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A Philosopher in Search of the Sabbath

Hosted By: Jewish Study Center

Using an often humorous PowerPoint presentation, Philosopher Susan Pashman takes you through her new book, “Journey to a Temple in Time: A Philosopher’s Quest for the Sabbath.” Dr. Pashman, raised in an atheist family, always loved the Sabbath lights and the notion of a day separated from all others, but wondered how she, who could be sure where she stood on the question of God’s existence, could authentically “keep” the Sabbath. Her search for an answer takes her into the Ten Commandments as a whole to see how the fourth Commandment, on the observance of the Sabbath, fits in with the others. She concludes the Sabbath is a special TIME, set aside to be with God. But how does one accomplish that? A review of the “melachot,” the work is forbidden on the Sabbath, proves unhelpful. But looking to some old philosopher friends like Spinoza and Kant, Aristotle, Nietzsche and Sartre, she finally figures out the deepest meaning of the Sabbath and why it is a morally good thing to exercise one’s “Godlike self” on the day set aside to do just that.

Enjoy the video below.

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Susan Pashman

Susan Pashman has numerous academic degrees: J.D. from Brooklyn Law School, Ph.D. in Philosophy from Stony Brook University/SUNY, M.A. in Philosophy from Columbia, M.A. in Landscape History and Design from Inchbuld School of Design in London and Certificate in Landscape History and Design from Harvard.  She also has extensive experience teaching and publishing academic articles and novels. She was born into a family of avid atheists but had had a peek at Jewish observance when her Orthodox uncle showed her how to light Sabbath candles.  That memory lingered into adulthood and her interest in Judaism rekindled when she moved from New York City to a mostly non-Jewish farming and fishing village in the east end of Long Island.  Her early memories of Sabbath observance then led her into a quest for Jewish identity and at the age of 58, she studied Torah and celebrated a Bat Mitzvah.
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Jewish Study Center

The Jewish Study Center offers a wide array of classes and programs of Jewish content and invites anyone, regardless of background, to learn, grow and socialize with our community of learners. Our classes include text study in Bible, Mishna, Talmud, and Midrash, as well as courses in Jewish arts and culture, ethics, history, and philosophy. Courses regularly apply Jewish tradition to issues of social action, politics, interpersonal relationships, and work.
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