Dutch Delegation Visits and Studies at Schechter Joint Project with the University of Amsterdam, The Open University and the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies


The Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and the Open University will host Jewish Studies graduate students from the University of Amsterdam in Holland. The topic will be “Schism and Debate in Judaism through the Ages.” The program is part of a winter-term initiative of the Jewish Studies Department of the University of Amsterdam. It had its inaugural session last year. Twelve graduate students from the department of Jewish Studies at University of Amsterdam are taking part in partnership with students from the Open University and Schechter Rabbinical Seminary students.

The program will open on 14 January and take place over five days. The first part of the day will be devoted to lectures at Schechter and the Jerusalem campus of the Open University. The other half of the day will include tours to central sites in Jerusalem, among them The Israel Museum, the Old City, and Jerusalem’s first modern neighborhoods. The week will conclude with a trip to the Dead Sea, Qumran and the ancient synagogue at Ein Gedi.

The student delegation initiative is the result of joint efforts of Professor Prof. I.E. (Irene) Zwiep, chair of the Jewish Studies department at University of Amsterdam, Dr. Paul Mandel, senior lecturer in Midrash and Aggadah at the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and Prof. Avriel Bar-Levav, chair of the Jewish Studies department at the Open University.

The delegation from Amsterdam includes Jewish and non-Jewish students whose research deals with Kabbalah and mysticism, history of Jewish Holland, American Judaism, and Jewish 19th century intellectual history.  Dr. Yaniv Hagbi, a lecturer in Hebrew, Aramaic and Jewish studies at the University of Amsterdam and with the participation of Dr Resianne Smidt van Gelder-Fontaine, Dr. Bart Wallet and Dr. Alessandro Grazi. The University of Amsterdam, a large well-established institution founded in the 17th century, is among the leading universities in Europe.

The meeting of the students from Amsterdam with colleagues in Israel brings about a two-way exchange of knowledge. It will give an opportunity for the European students to learn from specialists in their fields in Israel. “The students coming from abroad will be able to learn from experts in their fields not common on the European academic map. They will see up close the modern and ancient sources, among them the origins of the schism between Judaism and Christianity, tensions in the ancient Beit Midrash, the disagreement between Hasidism and their opponents, and the clashes between the old Yishuv and the Aliyah movements.  Jerusalem is the place to learn about these topics,” said Dr. Paul Mandel.

The sessions at Schechter include lectures from Dr. Einat Ramon, senior lecturer in Jewish Thought, who will open the week discussing Judaism’s split into movements from the time of the Enlightenment. Dr. Ari Ackerman, dean and senior lecturer in Jewish Thought, will address the differences in faith and belief in the medieval period between Maimonides and Judah Halevi and how it has influenced philosophy until today. Dr. Paul Mandel and Dr. Tamar Kadari, senior lecturers in Midrash and Aggadah, will lead a session on texts dealing with the Beit Midrash in the era of the sages and the legacy of disagreement and differing opinions. The lectures from the Open University will include Dr. Gadi Sagiv on the Hassidic movement and their opponents in the 18th and 19th centuries and Dr. Michael Fagenblat on the tension between immanence and transcendence in modern Jewish thought.

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