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God Who Suffers With: Divine Presence Amidst Pain

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser / August 19, 2020

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Jewish tradition has often mourned the destruction of the Temple by tying loss to collective transgression, evoked most poignantly through the liturgy’s lament mipnei hatatenu, “on account of our sins.”  But the Babylonian Talmud’s longest and most reflection on the destruction puts little emphasis on communal wrongdoing, and indict instead the brutality of state violence and Roman conquest.  In this session, we’ll examine stories that grapple with Roman power and violence to explore how they imagine divine presence amidst pain, how they invite us to consider God not as one who stands apart, but one who suffers with.


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Rabbi Julia Watts Belser

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser is an associate professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University.  Her research centers on gender, sexuality, and disability in rabbinic literature, as well as Jewish feminist ethics.  She is the author of Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018), as well as Power, Ethics, and Ecology: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015).  A rabbi and a longtime advocate for disability and gender justice, she writes queer feminist Jewish theology and brings disability arts and culture into conversation with Jewish tradition. 


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