JBuzz News December 12, 2012: Bar-Ilan University student kicked out of class for not wearing kippa

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Bar-Ilan student kicked out of class for not wearing yarmulke

Source: JTA, 12-12-12

A Bar-Ilan University Talmud professor kicked a male student out of his class for not wearing a yarmulke.

The incident reportedly occurred last week and later came to light on the Bar-Ilan Facebook page. A complaint posted on the page over the weekend by a classmate and the stream of comments following it were removed on Tuesday but then circulated by screenshot….READ MORE

JBuzz News December 6, 2012: Rabbi Elijah Schochet: Humility vs. humiliation

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Humility vs. humiliation

Source: The Jewish Journal of Greater L.A., 12-6-12

“Humility is a quality that Judaism emphasizes to an extraordinary degree,” said Schochet, a professor of Talmud at the Academy of Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA), speaking during the panel discussion “Humility and Humiliation,” at AJRCA on Nov. 26….READ MORE

JBuzz News August 2, 2012: With poetry and scholarship, Daf Yomi Talmud study grows beyond Orthodox

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With poetry and scholarship, Daf Yomi Talmud study grows beyond Orthodox

Source: JTA, 8-2-12

More than 90,000 people packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi page-a-day Talmud study cycle, Aug. 1, 2012. (Yisroel Golding/Siyumphotos)

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More than 90,000 people packed MetLife Stadium in New Jersey for the Siyum HaShas, celebrating the completion of the Daf Yomi page-a-day Talmud study cycle, Aug. 1, 2012. (Yisroel Golding/Siyumphotos)

As a light drizzle tapered off over MetLife Stadium, more than 90,000 Jews packed into the home of the NFL’s Jets and Giants for an event quite unlike any the popular sports and concert venue had ever seen.

They came dressed in black and white, but not for any sports team. Instead of a raucous kickoff, there was a hushed mincha prayer. And in place of hot dogs, cheesesteaks and beer there was babka, danish and mineral water from a company based in Lakewood, N.J., a center of yeshiva study.

But as at the football games and rock concerts, there was exhilaration at the stadium Wednesday night for the Siyum HaShas – the completion of the 2,711-page Shas, or Talmud, in the page-a-day study cycle known as the Daf Yomi, literally “Daily Page.”…READ MORE

JBuzz News August 2, 2012: 90,000-plus crowd in New Jersey cheers Siyum HaShas

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90,000-plus crowd in N.J. cheers Siyum HaShas

Source: JTA, 8-2-12

Some 90,000 people packed MetLife Stadium to celebrate the completion of the page-a-day Talmud cycle in the largest-ever Siyum HaShas….READ MORE

Joshua S. Parens: Scholar explores Talmudic law, Jewish tradition

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Joshua S. Parens: Scholar explores Talmudic law, Jewish tradition

Joshua S. ParensDr. Joshua S. Parens, professor at the University of Dallas presented “ and Philosophy: ’ Revolution” on Wednesday in the Memorial Drawing Room.
Ambika Kashi Singh | Lariat Photographer

The brought a Jewish scholar to campus Wednesday to give a lecture on how the 12th-century philosopher Maimonides helped incorporate philosophy into the Jewish theological tradition.

The speaker, Dr. , professor of philosophy at the University of Dallas, highlighted how Maimonides codified an enormous body of Talmudic law and introduced 13 principles of Jewish faith that were controversial at the time but have become foundational for the Jewish tradition in the centuries since.

Among the most significant of these principles, Maimonides wrote that God was a spiritual being, rather than one with a body, a belief that was not universally accepted before his time.

“This, in the end, is the moment where we start to see what is truly revolutionary about Maimonides: that he affirmed the Jews must believe that God is incorporeal,” Parens said. “Now, this will strike most of you, as Christians, as a little bit strange. After all, you have been raised with the notion that there is another life, and that other life is wholly incorporeal and spiritual.”

Before Maimonides, Parens said, the Jewish community had little interest in engaging in religious philosophy.

Maimonides, however, changed that by introducing the 13 principles and stressing the incorporeality of God and his existence as an eternal being, which Parens argued opened the door for philosophy in the Jewish life.

“In short, then, in Maimonides’ time, theology was nothing but defense of the faith against philosophy,” Parens said. “Consequently, what Maimonides then does by making a kind of home for philosophy within Judaism is incredibly radical and shocking.”

Parens also contrasted Maimonides’ contribution to Jewish theology with that of the 17th century Dutch philosopher , whose religious philosophy was far less particular to the Jewish scriptures than that of Maimonides and the orthodox Jewish community.

