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Moses’ Jewish Problem

Start: Nov 10, 2015 07:00 PM

Jonathan Magonet, Leo Baeck College / Seinan Gakuin University, Fukuoka

Tuesday November 10th


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Leon Yudkin was born on 8 September 1939 and died on June 8 2013. He was a prominent scholar of modern Jewish and Hebrew literature. His death prevented him from witnessing the publication of the last of his 13 books, 'Fiction Derailed', a comparison of Israeli, French and German literature. Leon Yudkin was the youngest of a Jewish family’s four children and the only son. He was educated at Carmel College in Oxfordshire and went on to gain a BA and MA from University College London. His first academic post was at the University of South Africa in Johannesburg, where he taught from 1964 to 1966. It was there that he met his wife, Mickey.

He then took up a post at Manchester University’s department of Near Eastern studies. In 1996 he joined the department of Hebrew and Jewish studies at University College London, having been awarded the degree of doctor of literature. This was shortly before the publication of his eighth book, 'A Home Within: Varieties of Jewish Expression in Modern Fiction', which focused on themes in French literature, Kafka and Prague and the Arab/Jewish conflict in Israeli literature. It was this passionate interest in the interweaving of history and writers’ reactions to it which led him to explore the relationship between literature and public policy. Dr Yudkin lectured extensively all over the world and is much missed by students, friends and the academic community.

This lecture is sparked by Leon Yudkin's interest in Jewish Identity. The title 'Moses' Jewish Problem' is, of course, anachronistic, but the lecture does address a major Biblical puzzle:  How did Moses know that he was a 'Hebrew' so that he was prepared to intervene on their behalf and risk his status as an Egyptian prince?  We will look at a couple of 'Hollywood' solutions but then examine in detail Biblical passages that seem to address this question.  A related aspect is the ambivalence with which he was viewed by the Hebrews, attitudes that were to challenge him throughout the wilderness years.

Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet is the former Principal of Leo Baeck College.  As well as teaching there as Emeritus Professor of Bible, he lectures regularly on Biblical and Jewish topics at Seinan Gakuin University in Fukuoka, Japan.  He is the author of several popular books on literary approaches to the Hebrew Bible, co-editor of prayerbooks for the Movement for Reform Judaism and editor of the Journal 'European Judaism'.

Lecture 7.00pm, followed by reception, JZ Young lecture theatre, UCL Anatomy Building, Gower Street


Eventbrite - Moses’ Jewish Problem

For more events, see our Lectures Programme for Autumn 2015.   

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