Kosher Cloned Pork (Halakhah & the Biological Sciences)


According to the rabbi in this article in the Times of Israel, Yuval Cherlow of the Tzohar Rabbinical Organization in Israel, cloned meat loses its animal character, thus permitting the kosher consumption of cloned pork, with milk. The opinion suggests something of the stretchiness of halakah particularly in relation to advances in the biological sciences. There is also an ethical component worked into the idea.

There’s a full interview with Cherlow in Hebrew here. Here’s the takeaway from the TOI article:

In the interview ahead of a Bar-Ilan University symposium titled “Science and Halacha” featuring a talk by Cherlow, he advocated rabbinic approval of cloned meat “so that people would not starve, to prevent pollution, and to avoid the suffering of animals.”

When the “cell of a pig is used and its genetic material is utilized in the production of food, the cell in fact loses its original identity and therefore cannot be defined as forbidden for consumption,” Cherlow said. “It wouldn’t even be meat, so you can consume it with dairy.”

In 2013, Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of the Orthodox Union’s kosher division, said that meat from a lab-grown hamburger could be consumed with dairy products, although halacha, religious Jewish law, forbids it in meat produced from a live animal.

But Genack, who was commenting on the production of an artificial hamburger produced by researchers from Maastricht University in the Netherlands, did not mention pork, whose consumption is one of Judaism’s strongest prohibitions.

“Without prophesying, clearly there will be a major disagreement,” Cherlow said over the consumption of what he called cloned meat. And while “there is merit” in prohibiting this meat, too, “halachic thought should examine the needs of all humanity, not only one’s own case,” he said.


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Affect & Potential (Aristotle)


When defining affect, many will go back to Spinoza, the capacity for being affected.  More useful perhaps is this from Aristotle which I think should be read in tandem with this bit on potentiality. The first puts the emphasis on alteration, the second on change and movement.

“Affection means [1] a quality in respect of which a thing can be altered, e.g. white and black, sweet and bitter, heaviness and lightness, and others of this kind —(2), The actualization of these –the already accomplished alterations.—(3) Especially injurious alterations and movements, and, above all, painful injuries. –-(4) Misfortunes and painful experiences when on a large scale ae are called affections.” (Metaphysics 1022b)

“I mean by potency not only that definite kind which is said to be a principle of change in another thing or in the thing itself regarded as other, but in general every principle of movement or of rest. For nature is in the same genus as potency; for it is a principle of movement –not, however, in something else but in the thing itself qua itself. ” (Metaphysics 1049b)

(translated by W.D. Ross)

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Tillerson (Pirkei Avot 2:6)


About day old news about the recent Tillerson removal from the State Department, which is already old news, I was reminded of an even older rabbinic dictum.

Among the many fine sayings ascribed to Hillel in Pirkei Avot and elsewhere is this little gem.

“He also saw a skull floating upon the water. Said he to it: Because you drowned others, you were drowned; and those who drowned you, will themselves be drowned” (Pirkei Avot 2:6).

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Jane (Death & Primate Aggression)


(SPOILER ALERT) I missed seeing Jane, the documentary on Jane Goodall by Brett Morgan when it was out in the theaters. It aired last night on television on the National Geographic channel. Taking a break from I Claudius and from thinking about my undergraduate Holocaust course, this is not what I was expecting. Morgan’s interview with Goodall interspliced with the old National Geographic footage shot by her collaborator and first husband Hugo van Lawick was, naturally, the centerpiece of the film. What one expected was precisely the footage documenting chimpanzees, chimpanzee sociality, chimpanzee intelligence, as well as Goodall’s personal life. So much of it was profoundly affecting, as was what one may have been surprised to see, this being the mortal coil of primate existence: watching the ravages of a polio outbreak on the group at Gombe, the old age and dying of Flo, the reaction by her son who, never able to detach from his mother, simply wastes away and dies of grief, and then the splitting in two of the group and the total extermination of one half by the stronger half in the descent of civil war, over which all hangs the threat of species extinction. Jane makes for aching nostalgia and painful allegory, a meditation on life and then death. The circle never quite closes in the film, which I think reflects our current mood and moment.

