THE OBLIGATED SELF
finalist, 2018 National Jewish Book Award
Women’s Studies category
University of Toronto: Professor Naomi Seidman and graduate students
My most recent book, The Obligated Self: Maternal Subjectivity and Jewish Thought, puts maternal experience into constructive conversation with central themes in Jewish theology. It joins other innovative volumes in the New Jewish Thought and Philosophy series at Indiana University Press.
The physical and psychological work of caring for children presents theologically fruitful — but largely unexplored — terrain for feminists.
In this book, I demonstrate that attending to the constant, concrete, and urgent needs of young children invites caregivers to grapple with profound religious questions: how can we responsibly use our power in unequal relationships? What is our obligation to respond to human fragility and vulnerability? And how do relationships like those between parents and children reorient our concept of the self? Drawing on Jewish sources from the Talmud to modern philosophy, The Obligated Self takes up the challenge of bringing a theological, feminist perspective to parenting.
Reviews in print:
Susan Sapiro, “Motherhood and Godliness,” Lilith magazine (Winter 2018-19)
Dustin Atlas, for Reading Religion (March 2019)
Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity (Cambridge University Press, 2009) examines the high theological and political stakes of Franz Rosenzweig’s creation of a textual home for the Jewish people in modern times.
My study of this titan of modern Jewish thought and philosophy places Rosenzweig’s best-known work, The Star of Redemption, at the beginning of an intellectual trajectory that culminated in a monumental translation of the Bible. I argue that Rosenzweig’s response to modernity was paradoxical: he challenged his readers to encounter the biblical text as revelation, reinventing scripture – both the Bible itself and the very notion of a scriptural text – in order to invigorate Jewish intellectual and social life, but did so in a distinctly modern key, ultimately reinforcing the foundations of German-Jewish post-Enlightenment liberal thought. Rosenzweig’s Bible illuminates the complex interactions that arise when modern readers engage the sacred texts of ancient religious traditions.