Dr. Shalom Holtz, professor of Bible and associate dean of academic affairs at Yeshiva College, was a co-chair of the Biblical law section at this year’s Society of Biblical Literature conference in San Diego, California, from Nov. 23-26, 2019.

“In my capacity as co-chair,” explained Dr. Holtz, “I chaired two sessions, one devoted to family law and another co-sponsored by the Qumran (Dead Sea Scrolls) section of the conference on ritual law.” He is especially proud to report that each of the sessions included a presentation by a YU alumnus: Dr. Yael Landman ’17BR at the family law panel and Rabbi Shlomo Zuckier ’13YC, ’13R, ’13BR at the Qumran/Biblical Law panel. “I also read my own work, a version of the conclusion of my recently published book, Praying Legally, at a panel on metaphor theory and the Hebrew Bible.”

Dr. Holtz also participated in a session devoted to the American Values, Religious Voices project. For each of the first 100 days of the administration of President Trump, the project, led by Dr. Andrea Weiss of Hebrew Union College, sent a letter by scholars of religion of various faith traditions to the president and other political leaders. (Both he and Dr. Aaron Koller were tapped to submit letters.)

“Now all 100 letters have been published in a book. Since some of the letter-writers were present at the conference meeting; Andrea got us together so that we could introduce ourselves to each other, read our letters, and talk about what motivated us to participate.”

Shalom Holtz (fifth from left) and Andrea Weiss (center, holding book) stand with other contributors to American Values, Religious Voices

“Participating in the conference is a chance for me to reconnect with and learn from colleagues active in the field. Some of them were my teachers (in person or through their writings), others are my contemporaries and, in recent years, I get to hear from my own students who are now contributing to the academic discourse.” As Dr. Holtz noted, “it’s definitely exciting to stand on the leading edge of scholarship, where professionals are testing and debating the newest ideas. Two colleagues introduced me to a young PhD candidate who plans to build a dissertation around some of my published ideas. This was a very gratifying experience, indeed.”

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