The Unique Case of Jewish Secularism
Professor Menahem Brinker
The peculiar fusion of religion and nationalism in pre-modern Judaism has had a unique impact on contemporary Jewish secularism. For many centuries one could not distinguish between the Jewish people and the Jewish religion. Belonging to one implied belonging to the other and the mere distinction between the two is a modern re-interpretation of Judaism. As a result, unlike secularists elsewhere the Jewish secularist cannot follow a clear-cut secularist tradition and has to create his own language, life's style and thought with materials that exist in his own culture but necessarily also with inspirations that come from elsewhere.
Professor Menahem Brinker is the preeminent ideological founder of the Israeli peace movement, a professor of philosophy and literature at the Hebrew University and the University of Chicago, and the author of six books on esthetics, philosophy, and literature. His commitment to peace was born out of his personal experiences serving in the Six Day War, in addition to his service in the IDF from 1953-1955 and during the Yom Kippur War. He became the Founding Editor of the monthly journal Emda, a publication that served as a sounding board for pro-peace ideas and whose contributors and readers crossed party lines. He has lectured throughout the world and taught at the university level in Israel and abroad, while remaining a key member of the Peace Now Jerusalem branch. He has received the Israeli Prize for research in Hebrew and Comparative Literature (2004).
Felix Posen is the founding chairman of the Posen Foundation which focuses on two main subjects – Antisemitism via the Center for the study of Antisemitism at Hebrew University since 1982 as well as developing programs at universities and schools and encouraging the development of literature in the field of Jewish Secularism.
In association with the Posen Foundation of Lucerne, Switzerland
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