Season Ends – Spinozium Videos Arrive!

An amazing season has come to a close.  We’re still huffing and puffing, auditioning and mailing, planning and striking, and in the midst of all the summer pivoting from one intensity to the next, we do finally take the time to finish editing and now sharing with you some highlights from the season, including the videos from our April 1st Spinozium.  Who could ever forget our vote!?

And now we have 8 wonderful videos to share from the day-long proceedings. 

The Vimeo Spinozium Album is just one way to take in the day of debate.

The other way is through our website, at New Jerusalem: Spinozium

Let us know what you think!

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Spinozium Final Arguments + The Forward Reflects on Spinozium Vote

Must See TV – Spinozium final arguments, part 1

Spinozium final arguments, part 2

Centuries Later, Spinoza Back in the Fold: Editor’s Notebook

By Jane Eisner

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/154209/centuries-later-spinoza-back-in-the-fold/#ixzz1r8PLJCQb

After more than 350 years of enforced exile, Baruch Spinoza has been invited back into the Jewish community — at least by the people who participated in a mock trial and symposium at Theatre J in Washington D.C. earlier this month. The vote was 108 to 41. The controversial writ of excommunication was lifted by a trio of rabbis who made the pronouncement and then ceremoniously snuffed out a black candle.

Dramatic Decision: Participants at a recent symposium reenacted the 1656 decision to banish the controversial philosopher from Amsterdam’s Jewish community.

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Dramatic Decision: Participants at a recent symposium reenacted the 1656 decision to banish the controversial philosopher from Amsterdam’s Jewish community.

Yes, this was theatre, and brilliant theatre at that, dramatic and engrossing. The daylong event culminated Theatre J’s revival of the David Ives play “New Jerusalem,” a retelling of the story of the 1656 interrogation of Spinoza, arguably the most controversial philosopher in Jewish history, if you could call him Jewish at all. There was plenty of debate about that, too.

Perhaps it’s not surprising that a modern audience sophisticated enough to sit through hours of scholarly and artistic presentations would vote in such a lopsided fashion in favor of inclusion and free speech. As one of a few journalists to take part in the “Spinozium,” I didn’t cast a vote or argue a position, but if I had, I guess that my personal and professional allegiance to the First Amendment would have trumped all.

Having Spinoza inside the communal tent is far more interesting and challenging than pushing him away.

Still, I found myself conflicted. My unexpected sympathy for the rabbinic edict that irrevocably placed the 23-year-old Spinoza into cherem was fueled by two revelations that day: about the Amsterdam Jewish community from which he was forever banished, and the philosophy that he preached.

The community had largely fled from Portugal and, while the Dutch were far better hosts than the Jews’ previous rulers who demanded conversion to Catholicism on pain of death, they still were hosts. Jews were guests. Freedom of worship was granted, not innate

Read more: http://www.forward.com/articles/154209/centuries-later-spinoza-back-in-the-fold/#ixzz1r8PewdQC

Last SPINOZIUM TALLY – TRIAL BEGINS AT 1 PM SUNDAY!

It’s our final weekend — an entirely Sold Out week of performances will soon be history, as will be this record-breaking month of March, as we return to the poll we’ve been asking audiences to respond to in ballots at the theater and on line — a question which will be more fully this Sunday at our “Spinozium…”

SHOULD BARUCH DE SPINOZA’S CHEREM BE REVERSED?

The Background:  In 1953, David Ben-Gurion, in between terms as Israel’s prime minister, appealed to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to cancel the “cherem” (the religious banishment) on Spinoza. The Rabbinate rejected the appeal, arguing that they were not competent to overrule the wisdom of the rabbis who signed the original writ in Amsterdam on July 27, 1656.  Theater J now turns to its own audience to ask, “if you had the power, would you move to reverse Spinoza’s excommunication?”

As of 11 pm, March 30, 2012, votes from theater-goers and online follows are:

702 YES

92 NO

7 NO POSITION TAKEN (BUT COMMENTS GIVEN)

3 SPLIT VOTES

No new comments of note, except here.

Latest Spinozium Tally – With 1 Week Before The FINAL VOTE!

It’s another entirely Sold Out weekend of performances as we return to the poll we’ve been asking audiences to respond to in ballots at the theater and on line — a question which will be more fully debated on April 1st at our “Spinozium…”

SHOULD BARUCH DE SPINOZA’S CHEREM BE REVERSED?

The Background:  In 1952, David Ben-Gurion, in between terms as Israel’s prime minister, appealed to the Chief Rabbinate of Israel to cancel the “cherem” (the religious banishment) on Spinoza. The Rabbinate rejected the appeal, arguing that they were not competent to overrule the wisdom of the rabbis who signed the original writ in Amsterdam on July 27, 1656.  Theater J now turns to its own audience to ask, “if you had the power, would you move to reverse Spinoza’s excommunication?”

As of 8 pm, March 25, 2012, votes from theater-goers and online follows are:

527 YES

90 NO

7 NO POSITION TAKEN (BUT COMMENTS GIVEN)

3 SPLIT VOTES

Comment of the day:

“Why do Yes and No have to be different?  They are the same, of God, and they are of nature”

“Yes, but only if everything is political”

“A yea or nay vote is not as important as the fact that we are discussing the issues of philosophy and religion!”