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We Can Only Tell the Story: Gershom Scholem & the Problem of Modernity


Professor David Biale, Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History, Director of the Program in Jewish Studies, University of California at Davis

Thursday, November 3, 2011
7:30 p.m.
Dogwood Room, Indiana Memorial Union

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What was the relationship of the preeminent history of Jewish mysticism to the modern age?  What is the relationship of a secular history to his religious sources?  This lecture will investigate the ambivalent stance of Gershom Scholem to the modern age in philosophical, historiographical and political terms.

David Biale was born in Los Angeles and educated at Harvard University, UC Berkeley, the Hebrew University and UCLA, where he received his PhD in History. Since 1999, he has served as Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History, Director of the Program in Jewish Studies and is currently the Chair of the Department of History at the University of California at Davis. 

Professor Biale is the author of five books: Gershom Scholem: Kabbalah and Counter-History (Harvard University Press, 1979), Power and Powerlessness in Jewish History (Schocken Books, 1986),  Eros and the Jews: From Biblical Israel to Contemporary America (University of California Press, 1997) and Blood and Belief: The Circulation of a Symbol Between Jews and Christians  (University of California Press, 2007).  His new book, to be published in 2010 by Princeton University Press, is Not in the Heavens: The Tradition of Jewish Secular Thought.

He is the editor of Cultures of the Jews: A New History (Schocken Books, 2002); together with Susannah Heschel and Michael Galchinsky, of Insider/Outsider: American Jews and Multiculturalism  (University of California Press, 1998); and together with Robert Westman, Thinking Impossibilities: The Intellectual Legacy of Amos Funkenstein (University of Toronto Press, 2008).

His current projects are editing the “Judaism” section of the forthcoming Norton Anthology of World Religions and serving as editor-in-chief of a multi-volume History of Hasidism.

This lecture is free and open to the public. If you have a disability and need assistance, arrangements can be made to accommodate most needs. Please contact the Borns Jewish Studies Program at 812-855-0453 or email