The Jewish Tradition – Does It Matter?
The purpose of this two-day workshop is to explore the relevance of the Jewish tradition (Torah, rabbinic tradition, rituals) as it developed from ancient times until today, for both Jews and non-Jews in Norway and other Scandinavian countries.
In Norway, as in many other western countries, most inhabitants identify themselves as Christian, Muslim, (post-)secular, or atheist, and the Jewish community is rather small. Nevertheless, Judaism is significant for contemporary Nordic countries in a variety of ways.
Obviously, Judaism is important in and of itself for Scandinavian Jews who express their Jewish identity in a variety of ways. In addition, the biblical and post-biblical Jewish tradition constitutes the seedbed out of which Christianity and Islam grew. Already in late antiquity and the Middle Ages Christianity and Islam defined themselves and developed their own identities in relation to Judaism, adapting some of its ideas and practices. In this process of self-distinction, both similarities and differences emerged.
Although Jewish communities may constitute small minorities within Nordic countries today, the Jewish impact on Scandinavian cultures is nevertheless significant. The biblical and post-biblical Jewish tradition has been a major influence on our ethical and legal systems, on theology and anthropology, on cinema and other artistic disciplines.
The presentations given at the workshop will explore various aspects of the continued significance of Judaism in Scandinavia. The workshop will also serve as a networking event for scholars working in Jewish Studies in Nordic countries today.
Everyone is welcome and entrance to the workshop is free of charge. Since seats at the Jewish Museum are limited to 85, please contact Anneli Jensen to register in advance.
Sunday March 4th: Jewish Museum, Oslo
13:00-14:00: Walking tour “Jewish Oslo”.
Meeting place: Entrance of the Jewish Museum, Oslo
14:00-14:30: Light Refreshments
14:30-45: Introductory Speech
Prof. Aud Valborg Tonnessen, Dean of the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo
14:45-15:45: Keynote Speech: "The Significance of Judaism and the Jewish Tradition in Norway"
Rabbi Prof. Walter Homolka, Director of the Abraham Geiger Kolleg and Rabbinical Seminary, Potsdam, Germany
Introduced by Prof. Catherine Hezser, SOAS, University of London, Professor II at the University of Oslo
15:45-16:00: Short break
16:00-18:00: Podium Discussion with Norwegian rabbis: “Jews and Judaism in Norway Today”
Rabbi Lynn Feinberg, Jewish Renewal movement
Rabbi Tyson Herberger, Orthodox movement
Rabbi Joav Melchior, Orthodox movement and current rabbi of the Jewish community in Oslo
Rabbi Shaul Wilhelm, Habad movement
Chaired by Prof. Diana Edelman, University of Oslo
18:00-19:00: Buffet dinner (vegetarian)
19:00-21:00: Film presentation
Monday March 5th: Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo
9:00-9:45: “Tradition and Adaptation as Means of Boundary Maintenance and Boundary Permeability in Jewish Communities Through History”
Prof. Diana Edelman, University of Oslo
9:45-10:30: “On the Function of the Hebrew Bible for Gender Norms in Western Judaism”
Prof. Marianne Schleicher, Aarhus University, Denmark
10:30-11:00: Coffee break
11:00-11:45: “Judaism As Embodied Religion: The Rabbinic Focus on Material Existence and Daily Life”
Prof. Catherine Hezser, SOAS University of London; Professor II at the University of Oslo
11:45-12:30: “These and These are the Words of the Living God: The Value of Study and Debate in the Jewish Tradition”
Prof. Karin Zetterholm, Lund University, Sweden
12:30-13:00: Lunch break (for the speakers only)
13:00-13:45: “Nordisk Judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies: 40 Years of Academic Dialogue”
Prof. Ruth Illman, Åbo Akademi University, Finland
13:45-14:45: Final Discussion
Sessions will be chaired by Prof. Anders Runesson, University of Oslo