As BAJS members will know, this year’s annual conference on “World in Crisis: Reflections and Responses from Antiquity to the Present” due to take place on 13th-15th July had to be postponed to next summer as a result of Covid-19.
Instead BAJS President Helen Spurling and BAJS Secretary David Tollerton, along with members of the BAJS committee, organised a virtual event designed to showcase the work of early career scholars. The event was well attended, with over 70 registered participants taking part.
Rebekah Welton (Exeter) opened the first session with a paper on “Gluttony and Drunkenness in the Hebrew Bible,” in which she presented aspects of her recently published doctoral thesis. Using textual, visual, and archaeological sources Welton threw light on the ancient food culture of the levant and interrogated attitudes toward ‘deviant’ eating and drinking in selected sources from the Hebrew Bible.
Yael Fisch (Oxford) addressed the disconnect between the architectural remains of Herod’s Temple as described in Josephus and the image of the Temple evoked in Mishnah Middot. Fisch put forward a compelling argument demonstrating how selected texts about the Beit Ha’Moqed in Mishnah Tamid were rewritten in Mishnah Middot, reflecting the development of an ‘ideal’ Temple in the tannaitic imagination.
Following the break, Tali Artman Partock (Cambridge) examined the challenging subject of sexual violence in early Jewish literature, with particular focus on male-on-male rape. Her paper highlighted the way in which texts in the Hebrew Bible and in Tannaitic literature wrestle with and/or silence the struggle faced by the interpretative community in addressing male rape, and the impact of the associated shame on the social position of the victim.
David Torello (King’s College London) presented an analysis of twelfth century Andalusian secular Hebrew prose. His paper examined notions of the ‘good life’ alongside ethical and moral ideals of behaviour in Medieval Sepharad.
After lunch we continued with our third and final session that began with a paper by Sarah Irving (Edge Hill) who spoke about her research into charitable giving following the 1927 earthquake in British Mandate Palestine. Her paper highlighted the role of the British Mandate government in directing relief funds toward housing and infrastructure, and what their approach reveals with regard to orientalist attitudes of the time.
The final paper of the day was presented by Phil Alexander (Glasgow) on “Berlin Klezmer and Urban Community.” His paper used his field notes and music recordings to evoke the vibrant atmosphere of klezmer in contemporary Berlin, identifying a shift in the performance of klezmer music from traditional ritual settings to modern cosmopolitan folk music and entertainment.
The papers concluded with an expression of thanks for all presenters and organisers, whose labour was not a given – especially under the circumstances of the last few months. We were very aware as the event was being put together that while the aim was to showcase the work of early career scholars, this could also have burdened them with extra work that shouldn’t be taken for granted.
The papers were followed by the announcement of the winners of the BAJS Book Prize, awarded this year to two books:
(1) Sacha Stern, “The Jewish Calendar Controversy of 921/2 CE” (Brill 2019); and,
(2) Lindsey A. Askin, “Scribal Culture in Ben Sira” (Brill 2018).
Further details about the prize-winning books can be found in the BAJS Annual Bulletin for 2019-20. Many congratulations to the winning entries!
The day concluded with the Association’s Annual General Meeting, the minutes of which will be published on the BAJS website in due course.
We hope to meet again in Southampton next summer! The new conference dates are 5th-7th July 2021, with further details to follow.
BAJS PGR/ECR Representative
15 July 2020.
“Perspectives from a New Generation of Scholars”
10.00-11.10 Session 1 Chair: Katharina Keim
Brief introductions from David Tollerton and Helen Spurling
Rebekah Welton (University of Exeter) ‘Gluttony and Drunkenness in Ancient Israel’
Yael Fisch (University of Oxford) ‘The Vitality of Tannaitic Temple Architecture: The Case of “Beit Ha’Moqed”’
11.40-12.50 Session 2 Chair: Andrea Schatz
Tali Artman Partock (University of Cambridge) ‘Picking up the Pieces: Men’s Recovery from Captivity and Rape in Rabbinic Literature’
David Torollo (King’s College London) ‘On Wisdom, Wine and Wandering: Texts and Intertexts on the Good Life from Medieval Sepharad’
13.50-15.00 Session 3 Chair: Hannah Ewence
Sarah Irving (Edge Hill University) ‘Donations and their Destinations: Charity and Conflict after the 1927 Palestine Earthquake’
Phil Alexander (University of Glasgow) ‘Berlin Klezmer and Urban Community’
15.30-16.45 Prize Announcements & Annual General Meeting