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Till Death Do Us Part: Family Life and the Afterlife in Jewish Thought

Hosted By: Valley Beit Midrash

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“The family that prays together,” the famous adage goes, “stays together.” Indeed, many people of faith take for granted that religious observance strengthens spousal, parental, and inter-generational relationships. But to pre-modern Jewish theologians, it was far from obvious that the family was a religiously meaningful institution. Biblical interpreters, mystics, and moralists questioned whether bonds between husbands and wives, or even parents and children, were strictly human constructs, conventional means of structuring the social order–or whether they reflected underlying, preexisting, enduring spiritual realities.

This lecture will explore the ways in which medieval Jews used eschatological theology (speculation about the afterlife and the apocalypse) as a means of thinking through the theological underpinnings of familial relationships. As you shall see, these medieval theological debates have had lasting, and surprising, implications for the development of Jewish liturgy and rituals.

The event listed here is hosted by a third party. My Jewish Learning/70 Faces Media is not responsible for its content or for errors in the listing.


Professor David Shyovitz

David Shyovitz is Associate Professor of History and Jewish Studies at Northwestern University and the Director of NU’s Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies.

His research and publications focus on pre-modern Jewish cultural and intellectual history, with a particular emphasis on the history of halakhah, the development of Jewish theology, and the dynamics of Jewish-Christian and Jewish-Muslim relations. He is the author of A Remembrance of His Wonders: Nature and the Supernatural in Medieval Ashkenaz, and of the forthcoming “O Beastly Jew!” Jews, Animals, and Jewish Animals in the Middle Ages.

David received his BA, MA, and PhD at the University of Pennsylvania and studied for two years at Yeshivat Har Etzion. He has been a visiting fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, and lectures extensively throughout the United States, Europe, and Israel.

David, his wife Adina, and their four children live in Evanston, IL.

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Valley Beit Midrash

Valley Beit Midrash (VBM), based in Phoenix, AZ, hosts Jewish learning events on a wide range of topics and perspectives.
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