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.

Jewish Museum in Oslo. Photo: Jewish Museum.


March 4th: Jewish Museum Oslo, Calmeyers gate 15B
March 5th: Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo, Blindernveien 9


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.

Seats are limited, please register below:

Registration for walking tour of "Jewish Oslo" FULL!

Registration for seminars at the Jewish Museum and Faculty of Theology  MARCH 4th IS STILL OPEN FOR REGISTRATION, MARCH 5th IS FULL!


Sunday March 4th: Jewish Museum, Oslo

12:00-14:00: Walking tour “Jewish Oslo”.
Meeting place: The old Jewish cemetery at the corner of Helgesens gate and Rathkes gate

14:00-14:30: Light Refreshments

14:30-45: Introductory Speech
Prof. Oddbjørn Leirvik, Vice-Dean of the Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo

Walter Homolka

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. Catherine Hezser

Monday March 5th: Faculty of Theology, University of Oslo



Marianne Schleicher

9:00-9:45: “On the Function of the Hebrew Bible for Gender Norms in Western Judaism”
Prof. Marianne Schleicher, Aarhus University, Denmark






Catherine Hezser

9:45-10:30: “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



10:30-11:00: Coffee break



Karin Zetterholm

11:00-11:45: “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




11:45-12:30: Lunch break (for the speakers only)


Ruth Illman

12:30-13:15: “Nordisk Judaistik/Scandinavian Jewish Studies: 40 Years of Academic Dialogue”
Prof. Ruth Illman, Åbo Akademi University, Finland




13:15-14:15: Final Discussion

Sessions will be chaired by Prof. Anders Runesson, University of Oslo

Published Jan. 2, 2018 1:17 PM - Last modified Mar. 2, 2018 3:57 PM