The Department of Jewish Thought is pleased to share these accomplishments and updates from our faculty during the 2020-2021 academic year. We are grateful to our students and the community for their engagement this year.
Professor Richard Cohen co-edited and contributed three chapters to a collection of contemporary political essays, published by Palgrave Macmillan, co-edited by two professors of political science, sociology and law at the University of Rome, Italy, and including chapters from scholars from universities in Taiwan and Hong Kong. The book raises fundamental ethical questions challenging the reduction of politics to clashes of self-interest and power. Cohen has had a scholarly article accepted for publication in the prestigious peer-reviewed journal “International Philosophical Quarterly,” entitled “Social Theory in Kant’s Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone”; had an earlier scholarly article, entitled “Levinas’s Theological Ethics,” published in the Cambridge Companion to Jewish Thought; and completed an invited essay on “Levinas and Virtue Ethics” for a forthcoming volume on Jewish Virtue Ethics, co-edited by Professor Alex Green of UB. A one-week advanced seminar for college and university faculty on “Emmanuel Levinas: Ethics of Democracy,” underwritten by the National Endowment for the Humanities, directed by Professor Cohen, has been postponed to the summer of 2022 due to Covid-19 pandemic precautions.
In 2020-21 academic year, Professor Sergey Dolgopolski served as the Department of Jewish Thought Chair. In his research, he conducted editorial work on a collective monograph on conjunctions and disjunction between the traditions of Talmud and Philosophy. Together with Ethan Katz of UC Berkeley and Elisha Anscelovitz of the Beit Midrash “Hukkim Chachamim” in Jerusalem he co-edited a collective monograph on academic relativism and religious devotion in studying Jewish Tradition. He offered two public talks via Zoom on the topic of Jews and Diversity, and on Jerusalem Talmud. He also published an annotated Oxford Bibliography of academic works in the area of Talmud and philosophy (with Laura Taddeo), and a peer-reviewed paper on a theoretical-rhetorical analysis of legislative topoi in Jerusalem Talmud. Papers on dialogue and thought in Jerusalem Talmud, on Jerusalem Talmud and Heidegger, and on mechanisms of exclusion from humanity are nearing publication or forthcoming.
Professor Alex Green’s second book, Power and Progress: Joseph Ibn Kaspi and the Meaning of History (State University of New York Press, 2019) was released in paperback last year and received its first review in the journal Interpretation. He is presently co-editing a new volume entitled Jewish Virtue Ethics (State University of New York Press) with Geoffrey Claussen and Alan Mittleman which is nearing completion. The volume features thirty short essays written by leading scholars in Jewish Studies, on thirty of the most important and influential Jewish approaches to virtue ethics.
Green just published two new articles: “Does God Prefer the Powerful? Reforming the King in Judah Halevi’s Kuzari” in Studies Quarterly 28 (2021), no. 1 and “Fear and Awe in Maimonides’ Thought,” which will be coming out in the latest issue of The Boenhoffer Legacy: An International Journal. In addition, he has three new articles that were recently accepted for publication in prominent academic journals: “Joseph Ibn Kaspi on Contradiction in the Bible” in The Journal of Religion; “Crescas and Gersonides on Freedom, Astrology and Divine Omniscience” in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy; and “David Novak, Natural Law and Medieval Jewish Philosophy” in Journal of Religious Ethics.
Over the last year Green has also been active in the community. He was the keynote speaker at the 2020 Community Shavuot Tikkun and gave a four-part lecture series last summer at Temple Beth Tzedek on “What Makes a Good Leader? Maimonides' Lessons on Leadership.” Building on his previous work in the community, he looks forward to his new role in the fall in the College of Arts and Sciences and the Department of Jewish Thought, where alongside his teaching, he will focus on developing new partnerships between the College of Arts and Sciences, Hillel, the Buffalo Jewish Federation and the larger Buffalo community. Some of these new collaborative projects that he will be working on include a new array of programs for May 2022 to honor Jewish American Heritage Month and the Buffalo Day of Jewish Learning.