The Democratic Roots of Judaism

Posted by Meesh Hammer-Kossoy on March 31, 2013
Topics: History, Democracy

A group of Limmud eficiandos and Pardes alumni host a weekly class in which teachers volunteer their Torah and participants donate to tzedakah. Meesh Hammer-Kossoy’s class, given at the home of Pardes alumna Sara Argamon, is a discussion of the democratic roots of Judaism, as well as the points of tension.

After looking at the statements of famous moderns about the relationship of Judaism and democracy, the group turns to the traditional sources. Using Talmudic texts, they investigate the Jewish values of separation and balance of power, freedom of speech and multiplicity of voices, majority rule, and limits on power. The final part of the class quickly surveys a retinue of other common values such as freedom and equality, as well as recognizes the major tensions between some Torah values and democracy.

About Meesh Hammer-Kossoy

Meesh is the Director of the Pardes Year Program, where she has been making her professional home since 1999. Originally from Washington, D.C., Meesh has a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University, and a M.A. and Ph.D. from New York University. Her dissertation explored the courageous manner in which the rabbis of the Talmud created a new criminal punishment system. In 2015, Meesh completed her studies at Beit Midrash Har'el and received ordination from Rabbi Herzl Hefter and Rabbi Daniel Sperber. Click here to read more.

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