The Judaic Studies Program at New College welcomes you to the Klingenstein Lecture series. Lectures are sponsored by New College of Florida, The Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies, The Jay Rudolph Endowment, and New Topics New College.

Mira Beth Wasserman: #MeToo, the Talmud, and the Ethics of Accountability


January 17, 2023  5:30 p.m. in Sainer Auditorium.
Tickets available from New Topics New College.

With the rise of the #MeToo movement, Jewish activists invoked the Jewish ethical tradition to support principles of accountability, dignity, and gender justice. The Talmud seemed to offer a perfect precedent for #MeToo in the story of a rabbinic leader who was chastened and dismissed for sexual violations. But is this an accurate reading of Moed Katan 17a? In this talk, I take a second look at the talmudic text I at first celebrated and discover a more complicated and disturbing story. I offer my reading and re-reading as a case study in how the Talmud can–and can’t–advance contemporary ethics. 

Mira Beth Wasserman is director of the Center for Jewish Ethics and Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on the art of the Babylonian Talmud and on how the Talmud can be deployed to support contemporary Jewish ethics. Her book, Jews, Gentiles, and Other Animals: The Talmud after the Humanities (Penn Press), was awarded the Baron Prize for the best first book in Jewish studies published in 2017. Her current projects include a history of the idea of aggadah and the direction of NEH-funded public scholarship on race, religion, and American Judaism. 


Lectures are sponsored by New College of Florida, The Klingenstein Chair of Judaic Studies, The Jay Rudolph Endowment, and New Topics New College.

Previous Speakers


2022: Sarah Imhoff, “A Queer Zionism: Jessie Sampter and the Paradoxes of Jewish Nationalism”

2019: Gregg Gardner, “Excavating the Foundations of Charity in Classical Jewish Texts”

2018: Nicola Denzey Lewis: “Rethinking The Jewish Catacombs”

2017: Rachel Neis, “Humans, Animals, and Hybrids in Rabbinic Reproductive Thought”

2016: Talya Fishman, “How did Jews Become the People of the Talmud?: The Metamorphosis of Oral Torah in Medieval Europe.”

2015: Jonathan Klawans, “The Masada Story: Martyrs, Murders and Myths”

2013: Cynthia M. Baker, “The Essentially Ambiguous Jewess: Exploring Images of Jewish Women through the Centuries”

2012: Jordan D. Rosenblum, “Jewish Foodways: Ancient and Modern”

2011: Maxine Grossman, “What’s the Use of ‘Men’ in Jewish Feminist Scholarship?”

2010: David Frankfurter, “Exorcism and Demons in Early Judaism”

2009: Nora Rubel, “Gefilte Fish in the Gilded Age: Jewish Women’s Activism and the Settlement Cookbook.”

2008: Jodi Magness, “The Archaeology of Qumran and the Dead Sea Scrolls.”

2007: David Stern, “Through the Pages of the Past: The Jewish Book in its Historical Context.”

2005: Ross Kraemer, “Searching for (Jewish?) Women in Greco-Roman Narratives: Or When is a Text about a Woman a Text about a Woman.”

2004: John Marshall, “Reading Judaism while Reading Revelation: New Perspectives on the Diaspora.”