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(Virtual Service) "Till Death Do Us Part?" Family Life and the Afterlife in Jewish and Christian Thought
October 25, 2020 @ 10:15 AM – 11:30 AM
David Shyovitz, Ph.D., Associate Professor of History at Northwestern University, will speak on the topic, “Till Death Do Us Part?” Family Life and the Afterlife in Jewish and Christian Thought. From ancient times to the present, theologians, artists, and storytellers have contemplated the rewards awaiting the righteous in the afterlife (and the torments awaiting the wicked). These visions of paradise and of perdition provide us with a useful vantage point for understanding the values and commitments of the era in which they were articulated–after all, one culture’s Heaven (or Elysium, or Garden of Eden, or Jannah…) could just as easily be another culture’s Hell (or Gehenna, or Hades, or Sheol…). In this presentation, we will explore how medieval Jewish and Christian sources debated the role of familial relationships in the afterlife. Will the righteous reunite with their deceased family members when they arrive in Heaven? Will spouses need to reconsecrate (and/or reconsummate) their marriages after they are resurrected from the dead? We will trace some of the overlapping ways in which medieval Christians and Jews grappled with these questions, and examine the lasting effects that these abstract theological debates had–and continue to have–upon concrete, lived communal experience.
Dr. Shyovitz is also Director of the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies. His research focuses on medieval European intellectual and cultural history, with a particular emphasis on Jewish history and Jewish-Christian relations. His current book project, “O Beastly Jew!” Jews, Animals, and Jewish Animals in the Middle Ages, explores the overlapping ways in which Jewish and Christian authors and artists distinguished humans from animals, and Jews from Christians, over the course of the Middle Ages. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania.
After services, from 11:30 AM – 12:00 PM, we will open Zoom for informal general discussion, as well as an opportunity to join a conversation group with Dr. David Shyovitz.
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