Course topics will vary; they have included The Binding of Isaac, Responses to Catastrophes in Jewish History, Holy Men & Women (Ben-Amos); Rewriting the Bible (Dohrmann); Performing Judaism (Fishman); Jewish Political Thought (Fishman); Jewish Esotericism (Lorberbaum) Democratic culture assumes the democracy of knowledge - the accessibility of of knowledge and its transparency. Should this always be the case? What of harmful knowledge? When are secrets necessary? In traditional Jewish thought, approaching the divine has often assumed an aura of danger. Theological knowledge was thought of as restricted. This seminar will explore the "open" and "closed" in theological knowledge, as presented in central texts of the rabbinic tradition: the Mishnah, Maimonides and the Kabbalah. Primary sources will be available in both Hebrew and English.
Section 401 - SEM
Fall 2018 JEWISH POLITICAL THOUGHT AND ACTION In the various identities that Jews have embraced, or been assigned over time – ethnic group, religion, landless nation, sovereign nation – they generated political thought and manifested political agency and action. Through close reading of primary sources in English translation, participants in this seminar will explore: conceptions of the scope and limits of Jewish political and legal authority; notions of messianism and Jewish political passivity; Jewish political activity under the rule of Christians and Muslims; medieval Jewish political theory; the place of the Israelite polity and of biblical leaders (prophets, priests, kings) in early modern ruminations on governance; the struggle for civic Emancipation and its political ramifications; variants of Jewish Socialism in the 19th-20th centuries; religious, cultural and political Zionism prior to 1948; contemporary messianic Zionism; the challenges of maintaining a state that is simultaneously liberal democratic and Jewish; the status of non-Jewish minorities in a Jewish polity; contemporary Jewish political concerns in the US and globally. One class session will take place in the Rare Book Room of Van Pelt Library. No prior knowledge is assumed.
TR 1030AM-1200PM


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