Series: April 10, 17; May 1, 8, 15, 22, 29; June 5 2016
The goal of this course is ambitious. It aims not only to acquaint students with the medieval roots of antiJudaism in both the Christian and the Islamic traditions, but also to describe clearly the modifications these inherited roots underwent in modern times, in particular in the nineteenth century, which produced the modern phenomena of political and racial antisemitism. These processes which transformed ancient canards and degrading stereotypes grounded in religion, into a powerful and vicious modern prejudice grounded rather in fanatical forms of nationalism, take different forms in the Christian West and in the Muslim East. Nonetheless, in both contexts basic themes such as nationalism, the concept of race, modern economics, colonialism, and the battle for political power play roles of fundamental importance.
The course is also designed to show how the many forms of modern antisemitism differ from, and yet clearly at the same time, draw on medieval anti-Judaism in both traditions.
We will also attend to works by various scholars that identify how the idea of “Judaism” was taken up and put to use in disparate braches of early modern and Enlightenment thought, from economics to art and literature to history, business, law, and philosophy. While this “conceptual” approach may seem focused solely on intellectual elites and what they made of Judaism as an idea in their sophisticated wiritings, it is vitally important to see how such portraits of Judaism — even if not concerned directly with actual flesh and blood Jews — nonetheless shaped popular culture in certain ways, and so altered how common people looked at real, flesh and blood Jews.
We will end with an exploration of antsemitism in America, both historically and today.
Dr. Jacob Meskin teaches in and trains faculty for Me’ah, Hebrew College’s adult Jewish learning program. He also teaches for the Tzion program, and for various synagogue groups in the Boston area. He is one of the co-authors of the curriculum for Parenting Through A Jewish Lens,and works as a consultant on adult Jewish education and teacher trainingin the Boston area. Meskin was the inaugural holder of the Ruderman Chair in Jewish Studies at Northeastern University, and has taught at Princeton University, Rutgers University, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University, Williams College and Lehigh University. His articles have appeared in Modern Judaism, The Journal of Religion, Soundings, Levinas Studies, Judaism, Cross Currents, Educational Philosophy and Theory, and in several edited volumes. Despite being a transplant from New York City, Meskin has become an avid Boston sports fan. His hobbies include chess (which he thinks he’s good at), Go (which he wishes he were good at), old movies, and Indian vegetarian food. He lives with his wife and daughter in Brookline.
Event Location: Kerem Shalom
659 Elm St., Concord, Massachusetts, 01742
Sunday, April 17, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, May 1, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, May 8, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, May 15, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, May 22, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, May 29, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Sunday, June 5, 2016, 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm
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