Author Archives: zjb

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. http://religion.syr.edu

Hanukah & Happiness & William James

If, then, we give the name of healthy-mindedness to the tendency which looks on all things and sees that they are good, we find that we must distinguish between a more involuntary and a more voluntary or systematic way of … Continue reading

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I See Dead Professors On Zoom (Yevamot 96b-97a)

Ripe for parody, this article at Slate about an online lecture-course hosted at Concordia by a professor of art history who had passed away sometime before says a lot about the neo-liberal university and the degradation of higher education, about … Continue reading

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Space and Martian Synagogues (Larry Yudelson)

To fantastic effect, Larry Yudelson put a bunch of images together at NeuralBlender, an AI site. From what I understand, you enter the prompt and the machine folds, in this case, a synagogue-look into 1970s sci fi cover art. For more … Continue reading

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(William James) Religion Is….

I’ve been struggling with the caricature according to which the definition of religion suggested by James is “Protestant.” This is to claim that for James, religion is a private matter, The problem is this. On the one hand, the caricature … Continue reading

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Monsieur Chouchani

Lots of excitement is instantly surrounding recent news about the trove of notebooks by Monsieur Chouchani. The legendary Monsieur Chouchani was the teacher of Elie Wiesel and Emmanuel Levinas. Born in Russia “around the turn of the twentieth century,” he … Continue reading

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Magic Onion (E.B. Tylor)

h/t Samuel Spinner On old thing in mint museum-comdition here at Pitt Rivers Museum Onion stuck with pins and a metal coil, used in sympathetic magic [SM 07/01/2008] Place details: EUROPE. United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland / England … Continue reading

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(Animism) Primitive Jewish Culture (E.B. Tylor)

Jewish culture and Judaism spot E.B. Tylor’s monumental Primitive Culture. There is no special theory of Jewish culture or Judaism in Primitive Culture. Judaism is nothing special, just one more dataset in the ethnographic record. Primitive Judaism is folklore Primitive … Continue reading

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Online Anti-Semitism & Jewish Life in Europe During Covid

Posting here the EU Report on anti-Semitism online after Covid. In addition to its status as a record, it highlights the conjunction between online platforms, the expression and organization of hate, and pandemic-culture in the digital West. Related is here: … Continue reading

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Animism, Affect, Spiritual Beings (E.B. Tylor)

In late mid-career, I finally got around to E.B. Tylor’s Primitive Culture and more of these musty nineteenth century contributions to the science of Religion. I am now including in my graduate seminar on Theories and Methods Max Müller’s Lectures … Continue reading

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Religion = Spiritual Beings

Teaching Theories and Methods again, the classics.. “Belief” is not quite the right word and not what he actually meant. I’ve lost all patience with beating around the bush as to what people mean by “religion” and “religious.” In social-historical-political … Continue reading

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