Fairfield University’s Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies presents Boston College Associate Professor Ruth Langer, Jewish-Christian relations expert


On Tuesday, Nov. 18 at Fairfield University, Ruth Langer, Ph.D., a scholar of Jewish-Christian relations and associate professor of Jewish Studies in Theology at Boston College, will explore the multiple ways in which the Bible permeates all aspects of traditional Jewish life. The University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies is sponsoring the event, which is free and open to the public. The talk, entitled, "People of the Book: The Bible in Jewish Life and Liturgy," will take place in the Charles F. Dolan School of Business Dining Room, on the Fairfield campus, at 7:30 p.m. Call the Bennett Center at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066 to reserve a seat.

Dr. Langer, who is the associate director of Boston College's Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, will compare the ways in which the Bible permeates Jewish life to the various roles of the Bible in Christianity. "These include not only the obvious modes of liturgical reading and direct study of the Bible, but also the ways that the Bible itself forms the language and life of Jews and Judaism."

Dr. Langer helps oversee the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. Located on the Chestnut Hill campus of the Jesuit institution, the Center is dedicated to the growth of new and mutually enriching relationships between Christian and Jews. It offers courses, lectures, and seminars on the many aspects of Jewish-Christian relations. The Center also sponsors scholarly research and serves as a resource to many local, national, and international organizations. Dr. Langer’s research and published articles have focused on questions of the development of Jewish liturgy and ritual. She is the author of "To Worship God Properly: Tensions between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism" (Hebrew Union College Press, 1998), which explores the interplay between liturgical law and custom in the medieval world, and investigates the tensions between rabbinic dictates and the actual practices and understandings of the community. She co-edited (with Steven Fine) "Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue" (Eisenbrauns, 2005).

She is currently tracing the history of the rabbinic birkat haminim (malediction of the sectarians), a text that often reflected Jewish understandings of their relationships with their Christian neighbors. "Because these relations were often quite negative, the medieval text functioned as a curse," Dr. Langer said. "Consequently, it was a topic of polemics and apologetics, and eventually Christian rulers and churches censored it. This study will be the definitive history of this prayer, tracing it from its origins, through its censorship, to its modern inoffensive forms."

Dr. Langer earned a Ph.D. in Jewish Liturgy and her rabbinic ordination from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, which is in Cincinnati. She earned a bachelor's degree from Bryn Mawr College.

Bookmark and Share

Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on November 4, 2008

Vol. 41, No. 117