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Old Dominion Series: Rabbinic Reactionaries in the Sephardic Diaspora: Notes on a Social Type

Yaacob Dweck, History; Judaic Studies

March 25, 2021 · 12:00 pm EDT · Zoom

Humanities Council
Unknown artist, Portrait of Rabbi de Silva, Italy (?), 1691, 17th century, B68.0160

In the third of the 2020-2021 Old Dominion Series, Yaacob Dweck gives a talk on “Rabbinic Reactionaries in the Sephardic Diaspora: Notes on a Social Type.”

Dweck reconstructs the profile of someone who has never been the subject of historical study. In the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries a new character emerged in the Sephardic Diaspora. He was immensely learned, often peripatetic, frequently acerbic, always critical and deeply disgruntled. He, and he was always a he, often came from the real or imagined margins of Jewish society and sought to place himself at the center. Only on very few occasions was he successful in his quest for power. And yet it is precisely in this gap between his hopeless ambition for control over Jewish life and the real material conditions of his existence that an opportunity presents itself for historical analysis. It is this gap between the reality of Jewish life and his ideals—a past that he imagines that never was, a present that falls hopelessly short of his ruthless judgement, and a future that cannot ever hope to fulfill his imagined Jewish utopia—that enables a historian working with a number of books, a few images and some archival sources to trace his emergence.

Open to the public. Register here: https://princeton.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJAtf-6prDsvG9AaXpEdlz-znSX1B9l9NFSS

Upcoming Old Dominion talk:

April 19, 4:30 pm
Susan J. Wolfson, English
“Pride and Prejudice: not altogether ‘light & bright & sparkling’”

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