Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop on the History of the Jewish Book
The Jewish Studies Program at the University of Pennsylvania, in conjunction with the University of Pennsylvania Libraries and the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, are pleased to announce the nineteenth annual Manfred R. Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop to be held on May 12-13 (Sunday-Monday), 2019, at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, 420 Walnut St., Philadelphia.
The topic is “The Forest of Ilanot: Exploring a Forgotten Genre.” This year’s workshop will be led by J. H. (Yossi) Chajes (Ph.D., Yale University 1999) is Professor in the Department of Jewish History at the University of Haifa and the Director of its Center for the Study of Jewish Cultures. Chajes has been a Visiting Professor at the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York, a Fellow at the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies in Jerusalem, the Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften of Goethe University Frankfurt, and a Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Chajes currently directs the “Ilanot Project”—an ambitious and unprecedented attempt to research kabbalistic cosmological diagrams, which has been awarded four Israel Science Foundation (ISF) grants, the Friedenberg Prize for the outstanding ISF-funded project in the Humanities, and most recently, a Volkswagen Foundation grant — in collaboration with the digital humanities lab at Göttingen University — to develop “Maps of God – Building a Portal to Visual Kabbalah.”
Ilanot (Heb. pl. trees; sing. ilan) were an important part of kabbalistic thinking and practice. The workshop will introduce this understudied genre of kabbalah, which was recognized as early as the mid-sixteenth century by Jews and Christians alike. Moses Cordovero (1520-1570) defined an ilan as a sheet of parchment upon which a diagram of sefirot had been inscribed. Ilanot were prismatic sites at which their creators’ worlds of kabbalah, magic, art, and science intersected. The Workshop will explore the uses of ilanot as mnemonic and pedagogical tools, ambitiously designed to present iconotextual anthologies that facilitated the organization, representation, and creation of kabbalistic knowledge. As diagrams, ilanotrepresented layers of information in a spatial, non-linear fashion in order to reveal complex, but ordered fields of meaning, and, as such they were also appurtenances used in the performance of kabbalistic prayer and meditation. The production of ilanot underwent change over time and space. We will consider Lurianic ilanot, whose complicated models of the divine worlds display diachronic progression, and which were sometimes produced on rolls that could extend for more than thirty feet. To scroll through them was to participate in the unfolding cosmogonic process that they depicted. Attention will also be paid to the earliest printed ilan.
Because the Workshop will involve textual study, participants should be able to read unpointed Hebrew texts. The workshop is open to professors and independent scholars, professional librarians in the field of Jewish and related studies, and graduate students in Jewish Studies. Attendance at previous workshops is not a prerequisite for admission.