About

Shalom, Dear Visitor.

I am a scholar of Jewish Thought, the Philosophy of Halakhah, and their connections to Classical American Pragmatism. As part of that I am also examining the contribution of Jewish thought to the Techno-Ethical challenge. I a currently working on the writing of four book projects which examines these topics.

I am currently a Fellow at the Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University. Prior to that I was a Postdoctoral Associate at Yale University (advised by Prof. Paul Franks). My PhD dissertation was written at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Department of Jewish Thought, on “American 20th Century Jewish Thought and Classical American Pragmatism: New Perspectives on the Writings of Hayyim Hirschensohn, Mordecai M. Kaplan and Eliezer Berkovits”. My Adviser was Prof. Avinoam Rosenak, and the committee members were Prof. Yemima Ben Menachem, Prof. Jonathan Cohen, and Prof. Joseph Turner. The first fruits of this research project include the following:

1. “The Rejection of Radical Foundationalism and Skepticism: Pragmatic Belief in God in Eliezer Berkovits’s Thought” [Hebrew], Jewish Thought 1 (2019), pp. 201-246

2. “Pragmatism and Jewish Thought: Eliezer Berkovits᾽s Philosophy of Halakhic Fallibility”, Journal of Jewish Thought and Philosophy 27, no. 1 (2019), pp. 86-135

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. 339-357

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. 405-417

Three other articles are under review and about seven others are in preparation.

In 1996 I studied at the Ma'aleh Gilbo'a Yeshivah, where I learned from great teachers, including R. David Bigman, R. Yehudah Gilad, and R. Shmuel Reiner. Between 2002-2006 I was privileged to study 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. 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'. The courses I taught at Yale dealt with the topic of my PhD dissertation (Judaism and Pragmatism), and with Jewish and Humanist Philosophies of Technology.

I am married to Eliraz, we currently reside in New Haven with our four children. In this website I reflect on Judaism, Israel, social issues, education, and technology, from a Jewish-humane and Zionist perspective. The opinions expressed here are my own, and do not necessarily represent any official opinion of the institutions I work for.

You may contact me at nadav.berman (at) mail.huji.ac.il

All the best,

Nadav Berman Shifman