2006 Laurie Lecture
On the Cusp of Christianity: Virgin Sacrifice in the Jewish Tradition
By Professor Yael S. Feldman, New York University
The Book of Judges contains a frightening tale: Jephthah, one of the "judges" of Israel, sacrifices his virgin daughter in fulfillment of a vow to the God of Israel. Jewish and Christian scholars throughout the centuries have struggled with this biblical story, seeking to explain its meaning, and to apply its message.
On Sunday, April 30, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will present a lecture by Professor Yael S. Feldman, Abraham I. Katsh Professor of Hebrew Culture and Education at New York University's Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies. On the Cusp of Christianity: Virgin Sacrifice in the Jewish Tradition is offered through the support of The Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation and the Women's Rabbinic Network in honor of the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship in Jewish Women's Studies, and will be held at 4:00 p.m. at Mayerson Hall Auditorium, HUC-JIR, 3101 Clifton Avenue.
Professor Feldman's lecture will focus on the biblical text itself and on Jewish and Christian exegetes who sought to understand and explain that text. The lecture will introduce us to a time that predates Rabbinic Judaism and Christianity, where we will see the birth of a new "theology of sacrifice" that influenced both religious traditions but in very different ways and for very different reasons. And we will learn why an almost forgotten reading of the tale of Jephthah's daughter found new life in a short story by the Israeli writer, Amos Oz, and why Oz and his Israeli contemporaries engage in constant struggle with their own "theology of sacrifice."
Yael S. Feldman is the author of five books and dozens of articles (in Hebrew and English), and has taught and delivered lectures at colleges, universities, and scholarly conferences throughout the world. She has been the Cultural Editor of Hadoar, and Associate Editor of the journals Prooftexts and Hebrew Studies.
The Laurie Lecture series is made possible through the generosity of the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation of New Jersey, which was established in 1983 to support the broad interests of Blanche and Irving Laurie, including medical care, education, music and drama, and the needs of children, older citizens, and the Jewish community. It honors the charitable traditions begun by Israel Laurie, one of New Brunswick's earliest philanthropists, and carried on by his family. The Foundation established this lecture as a public forum for Jewish women's scholarship and for the Rabbi Sally J. Priesand Visiting Professorship in Jewish Women's Studies at HUC-JIR. This Professorship, which the Blanche and Irving Laurie Foundation has also generously supported, rotates among HUC-JIR's four campuses.
The Women's Rabbinic Network was founded in February 1980 as a personal and professional support network for women in the Central Conference of American Rabbis, the professional association of the Reform rabbinate. In the years since its founding, the WRN has tripled its membership of ordained rabbis and rabbinical students: it now counts 221 paid members and an active Board of 23 women from the United States and Israel. In 1997, the WRN spearheaded a drive to honor Rabbi Sally J. Priesand (HUC-JIR class of 1972), the first woman ordained a rabbi in America, with the creation of an endowed Visiting Professorship in her name. Members of the WRN continue to support this Professorship and other initiatives, such as the Laurie Lecture.
The Blanche and Irving Laurie Lecture in Jewish Women's Studies is free and open to the public. Parking is available on campus and Mayerson Hall is handicapped accessible. For additional information or to RSVP, contact Marcia Cruse in the HUC-JIR Department of Outreach Education at (513) 487-3053.