Social Activist Rabbi to Deliver Terry Lectures

Rabbi David Hartman, a philosopher and social activist, will be the next Terry Lecturer at Yale. He will deliver three addresses on the theme, “Struggling for the Soul of Israel: a Jewish Response to History.” All three talks are free and the public is welcome.

The first talk, “Maimonides v. Halevi: Nature or History as Mediator of God,” will be presented in Luce Hall Auditorium, 34 Hillhouse Ave., Tuesday, Sept. 8, at 4 p.m. The second talk, “Biblical and Talmudic Perceptions of the Living God of Israel,” will be presented at the Slifka Center for Jewish Life at Yale, 80 Wall St., on Thursday, Sept. 10, at 4 p.m.

The final lecture, “A Modern Religious Response to the Rebirth of Israel,” will be presented in the Yale Divinity School’s Marquand Chapel, 409 Prospect St., on Monday, Sept. 14, at 7:30 p.m. Buses from Woolsey Hall to the Divinity School will be available for this talk.

Hartman was born in 1931 in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the Lubavitcher Yeshiva and Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elhanan Theological Seminary, where he was ordained in 1953 as an Orthodox rabbi.

For the next five years, he studied at Fordham University, a Jesuit institution. With guidance from Roman Catholic philosopher Robert C. Pollack, Hartman forged a pluralistic and tolerant approach to religion. He went on to earn a Ph.D. degree in philosophy from McGill University in 1973. His dissertation on “Maimonides: Torah and Philosophic Quest” was published and won the 1971 National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought. Another of his books, “A Living Covenant: The Innovative Spirit in Traditional Judaism,” won the 1986 National Jewish Book Award for Jewish Thought.

After serving as a pulpit rabbi in Montreal for 11 years, Hartman and his family emigrated to Israel, where he founded the Shalom Hartman Institute (named for his father). The Institute is dedicated to developing a new understanding of the classical heritage of Judaism for modern times, and provides a place where Orthodox and secular thinkers can study together. Hartman is committed to religious pluralism in Israel, both within Judaism and between Jews and non-Jews. Within Israel, he protests the influence of right wing ultra-Orthodoxy on governmental policies, and defends the rights of the minority populations, including Palestinians.

The Dwight Terry Lectures were established in 1905 by a gift from Dwight Harrington Terry of Bridgeport, to endow a series of lectures on religion and its application to human welfare in the light of scientific knowledge and philosophical insights. The lectures are published in book form by the Yale University Press. Previous Terry Lectures have included John Dewey, Carl Jung, Margaret Mead, Erich Fromm, Paul Tillich and Rebecca West. Last year’s Terry Lecturer was the Rev. John Polkinghorne, a leading theologian in the Anglican Church.

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