Between the Lines: Qohelet

Date: Oct 18, 2023

Time: 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

Sponsor: The Library

Location: JTS

Category: Book Talks Library Events

Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living

Part of Between the Lines: Author Conversations from The Library of JTS

Wednesday, October 18
7:00–8:00 p.m. ET
In-Person at JTS  
3080 Broadway (at 122nd Street) 
New York City 

In Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living, philosopher Menachem Fisch and artist Debra Band together probe the biblical thinker’s inquiry into the value of life “under the sun.” In this first illuminated manuscript of this text and the first philosophical analysis tracing the coherent path of Qohelet’s full argument, Fisch uncovers Qohelet’s twin concerns: life is short, and situated as we are far below the heavens, we can never be assured of comprehending our world, nor understanding divine will and intent. In her 60 immersive and discursive illuminated paintings of the entire text, each accompanied by explanatory commentary, Band incorporates Fisch’s understanding of the text, employing the grandest of palaces, the Alhambra, as a central metaphor for the beauty and impermanence of human life and accomplishments. She fills its halls with often surprising imagery, symbolism and related poetry creating a visual midrash that relates Qohelet not only to biblical text and Jewish lore but also reveals its reverberations across Western civilization. 

About the Authors

Menachem Fisch is Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science at Tel Aviv University, TAU codirector of the Frankfurt-Tel Aviv Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies, and senior fellow of the Goethe University Frankfurt’s Forschungskolleg Humanwissenchaften. He is author of The View from Within: Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism (with Y. Benbaji, Notre Dame, 2011), Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency (Chicago, 2017), and Covenant of Confrontation: A Study of Non-Submissive Religiosity in Rabbinic Literature (Bar-Ilan, 2019).

Debra Band draws upon her love of both the manuscript arts and the Jewish textual tradition in her acclaimed illuminated manuscripts. She is the author and illuminator of The Song of Songs: The Honeybee in the Garden (JPS, 2005), I Will Wake the Dawn: Illuminated Psalms (with Arnold J. Band, JPS, 2007), Arise! Arise! Deborah, Ruth and Hannah (with Arnold J. Band, Honeybee in the Garden, 2012), and Kabbalat Shabbat: The Grand Unification (with Raymond P. Scheindlin, Honeybee in the Garden, 2016), among other works. Her paintings have been widely exhibited across the United States and Canada. She resides in Potomac, Maryland, with her husband, Michael Diamond, MD, and menagerie.