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Sephardi Mizrahi Studies Caucus Discussion List - November 29, 2001

Association for Jewish Studies Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus
Discussion List
Editor/Moderator: Aviva Ben-Ur <aben-ur@judnea.umass.edu>
Thursday, November 29, 2001 (14 Kislev 5762)

1. Announcement: *AJS Perspectives* Invites Caucus Participation (Fine)

2. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Doenmeh Studies" (Goldish)

3. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Rashba's Critique of Maimonidean Science" (Stern)

4. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Brazilian Author, Moacyr Scliar and his Engagement with Sephardic History" (Halevi-Wise)

5. Website Address of *Modern Judaism* (Lucas)

6. Call for Papers and Panels: Latin American Jewish Studies Association (Tolman)

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1. Announcement: *AJS Perspectives* Invites Caucus Participation (Fine)

From: Steven Fine <steven.fine@uc.edu>
Via: Elka Klein <elka@metsny.yossi.com>

I would like to invite the Sephardic Caucus to participate fully
in *AJS Perspectives*. To that end, I would suggest two possibilities: Either: A symposium on a theme in Sephardic studies, where each of 3 authors tackles an issue in 8-900 words-- with a 250 word intro on what the Sephardi/Mizrahi Studies Caucus does. This is the best possibility. See the symposium organized by Michael Swartz in the last issue. Secondarily (and probably less useful): A 1000 word essay on "What's Doing in Sephardic Studies." If you guys can get it together by February, I will run your product in the Spring. If not, then next year. My experience is that it is best to just do these things and not put them off. Hope you folks are in!

Steven Fine
Department Head, Judaic Studies
University of Cincinnati

[ed: slight edit]
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2. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Doenmeh Studies" (Goldish)

From: Matt Goldish <goldish.1@osu.edu>
Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 1:35 PM

Aviva, thanks again for all your work on the caucus. We have a session
called Doenmeh Studies in the last slot of the conference. There are two
papers on aspects of 19th-20th century Doenmeh culture, by Marc Baer and
myself, and a response by Harris Lenowitz.

All the best!

Matt

Matt Goldish
The Ohio State University, Department of History
336 Dulles Hall
230 W. 17th Ave.
Columbus, OH 43210
(614) 292-1602 goldish.1@osu.edu
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3. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Rashba's Critique of Maimonidean Science" (Stern)

From: Gregg Stern <gs30@soas.ac.uk>
Date: Thursday, November 29, 2001 12:20 PM

"Rashba's Critique of Maimonidean Science and the Vicissitudes of Maimonidean Allegiance in Southern France"

Gregg Stern, SOAS, University of London

Medieval Jewish cultural history frequently links scientific sophistication with Maimonidean allegiance. At the turn of the thirteenth century, however, Maimonidean commitments in fact restrained a number of Jewish scholars from embracing an emerging scientific theory, while others, unfettered by the mantel of Maimonides, were able to incorporate this new theory into their understanding of the world much more easily. The emerging scientific theory to which I refer concerned the therapeutic value of an astrological practice, the placement of a medallion with the sign of Leo over the ureter of a patient suffering from kidney stones, so as to ease their passage. Generally acknowledged as efficacious, this therapy was widely employed by prominent Jewish and Christian physicians in Catalonia and Languedoc. Even Abba Mari ben Moses of Montpellier and Menahem ha-Meiri of Perpignan, the two eminent southern French scholars who prohibited this therapy in signal Maimonidean locutions regarding the potential connection between astrological practice and worship of the stars, were unable to deny its value. On the opposite side of this controversial issue, in a community on the other side of the Pyrenees, stood Solomon ibn Adret of Barcelona (Rashba), a preeminent talmudist known for his deep reverence for Maimonides' legal scholarship but a profound ambivalence toward his rationalism. In his extensive discussion permitting the popular astrological therapy, Rashba delivered a blistering critique of the Maimonidean position and articulated as an alternative an intriguing new scientific theory that is also found in the writing of his Christian contemporary, the great Catalonian physician and theologian, Arnold of Villanova.

In permitting the Leo medallion, Rashba borrowed the medieval pharmacological notion of "special property" and extended it to objects made under specific astrological conditions. In medieval pharmacology, any property of a compound drug that cannot be explained as the result of the "simple properties" of its constituent elements is called "special."(1) If engraved under the appropriate astrological influence, a medallion acquired, in Rashba's interpretation, an inexplicable "special property" that could help to dissolve a kidney stone. Rashba argued that efforts to benefit from the inexplicable "special properties" of astrological influences were as potentially productive and legitimate as efforts to employ other mysterious natural forces to human advantage, such as the use in a nautical compass of the magnetic attraction of the lodestone. While he acknowledged the magical context out of which this astrological practice had originated, Rashba argued that there was no reason that the therapy might not be understood naturalistically.(2) Rashba - whose kabbalistic commitments surely animated his ambivalence toward the Maimonidean tradition - argued penetratingly that Maimonides had provided no coherent justification to exclude the possibility that a medallion might naturally acquire a "special property" by means of astrological influence. In the context of the emerging scientific theory of the early fourteenth century, Abba Mari and Meiri's unbending loyalty to Maimonides' teachings must have seemed particularly rigid and unresponsive to contemporary perceptions. Perhaps one might say that the assimilation and naturalistic reinterpretation of ancient magical teachings then current in Catalonia and the South of France stopped at the door of those loyal to Maimonidean teaching.

(1) In Hebrew, "segulah;" in Arabic, "khassa" in Latin, "proprietas."
(2) Rashba's student, Nissim ben Reuben of Gerona presents a fully elaborated theoretical justification of this view.

