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Free Judaic Studies Lecture Series Explores 'Eco-Judaism'

Visiting scholars will explore the response of Jewish scholars and activists to global environmental issues in this free lecture series, which kicks off Oct. 13.

Date: 10/6/2015 1:00:00 PM
By: Matthew Kraus
Phone: (513) 556-2298

UC ingot   Jewish approaches to the environment are the focus of this year's Jennie L. and Jacob Lichter Lecture series, which kicks off Oct. 13 at the University of Cincinnati's Taft Research Center.

The annual series marks the foremost event of the UC Department of Judaic Studies, which presents a different theme each year to better understand the changing field of Jewish thought and learning. 

Jennie L. and Jacob Lichter Lecture series

This year’s theme, “Eco-Judaism: New Jewish Approaches to the Environment,” explores the response of Jewish scholars and activists to rising global environmental challenges.

Presentations will include innovative readings of Jewish texts related to environmental ethics, cutting-edge attempts to connect Jews and nature and current efforts to enlist environmentalism to solve contemporary Jewish challenges.

“The relationship between Judaism and ecology began in earnest in the 1960s,” said Matthew Kraus, undergraduate adviser for Judaic Studies. “We wanted to examine what has happened since then and address more recent issues such as carbon-footprinting, renewable energy sources and climate change.” 

All lectures start at 7 p.m. and are free and open to the community.

The series launches Tuesday, Oct. 13, with Hava Tirosh-Samuelson, a Jewish intellectual historian who will speak on “Jewish Environmentalism: Faith, Scholarship, and Activism.”   Samuelson is the Irving and Miriam Lowe Professor of Modern Judaism, director of Jewish studies and a professor of history at Arizona State University. 

The series continues Monday, Nov. 2, with Julia Watts Belser, an assistant professor of theology at Georgetown University, who will speak on “Fasting, Prayer and Protest: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Environmental Crisis.”

Both lectures will be held at the Taft Research Center, located in One Edwards at 47 Corry Blvd. on UC’s Uptown campus. 

The series concludes Monday, Nov. 9, with Jeremy Benstein, deputy director of the Heschel Center for Sustainability in Tel Aviv, Israel, who will speak on “Sustaining Israel: Zionism, the Environment and Peace.”  This lecture takes place at the Mayerson JCC, 8485 Ridge Road, Amberley Village. 

Kraus said the series is intended to educate people on the new and exciting programs that integrate Judaism and the environment. 

“The community will critically examine their opinions about the relationship between religion and the environment and perhaps even transform or at least adjust and nuance their views,” he said.

For more information, go to the event website or contact Wendy Lane at 513-556-2297 or

The series is made possible by the Jacob and Jennie L. Lichter Fund of the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati, with additional support provided by the Jewish Foundation of Cincinnati, Mayerson JCC and the Taft Research Center.

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