We Are Family: What Anthropology and Torah Teach Us About Kinship

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Cantor Ken Richmond and family on a hike

We Are Family: What Anthropology and Torah Teach Us About Kinship

Program: Hebrew College Me’ah Select
Instructor:
Dr. Meredith Reiches (Read Bio)
Dates: 5 Mondays, 2/27, 3/13, 3/20, 3/27 & 4/3
Time: 7-9:00 p.m.
Cost: $190, generous financial aid is available
Location: Zoom
Hosted by: Hebrew College

In 2013, anthropologist Marshall Sahlins threw a gauntlet: kinship, he claimed, has nothing to do with biology. Take an inventory of cultures around the world, he argued, and you see that people construct family relationships out of everything from farming the same land to surviving a life-threatening event together. As Jews, how do we constitute family? What leaps to mind might be the “toledot,” the long genealogical lists of who begat whom in Tanakh. But look closer, both at the Chumash and at halachic codes that describe how Jews live our lives, and a more nuanced and engrossing story emerges. Women give birth on behalf of other women. A Pharaoh’s daughter adopts a Jewish infant. A daughter-in-law takes on her mother-in-law’s God and kinship structure. Using anthropological and Jewish texts, we will explore the meaning of kinship and how it shapes the way we compose our families today.

Hebrew College Me’ah Select courses offer in-depth academically oriented adult learning experiences led by outstanding faculty.