[editor's note: diactrical marks from the Arabic may not have transmitted correctly]
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4. Conference Paper for AJS 2001: "Brazilian Author, Moacyr Scliar and his Engagement with Sephardic History" (Halevi-Wise)

From: Yael Halevi-Wise <yael.haleviwise@mcgill.ca>
Date: Tuesday, November 27, 2001 4:09 PM

Dear Aviva,

I will be speaking about the work of Brazilean author
Moacyr Scliar, and will stress his reasons for engaging with
sephardic history in The Strange Nation of Rafael Mendes.
(Monday 1.30 session 6.10).


regards,

Yael

Yael Halevi-Wise
Assistant Professor
English and Jewish Studies
3438 McTavish
McGill University

http://www.arts.mcgill.ca/programs/English/2000_2001/fac/halevi-wise.html
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5. Website Address of *Modern Judaism* (Lucas)

From: LUCAS, Tamara <Lucast@oup.co.uk>
Date: Wednesday, November 28, 2001 2:24 AM

I've had a few enquiries from people on the list asking for the
journal's web address. I am thus posting this on the next newsletter in case there are others interested. The website address for *Modern Judaism" is:

www.mj.oupjournals.org <http://www.mj.oupjournals.org>

Many thanks,
Tamara Lucas

[ed: slight edit]
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6. Call for Papers and Panels: Latin American Jewish Studies Association (Tolman)

From: "Jon M. Tolman" <brasanet@unm.edu>
Courtesy: Jose ornelas <ornelas@spanport.umass.edu>
Date: Wed, 28 Nov 2001 20:27:19 -0700

THE LATIN AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES ASSOCIATION (LAJSA)

Announces
The Eleventh International Research Conference
The Federal University of Rio de Janeiro
Sunday-Wednesday, June 23-26, 2002

A CALL FOR PANELS AND PAPERS
"THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN
JEWISH LATIN AMERICA"

The Latin American Jewish Studies Association announces its Eleventh International Research Conference to be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on June 23, 24, 25, & 26, 2002. The Conference will explore "The Construction of Identity in Jewish Latin America" with the aim of understanding how Jews formulate, negotiate and articulate their sense of identity, be it ethnic, national, hybrid, syncretic, religious, collective or individual. An Opening Session and Reception will be held on Sunday evening, June 23 with sessions beginning on Monday and continuing on to Wednesday. Papers may approach this theme from a historical, literary, cultural, scholarly resources or social sciences perspective. The official languages of the conference are Portuguese, Spanish and English. Specific details about hotel reservations and travel will appear in the next issue of LATIN AMERICAN JEWISH STUDIES (LAJS, the LAJSA newsletter), and be e-mailed out via LAJSA-LIST, the association's list serv.

Presentations on the Conference's theme of the "construction of identity" may develop this concept via studies on immigration, diaspora, exile, alienation, multiculturality, historical events and conflicts, literary expression, ethnicity, gender, sociology and anthropology, as well as anti-semitism, scholarly resources, and demography. Comparative approaches are welcomed as are papers which deal
with the colonial, modern or postmodern periods. LAJSA particularly encourages the submission of proposals for panels, though we still welcome proposals for individual papers. Proposals may also be submitted for workshops at which work in progress will be discussed.

Proposals for Papers or Panels will be reviewed by the Selection Committee,
consisting of Regina Igel, Peter T. Johnson, Naomi Lindstrom (Committee
Chair), and Silvia Schenkolewsi-Kroll. Four copies of the appropriate proposal form and supplemental materials must be received by Jan. 15 at the address indicated below and on the proposal forms. Proposals may be submitted by e-mail (lindstrom@mail.utexas.edu) using a Word attachment.

Paper Proposal
The Eleventh International Research Conference of
The Latin American Jewish Studies Association
THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN
JEWISH LATIN AMERICA
June 23-26, 2002
Proposals for Papers or Panels will be reviewed by the Selection Committee,
consisting of Regina Igel, Peter T. Johnson, Naomi Lindstrom (Committee
Chair), and Silvia Schenkolewsi-Kroll. Four copies of the appropriate proposal form and supplemental materials must be received by 15 Jan. 2002 at this address:

Naomi Lindstrom
Spanish and Portuguese
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1155
US
Proposals may be submitted by e-mail (lindstrom@mail.utexas.edu) using a Word attachment.

Please consult the Call for Papers for further information.

***********************************************************************
Give your name, starting with the surname under which you should be indexed:
Street Address__________________________________________________
City:__________________________ Province or State: _____________
Postal Code:_________________ Country:___________________
Telephone (including all codes and prefixes that must be dialed):
Home:____________________ Work:_________________________
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Institution:__________________ Location:________________________

***
Session Proposal
The Eleventh International Research Conference of
The Latin American Jewish Studies Association
THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY IN
JEWISH LATIN AMERICA
June 23-26, 2002
Proposals for Papers or Panels will be reviewed by the Selection Committee,
consisting of Regina Igel, Peter T. Johnson, Naomi Lindstrom (Committee
Chair), and Silvia Schenkolewsi-Kroll. Four copies of the appropriate proposal form and supplemental materials must be received by 15 Jan. 2002 at this address:
Naomi Lindstrom
Spanish and Portuguese
University of Texas at Austin
Austin, TX 78712-1155
US
Proposals may be submitted by e-mail (lindstrom@mail.utexas.edu) using a Word attachment.
Please consult the Call for Papers for further information.
************************************************************************
Surname of Session Organizer:__________________________
Session Title:______________________________________________
Who will chair the session?____________________________
Explain the theme of the proposed session in 75 words or fewer:
Please indicate whether you or anyone else participating in your proposed
session will require the use of a projector, either for slides or for transparencies.
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