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Reactionary Not Radical (Meir Kahane & Louis Farrakhan)


The latest brouhaha about Farrakhan confusing large parts of the U.S. left comes down to the difference between radicals and reactionaries. Reactionaries of every stripe always say they are acting to lift up this or that beloved community. That they cannot do so without the negative foil of some putative other is their special impotence, punching down or across, the little fascism common to scummy, two-bit demagogues like Farrakhan or Meir Kahane who feed off the margins of their respective communities and who represent little more to nothing than that. Did Kahane, for his part, do anyone any good? Did he change Jewish lives for the better? Did he advance in a real way any Jewish political interest? Some will say that he did, but so what? Was it not just a lot of noise?

About Kahane, I know of only one single person out there on the liberal-progressive-left of the Jewish community who wants to take Kahane seriously. An academic interested in heretical thinking, Shaul Magid is at work on what will be a truly groundbreaking study of Kahane. For Shaul, a dear friend and friend of the blog, Kahane is both an important critical voice who took the liberal Jewish community to task and the ugly mirror reflecting back the true face of the contradictions that beset Jewish community and Jewish identity as these concern particularism, racism, and institutional power. Do we need the memory of Kahane to think these problems through?

That’s precisely the confusion. Kahane only muddies the water. Like Farrakhan, Kahane was a radical reactionary, a racist, not a radical, expelled from the liberal mainstream “church” of the American Jewish community and liberal Judaism, and with whose memory no one on the liberal-left should have anything to do. If the nightmarish figure of Kahanism represents a political force today, or an intellectual challenge, a return of the repressed, that would reveal not so much anything about the American Jewish community and the contradictions of Jewish identity as such, but the sad state of Orthodox Judaism today both in the United States and in Israel where this kind of thinking is, to say the least, not uncommon.

What’s interesting about the latest non-news about Farrakhan and anti-Semitism is not so much what it says about the African American community writ large.  This is not a “black anti-Semitism” problem. It is about the sectarian left where people have rushed to defend politically and morally some serious ideological confusion basic to radicalism and the reactionary mind.

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(On Recognition) Blacks & Jews & the Women’s March (Farrakhan Again)


The details, of course, are well-known by now. Farrakhan, a master conspiracy theorist, emerges from out under the rocks like some scaly monster to pronounce against his longtime enemies, “the “powerful Jews,” warning that “their time is up, your world is through.” This would have passed for ordinary doggerel from the leader of the Nation of Islam and left at that were it not for Tamika Mallory, a leader in the Women’s March movement. Tweeting from the event, she took a selfie with Farrakhan, embracing as an elder statesperson an old man with a record of black self-empowerment and demented ideas about Jews, women, gays, lesbians, and transgender people. As if played to script, Mallory dug in to defend herself. “If your leader,” she replied to a supporter, “does not have the same enemies as Jesus, they may not be THE leader.” Other Women’s March leaders, including Linda Sarsour, jumped into the fray to defend Mallory online, and then finally the Women’s March released a statement, the tepidity of which was framed in the passive voice. Committing themselves against anti-Semitism, they avowed that Farrakhan’s views are “not aligned with the Women’s March Unity Principles, which were created by women of color leaders and are grounded in Kingian nonviolence.”

Jewish rightwingers are delighted. “The left is no home for the Jews,” they tell us. Indeed, the liberal and progressive Jewish left is split between those who want to ignore what is perhaps best viewed as a storm in a tea kettle, and to focus on the real danger presented by the occupation and by racist and neo-Nazi alt-right here at home. But the “enemies of Jesus” and THE leader” was too much for most, among whom many have expressed a combination of outrage mixed with confusion, and hurt at this betrayal expressed by leaders of the intersectional and feminist left.

But what makes this all so particularly grotesque and what no one wants to talk about is that this particular fight is turning into a racial conflict between people of color on the activist left and white Ashkenazi Jews. As always, Jews of color are caught in a miserable place in the middle.

In play is the politics of recognition which marks the literature on “black and Jews,” “Jewish racism” and “black Anti-Semitism.” A key term in the literature is recognition, which one can find in essays devoted to the topic by thinkers like Baldwin, Henry Louis Gates, bell hooks, and Cornel West. The Jewish participants in these dialogues wrote wanting African Americans to recognize Jewish suffering and to combat Anti-Semitism in their own community. African American intellectuals wrote wanting Jews to recognize black suffering, black humanity, and racism in the Jewish community. The arguments are now intensified by Jews of color now demanding their own rightful recognition in both communities. Recognition of the other and by the other has always been and was always going to be the guiding thread.

