Brandeis University selected Harvard PhD student Yehuda Kurtzer as the winner of its competition for the Bronfman Visiting Chair in Jewish Communal Innovation. Brandeis and the Andrea and Charles Bronfman Philanthropies were looking for the best proposal for a book that would transform the way Jews think about themselves and Judaism. As a result of his winning proposal, which you can read here, Kurtzer gets a 2-year visiting professorship at Brandeis and a book deal. The JTA describes Kurtzer’s idea as follows:
Kurtzer’s book would be a combined history, theological statement and prescription for programming that can help Jews access their history through text study to create meaningful Jewish experiences, Kurtzer said Sunday at a Brandeis symposium for the five finalists in the competition.
The contest attracted 231 applicants, and five finalists presented their ideas last Sunday at Brandeis. The other finalists were Ariel Beery (who I was rooting for), Rabbi Shmuley Boteach, Anita Diamnant and Saul Singer.
It’s amazing what Brandeis has to do to get a Harvard PhD to teach there!
OK I was kidding! That was mean. I liked that Kurtzer began his proposal with a quote from Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, Everything is Illuminated. It talks about Jews having a sixth sense – that of history. Other than that, I don’t really understand what’s going on here. But that’s ok because I am dumb and I am cool with that. Please feel free to explain it to me.