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10.2.15 Issue

by Leonard Greenspoon, Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization, Creighton University

This World and the World to Come is the title of this fall’s Symposium on Jewish Civilization, which takes place on Oct. 25 and 26. This is the twenty-eighth year for the annual event.

The keynote speaker this year is Yale Professor Christine Hayes. Her presentation, Heaven on Earth: The World to Come and its (Dis)locations, begins at 7 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 25, at the JCC.

Christine Hayes

Christine Hayes

Dr. Hayes has affiliations with Harvard, Princeton, UC Berkeley, Bar Ilan and Hebrew University, in addition to Yale. She has written five major books and edited or co-edited several important collections. Three single-spaced pages are needed to list her scholarly articles and book chapters. She made more than three dozen academic and popular presentations over the past two years. In her career, she has received numerous fellowships and awards.

Impressive? Absolutely! But not unusual when compared with the 27 other keynote speakers who have preceded Professor Hayes at our annual Symposium.

Dr. Hayes’s undergraduate degree is from Harvard, her PhD from UC Berkeley. Before accepting a teaching position at Yale, where she occupies a prestigious position as Weis Professor of Religious Studies in Classical Judaica, Hayes taught for several years at Princeton. In the midst of all of this, she has regularly lectured at Bar Ilan and Hebrew University as well as other famous academic institutions worldwide.

The most recent of her five books, which was just published by Princeton University Press, is titled What’s Divine About Divine Law? Early Perspectives. Her first, Between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds, was honored with an award named after esteemed historian, Salon Baron.

Among her many articles are those bearing these intriguing titles: We’re No Angels, Golden Calf Stories, The (Ir)rationality of Torah, Inventing Rabbis, The Moses of Midrash: God’s Partner or Adversary? and The Myth of Perfect Torah Observance. Among her 36 stops for talks during a period of (only) 24 months were Ramat Gan and Jerusalem in Israel (both more than once), Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Boca Raton, Washington, DC, Minneapolis, Washington, DC, Urbana-Champaign, Berkeley, and Montreal. We can only imagine the frequent flier points she has amassed!

Hayes has been honored with fellowships at the Tikvah Center for Law and Jewish Civilization and at the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization, election to the American Academy of Jewish Research, and a Mellon New Directions Fellowship. She is also very active in the Association for Jewish Studies and as a member of the editorial or advisory boards for a number of prestigious publication projects.

Christine Hayes, who holds dual citizenship in the United States and Australia, is married to a Yale Professor of Philosophy whom she met when they were both Harvard undergraduates; they have two sons. For more than 25 years, she has been performing a cappella harmony in the barbershop style. She continues to compete in barbershop chorus and is lead singer in a competition quartet.

With accomplishments of this variety and stature, it is easy to see why she was the unanimous choice as keynote presenter for this fall.

Professor Hayes’s keynote presentation caps off a full day of Symposium activities on Oct. 25. Sunday morning presentations, from 9-11:30 a.m., will take place on the campus of the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Three presenters will offer insights on topics ranging from Jewish apocalypses to fine dining options in the World to Come. For these presentations, we will meet in room 132D at the College of Public Affairs and Communications on the UNO campus.

After a quick trip from the UNO campus to the campus of the Jewish Community Center, everyone is invited to a luncheon from noon-1 p.m. Five additional papers, divided into two sessions, can be heard from 1-5 p.m. The presenters in these sessions come from as far away as Germany and Israel and as near as Missouri. The subject matter of their presentations is equally wide-ranging: from philosophy and theology to wine and the Golem.

Five additional papers are scheduled for Monday, Oct. 26, when the Symposium reconvenes in the ballroom of the Skutt Student Center on the campus of Creighton University. The first four presentations are scheduled in two sessions from 8:30 a.m.-11:30 p.m. Among the highlights of these sessions are descriptions of monsters and discussion of further dietary delights of the World to Come.

From 11:30 a.m.-12:15 p.m., Symposium participants and members of the public are invited to some decidedly terrestrial fare: a deli luncheon. This event, as well as all other Symposium activities, is free and open to the public.

The final presentation at Creighton takes place from 12:20 p.m.-1 p.m. It will deal with another topic that connects This World and the World to Come.

This year, for the first time in over a decade, the Symposium is also scheduling presentations on the UNL campus. The first of these will begin at 4 p.m. in Bailey Library, Andrews Hall; the second is scheduled at 7 p.m. in Unity Room 212 of the Gaughan Multicultural Center.

The annual Fall Symposium on Jewish Civilization has been a fixture of the community’s fall schedule for more than a quarter of a century. It is jointly organized and presented by the Klutznick Chair in Jewish Civilization (Creighton University), the Kripke Center for the Study of Religion and Society (Creighton University), the Harris Center for Judaic Studies (University of Nebraska at Lincoln), and the Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies (University of Nebraska at Omaha).

The Symposium benefits from the support of the Jewish Federation of Omaha, Creighton University, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, and the University of Nebraska at Omaha. In addition, the Ike and Roz Friedman Foundation, the Riekes Family, and other supporters provide generous funding.

For further details about the Symposium, please check out the Klutznick Chair website at or contact Colleen Hastings at 402.280.2303 or