Yossi Chajes: “Entzauberung (De-Magic-ing) and Jewish Modernity”


February 2, 2009 | 5:00-6:30 PM | Free & Open to the Public
Humanities 1 Building, Room 210, UC Santa Cruz
Directions and Parking Information


Professor Yossi Chajes of the University of Haifa will present a talk entitled: “Entzauberung (De-Magic-ing) and Jewish Modernity.” Modern identity was forged, in large part, through a self-conscious distancing from a past construed as magical. Until the late nineteenth-century, to be modern meant to have “faith” in “reason & materialist science.” The rejection of the “magical” allowed the modern proponent of Enlightenment to express that he was neither low class (e.g., poor, eastern, provincial) nor a woman (e.g., a folk healer rather than an educated physician). We will explore the ways this identity project worked in Jewish culture, as expressed by figures including the Italians Leone Modena (1571-1648) & Tobias Cohen (1652-1729), as well as in later eastern European Jewish debates on the border between the newly emerging realms of the “natural” and “supernatural.”

One of the most important historians of Jewish mysticism and spirituality of his generation, Professor Chajes has been a Visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a fellow at the Hartman Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies in Jerusalem, and a fellow at the Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. His book, Between Worlds: Dybbuks, Exorcists, and Early Modern Judaism, was a Koret Jewish History Book Award finalist.

It will be the inaugural event in a series of lectures on Jewish mysticism made possible by a grant from the David B. Gold Foundation. Supported by the Institute for Humanities Research.

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  1. Pingback: David B. Gold Foundation Distinguished Lecture series | Center for Jewish Studies

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