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Are Pit Bulls Really Dangerous? Reflections on Rabbinic Constructions of Risk

February 11 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm MST

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A virtual event presented by Dr. Beth Berkowitz




ABOUT THIS EVENT:  People used to fear bloodhounds. Now they fear pit bulls. What we think of as dangerous changes over time, subject to a variety of political and cultural forces. In this lecture, we will study the rabbinic notion of dangerous animals as it appears in the Mishnah, and then we will focus on a story in the Babylonian Talmud (Bava Kamma 80a-b) about a cat who attacks a baby at a bris. We will explore rabbinic constructions of danger and consider how those constructions can help us reflect critically on our own assumptions about risk in everyday life and in the world at large.

ABOUT THIS SPEAKER: Beth A. Berkowitz is Ingeborg Rennert Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion at Barnard College. She is the author of Execution and Invention: Death Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2006; winner of the Salo Baron Prize for Outstanding First Book in Jewish Studies); Defining Jewish Difference: From Antiquity to the Present (Cambridge University Press, 2012); and Animals and Animality in the Babylonian Talmud (Cambridge University Press, 2018). She is co-editor of Religious Studies and Rabbinics: A Conversation (Routledge, 2017). She has published articles in the Journal for the American Academy of Religion, Journal of Jewish Studies, Jewish Quarterly Review, Journal of Ancient Judaism, Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, AJS Review, and Biblical Interpretation. Her area of specialization is classical rabbinic literature, and her interests include animal studies, Jewish difference, and Bible reception history.




February 11
1:00 pm - 2:00 pm MST
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