More from Larry Cohler-Esses’ trip to Iran: this article, which you can find here in the Forward, is about Jewish Studies at the University of Religions and Denominations in Qom. The approach to Jewish Studies at Qom is textual, focused as it is on rabbinic law, medieval philosophy, and mysticism.
I’m of two minds on this one.
On the one hand, I’m reading this story in relation to ongoing claims and concerns by colleagues here in the United States that Jewish Studies as an academic discipline is “too Jewish.” One could imagine that Jewish Studies in Iran will look like something else entirely, something out of the blue, like a geometric glazed brick Persian tile-work. It would be interesting to imagine and interesting to see what they “figure” out there.
On the other hand, it’s too early to get excited. The program appears middling at best. With a largely apologetic and religious approach, the research foci look a little like the ones pursued at the AJS circa 1975. Is it the case here that the more things change, the more they stay the same? I liked especially the nod to Martin Buber and H.A. Wolfson.
Either way, this is an interesting story and a welcome alternative to the Iran Deal drumbeat. I can’t think of a single colleague who would not have given an arm and a leg to sit at the table in the photograph above.