Land, Spirituality and Literature

Conference in Memory of Dr. Yaakov Elman Touches on All Three

On March 3, 2019, scholars, students and members of the general community assembled at YU’s Wilf Campus for “Land and Spirituality in Rabbinic Literature,” an international conference organized by the Yeshiva University Center for Israel Studies (CIS).

The conference drew a diverse crowd of attendees from the YU community including many students and members of the greater New York Jewish community. Scholars representing Bar-Ilan University, Ben Gurion University, The Open University of Israel, Bard College, Duke University, The University of Connecticut at Storrs and Yeshiva University presented scholarship that broadened and deepened the the subjects being dealt with.

Conference papers covered an array of engaging topics. Dr. Laura Suzanne Lieber, professor of religious studies at Duke University, discussed Sukkot in Rabbinic and Samaritan traditions. Dr. Barak Cohen, a senior lecturer in Jewish studies at Bar-Ilan University, presented “For Out of Zion Will Come Forth Torah? Palestinian Traditions from Provincial Locations in Sasanian Babylonia.” (Dr. Cohen is teaching this semester at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies and is the 2019 Leon Charney Distinguished Visiting Scholar of the CIS.)

Stuart S. Miller (University of Connecticut, Storrs), Yael Wilfand (Open University of Israel), Michal Bar Asher Siegel (Ben Gurion University), Naomi Grunhaus (YU)
Stuart S. Miller (University of Connecticut, Storrs), Yael Wilfand (Open University of Israel),
Michal Bar-Asher Siegel (Ben Gurion University), Naomi Grunhaus (YU)

Dr. Yael Wilfand, who teaches at the Open University of Israel, discussed concepts of peace in Jewish and Roman sources, while Dr. Shana Strauch Schick, a Leon Charney Fellow of the CIS, focused on the depictions of women in Rabbinic Literature. (Dr. Schick is the first woman to receive a doctorate in Talmud from Yeshiva University.)

Dr. Michal Bar-Asher Siegal, a scholar of rabbinic Judaism at Ben Gurion University, discussed “Yavneh as Portrayed in Tosefta Eduyot 1:1,” while Dr. Steven Fine, Churgin Professor of Jewish History and director of the CIS, spoke on “The Tomb of Makhpelah in the Rabbinic Imagination.”

“This was a truly exhilarating day,” said Dr. Fine. “CIS is thrilled to have brought together this diverse group of scholars to discuss ways that the Talmudic rabbis related to Eretz Yisrael. We truly saw ancient Israel ‘in all of its complexity,’ a legacy that is celebrated in the daily life of our YU community.”

“Land and Spirituality in Rabbinic Literature” was organized by Dr. Schick in memory of her mentor at Revel, the late Dr. Yaakov Elman. Dr. David Berger, dean of Revel, delivered greetings, and remarks in memory of Dr. Elman were delivered by his doctoral advisor, Dr, Lawrence H. Schiffman, the Judge Abraham Lieberman Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. The conference proceedings will be published in CIS’s publication series and dedicated to the memory of Dr. Elman.

The following cosponsors worked with the CIS on organizing this conference: YU Israel, The Graduate Program In Advanced Talmudic Studies For Women (GPATS) and Revel, supported by the The Joseph and Faye Glatt Program of the CIS.