ngjs conference 2024

Tefillah and Jewish Knowledge

Tefillah and Jewish Knowledge
Nederlands Genootschap voor Joodse Studiën (NGJS)
Dutch Association for Jewish Studies

27 March 2024

University of Amsterdam, Bibliotheca Rosenthaliana (Allard Pierson Museum, Oude Turfmarkt 127-129, 1012 GC Amsterdam)

The NGJS annual conference aims to bring together researchers in the Netherlands in the field of Jewish Studies to share current research and to jointly reflect on current trends and issues in the field. It further aims to facilitate collaboration between researchers and to connect junior and senior scholars.

Prayer is a key phenomenon and key concept in Jewish Studies. Sooner or later every topic in the field will bring researchers into contact with liturgy and/or prayer. The silent omnipresence of prayer in Jewish history is as discrete as it is enigmatic: precisely what is tefillah, what does it do, and how does it work?

Such questions are not always easy to answer, yet they have significant implications across the field of Jewish Studies and beyond. What is prayer and how does it work? Is it a substitute for (superior) Temple sacrifice, a format for communicating and striking deals with the divine, a form of social contract, a political instrument, an educational tool, or …? What structures of knowledge are embedded in Jewish prayer? And how does prayer in its turn structure—Jewish and other—knowledge?

This workshop takes a multidisciplinary approach to these questions. Colleagues and students are invited to reflect on their own encounters with prayer and liturgy. Together we will look at tefillah and Jewish knowledge from the perspective of materiality, textuality, history, theory, philosophy, and theology. Guided by experts, we will explore manuscripts and printed prayer books from the rich collections of the Rosenthaliana library in Amsterdam. Lectures and short papers will offer a tour through centuries of Hebrew poetry and prayer while addressing fundamental questions relating to methodology, aesthetics, and the history of ideas. We hope that this workshop will generate new and fresh perspectives by looking across textual corpora, across historical periods—from antiquity to modernity—and across Jewish Studies disciplines.

The programme will include three expert keynotes, twelve short papers, and a closing panel discussion on the theme of the conference and the implications of the presentations. The conference is bilingual (Dutch & English). Part of the program can be followed online by livestream (the talks in the Nina van Leerzaal and if technology permits, the talks in the Werkgroepruimte). The complete programme can be downloaded here.

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© Nederlands Genootschap voor Joodse Studies, 2021.