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Between the Lines: Author Conversations from the Library of JTS


An ongoing lecture series featuring authors of newly published books. (Formerly "JTS Library Book Talks")

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Top 10 Between the Lines: Author Conversations from the Library of JTS Episodes

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As hate crimes and domestic terrorism dominate the headlines, the legacy of the late Rabbi Marc Tanenbaum as a leader in interfaith and race relations in the United States and around the world becomes more and more relevant with each atrocity that is perpetrated in the name of racial purity, religion and rectitude.
His widow, humanitarian and philanthropist Dr. Georgette Bennett, discusses the first-ever biography of Rabbi Tanenbaum, Confronting Hate: The Untold Story of the Rabbi Who Stood Up for Human Rights, Racial Justice and Religious Reconciliation by Deborah Hart Strober and Gerald S. Strober.
From his position as director of Interreligious Affairs at the American Jewish Committee, Rabbi Tanenbaum was deeply involved in the historic Vatican II Council, which promulgated a landmark encyclical on Catholic-Jewish relations. Rabbi Tanenbaum also was one of the few Jewish leaders who worked closely with Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson, Reverend Billy Graham and other evangelical leaders. Inspired by his tradition’s ethic of social justice, he worked tirelessly as a civil rights activist and helped lead the Soviet Jewry liberation movement.
Confronting Hate details Rabbi Tanenbaum’s remarkable career and interactions with civil rights legends such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Jesse Jackson as well as several US presidents, from Dwight D. Eisenhower to George H.W. Bush. Above all, its authors bring to light the immense international influence and relevance that Rabbi Tanenbaum has for today’s world, more than twenty-five years after his passing. Indeed, at a time when our world is riven by conflict, partisanship and hate, the lessons of his life could not be more timely.
This event was co-sponsored by The JTS Library, the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, and the New York Board of Rabbis. Dr. Burton Visotzky, Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies and director of the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue, JTS, served as moderator.
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Dr. Wendy Zierler's Movies and Midrash pioneers the use of cinema as a springboard to discuss central Jewish texts and matters of belief. Exploring what Jewish tradition, text, and theology have to say about the lessons and themes arising from influential and compelling films, Zierler uses the method of “inverted midrash”: while classical rabbinical midrash begins with exegesis of a verse and then introduces a mashal (parable) as a means of further explication, Zierler turns that process around, beginning with the culturally familiar cinematic parable and then analyzing related Jewish texts.
Wendy Zierler is Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC-JIR in New York. Prior to joining HUC-JIR she was a research fellow in the English Department of the University of Hong Kong.
She received her PhD and MA from Princeton University and her BA from Yeshiva University. In December 2016 she also received an MFA in Fiction Writing from Sarah Lawrence College. She is the author of Movies and Midrash: Popular Film and Jewish Religious Conversation (SUNY 2017, Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience, 2017) and of And Rachel Stole the Idols: The Emergence of Hebrew Women’s Writing (Wayne State UP, 2004), and co-editor with Carole Balin, of Behikansi atah, a collection of the Hebrew writings of Hava Shapiro 1878-1943 (Resling Press, 2008). To Tread on New Ground: Selected Writings of Hava Shapiro, her English translation of Shapiro’s writings, also co-edited with Carole Balin, was published by Wayne State University Press in 2014. In 2017 she became Co-Editor of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History. Most recently she joined the Advanced Kollel: Executive Ordination track at Yeshivat Maharat.
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In The Art of Mystical Narrative: A Poetics of the Zohar (Oxford University Press, 2018), Dr. Eitan Fishbane reveals the Zohar as an extraordinary narrative—the tale of a wandering kabbalist sage seeking wisdom in ancient Galilee—a fiction invented by 13th-century Jewish mystics in Spain. Calling it “one of the greatest works of world religious literature,” Dr. Fishbane explores the Zohar’s storytelling through the various lenses of literary criticism, clarifying its deep integration with mystical theology.
This event features a discussion of the narrative and poetic features of the Zohar in the context of comparative literature and spirituality, marking the publication of Dr. Fishbane’s new book, with:
Dr. Lawrence Fine, Irene Kaplan Leiwant Professor Emeritus of Jewish Studies, Mount Holyoke College
Dr. Sharon Koren, Associate Professor of Medieval Jewish Culture at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, New York
Dr. David Roskies, Sol and Evelyn Henkind Chair in Yiddish Literature and Culture, JTS, and co-founder of Prooftexts: A Journal of Jewish Literary History
Moderated by Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics, JTS
The panel is followed by remarks from Dr. Fishbane and an audience Q&A.
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