Forgiveness and Compassion from a Jewish Perspective
This year’s AAR-WR theme is centered around the timely – and timeless – topics of “Grace, Mercy, and Atonement.” We are asked to consider what different religious groups have to say about forgiveness, compassion, and other responses to suffering, perhaps in terms of ritual or sacred activities or processes, or in terms of personal, communal, and organizational responses.
What lessons do Jewish traditions, Jewish communities, and Jewish Studies as a discipline have to offer in this conversation? In what ways are these lessons tied to the specifics of Jewish thought and experience, and in what ways are they universal? How do the varied, complex experiences of Jews as powerless and powerful shape these discussions in Jewish contexts? How might Jews and scholars of Judaism approach interreligious and inter-disciplinary dialogue on these topics? What can we learn from others?
The Jewish Studies Unit of the AAR-WR invites paper proposals addressing any aspect of the issues outlined above. Possible topics include:
– How do forgiveness and compassion differ from an interpersonal, communal, or divine perspective?
– What are the insights to be gained from Jewish law, Jewish literature, Jewish art, Jewish practice, Jewish ritual, and Jewish thought?
– What can the varied experiences of Jewish individuals and communities throughout the world, and throughout history, teach us about forgiveness and compassion?
– What is the role of ethics in this conversation?
– What is the role of justice in this conversation?
– Is forgiveness an act? A process? An understanding? An exchange?
– Are all transgressions forgivable?
– What are the necessary prerequisites for forgiveness?
– Who can ask for forgiveness and who can grant it?
– In what ways are these questions applicable to modern history and current events?