewishness in Israel"
- Don Seeman (Emory University, Religion Department)

with a response by Dianne Stewart (Religion)

A young Ethiopian-Israeli man refuses a gift of coffee beans from an old friend. Thus begins a reflection upon the nature of Jewishness and religious boundaries between Jews and Christians in the world today. For Ethiopian-Israelis, refusal to drink coffee with other Ethiopians has become a mark of having adopted a Pentecostal or Messianic Jewish faith, typically looked down upon by Ethiopian and other Jews in Israel. This seminar explores the meaning of coffee as a constituent of the moral order for Ethiopian Jews and Pentecostals alike, and explores how the drinking of coffee helps to raise a host of theological, cultural, and moral issues. How can someone who worships as a Pentecostal continue to identify strongly with Judaism and Jewishness, how does religion inflect nationality in the Israeli context, and how should believers of all kinds deal with ongoing war and terror, alienation from loved ones, and the desire for personal autonomy within a traditional religious framework? Does this phenomenon help to change the meaning of Jewishness for Israelis? And finally, how does the ethnographer balance his own religious and scholarly commitments in this research? This lecture is part of the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies Graduate Seminar Series.

Friday, January 30th, 2009
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Candler Library, Room 125

"Mysticism in Modern Hebrew Literature"
- Hamutal Bar Yosef (Professor Emerita, Ben Gurion University)

Presented in conjunction with Emory's Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies Department

Modern Hebrew writers inherited – sometimes indirectly - ideas, symbols and styles from Kabbala, Hasidism and earlier Jewish mysticism. Like earlier Jewish mystical texts, their texts were also influenced by contemporary non-Jewish cultural background: Western or Eastern Christian, and sometimes Moslem mysticism. During the 19 th century mysticism was considered to be alien to the "real" Judaism by "enlightened" Jews. The positive turning point in the evaluation of Jewish mysticism occurred at the turn of the 20 th century, under Russian and German influnces. Elements of mystical experiences, views and styles are frequent in 20 th century Hebrew poetry (H.N. Bialik, M.Y. Berdychevsky, U. Z. Greenberg, N. Alterman, P. Sadeh, A. Gilboa, D. Rabikovich, Zelda, Rivka Miriam, Y. Ozer, B. Shevili, H. Pedaia, and many others). Togetherness as a mystical experience is of special interest. A few texts in English translation will be presented and analyzed.

Ben Gurion University Emerita Professor Hamutal Bar-Yosef - a noted poet, translator, and literature researcher - will present a talk as part of the Tam Institute's ongoing 2008-2009 seminar series.

Thursday, February 12th, 2009
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Candler Library 207-D (African-American Studies Seminar Room)


The Aesthetics and Ethics of Mystification: Der Nister's "Flora"
- Erik Butler (Emory University, Department of Philosophy)

with a response by Sander Gilman (ILA)

Der Nister, the penname adopted by the underappreciated Yiddish author Pinkhas Kahanovich (1884-1950), translates to "The Hidden One." The pseudonym points toward a strategy of concealment-and intermittent disclosure-that the author performs in his works.

This paper explores how, in the short story "Flora" (1946), Der Nister's signature, chiaroscuro style captures the ambiguities of "reality" (virklekhkayt). Far from merely representing an aesthetic tendency toward obscurity, Der Nister's riddling prose gives symbolic form to a historical situation-life under Nazi occupation-that was characterized by radical uncertainty and the ever-present possibility of betrayal. Through the author's skillful vagueness, the fiction transforms into something resembling actual fact, and dark deeds are revealed as sources of light in the historical night.

Although the paper examines the text primarily through the lens of literary criticism, I frame my reading with a discussion of relevant, Hasidic forms of piety, as well as reflections on the less-than-straightforward kinds of sociability that have been documented in the underground milieu in which Der Nister situates his tale.

Friday, February 13th, 2009
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Candler Library 125


A New Holocaust Archive: An Introduction to the International Tracing Service
- by Dr. Joe White, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

The International Tracing Service (ITS) archive in Bad Arolsen, Germany, is the largest Holocaust archive in the world. Established by the Allies after World War II to help reunite families and determine the fates of victims, the ITS archive has previously been closed to researchers. It contains approximately 50 million pages of material relating to the fates of more than 17 million people who perished in the Holocaust or whose lives were forever altered by the Nazi regime through war, displacement, slave labor, or other horrors. As a result of a diplomatic breakthrough, the ITS governing board recently agreed to open the archives at Bad Arolsen to the public. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is the American repository of these records and is committed to making the materials available to survivors and scholars studying the experiences of Holocaust victims.

For questions or to RSVP, contact Dr. Catherine Lewis

Co-sponsored by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009
4:00-5:00 p.m.

Candler Library, Room 212


"On the Eve: The Jews of Europe Before the Second World War"

University of Chicago Professor Bernard Wasserstein will present the 11th annual Stein Lecture on Modern Jewish and Israeli History. Sponsored by the Institute for the Study of Modern Israel and co-sponsored by the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies. For more information, please visit the ISMI web page.

