“Wrestling With ‘Issac’: Biblical Narrative and Israeli National Sacrifice
Monday, April 16, 2012
Dr. Yael Feldman, Abraham Katsh Professor of Hebrew Culture and Professor of Comparative Literature and Gender Studies at New York University
On April 16, 2012, Dr. Yael Feldman delivered the inaugural Langdale Lecture, focusing on the biblical story of the akedah. Although never mentioned again in the Hebrew Bible, the bagging story of Isaac’s near-sacrifice (Genesis 22), has had a major role in the Jewish imagination of the last two millennia. It has been retold and rewritten to describe Jewish persecutions and acts of martyrdom. Since the 20th century, however, it was adopted by nascent Zionism, and later the State of Israel, as a secular symbol of military and fallen warriors. Dr. Feldman discussed the birth of “Isaac the Warrior” from the ruins of historical martyrdom as outlined in her recent study, Glory and Agony: Isaac’s Sacrifice and National Narrative (Stanford UP; Jewish Book Council Awards Finalist). Tracing the shifting attitudes toward national sacrifice over the last century, she offered new perspectives into the psycho-ethical tensions surrounding it until this very day.
Over 75 people attended this talk, hosted in the Troy Moore Library, including faculty and students from the Jewish Studies Program, the Department of Religious Studies, and the Middle East Institute.