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Confronting Authority In Pursuit of Justice

November 13, 2023 @ 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Eli N. Evans Distinguished Lecture in Jewish Studies with Lynn Kaye, Brandeis University

November 13, 5:30pm. In-person event.
UNC Sonja Haynes Stone Center, Hitchcock Room
Directions & Parking in Bell Tower Deck ($1 after 5pm)
Free and Open to the public
UNC Heel Life credit will be available.
Note: this lecture will not be recorded.

Co-sponsored by the Dept. of Religious Studies.



Confronting Authority In Pursuit of Justice:
Lay People’s Voices in Talmudic Jewish Courts

The Talmud, a foundational text for Jewish law, completed by c. 650 CE in what is now Iraq, recounts thousands of case stories. In a few hundred, lay people make their voices heard in court, using a variety of tactics and arguments when they appear before rabbi-judges. While the Sasanian empire had a legal apparatus, the Jewish population seems to have had self-governing opportunities, with courts of arbitration. This lecture will tell some of these stories, of men and women, some good, some bad, some knowledgeable, some lucky, and explain what purpose these stories serve in an ancient corpus of law. The topics range from disputes over claiming abandoned land to arguments over inheritance, from tricky divorces to compensation for assaults, injury, and theft. The stories dramatize how ordinary people navigate the unfamiliar terrain of law courts, as they try to find justice.


Lynn Kaye is an Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. She is the author of Time in the Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge University Press 2018), which received several awards for scholarship in Jewish Studies. She publishes articles in the fields of Jewish Studies, Gender Studies, Jewish Thought, Legal Studies, and Biblical Studies. She received a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for her second book project about interactions between lay people and judges in ancient Jewish court narratives. She completed her PhD at New York University, with graduate fellowships at Cardozo Law School and NYU Law School, her undergraduate and Master’s degrees in Hebrew Studies at the University of Cambridge, and a graduate certificate in Talmudic literature at Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University. She previously taught at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in Los Angeles and at the Ohio State University and served as assistant congregational leader at the Spanish and Portuguese Synagogue in the City of New York. At Brandeis, she teaches courses in Jewish law, Jewish thought, Biblical Hebrew, the Bible and contemporary culture, and Rabbinic literature and culture.


November 13, 2023
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Event Category:


carolina center for jewish studies
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