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Spinoza and free speech

8 Mar

April 1,  1:00 – 5:30 pm   

Re-open the case against Spinoza and his accusors.  Spinoza faces trial once more, entreating our community to render a new verdict.  The Spinozium promises to be a day full of provocative discourse, debate, and even a theatricalized session of closing arguments and a new verdict as we engage our own community in a sustained and cohesive series of conversations about the relative (in)justice of Spinoza’s fate.
If you would like to see where the current tally stands, please visit the Theater J Blog or Facebook Page.
1:00 p.m. SPINOZIUM Official Welcome Theater J Artistic Director Ari Roth
1:05 p.m. Lifting the Cherem, Israel 1953 Dramatic presentation of David Ben Gurion’s newly discovered letter to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel
Introduced by Artist-in-Residence Colin Greer and members of the cast of New Jerusalem.
1:20 p.m. The History and Politics of Excommunication   Panel on the uses of excommunication in history and its meaning and relevance today
Moderated by Nadine Epstein (editor, Moment Magazine)
 Steven Nadler (Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Spinoza’s Heresy:Immortality and the Jewish Mind and Rembrandt’s Jews, University of Wisconsin)
Jerome Copulsky (assistant professor of philosophy and religion and director of Judaic studies at Goucher College)
Karen Korol (head of undergraduate faculty for religious studies, Catholic University)
Legal Advocates Cross-Examine and the Audience Response

2:15 p.m. Loving and Hating Spinoza
Keynote interview with author and literary editor Leon Wieseltier (The New Republic; author of Kaddish)
Howard Shalwitz (artistic director, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company; BA, philosophy major, Wesleyan University)

3:30 p.m. Was Amsterdam The New Jerusalem? On the Fragility of the Community and The Question of Tolerance, Then and Now
Panel on the examination of the politics within the Jewish Community in Amsterdam under Dutch Calvinist Rule.

Moderated by Jane Eisner (editor, The Forward)
Marc Saperstein (author of Exile in Amsterdam: Sol Levy Mortera’s Sermons To A Congregation of New Jews)
Yaacob Dweck (Princeton University, author of A New Guide? The ‘Modern Maimonides’ Motif in the Maskilic Reception of Spinoza)
Daniel Schwartz (author of The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image, George Washington University)
4:20 p.m. Betraying Spinoza: Did We? Or Was He?
Interview with author Rebecca Goldstein (Betraying Spinoza and Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction) and Jane Eisner (editor, The Forward)
4:45 p.m. The Beit Din –
Judicial Directive from Judge Patricia Wald, retired Chief Judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
Legal Summation:
The case Against Spinoza Attorney Nathan Lewin
The Case Defending Spinoza Attorney Alyza Lewin
Friend of The Court Brief Statements Persuasions from the audience
5:15 p.m. Spinoza Speaks!
Helen Hayes Award Nominee Alexander Strain as Spinoza
5:20 p.m. The Vote
Dramatic presentation as the vote is being tallied: “History’s Response to Ben Gurion’s Appeal”
5:25 p.m. Reading of the Verdict
Ritual Rescinding or Re-inscription of the Writ
Rabbi David Shneyer (Am Kolel)
Rabbi Nissan Antine (Beth Sholom)
7:30 p.m. Closing Night of New Jerusalem
$20 or become a Spinozaphile and save on everything Spinoza
About the Panelists:
Nadine Epstein (Editor, Moment Magazine)
Editor and Publisher of Moment. Epstein has been a journalist for 25 years: Her articles, essays and op-ed pieces have appeared in The New York Times, The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post, Smithsonian, The Christian Science Monitor, Ms., and other publications. She covered politics and news in the Chicago bureau of The New York Times and worked as an editor and reporter at The City News Bureau of Chicago. She has published three books, contributed to several anthology collections and co-written a documentary film, which was selected as a semifinalist of the 2001 Academy Awards. Epstein was a 1989-1990 Kellogg Fellow for Public Service in Journalism, part of the Michigan Journalism Fellows program, now known as the Knight-Wallace Fellowship. She has been the recipient of many grants, including the D.C. Commission on the Arts/National Endowment for the Arts and the Fund for Investigative Journalism. During the nineties, she taught journalism in the Master’s Program in Journalism, Communications Department, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She has a B.A. and M.A. in international affairs from University of Pennsylvania and was a University fellow in the political science doctoral program at Columbia University. She lives with her family in Washington, D.C.
Steven Nadler (Pulitzer Prize finalist and author of Spinoza’s Heresy: Immortality and the Jewish Mind and Rembrandt’s Jews, University of Wisconsin)
William H. Hay II Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison (where he has been teaching since 1988), and editor of the Journal of the History of Philosophy. His books include Spinoza:  A Life (Cambridge, 1999, winner of the Koret Jewish Book Award),  Spinoza’s Heresy (Oxford, 2002),  Rembrandt’s Jews (Chicago, 2003, finalist for the Pulitzer Prize),  The Best of All Possible Worlds: A Story of Philosophers, God and Evil (Princeton, 2008), and, most recently,  A Book Forged in Hell: Spinoza’s Scandalous Treatise (Princeton). Originally from Roslyn, New York, he lives in Madison, Wisconsin, with his family.
Jerome Copulsky (Director of Judaic Studies, Goucher College) 
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religion and Director of Judaic Studies at Goucher College. His essays, stories, and reviews have appeared in such places as The New York Times, Salon, The New Republic,Tablet, The Jerusalem Post, and The Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and The Jewish Review of Books. 
Karen Korol (Head of Undergraduate Faculty for Religious Studies, Catholic University)

