skip to content

Cambridge Forum for Jewish Studies


Jewish Studies as Philosophy:  Beyond Historicism and Sociology?


The Cambridge Project in Modern Jewish Thought is delighted to announce its inaugural conference: 'Jewish Studies as Philosophy: Beyond Historicism and Sociology?'. This three-day conference brings together historians, philosophers, theologians, lawyers, and political theorists to critically discuss and debate the role of Jewish Studies in the modern academy. With panels ranging from the impact of historicism on Jewish Studies to the place of the mysterious in Jewish thought, the conference includes contributions from eminent scholars and emerging researchers. 

The majority of scholarly studies of Judaism and Jews in the modern period (c. 1650 to the present) have tended to downplay the lasting intellectual significance and potential philosophical relevance of the Jewish religious tradition through their employment of historicist or sociological methods. This conference aims to explore whether this narrower focus is merely an accidental consequence of dominant scholarly methods, or whether is it representative of an underlying attitude towards the broader scope and relevance of Judaism and Jewish thought. 

Must the field of ‘Jewish Studies’ be confined to such realms, or can one approach the field through a focus on philosophical and theological elements? Is there a role for ‘Jewish philosophy’ or ‘Jewish theology’ in the academy? Can classical Jewish texts and liturgy present distinctive or innovative directions for contemporary philosophical reflection? Are there past thinkers whose reflections on Judaism and the Jewish tradition can be seen as engaging with the broader philosophical thought of their time?  Can such thinkers contribute to present-day intellectual and scholarly debates?  

This conference aims to enrich and expand the dialogue by engaging experts from a wide array of institutions and disciplines to tackle these central questions which continue to unsettle Jewish Studies in the modern academy. 


Dr. Daniel H. Weiss, Faculty of Divinity

Mr. David Pruwer, Faculty of History

Rabbi Reuven Leigh, Cambridge Lehrhaus


Paul Franks (Yale University), Alan Mittleman (Jewish Theological Seminary), Kenneth Seeskin (Northwestern University), Randi Rashkover (George Mason University), Oliver Leaman (University of Kentucky), Menachem Lorberbaum (Tel Aviv University), Michael Fagenblat (Shalem College and Monash University), Miri Freud-Kandel (Oxford University), David Pruwer (University of Cambridge), Deborah Galaski (University of Virginia), Michael Miller (University of Nottingham), Christian Wiese (Frankfurt University), Agata Bielik-Robson (Nottingham University), Benjamin Pollock (Michigan State University), Dennis Baert (Antwerp University), Perry Dane(Rutgers University), Paul Nahme (University of Kansas), Shlomo Zuckier (Yale University), Daniel Herskowitz (Hebrew University), Benjamin Schvarcz (Hebrew University), Alon Shalev (Hebrew University), Asaf Ziderman (Tel Aviv University),Hillel Ben-Sasson (Hebrew University), Daniel Weiss (University of Cambridge) . 



For full details on the programme schedule, including paper titles and panel locations, please visit the programme homepage



If you would like to join us for these fascinating few days, please register online through our online registration form by the 10th of March. Full registration fee of £40 (reduced student rate: £20) includes meals, tea/coffee and refreshments throughout the conference. 

Sunday, 23 March, 2014 - 16:00 to Tuesday, 25 March, 2014 - 18:45
Contact name: 
Daniel Weiss
Contact email: 
Event location: 
Murray Edwards College and St. Catherine’s College