Shira Billet

Assistant Professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics

Phone: (212) 870-5856

Building Room: Kripke 603

Office Hours: By Appointment

Shira Billet is assistant professor of Jewish Thought and Ethics at JTS, academic director of JTS’s Hendel Center for Ethics and Justice, and the BA and MA advisor for the Jewish Ethics program at JTS.

Dr. Billet completed her doctorate in 2019 in the “Religion, Ethics, and Politics” subfield of the Department of Religion at Princeton University. Before joining the faculty at JTS in 2022, she was a postdoctoral associate in Judaic Studies and Philosophy at Yale University.

Dr. Billet’s research focuses on 19th-century and early 20th-century German Jewish philosophy, both in historical context and in relation to contemporary conversations in philosophical ethics. Her current book manuscript focuses on different conceptions of “witness” within Jewish philosophy, and on the virtues of courage, truthfulness, intellectual humility, and fidelity as public virtues— virtues of citizens within the public square, or of individuals in relation to communities—within the philosophy and Jewish thought of Hermann Cohen (1842-1918). This project builds on her 2019 dissertation from Princeton University entitled “The Philosopher as Witness: Hermann Cohen’s Philosophers and the Trials of Wissenschaft des Judentums.” This work examined Hermann Cohen’s reception of philosophers from the past, including the biblical prophet Ezekiel (understood by Cohen as a proto-philosopher), Socrates, Philo of Alexandria, Maimonides, and Spinoza, and situated Cohen in the context of Jewish scholars’ struggle for recognition within the academy and Cohen’s own struggle for recognition within academic philosophy.

Dr. Billet’s recent publications include “‘Do Not Grieve Excessively’: Rabbis Mourning Children Between Law and Narrative in The Rabbinic Laws of Mourning and Soloveitchik’s Halakhic Man” (Journal of Textual Reasoning, 2023); “Hermann Cohen’s Virtue Ethics,” in Jewish Virtue Ethics (SUNY Press, 2023); and “Between Jewish Law and State Law: Rethinking Hermann Cohen’s Critique of Spinoza” (Jewish Studies Quarterly, 2018). In addition, she has several forthcoming articles on Hermann Cohen and other aspects of modern Jewish philosophy and ethics.