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Obligation as the Human Condition
January 15, 2020 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm$18
REGISTRATION CLOSED, WALK UPS WELCOME: ABOUT THIS LECTURE: In the classical Jewish tradition, to be Jewish is to be born into a covenant and the mitzvot. In this workshop, we consider how twentieth-century Jewish philosophers reworked rabbinic understandings of obligation to speak to the realities of life in the modern era. We then build on these more recent ideas to help us reflect on the relationship between our own experiences of being obligated in daily life, on the one hand, and the meaning of a life driven by mitzvah, on the other.
ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Mara Benjamin is an Irene Kaplan Leiwant Associate Professor of Jewish Studies at Mount Holyoke College. She is the author of two books, Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity and The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought.
Benjamin’s first book, Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity, examines the theological and political stakes of reinvigorating the Jewish Bible in a historicist age. Her study focuses on the work of Franz Rosenzweig (1886-1929), one of the key Jewish religious philosophers of the modern period.
Benjamin’s most recent book, The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought , investigates the religious dimensions of caring for young children in the context of Jewish thought and tradition. By centering maternal subjectivity, Benjamin offers resources for transforming Jewish thought. The book was a finalist for the 2018 National Jewish Book Awards in the Women’s Studies category.
Benjamin holds a Ph.D. in modern Jewish thought from Stanford University and has taught at the University of Washington, Yale University, and St. Olaf College. Her interests include Jewish textual traditions and practices, including biblical, rabbinic, and contemporary hermeneutics; modern European Jewish history and thought; and feminist religious studies and theology.