Fall 2022 Learning Series: Dangerous Ideas: Censorship Through a Jewish Lens

October 24–December 19, 2022
1:00–2:30 p.m. ET 

All sessions will be held on Mondays, except for the session on Wednesday, November 30. 

Throughout Jewish history, certain texts and ideas have been deemed too dangerous to circulate—whether by outsiders who banned Jewish writings, or Jewish leaders who suppressed ideas considered heretical or beyond the pale. In this series, JTS scholars will examine efforts to control knowledge from ancient to contemporary times, exploring the ways in which censorship both reflects and shapes broader ideological struggles. They will discuss the varying motivations for controlling or revising narratives, and consider whether and under what circumstances it might make sense to suppress certain ideas. These discussions will illuminate past struggles and help us understand the battles over censorship and free expression playing out today. 

Sessions and Faculty

October 24

Written in Stone? Writing and Rewriting the Bible 

With Dr. Benjamin Sommer, Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages 

October 31

(Not So) Hidden Anti-Gospels: Suppressed Talmudic and Medieval Polemics against Jesus 

With Rabbi Eliezer Diamond, PhD, Rabbi Judah Nadich Associate Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics 

November 7

Persecuting Ideas: The Case of Maimonides 

With Dr. Alan Mittleman, Aaron Rabinowitz and Simon H. Rifkind Professor of Jewish Philosophy 

November 14

The Danger of Spreading the Word: Book Censorship in 16th-Century Venice 

With Dr. David Kraemer, Joseph J. and Dora Abbell Librarian and Professor of Talmud and Rabbinics 

November 21

Intra-Jewish Censorship: The Case of Spinoza 

With Dr. Jonathan Ray, Samuel Eig Professor of Jewish Studies, Georgetown University, and JTS alumnus 

November 28

How Should a Jewish Philosopher Read the Bible? Hermann Cohen’s Problem with Spinoza   

With Dr. Shira Billett, Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics 

November 30

The Circle of Censorship and Book Burning in East European Jewry 

With Dr. David Fishman, Professor of Jewish History  

December 5

Censoring the Holocaust: How Books Shape our View of a Painful Past 

With Dr. Edna Friedberg, JTS Fellow and historian at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum 

December 12

The Hollywood Blacklist and the Whitewashing of American Culture 

With Ellie Gettinger, Director of Digital Learning, JTS 

December 19

Where Do We Draw the Line? The Importance of Highlighting Multiple Perspectives in Jewish Education

With Dr. Meredith Katz, Clinical Assistant Professor of the William Davidson Graduate School of Jewish Education 

Note: Each Monday series has a new Zoom link. Please register for Dangerous Ideas: Censorship through a Jewish Lens in order to receive the Zoom link for this series.