About

Shalom, dear visitor.

I am a Postdoctoral Associate in Jewish Thought at the Department of Philosophy and Judaic Studies, Yale University, advised by Prof. Paul Franks. My PhD dissertation was written at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Department of Jewish Thought, and is entitled “American 20th Century Jewish Thought and Classical American Pragmatism: New Perspectives on the Writings of Hayyim Hirschensohn, Mordecai M. Kaplan and Eliezer Berkovits”. Adviser: Prof. Avinoam Rosenak (committee members: Prof. Yemima Ben Menachem, Prof. Jonathan Cohen, and Prof. Joseph [Yossi] Turner). Here are the first fruits of this research project and beyond it:

1. “Pragmatism and Jewish Thought: R. Eliezer Berkovits᾽ Philosophy of Halakhic Fallibility” [50 pp.], forthcoming in The Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 27, 1 (2019)

2. “The Challenge of the ‘Caring’ God: A. J. Heschel’s Theology in Light of Eliezer Berkovits’ Critique” [Hebrew], Zehuyot 8 (2017), pp. 43-60

3. “R. Ḥayyim Hirschensohn’s Beliefs about Death and Immortality as tested by his Halakhic decision making regarding Autopsies” [Hebrew], DAAT 83 (2017), pp. 339-57

4. “Pragmatism: A New name for some Old ways of thinking in Judaism”, Review-essay [in Hebrew] of D. Brezis, Between Zealotry and Grace: Anti-Zealotic Trends in Rabbinic Thought, and H. E. Hashkes, Rabbinic Discourse as a System of Knowledge, DAAT 82 (2016), pp. 405-17

About ten other articles are in preparation.

Between 2002-2006 I studied at “Revivim” (Jewish studies teachers training honors program). As a part of that, I graduated (MA magna cum laude, 2007) at the Department of Jewish Thought, The Hebrew University. The MA thesis I wrote (advised by Prof. Moshe Halbertal) is entitled “'If so, there would be no end to the matter' As Halakhic Argument in Rabbinic Texts” (Hebrew; for an English summary see here). In this work I examined a deliberative inclination to limit Halakhic concepts entailing endless normative implications.

From fall 2012 until summer 2016 I was a fellow at The Hartman Institute's Beit-Midrash in Jerusalem. I translated into the Hebrew Prof. Michael Rosenak's Tree of Life, Tree of Knowledge: Conversations with the Torah, Boulder, Oxford: Westview Press 2001 (co-translation and editing: Dr. Avinoam Rosenak). The book was published as עץ החיים ועץ הדעת: שיחות עם התורה by Yediot Sfarim (Tel Aviv 2013). On winter 2014-2015 I taught two intensive academic courses at the Paideia Institute, in Stockholm (Sweden): 'The Varieties of Medieval Jewish Thought', and 'Modern Jewish Thought: The Turn to the World'.

I am married to Eliraz, we currently reside in New Haven with our children. In this website I reflect on Judaism, Israel, social justice, education, and technology from a Jewish-humane and Zionist perspective. The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not represent any official opinion of institutions for which I work. For comments you may contact me at nadav.berman(at)yale.edu

All the very best,

Nadav Berman Shifman