Book Launch: Judaism Is about Love

15 April, 2024

We are deeply honoured to host Rabbi Dr Shai Held’s book launch Judaism Is About Love.

About the book: What does Judaism say about love, and why do so many people – Jews included – seem to think that love is a “Christian idea”? How can Judaism’s teachings on love transform our lives and the lives of our families, communities, and the broader world?
Rabbi Shai Held explains that even Jews sometimes mistakenly think that Judaism is rooted exclusively in law or justice, when actually love is at the center of Jewish theology, spirituality, and ethics. A dramatic misinterpretation of the Jewish tradition has shaped the history of the West: Christianity is the religion of love, and Judaism the religion of law. In the face of centuries of this widespread misrepresentation, Rabbi Shai Held, one of the most important Jewish thinkers in America today, recovers the heart of the Jewish tradition, offering the radical and moving argument that love belongs as much to Judaism as it does to Christianity. Ambitious and revelatory, Judaism Is About Love illuminates the true essence of Judaism – an act of restoration from within.

About the author: Rabbi Dr Shai Held, one of the most influential Jewish thinkers and leaders in America, is President and Dean of the Hadar Institute in New York City. He received the prestigious Covenant Award for Excellence in Jewish Education, and has been named multiple times by Newsweek as one of the fifty most influential rabbis in America and by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the fifty most prominent Jews in the world. Rabbi Held is the author of Abraham Joshua Heschel: The Call of Transcendence (2013) and The Heart of Torah (2017).

Panel Members:

Revd Professor John Barton FBA is Emeritus Oriel & Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture. His academic career has all been in Oxford, at several colleges; he retired in 2014 as Oriel & Laing Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture. Since then he has been Senior Research Fellow of Campion Hall in Oxford, a small Jesuit-run college for postgraduate students in humanities subjects. A fellow of the British Academy since 2007 and holder of an honorary doctorate from the University of Bonn, Professor Barton is also ordained in the Church of England; besides chaplaincy work at the University of Oxford, he has been an honorary assistant priest in the parish of Abingdon-on-Thames since 1979. Professor Barton has written both academic books and books for the general reader, and in recent years has published A History of the Bible: The Book and its Faiths (2019), and The Word: On the Translation of the Bible (2022), both Penguin.

Professor Ellen Davis is the Amos Ragan Kearns Distinguished Professor of Bible and Practical Theology at Duke Divinity School. The author of eleven books and many articles, her research interests focus on how biblical interpretation bears on the life of faith communities and their response to urgent public issues, particularly the ecological crisis and interfaith relations. Her most recent books are Preaching the Luminous Word (Eerdmans, 2016), a collection of her sermons and essays, and Opening Israel’s Scriptures (Oxford University Press, 2019), a comprehensive theological reading of the Hebrew Bible/Old Testament. A lay Episcopalian, she has long been active as a theological consultant and teacher within the Anglican Communion, especially in East Africa. Her current work explores various arts – music, dance, poetry, visual arts, and translation – as modes of interpreting Psalms. Her translation of the Psalter will be published this year, and her book on the Psalms and the “slow arts of insight,” co-authored with Shai Held and painter Makoto Fujimura, is forthcoming next year from Baylor University Press.

Professor Warren Zeev Harvey is an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he has taught since 1977. He holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Columbia University (1973) and is the author of many studies on medieval and modern philosophy, including Physics and Metaphysics in Hasdai Crescas (1998). Prof Harvey is an EMET Prize laureate in the humanities (2009).

Moderator: Professor Aaron Koller, Senior Fellow of the Oxford Interfaith Forum.

Date: 15 April, 2024

Time: 18:00-19:00 BST | 19:00-20:00 CEST | 10:00-11:00 PDT | 13:00-14:00 EDT

Venue: Online

Book Review, Professor Warren Zeev Harvey, Emeritus Professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Rabbi Dr Shai Held’s Publications:

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