Maybe it’s time to uncouple and to stop wanting the other’s recognition. Indeed, not giving a f%&k is a lost Jewish art. Today it seems to be enjoyed by orthodox Jews, whereas liberal and progressive Jews tend to be anxious, even cloying. It matters to them, it matters to us, what “the other thinks” of them, how others represent and try to define us. Or they simply disavow any Jewish political interest. In the nineteenth century, the German Jewish historian and leader of the Reform Movement Abraham Geiger thought that the hard protective shell of Jewish ghetto identity was a thing of the past. But what a remarkable thing it was, an unreliant, unresponsive, unaffected structure of feeling that did not depend upon the other, upon any other other than God, to confirm one’s place in the greater scheme of things.

Perhaps, after all, it is time simply to say that African Americans do not need Jews to recognize their story and Jews do not need African Americans to confirm theirs. This demand, always, that “the other” recognize “me” is too heavy a weight for anyone to carry. Viewed one way, there is something to be said for not caring about the other, just a little.  There is too little time and energy to care about this Farrakhan foolishness and certainly no reason to be surprised by anti-Jewish myopia on the left. It simply is, and one should draw the necessary consequence, be that as it may.

I am not your “ally” and you are not mine. But people are going to be decent to each other or they won’t be, and there is nothing that one can do to assure that this kind of idiocy is not going to happen consistently across the board. People are dumb. People aren’t dumb. It really depends, and it’s best to proceed case by case, and without the blinkers of wanting the other to confirm me, whoever that may be.

What not wanting or needing recognition means practically is that African Americans who aren’t anti-Semitic should not be forced to condemn every expression of anti-Semitism in the African American community, as if on demand. If they are autonomous and free, Jews should not have to need that kind of recognition. Nor for their part, do white Jews have to condemn every expression of racism in the Jewish community, or every and single outrage, major or minor in Israel and in the occupied West Bank, as if on cue, or to meet some kind of litmus test. They will or they won’t not because they need the recognition from some other of some Jewish virtue, but because that suits the best putative Jewish political interest as one undestands it.

No one has to cringe, and that includes black activists or Jews on the liberal and progressive left. Farrakhan is an old tune, but so is the conflict between black and Jews on the activist left going back to the late 1960s and then again in the 1990s. Why should anyone be surprised that this kind of antisemitism is going to pop up at the intersectional left? Why should anyone be surprised when leftist activists refuse to acknowledge Jewish lives and dig in outrageously when they are challenged? Why do liberal and progressive Jews need that recognition so badly? One can live without it. That is what it means to be free. Genuine recognition does not require apologetic virtue signaling, and no one has to support anyone as if there was some kind of default solidarity position.

I don’t care much about Farrakhan and I don’t believe there is much support for him out in the world. If the leaders of the Women’s March want to shoot themselves in the foot, if they think it is possible be a feminist and support Farrakhan, if they think one can be opposed anti-Semitism and homophobia while supporting Farrakhan, then that is for them to decide, only that they will carry the consequence, because, really, no, one cannot. To think that one can split this difference is simply stupid, and there is no reason not to say this, regardless of what some Jews on the left might say and regardless of the resounding silence of groups like Jewish Voice for Peace.

Politics is the art of self-interest and coalition building. More important than the lack of discernment, the inability to know things clearly, that has afflicted the leadership at the Women’s March and those parts of the left rallying behind them is the future of black-Jewish relations, and the well-being of these two political communities along with the future of this country. In a spirit of self-respect, African Americans and American Jews should be allowed to speak their minds and call each other out, without demanding anything from the other, at least not upfront and at the start. This has nothing to do with virtue, the virtue of suffering, and the virtue of solidarity. Let the chips fall where they may and then choose to or not to pick up the pieces if that is, indeed, in the common political interest or at all relevant to the motivation of friendship. But can’t we say that we’re done with the moralizing cant of recognition that is independent of political interest?

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(Call for Applications) Image Prohibition and the Monotheistic Triangle (PhD Program in Berlin)




2 PhD-­‐Positions

E 13/TV-­‐L, 50 %, Third-­‐Party Financing




The  Selma  Stern  Zentrum  für  Jüdische  Studien  Berlin-­‐Brandenburg  invites  applications  for  2  PhD-­‐ positions from September 1st, 2018 to March 31st, 2022.


The  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to  work  in  the  research  area  ‘The  Monotheistic  Triangle’  on  the topic ‘Image Prohibition and Art Theory’.


