Claussen presents on Jewish depictions of the vulnerable stranger

Religious Studies Professor Geoffrey Claussen presented at the 2017 American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Boston. 

Geoffrey Claussen, Lori and Eric Sklut Scholar in Jewish Studies and associate professor of religious studies, presented a paper at the American Academy of Religion Annual Meeting in Boston on Nov. 21, 2017.

Claussen’s paper was titled “Two Approaches to Vulnerability and the Exodus Narrative: The Stranger in the Writings of Irving Greenberg and Meir Kahane.” The paper considered two starkly different interpretations within Orthodox Judaism of the biblical commandments that because of “having been strangers in the land of Egypt,” Jews should love and not oppress vulnerable strangers.

Claussen analyzed the interpretation of a liberal Orthodox rabbi, Irving Greenberg, as well as the interpretation of Rabbi Meir Kahane, a childhood friend of Greenberg’s who developed a supremacist and militant form of Orthodoxy.

The paper concluded by discussing ways in which the ideas of both figures appear in contemporary debates regarding the rights of refugees, immigrants, and minority populations in Israel and the United States.

Claussen’s presentation was part of a panel on “Vulnerability, Resistance, and Mourning.” The panel explored various ethical, political, and ethnographic approaches to the experience of vulnerability in the history of Jewish religion and thought, as well as the strategies of resistance that have been mounted against it, and the ritualized mourning practices that have accompanied ultimate loss.

The American Academy of Religion (AAR) meets jointly with the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) each year.  The AAR-SBL annual conference brings together roughly 10,000 scholars of religion and theology from around the world.

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