QUEENS COLLEGE HOSTS FIRST INTERNATIONAL TRIBUTE TO MAIMONIDES ON NOVEMBER 16
-- Many Symposia Worldwide Will be Held to Mark the 800th Anniversaryof the Jewish Philosopher's Death--
FLUSHING, NY, November 3, 2003 -- Leading an international tribute to Moses Maimonides on the 800th anniversary of his death, the Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College will offer a one-day symposium on November 16 that will examine the renowned philosopher’s significance and impact on Jewish history and thought over the centuries. This program marks the first of at least 12 such symposia and conferences on Maimonides to be offered throughout the world during the next year.
“Maimonides is perhaps the most seminal thinker in Jewish life over the last 2,000 years,” said Dr. Benny Kraut, Director of Queens College’s Center for Jewish Studies and the symposium organizer. “His intellectual, literary, religious and philosophical legacy resonates in Judaism until this day, and cuts across Jewish denominations.
"His Jewish legal code, Mishneh Torah, has profoundly influenced the evolution and study of Jewish law," Kraut continued, "while his philosophical treatise, Guide for the Perplexed, has served as a paradigm for the cross-fertilization of philosophic and religious discourse within both Jewish and Christian intellectual traditions.”
One of the greatest thinkers in medieval times, Maimonides was born in Cordoba, Spain in 1135, but eventually emigrated to Egypt, where he became the chief physician at the court of Saladin as well as Supreme Head of the Jews. During these years, he produced a voluminous body of written material on Talmudic scholarship, Jewish law, medicine and philosophy, all of which are studied to this day.
The all-day Queens College symposium, entitled “Moses Maimonides: Communal Impact, Historic Legacy,” features a three-session program led by an impressive cast of international scholars.
In session one (1:30 - 3:15 pm), Maimonides’ significance as a historical and philosophical force during his time and thereafter will be explored by Jane Gerber and Zev Harvey. Gerber, Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Institute for Sephardic Studies at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), will speak on “Moses Maimonides: Sephardic Leader and Historic Personality.” Harvey, Professor of Jewish thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (who returns to Queens College this fall as the Dean Ernest Schwarcz Eminent Visiting Professor of Jewish Philosophy), will address “Maimonides’ Impact on Medieval and Modern Philosophy.”
How those in subsequent centuries used Maimonides to construct their own understanding of Judaism will be addressed during session two (3:45 - 5:30 pm). Allan Nadler, Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Program in Jewish Studies at Drew University, will examine “The Rambam (Maimonides) Revival of the 19th-Century: Hasidim, Maskilim, and Mitnagdim on Maimonides.” David Berger, Professor of History at Brooklyn College and CUNY’s Graduate Center and immediate past President of the Association for Jewish Studies, will appraise “The Uses of Maimonides by 20th Century Jewry.” The two sessions will be moderated by Arnold Franklin, Danzig Post-Doctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Queens College and Elisheva Carlebach, Professor of History at Queens College and CUNY’s Graduate Center.
In Session 3 (7:30 - 9:30 pm) Gerrit Bos, chair of the Martin Buber Institute for Jewish Studies at the University of Cologne, will deliver the keynote lecture, “Moses Maimonides the Physician: Some Aspects of Maimonides’ Medical Writings, Training, Theory and Practice.” Bos is currently translating all of Maimonides’ medical treatises from Arabic into English and editing a series of these volumes to be published by Brigham Young University Press.
The symposium, which begins at 1:15 pm with officials' greetings, will be held on the fourth floor of the Student Union Building on the Queens College campus, located at 65-30 Kissena Boulevard in Flushing. Admission to the afternoon sessions is $5, but the evening keynote lecture is free. To register, call the Center for Jewish Studies at (718) 997-5730. Free parking is available in the underground garage of the Student Union (entrance on Kissena Blvd. at the corner of Melbourne Ave).
The symposium was made possible by a grant from Simon Gold, Esq. and Dr. Roslyn Gold. The Golds sponsor this program in memory of their parents, Jacob and Rose Gold and Abraham and Esther Smith.
The Center for Jewish Studies at Queens College is an outreach and research agent that serves as a bridge between the campus academic Jewish Studies Program and the community. This symposium represents just one among the scores of cultural and intellectual programs sponsored by the Center throughout the year. For more information on these programs, interested persons should call the Center office or visit its Web site, www.qc.edu/Jewish_Studies.