Different But Equal?
The Paradox of Chosenness
Part of the series “The ‘Other’ in Jewish Text and Tradition
Jewish conceptions of chosenness or election—rooted especially in the language of Exodus 19:5-6—traditionally were hierarchical, often asserting Jewish superiority over others. Such notions run afoul of modern ideas about social justice, typically anchored in egalitarian values that would have been alien to pre-modern authors. Is it possible to uphold a version of Jewish “difference” that is simultaneously non-hierarchical yet answerable to traditional sources?
ABOUT THE SERIES
We live in a time of such polarization—political, racial, economic, religious—that the gaps between us sometimes feel insurmountable. But this is not a new condition for Jews, either within or outside of the Jewish community. This webinar series will explore those gaps between “us” and “the other”: Israelites and other ancient peoples; men and women in the Bible and Talmud; Jews by birth and Jews by choice; the founders of Hasidim and their opponents; Israelis and Palestinians; and more.
From the ancient Near East to the American civil rights movement; from medieval philosophers to contemporary Jewish educators: how have Jews related to those we define as “other,” and how have we marginalized sub-groups within the Jewish community? What is our obligation to those we perceive as different? How have Jews challenged communal norms from within? JTS scholars guide us in an intellectual journey through Jewish history and text to understand how these gaps have been understood and, at times, bridged.
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