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Laurence Silberstein

Professor Emeritus

Ph.D. Brandeis University

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Laurence J. Silberstein is the Philip and Muriel Berman Professor of Jewish Studies in the Department of Religion Studies, Lehigh University, and director of the Philip and Muriel Berman Center for Jewish Studies. Before coming to Lehigh in 1984, he taught at the University of Pennsylvania and Swarthmore College. He has also served as a visiting professor at Haverford College, Princeton University, and the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome.

Professor Silberstein received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and was ordained as a rabbi at the Jewish Theological Seminary. As the founding director of the Berman Center, he developed an extensive program in Jewish Studies at Lehigh that includes courses, biennial conferences, study programs in Israel, a visiting position at the Gregorian University in Rome, and a book series with New York University Press, New Perspectives in Jewish Studies, which he edits.

His recent book, The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture (Routledge, May 1999) was nominated as a finalist in the field of Jewish Philosophy and Thought by the prestigious Koret Jewish Studies Book Awards. He is also the author of Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought: Alienation and the Quest for Meaning (1989). Dr. Silberstein has edited a number of books including New Perspectives on Israeli History: The Early Years of the State, and, most recently, Mapping Jewish Identities. He has contributed chapters to numerous books and his articles on modern Jewish thought and culture have appeared in many journals in both English and Hebrew. He is currently at work on a reader of the basic documents of what is known in Israel as postzionism.

Commenting on his approach to teaching, Professor Silberstein observes: "I am a firm believer in active learning. Accordingly, I place great emphasis on class discussion in which students are encouraged to think through their own positions, cultivate their own perspectives, and share them with their fellow students. At the same time, recognizing that learning takes place in diverse ways, I have recently introduced alternative media group projects. Besides providing students with an opportunity to work together in small groups, these projects challenge them to use their imagination to reframe the knowledge gained from reading and discussion in alternative forms such as film, web sites, art, music, etc. I also encourage students to regularly share their responses to the readings and discussions in small groups on the web and, from time to time, use an online chatroom in place of the conventional class structure."


The Postzionism Debates: Knowledge and Power in Israeli Culture. Routledge, May 1999

Martin Buber's Social and Religious Thought: Alienation and the Quest for Meaning. New York University Press 1989

Edited Books

Postzionism: A Reader. Edited with Introduction. Rutgers University Press. 2008

Impossible Images: Contemporary Art after the Holocaust (co-edited and Introduction with Laura Levitt and Shelley Hornstein), New York University Press, 2003

Mapping Jewish Identities. New York University Press, July, 2000

The Other in Jewish Thought and History: Constructions of Jewish Culture and Identity (co-edited with Robert L. Cohn, Introduction by Laurence J. Silberstein), New York University Press, 1994

Jewish Fundamentalism in Comparative Perspective: Religion, Ideology, and the Crisis of Modernity (edited with an Introduction), New York University Press, 1993

New Perspectives on Israeli History: The Early Years of the State (edited with an Introduction), New York University Press, 1991

New Perspectives on Jewish Studies, New York University Press, 1991- (Series Editor)


"Theodor Herzl" in Thinking Jewish Modernity. ed. Jacques Picard et. al. (In progress)

"American Jewry's Identification With Israel: Challenges & Prospects" in Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism. ed. Alan Levenson. Forthcoming

"Postzionism" in The Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish History, Religion, and Culture, ed. Judith R. Baskin. Forthcoming 2011

"Minority Voices and The Ethics of Jewish Identity Critical Reflections" in Kulturelle Grenzraume im judischen Kontext (Cultural Boundaries in a Jewish Context), ed. Klaus Hodl, Insbruck: Studienvarlag, 2008

"Postzionism and Postmodern Theory: The Challenge to Jewish Studies" in Modern Judaism and Historical Consciousness: Identities, Encounters, Perspectives,eds. Andreas Gotzmann and Christian Wiese, Boston: Brill Publishers, 2007

"Becoming Jewish: Jewish Becomings: Critical and Ethical Reflections" in Transversal: Zeitschrift für Jüdische Studien. Special Issue on Jewish Identity. Fall 2006

"Becoming Israeli/Israeli Becomings: A Deleuzian Perspective" in Deleuze and the Contemporary World, eds. Ian Buchanan and Adrian Parr, Edinburgh: University of Edinburgh Press, 2006

"Martin Buber," Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade, New York: Free Press, 2:1055-1059, 2005.  Significantly expanded and revised version of 1987 article

"Auf dem Weg zu einem postzionistischen Diskurs" [Toward a Postzionist Discourse] in Jüdische Geschichte Lesen: Texte der Jüdischen Geschichtsschreibung IM 19. Und 20. Jahrhundert, ed. Herasugegeben von M. Brenner, A. Kauders, G. Reuveni and N. Römer, 405-412, Verlag C. H. Beck, 2003. Originally published in Judaism Since Gender,  New York: Routledge, 1997

"Postzionism: A Critique of Israel's Zionist Discourse" in Palestine Israel Journal, Vol. 9, 2-3, 84-91, Summer 2002, and 97-106, Winter 2002