Jewish Studies Lecture Series: Julia Watts Belser, “Reading Noah’s Ark in the Age of Climate Change: Jewish Stories on Gender, Disability, and the Politics of Survival”
Reading Noah’s Ark in the Age of Climate Change:
Jewish Stories on Gender, Disability, and the Politics of Survival
Julia Watts Belser
This talk grapples with disability and climate change, reading Jewish traditions about Noah and the biblical flood into conversation with queer feminist ethics, disability studies, and environmental justice work. Through the ambivalent portrait of the man and his ark, as well as tales of individuals who survive the flood and those who’re left behind, Jewish tradition reckons with questions of human hubris and the politics of survival. Heeding a powerful call from disability activists and environmental justice movements, this talk brings testimony from contemporary disability communities into conversation with ancient Jewish texts—and calls us take a hard look at whose lives we deem worth saving, whose bodies can find shelter from the storm.
Julia Watts Belser is an associate professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies at Georgetown University, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Berkley Center for Religion, Peace, and World Affairs. Her research centers on gender, ecology, and disability in rabbinic literature, as well as Jewish feminist ethics. She is the author of two scholarly books, Rabbinic Tales of Destruction: Gender, Sex, and Disability in the Ruins of Jerusalem (Oxford University Press, 2018) and Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015). She has held faculty fellowships at Harvard Divinity School and the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. An ordained rabbi and a longtime advocate for disability and gender justice, she is passionate about bringing feminist, queer, and disability culture into conversation with Jewish tradition.
This event will take place on Monday, January 27 at noon in Buttrick 123. A kosher vegetarian lunch will be provided.