The Arty Semite

Welcoming the Apocalypse at the Jerusalem Philosophy Festival

By Alon Raab

  • Print
  • Share Share
Courtesy Jerusalem Season of Culture

Two
 days
 before
 the
 world
 was
 to
 end,
 as
 calculated
 by
 engineer
 and
 prophet 
Harold
 Camping,
 seemed
 as
 good
 a
 time
 as
 any
 to
 find
 answers
 to

 eternal
 questions
 about
 human
 life
 and
 meaning. Thus
 I
 joined
 “What’s
 on
 your
 Mind?
” an “International Philosophy Festival” in Jerusalem that ran from May 18 to May 20 as part of this year’s Jerusalem Season of Culture. The
 city
 where
 more
 philosophers,
 prophets and
 messiahs
 roam
 than
 on
 any
 other place
 on
 earth,
 and
 in
 which
 the
 momentous
 events 
of 
the 
Apocalypse 
will 
unfold, 
was 
the 
obvious 
locale. 
The festival 
was 
held
 in
 a 
large 
tent 
erected 
at 
the 
beautiful 
cultural
 center 
Mishkenot
 Sha’ananim,
 a 
stone’s
 throw

 from
 the
 walls
 of
 the
 ancient
 city
 and
 facing
 Mount Zion.

The sessions included “Old Man, What Is His Life,” about modern medicine’s growing ability to extend life, with the participation of a gerontologist, a jurist and 80-year-old novelist Yoram Kaniuk; the impact of social networking on the concept of friendship, led by Web editors and a professor of management; the ways new discoveries in brain research impact the concept of free will and whether it exists, with talks by an Israeli clinical psychologist and by Princeton philosophy professor and author of the best selling study “On Bullshit,” Harry Frankfurt; “The Sexual Revolution — What Next?”; and “Man in the Role of God,” examining scientific innovations in the field of human reproduction. Well Known Israeli law professor Ruth Gavison, philosophy teacher David Heyd, and progressive Orthodox rabbi Yuval Cherlow debated such issues as “improving” the human race.

Discussions were accompanied by musical performances and hikes. These included “Touring the Mind,” led by philosopher and art curator Roy Brand, a leisurely stroll in the style of Socrates, discussing “progress,” in the lovely gardens overlooking David’s Tower, until suddenly emerging into the noise and commotion of a modern shopping center.

Another tour, with the knowledgeable and enthusiastic preservation architect Moshe Shapira, winded through Rechavia and Talabiya, the tree-lined neighborhoods of the Jewish and (until 1948) Palestinian intellectual elites, respectively, as we paid homage at the homes of well known scholars and writers. These included Gershom Scholem, founder of the modern critical study of Jewish mysticism, and Martin Buber, thinker, collector of Hasidic tales, translator of the Bible into German, and co-founder, in 1925, of Brit Shalom, a Jewish-Palestinian peace group. Musical soirees were conducted with popular musicians, singing and speaking about such topics as predicting the future.

As these words are written, shortly after the prophesized doom and gloom, the world, fortunately, is still in existence. The big and small questions asked at the Jerusalem Philosophy Festival remain, relevant during the next apocalyptic cycle as well.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Yuval Cherlow, Roy Brand, Ruth Gavison, Philosophy, Jerusalem Season of Culture, Mishkenot Sha'ananim, Jerusalem Philosophy Festival, Jerusalem, Harry Frankfurt, Harold Camping, David Heyd, Alon Raab

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • Vered Guttman doesn't usually get nervous about cooking for 20 people, even for Passover. But last night was a bit different. She was cooking for the Obamas at the White House Seder.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.