Amado Lecture Explores What Ancient Jewish World Can Teach About Contemporary Trans Politics

As political rhetoric that attempts to dehumanize the LGBTQIA+ community continues to rise, California State University, Northridge’s 11th Annual Maurice Amado Foundation Lecture in Jewish Ethics later this month will explore what lessons for contemporary queer politics can be found in ancient Jewish texts.

Max Strassfeld

Max Strassfeld

Max Strassfeld, an associate professor of religious studies at the University of Arizona who specializes in rabbinic literature, including the Talmud and other works, will discuss how ancient Jewish texts describe a variety of sex and gender categories that profoundly shaped Jewish ideas about law and gender beyond the simple binary.

“Many people today assume that there is a coherent ‘Judeo-Christian’ tradition with straightforward views about gender and sex,” said Jennifer Thompson, Maurice Amado Professor of Applied Jewish Ethics and Civic Engagement and director of CSUN’s Jewish Studies Program. “By introducing us to how rabbis in the Ancient Near East thought about gender and sex, Professor Strassfeld will help us recognize that Jewish thought evolved quite differently from the Christian traditions that undergird much of American culture and law, and that our ideas about sex and gender are not as natural as we may think they are.”

The Amado Lecture, “Androgynes and Eunuchs: What the Ancient Jewish Past Teaches About Contemporary Trans Politics,” is scheduled to take place from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on Wednesday, March 13, in the Ferman Presentation Room of the University Library, located in heart of the CSUN campus at 18111 Nordhoff Street in Northridge. The lecture is also available via Zoom for those wishing to attend from off campus. To register for the Zoom presentation, click here.

Strassfeld’s academic expertise includes Rabbinic literature, transgender studies and Jewish studies. His book, “Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature,” won the 2023 American Academy of Religion Award for Excellence in the Study of Religion-Textual Studies.

During his lecture, Strassfeld will examine how the flexible thinking about gender and sex in ancient Jewish texts provides people an opportunity to reassess their preconceived narratives about the relationship between religion, gender and the law today.

The Amado Lecture is part of the mission of the CSUN Jewish Studies Program’s endowed professorship, created to promote teaching and scholarship that draw on Sephardic, Ashkenazi and other Jewish traditions.

CSUN offers a major and minor in Jewish Studies in the College of Humanities. The program explores the rich heritage of the Jewish people. Using methods of different academic disciplines, it examines the experience of Jewish people in the many lands in which they have lived over the past 4,000 years, as well as contemporary Jewish life in Israel, Europe, Asia and the Americas.

For more information regarding this year’s lecture or to make a seat reservation contact the Jewish Studies Program staff at (818) 677-6762.

, , ,