Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living

Oct 9, 2023, 4:30 pm6:00 pm



Event Description

Join us on Monday, October 9, to learn about a striking new exploration of Qohelet.

In Qohelet: Searching for a Life Worth Living, philosopher Menachem Fisch and artist Debra Band together probe the biblical thinker’s inquiry into the value of life “under the sun” in this first illuminated manuscript of this text and first philosophical analysis tracing the coherent path of Qohelet’s full argument. Fisch uncovers Qohelet’s twin concerns: life is short, and situated as we are far below the heavens, we can never be assured of comprehending our world, nor understanding divine will and intent. In her 60 immersive and discursive illuminated paintings of the entire text, each accompanied by explanatory commentary, Band incorporates Fisch’s understanding of the text, employing the grandest of palaces, the Alhambra, as a central metaphor for the beauty and impermanence of human life and accomplishments. She fills its halls with often surprising imagery, symbolism and related poetry creating a visual midrash that relates Qohelet not only to biblical text and Jewish lore but also reveals its reverberations across Western civilization.

All are welcome to attend, but space is limited – please RSVP to [email protected]. Light refreshments will be available.


Menachem Fisch's presentation – "Rationality Time-Bound: Qohelet's Religious Philosophy"

Fisch is Joseph and Ceil Mazer Professor Emeritus of History and Philosophy of Science at Tel Aviv University, TAU codirector of the Frankfurt–Tel Aviv Center for Religious and Interreligious Studies, and senior fellow of the Goethe University Frankfurt's Forschungskolleg Humanwissenschaften. He is author of The View from Within: Normativity and the Limits of Self-Criticism (with Y. Benbaji) (Notre Dame, 2011), Creatively Undecided: Toward a History and Philosophy of Scientific Agency (Chicago, 2017), and Covenant of Confrontation: A Study of Non-Submissive Religiosity in Rabbinic Literature (Hebrew) (Bar-Ilan, 2019).

Debra Band's presentation – "Approaching Qohelet: Developing the Visual Midrash"

Band draws upon her love of both the manuscript arts and the Jewish textual tradition in her acclaimed illuminated manuscripts. She is the author and illuminator of The Song of Songs: The Honeybee in the Garden (JPS, 2005), I Will Wake the Dawn: Illuminated Psalms (with Arnold J. Band) (JPS, 2007), Arise! Arise! Deborah, Ruth and Hannah (with Arnold J. Band) (Honeybee in the Garden, 2012), and Kabbalat Shabbat: The Grand Unification (with Raymond P. Scheindlin) (Honeybee in the Garden, 2016), among other works. Her paintings have been widely exhibited across the United States and Canada.

Program in Judaic Studies
Margo Bresnen