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Antisemitism

Esther, Queen of the Conversas

Esther is the most beloved biblical figure among the crypto-Jews of the Spanish Inquisition—the conversos (fem. conversas)who publicly converted to Catholicism but lived secretly as Jews. Remarkably, she was also upheld as a heroine among the Catholic-majority communities of early modern Iberia (Spain and Portugal), but for very different reasons.

Prof.

Emily Colbert Cairns

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Was the Documentary Hypothesis Tainted by Wellhausen’s Antisemitism?

Julius Wellhausen’s analysis of the Torah is perfused with the anti-Jewish sentiment prevalent in Bismarck’s Second German Reich. This adversely affected the use of the Documentary Hypothesis among Jewish scholars until Yehezkel’s Kaufmann’s introduction of a Jewish variation on the theory.

Prof.

Alan T. Levenson

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“Esau Hates Jacob” - But Is Antisemitism a Halakha?

Esau kisses Jacob upon the latter’s return from Haran. Famously, in the Torah scroll, the word kiss is dotted, implying that his kiss may have been more (or less) than just a kiss. Nevertheless, perhaps in this case, “a kiss is but a kiss.”

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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Haman's Antisemitism: What Did He Not Like About the Jews?

The book of Esther is a study in antisemitism. It is the only biblical book that portrays antisemitism, and itself has been the subject of criticism with antisemitic overtones. 

Prof. Rabbi

Marty Lockshin

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The Enduring Value of "These Days of Purim"

The megillah emphasizes the ongoing obligation to observe Purim, and Maimonides asserts that it will endure even into the messianic age. Yet many modern Jewish thinkers have questioned this holiday’s continued relevance. What value does Purim continue to hold?

Prof. Rabbi

Wendy Zierler

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Why Is Esau's Kiss Dotted?

Esau’s kiss to Jacob is written with scribal dots over the word וַׄיִּׄשָּׁׄקֵ֑ׄהׄוּׄ, “and he kissed him.” Traditional commentators suggest this hints to Esau’s feelings or state of mind. Critical scholarship, however, points to something much more prosaic, a question of syntax.

Prof.

Albert I. Baumgarten

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Despoiling the Egyptians: A Concerning Jewish Legacy?

19th century Anglo-Jewish translators defended the Israelites’ behavior against the King James translation’s perceived accusation that the Jews “borrowed” the Egyptians belongings and never returned them.

Prof.

Leonard Greenspoon

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Shakespeare Plays on the Questionable Source of Jacob's Wealth

The Torah offers two explanations for how Jacob obtained great wealth at his father-in-law’s expense. Quite surprisingly, Shakespeare picked up on this narrative tension and made use of it to create the (in)famous biblically based dialogue between Shylock and Antonio in The Merchant of Venice.

Prof. Rabbi

Herbert Basser

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Don’t Call Me Hebrew! The Mysterious Origins of the First Anti-Semitic Slur

In the Bible, the term “Hebrew” is primarily used as a derogatory racial slur. Why then do even Israelites—as well as God—employ this term?

Dr.

Yitzhaq Feder

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