Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop on the History of the Jewish Book

Sunday, May 12, 2019 - 9:00am - Monday, May 13, 2019 - 5:00pm
The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce the nineteenth annual Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop to be held on May 12-13 (Sunday-Monday), 2019, at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 420 Walnut St., Philadelphia. 

The topic is “The Forest of Ilanot: Exploring a Forgotten Genre.” This year’s workshop will be led by J. H. (Yossi) Chajes (Ph.D., Yale University 1999) is Professor in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa and the Director of its Center for the Study of Jewish Cultures. Chajes has been a Visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a Fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt, and a Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Chajes currently directs the “Ilanot Project”—an ambitious and unprecedented attempt to research kabbalistic cosmological diagrams, which has been awarded four Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grants, the Friedenberg Prize for the outstanding ISF-funded project in the Humanities, and most recently, a Volkswagen Foundation grant — in collaboration with the digital humanities lab at Göttingen University — to develop “Maps of God - Building a Portal to Visual Kabbalah.”  

Ilanot (Heb. pl. trees; sing. ilan) were an important part of kabbalistic thinking and practice. The workshop will introduce this understudied genre of kabbalah, which was recognized as early as the mid-sixteenth century by Jews and Christians alike. Moses Cordovero (1520-1570) defined an ilan as a sheet of parchment upon which a diagram of sefirot had been inscribed. Ilanot were prismatic sites at which their creators’ worlds of kabbalah, magic, art, and science intersected. The Workshop will explore the uses of ilanot as mnemonic and pedagogical tools, ambitiously designed to present iconotextual anthologies that facilitated the organization, representation, and creation of kabbalistic knowledge. As diagrams, ilanot represented layers of information in a spatial, non-linear fashion in order to reveal complex, but ordered fields of meaning, and, as such they were also appurtenances used in the performance of kabbalistic prayer and meditation. The production of ilanot underwent change over time and space. We will consider Lurianic ilanot, whose complicated  models of the divine worlds display diachronic progression, and which were sometimes produced on rolls that could extend for more than thirty feet. To scroll through them was to participate in the unfolding cosmogonic process that they depicted. Attention will also be paid to the earliest printed ilan

Because the Workshop will involve textual study, participants should be able to read unpointed Hebrew texts. The workshop is open to professors and independent scholars, professional librarians in the field of Jewish and related studies, and graduate students in Jewish Studies. Attendance at previous workshops is not a prerequisite for admission.

For faculty and professionals, tuition is $300. In addition to attendance and all materials for the workshop, the tuition includes two nights in a hotel (double-occupancy) for the nights of May 11 and 12 (with the option of May 10), and all meals and refreshments (all kosher) during the course of the workshop. Graduate students may apply for a full scholarship to the workshop. To apply for the scholarship, a graduate student should write us giving the details of his or her academic program and a brief statement explaining how the workshop will further his or her academic studies. S/he should also ask a faculty advisor to write us a letter of recommendation on the student's behalf.  

Attendance is limited. If you are interested in attending the workshop, please notify us immediately. Full payment must be received by April 15, 2019. Make checks payable to Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania. A registration form is available at: registration_LW2019.pdf

Please address all correspondence to: Lehmann Workshop, c/o Jewish Studies Program, 711 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305; E-mail: jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu ; Call 215-898-6654.

The Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish Book has been made possible by a generous contribution from the Manfred and Anne Lehmann Foundation along with grants from Albert and Nancy Friedberg.


Jewish Studies Program
711 Williams Hall, 255 S. 36th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305
215-898-6654 / 215-573-6026 fax / jsp-info@sas.upenn.edu