Leon Wieseltier      (Literary Editor of The New Republic; author of Kaddish)
Literary editor of The New Republic since 1983. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1952. After three years as a graduate student in Jewish history at Harvard University, he was a member of the Society of Fellows at Harvard from 1979 to 1982. He also attended Columbia University and Oxford University. He is the author of  Nuclear War Nuclear Peace, Against Identity, and Kaddish. 
 Jane Eisner (Editor, The Forward)
A pioneer in journalism, became editor of The Jewish Daily Forward in June 2008, the first woman to hold the position at the influential Jewish national weekly newspaper. Under her leadership, the Forward has won numerous regional and national awards for its original journalism, in print and online.  In addition to her Inquirer column “American Rhythms,” which was syndicated to 100 newspapers, Eisner has also written for the Washington Post, Newsday, Brookings Review, Columbia Journalism Review, Ma’ayan and the Reconstructionist, and served as a regular panelist on the WPVI television talk show “Inside Story.”  Eisner received a master’s degree from Columbia University’s School of Journalism and graduated from Wesleyan University cum laude in 1977, where she was the first female editor of the college newspaper and was a member of the board of trustees. She recently was the first woman to win Wesleyan’s McConaughy Award for contributions to journalism and public life.
Marc Saperstein (Author of Exile in Amsterdam: Sol Levy Mortera’s Sermons To A Congregation of New Jews)
Yaacob Dweck (Princeton University, author of The Scandal of Kabbalah)
Assistant professor of history and Judaic studies at Princeton University. He received his BA from Columbia University, MPhil from the University of Cambridge, and PhD from the University of Pennsylvania. His first book, The Scandal of Kabbalah: Leon Modena, Jewish Mysticism, Early Modern Venice was published in 2011 by Princeton University Press. He is currently working on the life and thought of Jacob Sasportas. He has also translated Hebrew fiction by S. Yizhar and Haim Sabato.  
Daniel Schwartz (Author of The First Modern Jew: Spinoza and the History of an Image, George Washington University)

Rebecca Goldstein (Betraying Spinoza and Thirty-Six Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction)
Novelist and a philosopher.  She graduated from Barnard College and received her Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University.  She is the author of nine books, seven of them fiction, including The Mind-Body Problem; Properties of Light: A Novel of Love, Betrayal, and Quantum Physics; Mazel; and 36 Arguments for the Existence of God: A Work of Fiction. Her two non-fiction books areIncompleteness: The Proof and Paradox of Kurt Gödel, which was chosen by Discover Magazine as one of the best science books of 2005, and Betraying Spinoza: The Renegade Jew Who Gave Us Modernity, which won the Koret Award in Jewish Thought.Her book, The Ancient Quarrel: Literature and Philosophy,  based on The Tanner Lectures on Human Values, delivered at Yale University in 2011, will be published this year.  She is the recipient of many prizes for scholarship and fiction, including a 1996 MacArthur “Genius” Award. She was named “Humanist of the Year 2011” by the American Humanist Association and “Free-thought Heroine” by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.  She is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is Professor of Philosophy at New College of the Humanities, London, UK.
The Case Against Spinoza: Attorney Nathan Lewin
The Case Defending Spinoza: Alyza Lewin