Dr. , professor of philosophy and faculty master of the Honors Residential College, said he thought the event was well-attended and the subject discussed was relevant for Christians, as well as the Jewish community.

“The importance that a talk like this has for Christianity,” Buras said, “is to be able to compare the way [the Jewish community] put it all together — philosophy and the Bible — with the way other traditions have.”

Several Jewish Baylor faculty members and other members of the Waco Jewish community were in attendance for the lecture including Stanley Hersh, president of the of Waco, and Rabbi of the in Waco.

They said they were pleased that Baylor, as a Christian institution, offered this forum and were also pleased at the turnout, which was standing-room-only by the time the lecture began in Memorial Hall Drawing Room and consisted mostly of students.

Sergey Dolgopolski: Agreeing to disagree: KU prof’s new book on Talmud

What is Talmud? The Art of Disagreement

Source: Kansas City Jewish Chronicle, 7-3-09

altSergey Dolgopolski has studied Talmud in his native Russia, Israel and the United States, and in his new book, he’s come to a conclusion: the disagreements in the text’s commentary are a lost art.

“What this is trying to accomplish is to show that Talmud is an intellectual discipline, like rhetoric or logic — an art of thinking,” Dolgopolski said.

In “What is Talmud? The Art of Disagreement,” Dolgopolski, an assistant professor of religious studies and Jewish studies at the University of Kansas, says that contemporary, mainstream culture encourages agreement as an ultimate goal.

However, Dolgopolski argues that the 15th century Talmud shows instances where it’s fine to disagree when someone cannot prove his point is right and another person’s is wrong.

“The book places the ways in which the Talmud has been studied into the much larger context, not only what was going on in the 15th century … but how the ways of studying the Talmud fit into the larger view of the history of western civilization and thought,” Dolgopolski said. “I’m not doing the work of a historian, but rather the work of an intellectual who looks at those methodologies from a theoretical perspective that has been developed in the 20th century.”

He says that today, “we all subscribe to the idea that people need to agree on something in order to make progress — agreement is the goal. We also think that if we disagree we need to overcome it.”

A true disagreement, by Dolgopolski’s definition, is when people on both sides are rational and intelligent and understand each other’s point of view. The assumption is that neither side has made a factual error in coming to his or her conclusion. A real disagreement is rare, he said, because there is usually a factual error somewhere.

“What we can learn from the art of disagreement of the 15th century is that instead of trying to find a common denominator … the Talmudic method of the 15th century invites us to explore a different alternative. There is a point where there is no way to come to an agreement,” he said.

True disagreement
That’s not to say people should disagree on everything. Dolgopolski pointed out that only certain situations meet the conditions of a true disagreement.

One example from recent history is that of the Nazis’ attempts at Jewish genocide, he said.

“It would be very simple to say Nazis were just regular criminals … it’s much more complex. Nazis considered themselves ethical people … they just thought Jews were not humans … the horror of what Nazis did is that they based the ethics on excluding Jews and homosexuals and others from the realm of what’s ethical,” Dolgopolski said. “One simplistic way of responding to that situation is to say, ‘Well, we disagree. You think we are not humans, and we think we are humans.’ This is the real point of disagreement —who is human (and) who isn’t is not something that can be rationally decided … (it) is a point of disagreement that cannot be resolved by any kind of practical agreement.”

Dolgopolski says this has practical application for current world issues.

“If we really want ‘never again,’ then we have to realize there is an issue here that hasn’t been resolved — that we are in a situation of disagreement about who is human and who isn’t,” he said. “The goal should be to really understand disagreements rather than deluding ourselves into the possibility of agreement where it is not possible … if you don’t understand the nature of what happens, there is no way for you to address it.”

Introduction to Talmud
Dolgopolski said he hopes many different audiences will appreciate the book. In addition to his work at the university, where he will teach an introductory Talmud class next spring, Dolgopolski likes to teach in the larger Jewish community.

He has taught classes under the auspices of Congregation Beth Israel Abraham and Voliner, where he is a member, and at the Lawrence Jewish Community Center. Dolgopolski was also a lecturer in an educational series presented by the Department of Adult Jewish Learning at the Jewish Community Center in cooperation with KU’s Jewish studies program.

And he has just learned that he will be part of the annual “Day of Discovery” Jewish-learning smorgasbord coming up Aug. 30.

Jeff Goldenberg, JCC’s director of adult Jewish learning, said he is trying to arrange a course focusing of a few different aspects of Dolgopolski’s new book sometime in the upcoming academic year. Anyone who is interested in such a class may contact Goldenberg at (913) 327-4647.

Dolgopolski’s book, published by Fordham University Press, is available for $60 at www.fordhampress.com and www.amazon.com.