Sunday, November 07, 2004

Colloquium: Covenant to the People, Light to the Nations

This from Annette Yoshiko Reed:

A Covenant to the People, A Light to the Nations:
Universalism, Exceptionalism, and the Problem of Chosenness in Jewish Thought

Sponsored by Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought, Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University

Convened by Dana Hollander (
and Annette Yoshiko Reed (

COLLOQUIUM - May 18-20, 2005

The Colloquium will consider the ongoing reflection about the concept of Israel as a "light to the nations" (Isa 42:6; 49:6) in ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish thought, together with its relevance for Christianity and contemporary philosophy and theory. This and other biblical attempts to reconcile the election of Israel with the universality of Israel's God will serve as a starting point for exploring the range of ways in which Jews past and present have negotiated the nature and boundaries of their collective identities (ethnic, religious, cultural, political) in relation to other nations and peoples. Inquiries into the historical development of concepts such as chosenness, Jewish exceptionalism, and Jewishness, and the history of their reinterpretation in different socio-cultural contexts, will be combined with philosophical and theoretical explorations of their continued contemporary relevance.

Speakers include Idit Dobbs-Weinstein (Vanderbilt), Willi Goetschel (U of Toronto), Dana Hollander (McMaster), Andrew Jacobs (UC Riverside), Joel Kaminsky (Smith College), David Novak (U of Toronto), Gesine Palmer (FESt, Heidelberg), Randi Rashkover (York College of Pennsylvania), Annette Yoshiko Reed (McMaster), Kenneth Reinhard (UCLA), Peter Schäfer (Princeton/Berlin), Yossef Schwartz (Tel Aviv University), and Susan Shapiro (U of Massachusetts, Amherst)

In the coming months, further information (e.g., paper titles, abstracts, schedule) will be posted at


This special daylong Seminar, geared toward graduate students in Jewish Studies, Philosophy, Religious Studies, and related fields, will involve intensive discussion of key texts on the theme of chosenness, including classical works such as the Hebrew Bible and Rabbinic literature and works by modern and contemporary authors. Sessions will be led by Dana Hollander, Joel Kaminsky, David Novak, and Annette Yoshiko Reed.

Seminar participants will be selected through application and will be granted stipends to cover the costs of travel, meals, and accommodations during both the Seminar and the Colloquium. Interested students should submit a CV and a letter detailing their relevant academic background and research interests to Dr. Hollander ( by DECEMBER 15, 2004. The Seminar is geared towards graduate students but open to post-docs and other interested scholars.


These events are the first in a series to be sponsored by the recently established Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought at McMaster University. McMaster's Department of Religious Studies has been distinguished by a long tradition of studying Judaism and Christianity in concert, as equally significant yet intertwined religions, and in conjunction with philosophy and political thought. Building on this
scholarly profile, the conference aims to promote a vision of the study of Jewish thought traditions as engaged in an ongoing conversation with philosophy and theory, political thought, and the study of Christianity, both classical and contemporary.

For more information about the Seminar and Colloquium, please contact Alisha
Pomazon ( or see our website:

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