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September 17, 2021 @ 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
The Friday Noon Study Group will NOT Meet Friday, September 24 or Friday October 1.
We will resume meeting on Friday, October 8, when we begin a new topic, The Book of Genesis.
On Friday September 17, our study group concluded its discussions of Hasia Diner’s, Julius Rosenwald: Repairing the World. Our focus was upon the criticism directed at Rosenwald by a) some Jews who disapproved of his support of African American rather than Zionist causes, and b) some Blacks who felt that Rosenwald’s projects essentially helped to maintain Jim Crow color lines, endorsing segregation rather than integration. In addition to these issues that were brought up in Diner’s study, we offered our reactions to a 2017 article entitled “Julius Rosenwald Was Not A Hero,” https://histphil.org/2017/06/30/julius-rosenwald-was-not-a-hero/, in which a Clemson University historian, Maribel Morey, charged that Rosenwald was a “strategic funder who worked within the world of white oppression to marginally improve the lives of African Americans,” whereas a genuine hero “would have attacked more directly and more forcefully white supremacy and Black subordination in the South and . . . throughout the country.” Many of us found much of the criticism leveled at Rosenwald to be flawed by failing to take into account the times in which Rosenwald lived, several of the positive outcomes of his philanthropy, misguided comparisons between Rosenwald and others with different objectives and skill sets.
In looking at Diner’s concluding chapter, we considered the cataclysmic changes occuring after Rosenwald’s death–the Depression and the New Deal, the rise of unions, the dismantling of Jim Crow’s disingenuous “separate but equal” policies, and the rise of Naziism, WWII, and the Holocaust, and Stalinist purges. We discussed whether Rosenwald’s optimism would have been shaken by these “grim realities,” and how his family continued his legacy. Ultimately, we agreed that the study of Rosenwald was a worthwhile venture for our group and concurred with Diner’s conclusion, on appropriate for a book in the “Jewish Lives” series, that “In serving the stranger [Rosenwald] performed the highest mission for a Jew.”
When the study group reconvenes on October 8, we’ll have a new topic, The Book of Genesis.
The first of the five books of Moses, Genesis (“Origins”) is viewed in Judeo-Christian traditions as an account of the creation of the world , the early history of humanity, Israel’s ancestors, and the origins of the Jewish people. Its Hebrew name is the same as its first word, Bereshit (“In the Beginning”). Genesis is filled with wonderful—and problematic—stories: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Great Flood, the Patriarchs and Matriarchs, and Joseph and his brothers.
At CBI, and in synagogues around the world, Jews, whom a rabbi once called participants in the oldest book club in the world, once again began their annual Torah cycle with the reading of the first chapters of Genesis on October 2. Our weekly discussion group will begin examining these opening chapters starting on October 8. It has been several years since our Friday Noon Study Group has read Genesis together and we look forward to the insights and questions all the chapters of the Book of Genesis will bring forward.
Our informal group meets via Zoom every Friday from 12-1. Check the CBI web page for a link. All are welcome to join us, regardless of their level of expertise. Please bring whatever copy of the Bible you might have (the more different translations the livelier the discussion). If you have questions, please contact Jay Jacoby at email@example.com.
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