Upside-Down Lecture: Taking Reading Personally


New this year! In an "upside-down lecture," the audience joins in conversation around a common text, guided by experts in the field. This inaugural session will explore the highly individual nature of reading:

We often explore the ideas contained in Jewish books, but how often do we reflect on the act of reading, and the act of reading as Jews or about Jews?

Why do we read what we read? How do we read—literally, physically, where and with what objects, alone or with others, silently or aloud? Where do we read—in private, in school, on the subway, in synagogue? How do our individual tastes and unexamined assumptions color our sense of what is good to read or not? How do we read differently today than we did a hundred years ago, or two thousand years ago? And what is the significance of our reading practices, for understanding our texts or ourselves?

The seminar-style discussion will be inspired by a set of texts in which ancient and modern rabbis speak explicitly about reading for pleasure.


Two fellows from the Katz Center will act as guides:

Dr. Amos Bitzan’s research focuses on the history of reading practices in the context of the birth of academic Jewish scholarship in the nineteenth century.

Dr. Andrew Berns’s recent book explores how doctors in Renaissance Italy understood the Bible not only as a divine work but also as a historical and scientific text.

Come one, come all. No religious or educational background is necessary—just an interest in reading, talking, and collaborative learning. All texts will be provided in both English translation and their original language.

Thursday, March 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm

The Little Shul

2015 South 4th St., Philadelphia, PA 19148

Free and open to the public; RSVP recommended. Email

Event Location: 

A participatory seminar led by Amos Bitzan and Andrew Berns at The Little Shul, Philadelphia, PA

Event Date and Time: 
March 19, 2015 7:00pm
Event-related Document: