The Department of Religious Studies, McMaster University, presents


Sponsored by the Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought
and Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada

Convened by Dana Hollander (
and Annette Yoshiko Reed (

Drawing together scholars of philosophy, religious history, literature, and law, the Colloquium will consider the ongoing reflection about the concept of Israel as a "light to the nations" (Isa 42:6; 49:6) in ancient, medieval, and modern Jewish thought, together with its relevance for Christianity and contemporary philosophy and theory. This and other biblical attempts to reconcile the election of Israel with the universality of Israel's God will serve as a starting-point for exploring the range of ways in which Jews past and present have negotiated the nature and boundaries of their collective identities (ethnic, religious, cultural, political) in relation to other nations and peoples. [More information about the Colloquium]

This event will be preceded by a one-day Seminar with intensive discussion of key texts on the theme of chosenness. Sessions will be led by conference participants, including Joel Kaminsky and David Novak. Seminar participation is open to graduate students in related fields across North America. Participants will be selected through application and will be granted stipends to cover the costs of travel, meals, and accommodations during both the Seminar and the Colloquium. [More information and how to apply to participate]

A related Art Exhibition will provide another way for interested students, scholars, and others to engage with our topic. The McMaster Museum of Art will exhibit prints by Ben Simon, a NY-based Jewish artist. These prints were commissioned as part of a limited-edition Haggadah, printed by Fodde Publications, and provide a contemporary realization of the long tradition of Jewish creativity surrounding haggadot. Supplementary funding for the exhibit and reception was generously provided by McMaster's Faculty of Social Sciences and Department of Religious Studies. [Further information about the exhibit and Ben Simon's work]

This events are the first in a series to be sponsored by the recently established Canada Research Chair in Modern Jewish Thought at McMaster University. McMaster’s Department of Religious Studies has been distinguished by a long tradition of studying Judaism and Christianity in concert, as equally significant yet intertwined religions, and in conjunction with philosophy and political thought. Building on this scholarly profile, the conference aims to promote a vision of the study of Jewish thought traditions as engaged in an ongoing conversation with philosophy and theory, political thought, and the study of Christianity, both classical and contemporary. Similarly, we invite participants to pursue theoretical lines of inquiry in relation to examples and models of cultural interchange in Judaism’s ancient, medieval, modern, and contemporary contexts, ranging from the Greco-Roman world, late antique Christendom, and medieval Islam to modern Europe and present-day North America, Europe, and Israel.

As a follow-up to these events, Joel Kaminsky (Smith College) and Annette Yoshiko Reed (McMaster University) have been asked by the Society of Biblical Literature to organize a Special Session on the topic for the Society's Annual Meeting in Philadelphia, November 19-22, 2005. This Session will allow for a more sustained reflection upon chosenness in the ancient period, while also bringing the highlights of the McMaster colloquium to a wider audience in summary form.

For more information about these events, please contact Alisha Pomazon (

Pictures from Seminar | Pictures from Colloquium | Pictures from Exhibit and Reception

McMaster University || Department of Religious Studies || McMaster Museum of Art

Graphic: “Sinai” By Ben Simon, plate From Haggadah, used with permission.