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New Publication!

Women's Torah Study: The Idea and the Meaning
By Dr. Hanah Kehat

Center Updates

Applications for the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Grants (Student, Research, Travel, Translation) can be submitted untill January 1 , 2014.

For more information please contact



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Gender and Jewish Thought: A Conference in Boston (April 26-27, 2009)

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute hosted a second conference that was co-sponsored by the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Center for the Study of Women in Judaism. Last year the Center co-sponsored a conference on Gender, Religion and Law. The theme of the conference this year was Gender and Jewish Thought. The conference began with a keynote lecture by Prof. Daniel Boyarin (Berkeley) titled “A Love Surpassing Women: The Homme-eroticism of Torah Study”. Prof. Boyarin, a professor of Talmudic Culture, works at the unique intersection of philosophy and religion. He is the award winning author of "Border Lines: The Partition of Judaeo-Christianity", in which he argues for a different way of thinking about the historical development that is the partition of Judaeo-Christianity, and the book Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture. Prof. Boyarin discussed the marginalization of women in Talmudic text because of the involvement of men with each other in the context of eastern Hellenism.


The rest of the conference consisted of three sessions. The three papers in the first session were all close readings of texts – a gendered reading of midrashim concerning Adam (Dr. Gwenn Kessler); a discussion of late medieval Spanish commentary on the Proverbial chapter on the Eshet Hayil ( Dr. Alfonso Esperenza) and a discussion of the symbol of Anne Frank (Dr. Corinne Ducey). The second session presented perspectives on gender and Jewish thought from three separate disciplinary approaches: Talmud (Prof. Charlotte Fonrobert); History (Dr. Elisheva Baumgarten) and Philosophy (Prof. Susan Shapiro).

The conference ended with a round table discussion of the future of gender and Jewish thought within the academy (Hagar Lahav, Prof. Eugene Sheppard and Prof. Hava Tirosh-Samuelson). The conference was well attended by Brandeis faculty and others and opened many avenues for future conversations. We look forward to further cooperation with The Haddassah-Brandeis Institute.