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Jewish environmentalism to be addressed at next B.G. Rudolph Lecture April 1

March 16, 2012

Rob Enslin
(315) 443-3403

Jewish environmentalism is the topic of the next B.G. Rudolph Lecture at Syracuse University. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, director of Jewish studies at Arizona State University, will address “Judaism and Environmentalism: Are They Compatible?” on Sunday, April 1, at 3 p.m. at the Winnick Hillel Center for Jewish Life (102 Walnut Place). The lecture is free and open to the public.  For more information, call the Judaic Studies Program in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences at (315) 443-5671.

The lecture is followed by a reception and author book singing, with music provided by the SU Klezmer Ensemble, directed by Ken Frieden, clarinetist and the B.G. Rudolph Professor of Judaic Studies. The entire afternoon is organized and presented by the Judaic Studies Program in SU’s College of Arts and Sciences.

“Professor Samuelson is one of the most distinguished scholars in her field,” says Harvey Teres, director of the Judaic Studies Program and professor of English. “Not only is she known for the depth and range of her work, but she is also known for her enthusiasm and dynamic lectures. This subject is of great importance to her and to us.”

Judaism has a long tradition of respect for nature and non-human life. Examples abound in the Talmud, which includes rabbinic discussions of atmospheric, water, and noise pollution; and in the Torah, which encourages the creation of green belts near cities; prohibits the grafting of diverse seeds and cross-breeding of animals; and extolls the virtues of “Shemita,” the seventh year of rest for the environment.

SamuelsonFor her SU presentation, Samuelson will likely draw on her rich background in Judaism and ecology, bioethics, and religion and science. “She is an interdisciplinary scholar whose work builds bridges between intellectual disciplines, religious traditions, religious and secular outlooks, and gendered perspectives,” adds Teres. “She is especially committed to understanding the complementary relationship between science and religion, from an historical perspective.”

At Arizona State, Samuelson is also the Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism and professor of history. In addition to religion and science, much of her work focuses on philosophy and mysticism in pre-modern Judaism, the interaction among Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the Middle Ages; and feminist philosophy. She has previously served on the faculties of Indiana, Emory, and Columbia universities; and of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.

The author of numerous article and book chapters, Samuelson has written "Between Worlds: The Life and Work of Rabbi David ben Judah Messer Leon" (SUNY Press, 1991), which Hebrew University named that year’s best book on Jewish history, and "Happiness in Pre-Modern Judaism: Virtue, Knowledge, and Well-Being" (Hebrew Union College Press, 2003). Samuelson has served as editor of more than a half dozen scholarly journals, including the Library of Living Jewish Philosophers (Brill Academic Publishers, forthcoming), which she founded.  

Upcoming Judaic studies events include final installments of the “Great Jewish Writers” lecture series. Erella Brown, assistant professor of languages, literatures and linguistics, will discuss Nobel Prize-winning novelist Shmuel Yosef Agnon on Monday, April 23, at 7:15 p.m. at the Shaarei Torah Orthodox Congregation of Syracuse (4313 East Genesee St., DeWitt). She is followed by Miriam Elman, associate professor of political science, who will speak about Israeli author/activist David Grossman on Wednesday, April 25, at 7 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Syracuse (5655 Thompson Rd., DeWitt). Both events are free and open to the public, and are co-sponsored by Judaic studies and the Jewish Federation of Central New York.

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