Religion professor awarded NEH fellowship
St. Olaf Assistant Professor of Religion Mara Benjamin has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship that will enable her to complete her second book, Parental Obligation, Power, and Care in Jewish Theological Perspective.
“In my new book, I intend to synthesize critical reflection on parental caregiving with contemporary Jewish thought,” Benjamin says. “My project investigates how pre-modern Jewish sources can aid in constructing a useful description of parental obligation toward children.”
This new work will be primarily geared toward scholars and graduate students in feminist studies, Jewish thought, and religious studies, but Benjamin hopes to also attract readers who would like to reflect on childrearing in philosophical and religious studies.
Benjamin is spending the 2014–15 academic year on sabbatical in New York, where she will draft her manuscript and collaborate with other scholars.
“While I’m in New York, I am working with people who are helping me understand some of how classical Jewish texts, such as the Talmud, shape the discussions in the pre-modern period,” she says.
Benjamin’s initial research was supported by a 2013 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Stipend. This project builds on Benjamin’s previous work and her book Rosenzweig’s Bible: Reinventing Scripture for Jewish Modernity, but will bring a specifically feminist angle to the question of how religious thinkers accommodate pressures of modernity.