Drawing the Line: Dissent and Tolerance in Jewish History

Date: Oct 08, 2018 - Nov 26, 2018

Time: 7:00 p.m. - 9:15 p.m.

Location: JTS

Drawing the Line: Dissent and Tolerance in Jewish History

Dr. Benjamin Gampel, Dina and Eli Field Family Chair in Jewish History

Mondays, 7:00–9:15 p.m.: October 8, 15, 22, 29; November 5, 12, 19, 26 2018

• Why do we care about what other Jews believe?
• When do another Jew’s actions or beliefs become unacceptable?

When membership within the Jewish community was compulsory, individuals and groups often engaged in fierce conflict over the nature of Jewish identity and the boundaries of Jewish faith. The sectarian and messianic groups that emerged from these struggles challenged the norms of the established Jewish community. We will explore these challenges to authority, and consider how dissenting voices were treated during the medieval and early modern periods. What forms of dissent were acceptable? When did debates over competing visions of Judaism lead to excommunication? Topics will include: Karaites and Rabbinites, the Maimonidean Controversy, and Messianism in the medieval world. We will also confront instances when Jews were compelled or sought willingly to abandon their faith, as in advance and in the wake of the Spanish expulsion. We will conclude with the story of Spinoza, the first Jew to leave the Jewish community without conversion.

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Tuition: $250 / eight sessions

This course is open to graduates of Context and Me’ah.

JTS Community Courses offer immersive opportunities for studying Jewish texts with JTS’s outstanding faculty—join this vibrant learning community.

About Professor Gampel

Benjamin Gampel specializes in the study of the Jews of the medieval and early modern worlds. Dr. Gampel is the author of The Last Jews on Iberian Soil: Navarrese Jewry, 1479–1498, and editor of Crisis and Creativity in the Sephardic World. His most recent work, Anti-Jewish Riots in the Crown of Aragon and the Royal Response, 1391-1392, was granted the 2016 National Jewish Book Council’s Nahum M. Sarna Memorial Award in Scholarship. This prizewinning work treats the riots and forced conversions in the Iberian peninsula, and explores why monarchic authority failed to protect the Jews during these fate-filled months.

For more information, contact:
Lynn Feinman
(212) 678-8821