The Secular Israeli Religious Renaissance: Israeli Poetry and Prayer

The Secular Israeli Religious Renaissance: Israeli Poetry and Prayer
Wed | Jun 20, 27; Jul 18, 25 | 7:00-8:45 pm | Eli M. Black Lifelong Learning Center
Dr. Wendy Zierler
Cost: $110/members; $160/general

Since the shocking assassination of Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin on November 4, 1995, a concerted effort has been underway in secular Israeli intellectual and artistic circles to re-infuse Israeli identity and Zionist Hebrew culture with a new connection to classical Jewish text and religious expression. This has found expression in the establishment of secular batei-midrash (Jewish study houses) and prayer communities, both of which have eagerly incorporated modern Hebrew poetry as new kind of holy text, producing new interpretations of ancient Jewish practice and generating new prayer books. This course will examine the latter phenomenon, focusing on modern Israeli poems that explicitly invoke, respond to, or rewrite the classical tefilot. Topics to be covered will include: the nature of prayer in a secular age, the conflict between keva (fixed liturgy) and kavanah (meaning or intention in prayer), the morning blessings, Shema, and Shabbat prayers, and issues of gender in liturgy.

Dr. Wendy Zierler is Sigmund Falk Professor of Modern Jewish Literature and Feminist Studies at HUC in New York.

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