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Another Modernity: Elia Benamozegh and the Future of Religion

24MAr5:00 pm6:30 pmAnother Modernity: Elia Benamozegh and the Future of Religion5:00 pm - 6:30 pm(GMT-04:00) Italian Jewish Studies SeminarItalian Jewish Studies Seminar

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Presentation of Clémence Boulouque’s new book Another Modernity (Stanford University Press, 2021)

Clémence Boulouque (Columbia University) inc conversation with Jessica M. Marglin (University of Southern California).

Another Modernity is a rich study of the life and thought of Elia Benamozegh, a nineteenth-century rabbi and philosopher whose work profoundly influenced Christian-Jewish dialogue in twentieth-century Europe. Benamozegh, a Livornese rabbi of Moroccan descent, was a prolific writer and transnational thinker who corresponded widely with religious and intellectual figures in France, the Maghreb, and the Middle East. This idiosyncratic figure, who argued for the universalism of Judaism and for interreligious engagement, came to influence a spectrum of religious thinkers so varied that it includes proponents of the ecumenical Second Vatican Council, American evangelists, and right-wing Zionists in Israel.

What Benamozegh proposed was unprecedented: that the Jewish tradition presented a solution to the religious crisis of modernity. According to Benamozegh, the defining features of Judaism were universalism, a capacity to foster interreligious engagement, and the political power and mythical allure of its theosophical tradition, Kabbalah—all of which made the Jewish tradition uniquely equipped to assuage the post-Enlightenment tensions between religion and reason. 

In this book, Clémence Boulouque presents a wide-ranging and nuanced investigation of Benamozegh’s published and unpublished work and his continuing legacy, considering his impact on Christian-Jewish dialogue as well as on far-right Christians and right-wing religious Zionists.

Clémence Boulouque is Assistant Professor of Jewish and Israel Studies at Columbia University. Her interests include Jewish thought and mysticism, interreligious encounters, intellectual history and networks with a focus on the modern Mediterranean and Sefardi worlds, as well as the intersection between religion and the arts, and the study of the unconscious.

Jessica Marglin is Associate Professor of Religion, Law, and History, and the Ruth Ziegler Early Career Chair in Jewish Studies at the University of Southern California. She is the author of Across Legal Lines: Jews and Muslims in Modern Morocco (Yale University Press, 2016) and the co-editor, with Matthias Lehmann, of Jews and the Mediterranean (Indiana University Press, 2020).

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