Six Sessions on Philosophy and Jewish Thought with Dr. Avi Bernstein


Sunday mornings, 9:30 – 11:30 am

created at: 2010-06-16

Since 2007 the JP (Jewish Public) Salon has been host to dozens of provocative conversations among Jewish intellectuals from across boundaries of politics, religious affiliation, social class, age, and gender in the spirit of the revolutionary and avant-garde gatherings of the European Enlightenment and beyond. Our sessions created an informal venue where Jews from all across the spectrum of Jewish life could come together to explore elements of arts and culture together.

Now we are branching out to create and define a new JP (Jewish Public) initiative, this time in the form of a Reading Group focusing on 20th century philosophy and Jewish thought, under the guidance of Dr. Avi Bernstein.

Our reading group will gather in participants’ homes to discuss philosophy and Jewish thought. While our minds will wander across the vast arena that this designation suggests, our year-long program will also have a distinct theme. This year it will focus on the ancient quarrel between the poets and the philosophers, a quarrel which runs deep as a vein in Western civilization — from Plato to Richard Rorty, and the debate continues.

It should also be said, this ancient quarrel, as far as contemporary Jews are concerned, is no mere academic affair. For many of us, the joyous and enlightening study of artful texts — of biblical narrative and poetry, of rabbinic Aggadah, and of modern Hebrew letters — deserves primary credit for our on-going Jewish connection.

If this applies to you, then consider this: leading lights of the last generation, Mordecai Kaplan and Martin Buber, thought our ability to take poetry’s side in her ancient quarrel with philosophy to be among the most important intellectual challenges of our times.

Each month, participants will wander through a substantial amount of reading, and gravitate to the topics which interest them.  This means that while we will always have a common text, we will not always read exactly the same material. We fully expect that participants will be drawn by different narratives within this very large collection, and that we will all benefit from the diversity of reading experience and interests.

Schedule of Readings and Meetings:

•  September (no meeting): selections from Plato’s Republic and Aristotle Poetics

•  October 10,  2010: Rainer Maria Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, with a Philosophical Introduction by Rick Anthony Furtak

•  November 14, 2010: Martin Buber, Tales of the Hasidim

•  January 9, 2011: Emil Fackenheim, Encounters between Judaism and Modern Philosophy

•  March 13, 2011: Martin Buber, Elijah a Mystery Play with an extended introduction by Maurice Freedman. We will also read relevant sections of the biblical prophets in order to prepare for this meeting.

•  May 8, 2011: Short Stories by Franz Kafka and Etgar Keret.

•  June 12, 2011: A screening of A Serious Man, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen.


•  Cost for the six week series is $210.      

•  Drop in fee is $40 per session

Please send check/ money order made out to Avi Bernstein
c/o Leslie Belay, 43 Peter Parley Road, JP, MA  02130.

Registration will be limited to 16 participants

Registration Deadline: August 1, 2010 ~ Sorry, there will be no refunds

For more information, contact:

Leslie Belay, Ph 617.522.5417

43 Peter Parley Road, JP, MA 02130

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