The   PhD-­‐students   will   be   officially   enrolled   at   the   Freie   Univeraität   Berlin   (Fachbereich Geschichts-­‐ und Kulturwissenschaften – Seminar für Katholische Theologie), under the direction of Prof. Dr. Rainer Kampling. Their positions are located at the Selma Stern Zentrum für Jüdische Studien Berlin-­‐ Brandenburg and are founded by the BMBF.



Within the research area ‘The Monotheistic Triangle’ a research group on ‘Image Prohibition and Art Theory’  will  be  established.  It  is  a  three-­‐member  group,  where  the  two  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to work under the direction of a postdoc (Dr. Beniamino Fortis). The goal is to deal with a common theme from three different points of view.


Only PhD-­‐projects that fit within the thematic frame of the research group will be considered.


Research Area – The Monotheistic Triangle

A fundamental assumption, in this research area, is that a meaningful inquiry into any of the three monotheistic traditions cannot be carried out, without taking the other two into consideration. The research focus is thus set on relationships, connections, and interactions between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.


Particular attention is paid to those topics that are dealt with in all monotheistic traditions and  can thus be studied from three different perspectives.


Research Group – Image prohibition and Art Theory

The prohibition of images lends itself particularly well as such an interdisciplinary theme, because the legitimacy of pictorial representation is at issue in every monotheistic tradition. In each of them, moreover, image prohibition has experienced a manifold impact history, which of course includes also the ban’s consequences for art theory.


The postdoc’s research focuses on the relationship between image prohibition and art theory from  a  Jewish  perspective.  It  is  thus  meant  as  part  of  a  wider  project,  in  which  two  additional  PhD-­‐ projects are expected to deal with the same topic from a Christian and/or an Islamic point of view.


Doctoral and postdoctoral works must share the same theoretical structure, which acts as a common denominator between them and consists in two aspects. More precisely, each project must 1) determine the different ways the prohibition of images is conceived of and 2) analyze the influence the prohibition exerts on modern picture and art theories.


Suggestions for a possible PhD-­‐project

The  postdoc’s  project  investigates  Hermann  Cohen’s  (1842-­‐1918)  philosophy.  For  he  sake  of  group cohesiveness, preference will be given to PhD-­‐projects that focus on modern and contemporary subject matters.


Possible research topics are:

  • § ‚Abstraction’ und ‚Spirituality’ in Islamic Art as Consequences of Image Prohibition.
  • § Image Prohibition and its Interpretations in the Haskala.


  • § Rabbinical Debates on the Prohibition of Images in the 19. Century.
  • § Alex Stock’s Picture Theology Dealing with Image Prohibition.
  • § Image Prohibition and Hans Urs von Balthasar’s Conception of ‚Herrlichkeit’.
  • § Aestheticization of Art as a Reaction to Image Prohibition. The Case Study of Odo Marquard.


Requirements and Duties

Applicants should have completed their Master’s degrees in philosophy, theology, Jewish studies, or cultural studies no longer than two years before the application deadline. Good command of English and German is expected. Knowledge of another language that is relevant to he project is desirable.


Besides  working  on  their  own  project,  the  PhD-­‐students  are  expected  to  contribute  to  other collective works, to take part in other academic activities, and to collaborate in organizing academic events.


Application Documents

  • § Curriculum Vitae
  • § Exposé (in German or English) of max. 8 pages with:
  • Aim and Scope of the PhD-­‐project
  • Status Quaestionis
  • Explanation of how the PhD-­‐project contributes to scholarship
  • Explanation of how the PhD-­‐project fits within the research group
  • Applicant’s previous works (if any)
  • Method
  • Work Plan
  • Names of two referents



The application deadline is on May 7th, 2018.

Applications should be sent in hard or electronic form (in a single file!) to:

Freie Universität Berlin

Fachbereich Geschichts-­‐ und Kulturwissenschaften Seminar für Katholische Theologie

Prof. Dr. Rainer Kampling Fabeckstr. 23-­‐25

14195 Berlin (Dahlem)

E-­‐Mail: rainer.kampling@fu-­‐

For information, please contact:

Dr. Beniamino Fortis: Mail: b.fortis@selma-­‐stern-­‐

 Applications from qualified female scholars are particularly welcome. Severely disabled applicants with equivalent qualifications will be given preferential consideration. People with an immigration background are specifically encouraged to apply.

Since we will not return your documents, please submit copies in the application only.

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