Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Graduate student conference at Hebrew U

A two day conference at Hebrew University (Mt Scopus). The speakers are all second-year doctoral students, from across the Humanities. The very last session will be dedicated to a pair of lectures on Halakhah.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

WCJS abstracts

Abstracts from many of the lectures delivered at the 15th World Congress of Jewish Studies last summer are now available here.

Monday, April 26, 2010


New volume of the Bar Ilan journal on prayer. TOC here.

Sermons by the Jews, for the Finns

The Finnish Roman Institute is hosting a conference, scheduled for February 2011, about Preaching On the Jews, For the Jews and By the Jews. Details here. Note the tone of this paragraph:
In addition to sermons on the Jews or for the conversion of the Jews, we would also love to see papers on preaching by the Jews themselves. How did they try to repel the attacks of the Christian missionary preachers or the hostile attitudes disseminated by the preaching to the general population? To what extent were Jewish sermons meant to force their own religious and cultural identity under the pressures constituted by the Christian majority?

So, if you think you can help - go for it! Besides the coolness of speaking in a building that looks like this, it's an opportunity to bring authentic Jewish voices into a conversation that rarely hears them.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

What is this? Bryant Park?

The IMHM will be closed next Tuesday morning (and the Judaica Reading Room at the National Library will be closed all day) because of filming for the new Talmud movie.

Monday, April 19, 2010

NYT discovers the joys of glosses

Nice presentation of Mark Twain's notations in books he owned. Is a similar website for Saul Lieberman's library a reasonable wish?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Death and Burial in Tel Aviv

Upcoming conference.

Genizat Germania volume

The proceedings of the Genizat Germania conference have been published by Brill. Highlights include Edna Engel's article on the development of Ashkenazic script, and Andreas Lehnardt's bibliography of publications on and from the European Genizah.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010


A conference is taking place in Bologna next week about Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno. Details here. Notice how they chose to illustrate the announcement? Artscroll strikes again!

Monday, April 12, 2010


The Lubavitch library in New York holds a variety of interesting items, but for the most part it has not been accessible to scholars (partly because it has not been microfilmed by the indispensable IMHM). Now, dozens of the items in the library have been described in a beautiful and well-researched catalogue. Part of it is available in the following sample PDF. The sample includes the descriptions of several pages of Talmud (late medieval manuscripts and a Spanish print), and a manuscript of Orhot Hayyim that reflects the later, Majorcan version of that fascinating work.

And version 18 of the Responsa Project disc has been released. It includes two Tosafist commentaries on the Torah (Ba'al ha-Turim and R Hayyim Paltiel), the Cremona edition of Maharam's responsa, and the fascinating halakhic work Sefer ha-Niyyar (from when paper began to replace parchment in France, in the late 13th century).

Finally, a new volume of Ale Sefer. Several interesting articles, including one by Dan on censorship or lack thereof, and an article by Simcha Emanuel about another collection of Maharam's responsa - the Lemberg edition, published by Rabbi RNN Rabinowitz.

And Shavua ha-Sefer hasn't even arrived yet!

Friday, April 09, 2010


The week before Pesah, I participated in an academic conference on the Jews of medieval England. It was held in the city of York, in commemoration of the Jews of York who died in the city on Shabbat ha-Gadol 1190. The details of the conference can be found here and ongoing discussions flowing from the conference can be found here.

It was an amazing experience for me (though somewhat nerve-wracking, being so far from my kitchen that was still in need of Pesach cleaning). Among the highlights for me was Nicholas Vincent's lecture the first evening, on the portrayal of Richard I in William of Newburgh. Not that I know much about Richard I, or even about William, the unrivaled star of the conference. But Prof Vincent's lecture made such beautiful use of medieval manuscripts that I was deeply moved (really!). Utilizing information like the literary sources that William used, the distribution of the Latin versions of Josephus in English manuscripts, and an intimate familiarity with the language of the Vulgate, and incredible knowledge in the historiography of English monarchy, he suggested that William modeled his portrayal of King Richard on Josephus's portrayal of Titus (ha-rasha).

Several speakers, who were also a lively audience, displayed tremendous knowledge of archival sources - in one memorable exchange, someone recited the years of each visit that King Richard made to York. Quite a few. I hope to someday know the primary materials that I study the way these academics know theirs.

Something that emerged for me on the third and last day of the conference, was the significance of scholarship in Jewish studies that is published in English. Books published in recent years in English on the (perennial) topic of Jewish martyrdom, even books that I would not necessarily have considered to be particularly crucial, have become part of a common discourse among medieval historians and the names of their authors are on everyone's lips. But important Israeli scholars who have published extensively in Hebrew and only rarely in English remain anonymous in these wider circles. Obviously a natural result, but one that gave me pause when I caught a glimpse of it.

So I hope it was a good thing that I delivered a paper on Halakhah. I hope to publish it in a form that is meaningful and convincing for both the larger circle of historians and the smaller circle of Talmudists.

Prof Meir Benayahu z"l memorial evening

Programme here.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Goldstein-Goren online

Ben-Gurion University's Center for Jewish Thought now has three volumes of studies available in full text online. See here. Hat-tip: Prof JSP.