The Body Imagines: Current Research Inspired by David Novak's Scholarship

When and Where

Thursday, October 26, 2023 3:00 pm to 6:00 pm
Jackman Humanities Building
170 St. George Street, 1st floor


David Novak


A special panel discussion event to mark the retirement of David Novak, Professor Emeritus and J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies Emeritus. Moderated by Alan Verskin, Samuel J. Zacks Chair of Jewish History, University of Toronto

Panel 3:00pm-5:00pm • Refreshments to follow until 6:00pm

David Novak joined the University of Toronto in 1997, as Professor of Religion, Professor of Philosophy and the J. Richard and Dorothy Shiff Chair of Jewish Studies. He previously served as Edgar M. Bronfman Professor of Modern Judaic Studies at the University of Virginia following two decades of rabbinical ministry in synagogues across the United States. He took his undergraduate degree in Classics and Ancient History at the University of Chicago and his Master of Hebrew Letters and rabbinical diploma at the Jewish Theological Seminary of America. He completed his PhD in philosophy at Georgetown University.

Novak’s research has concentrated on Jewish theology and philosophy, weighing its complex history alongside the contemporary challenges. A particular interest has been an ongoing examination of the tradition of natural law theory (which argues that humans possess intrinsic values that govern their behaviour) and how it may be applied and interpreted in the present day. Focusing on fresh exploration of core questions of Jewish belief and practice, his work simultaneously explores how wider debates in political theory have been influenced by Jewish thought.

Guest Speakers

Dianna Roberts-Zauderer graduated with a PhD in Religion and Jewish Studies from the University of Toronto. She is the author of Metaphor and Imagination in Medieval Jewish Thought: Moses ibn Ezra, Judah Halevi, Moses Maimonides, and Shem Tov ibn Falaquera (Palgrave Macmillan: 2019). She is an independent researcher and Jewish community educator. Her current research is on mental illness in medieval rabbinic literature and philosophy. She has previously worked as a radio documentary producer, journalist, and Shoah Foundation interviewer.

Paul E. Nahme is Associate Professor of Judaic Studies and Religious Studies at Brown University. A scholar of modern Jewish thought, cultural and intellectual history, and rabbinic thought, Nahme's theoretical interests range from philosophy and political theory to psychoanalysis, deconstruction, and critical race theory and engages Jewish sources spanning from medieval philosophy to kabbalistic and Hasidic sources as well as modern rabbinic Talmudic novellae. Nahme’s research seeks to study modern Jewish thought and culture as an expression of an alternative lifeworld shaped in fugitive and exilic circumstances. His first book, Hermann Cohen and the Crisis of Liberalism: The Enchantment of the Public Sphere (Indiana University Press, 2019), was a finalist for a Jewish National Book Award. His second book, entitled Ghost People: Race, Religion, and the Affective Sources of Modern Jewish Identity, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.

Yaniv Feller is an assistant professor of religion and Jewish studies at the University of Florida, and a proud graduate of the Department for the Study of Religion and the Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto. He is the author of The Jewish Imperial Imagination: Leo Baeck and German Jewish Thought, which will be published with Cambridge University Press this October and won the Jordan Schnitzler First Book Publication award of the Association for Jewish Studies. With Paul Nahme, he co-edits the volume Covenantal Thinking: Essays on the Theology and Philosophy of David Novak, which will be published with the University of Toronto Press in March 2024. Yaniv’s research has been supported, among others, by an Alexander von Humboldt Fellowship in Tübingen and a Center for the Humanities Fellowship in Wesleyan University. Next summer, Yaniv will be a Dr. Gabriele Meyer/Zeit Foundation fellow at the Institute for the History of German Jews in Hamburg.


Alan Verskin is the Samuel J. Zacks Chair of Jewish History at the University of Toronto. His research focuses on the history of the Jews of the Islamic World and Sephardic Jewry.


Contact Information

Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies


Anne Tanenbaum Centre for Jewish Studies, Department of Religion


170 St. George Street, 1st floor