April 9-11, 2018
Herem: The Sources, Practice, and Representation of Ex-Communications and Bans in Rabbinic Culture
The social institution of herem was probably the most severe disciplinary measure Jewish communities throughout the centuries could impose on their members. As such, herem seems to be a highly important topic in the study of Jewish social, political, and religious history. Nevertheless, as of today, this institution seems more mystifying (as is witnessed by the various legends surrounding Spinoza’s “excommunication”) than a proper object of study. In our conference (whose proceedings we intend to publish), we would like to provide a panoramic overview of the theory and practices of herem from Mishnaic times through late modernity. To that end, we have assembled a team of leading scholars specializing in various sub-fields and periods within Jewish Studies, hoping to provide a thorough account of this important yet insufficiently examined topic. The conference will take place at Johns Hopkins University.