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Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life

What Does it Mean to be Jewish in the Age of Trump?

panel discussion

menorah and white house
Photo by: Ted Eytan. License:

panel discussion

Susannah Heschel, Dartmouth College
Ruth Langer, Boston College
Mark Silk, Trinity College

Date: Tuesday, October 16, 2018
Time: 5:30 - 7 pm
Location: Higgins Hall 310

Co-sponsored with the Jewish Law Students Association (JLSA) at the Boston College Law School 

With the election of Donald Trump and the increased visibility of the alt-right, anti-semitic language, stereotypes, and violence have once again entered mainstream discourse, experience, and news cycles. What does it mean to be Jewish and American? What does it mean to be Jewish in America now? Susannah Heschel (Dartmouth College), Ruth Langer (Boston College), and Mark Silk (Trinity College), will discuss these and related questions. 

susannah heschel

Susannah Heschel is the Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College. Her scholarship focuses on Jewish-Christian relations in Germany during the 19th and 20th centuries, the history of biblical scholarship, and the history of anti-Semitism. She is the author of numerous publications including Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (University of Chicago Press), which won a National Jewish Book Award, and The Aryan Jesus: Christian Theologians and the Bible in Nazi Germany (Princeton University Press). Heschel is currently at work on a history of European Jewish scholarship on Islam. She has taught at Southern Methodist University and Case Western Reserve University, and serves on the Board of Trustees of Trinity College and the Board of Advisors at the Boisi Center for Religion and American Public Life at Boston College. Heschel received her A.B. from Trinity College, her M.T.S. from Harvard Divinity School, and her Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. 

ruth langer

Ruth Langer is a professor of Jewish Studies in the theology department at Boston College and associate director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She is also chair of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations. She writes and speaks in two major areas: the development of Jewish liturgy and ritual; and Christian-Jewish relations. Her book, Cursing the Christians?: A History of the Birkat HaMinim (Oxford University Press, 2012), combines these two interests, tracing the transformations of a Jewish prayer that was, until modernity, a curse of Christians. Most recently, she published Jewish Liturgy: A Guide to Research 
(Rowman & Littlefield, 2015), an annotated bibliography of over 1000 entries of English-language studies of Jewish liturgy accessible to those from outside the Jewish Studies world. She also co-edited Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue (Eisenbrauns, 2005) and has published a long list of articles. Langer received her Ph.D. in Jewish Liturgy in 1994 and her rabbinic ordination in 1986 from Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

mark silk

Mark Silk is the director of the Leonard Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life and professor of religion in public life at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut. Silk served as editor of the Boston Review as well as a reporter, editoral writer, and columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He is the founding editor of Religion in the News, a magazine published by the Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life that examines how the news media handle religious subject matter. Silk's publications include: Spiritual Politics: Religion and America Since World War II (New York: Simon and Schuster) and Unsecular Media: Making News of Religion in America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press). Silk received his A.B from Harvard College and earned his Ph.D. in medieval history from Harvard University.

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In a New York Times article from March, author and journalist Jonathan Weisman discusses the recent increase in Antisemitism in the United States. This rise has not gone unnoticed, especially by groups such as the Anti Defamation League and the Southern Poverty Law Center, but these groups increasingly appear to be standing alone as many do not raise their voices against this hate. On October 16th, 2018 the Boisi Center hosted a panel discussion asking what it means to be Jewish in our current political environment.