Scholar In Residence
Dr. Benjamin Sommer
Dr. Sommer joined the Jewish Theological Seminary faculty as professor of Bible in July 2008. Previously, he served as director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish Studies at Northwestern University, where he had taught since 1994. Dr. Sommer has been a fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Tikvah Center for Jewish Law and Civilization at the New York University School of Law, and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He has served as a visiting faculty member in the Department of Bible of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Brite Divinity School, in Fort Worth, Texas. He has received fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Yad Hanadiv/Berakha Foundation.
Special Friday Evening service in the chapel
Important Note: This service will be run in the Chapel simultaneously with Friday Night Ruach, which will take place in the Sanctuary.
With Passover on the horizon, Professor Sommer will address a question of interest for our seders: Did the exodus from Egypt really happen? And does it really matter whether it did or didn’t?
Saturday morning sermon
Uh oh. Leviticus Again!
Professor Sommer will whether reading about the sacrifices can be religiously relevant to modern Jews, and he will suggest that the word “sacrifice” may mislead us about the nature of the rituals described in Leviticus.
Saturday following lunch
Tahor and Tamei
One of the most important, but also most misunderstood, ideas in the Torah is the idea of purity and impurity. Professor Sommer will discuss what these ideas from the Book of Leviticus really mean, and how they relate to the sacrifices described in today’s parashah.