Laura Levitt On (Not) Being Jacob Neusner’s Student


Free from what she calls the “really real,” this is a powerful memory by Laura Levitt who studied under the wing of the late Jacob Neusner at Brown before launching her own spectacular career as a pioneer scholar of Judaism and gender. Well-know for his rigor and cruelty, Neusner never claimed her as his “own,” which Levitt marks as both painful and liberating. Not Neusner’s student, i.e. not a scholar of Mishnah or Talmud, she writes, “Perhaps this disappointment was the greatest gift. Because he never claimed me as his, I remained free. In the years after I entered the academy, Jacob Neusner never acknowledged or responded to any of my scholarly work, although there were many times when I would have loved a response, any sliver of recognition. But in the end, I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve had a career all my own. Since I left Brown, I’ve been beholden to no one. Without him, I’ve been free to cultivate my imagination, to read and write, research and teach exactly what I want.” You can read the whole piece here.

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics.
This entry was posted in uncategorized and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Laura Levitt On (Not) Being Jacob Neusner’s Student

  1. dmf says:

    reading about F.Rosenzweig in Lilla’s Shipwrecked Mind book, be interested in yer take on the book if you get a chance to check it out.

  2. dmf says:
    e is he says, on a mission from God, Robert Berman’s lifelong campaign for organ donation to be permissible under Jewish/Talmudic law – Halacha – is at the centre of an ongoing debate in Israel. Berman, a Harvard University graduate, is striving to change attitudes to the donating of organs and possibly redefine the strict and ancient definition of death

Leave a Reply