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009
7:00 p.m.

Miller-Ward Alumni House (815 Houston Mill Road)


"Inside Out: A Multimedia Auto-Ethnography on Contemporary Hasidism"
- Pearl Gluck (Visiting Lecturer, Department of Film Studies and Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, Emory University)

Ten years after leaving her Hasidic home in Brooklyn, Pearl Gluck received a Fulbright grant to collect oral histories from Yiddish speakers in areas of Hungary once home to thriving Hasidic communities, including Satmar, her family's original sect. At heart, she is a zamler, a collector. In the spirit of the oral tradition of her youth, but in the face of its patriarchal trajectory, she tells stories of travels, transformations, and travails, mapping her way back to Hasidism with a camera and a microphone. What evolves is a collaborative ethnography documenting and interweaving those who still live within the Hasidic community, and those who have found their way out, but remain inspired by the richness of its traditions.

Listen to stories, discuss its implications, and examine clips of Gluck's audio/visual work in Divan, Wiliamsburg, Goyta, and Where Is Joel Baum. Works feature Frank London (of the Klezmatics), Levi Okunov, Basya Schechter (of Pharoah's Daughter), and Amichai Lau LaVie (of Storahtelling).

Friday, March 20th, 2009
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Candler Library 125


"The Four-Source Theory Under Siege: What Went Wrong?"
- Baruch J. Schwartz (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

Baruch J. Schwartz is one of the staunchest defenders of the classical, four-source, documentary hypothesis as the comprehensive solution to the literary problem of the Torah's composition. In the last two decades of Pentateuchal scholarship, the source-critical method has come under unprecedented attack; in many quarters it has been rejected entirely. In this lecture, Schwartz attempts to account for this state of affairs, suggesting some of the misconceptions that seem to have developed over the years regarding the aims of the documentary hypothesis and the evidence for it, pointing out some of the flaws in the manner of its implementation even among its most devoted practitioners, and discussing some of the methodological errors that have led scholarship to the brink of abandoning the four sources, J, E, P and D.

Light refreshments will be served. Sponsored by the Graduate Division of Religion and the Tam Institute for Jewish Studies.

Friday, March 27th, 2009
2:30 p.m.
Callaway Center S221 (Religion Seminar Room)


"Freedom of Conscience as an Inquisitorial Defense: The Case of Isaac de Castro Tartas"
- Miriam Bodian (History Professor, University of Texas)

Presented in conjunction with the Vann Seminar in Pre-Modern European History

The enigmatic young Isaac de Castro Tartas - from a crypto-Jewish family, educated in Jesuit schools in France, schooled in rabbinic Judaism in Amsterdam and Dutch Brazil - defended himself before inquisitors in Lisbon in the 1640s with a set of arguments that reflected a shift away from religious polemics to a reliance on universal principles of freedom of conscience, which he anchored in rabbinic sources.  His case throws light on a variety of undercurrents in early modern European society.

Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009
4:00-6:00 p.m.
Bowden Hall, Room 323 (J. Russell Major Seminar Room, History Department)


The "New Covenant" in Exodus 34
- Prof. Joel Baden, Yale Divinity School

The exegesis of Exodus 34 has frequently centered on the idea of a renewed covenant, made on the basis of the deity’s grace and mercy, after the sin of the calf and the destruction of the Decalogue tablets.  In his lecture, Prof. Baden, will present a fresh analysis that situates this standard interpretation in the composition history of the chapter.

Joel Baden is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Yale University.  He did his PhD in Hebrew Bible at Harvard and has a master’s degree in Semitic languages from the University of Chicago and BA in Judaic Studies from Yale.  His first book, J, E, and the Redaction of the Pentateuch is being published by Mohr Siebeck.  He is the co-editor of the forthcoming volume The Strata of P.  He is currently writing a handbook on the source-criticism of the Pentateuch for the Anchor Yale Bible Reference Library.  His main research interests are in Pentateuch and Biblical Hebrew, and he has articles in print or in press in JBL, VT, CBQ, and HS.  

Thursday, April 23, 5:30 pm
Candler Theology Bldg. Room 252


"Spinoza's Multitude and the Power of Democracy"
- Ericka Tucker (Emory University, Department of Philosophy)

This paper takes up a current use of Spinoza's conception of the multitude by Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt. Hardt and Negri mobilize Spinoza's conception “the multitude” to underwrite their global anarchist democracy. This presentation will argue that Spinoza is no anarchist, but that his conception of the power of individuals and democracy is even more useful than Hardt and Negri's approach would suggest for current problems in democracy theory. Spinoza's theory allows us to understand how the power of individuals accrues to the power of the state, both for those we include and those who are excluded.

Friday, April 24nd, 2009
9:30-11:00 a.m.
Candler Library 125






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