“Reaching for the Infinite” Conference to Be Held at NYU in Fall 2005

On the 10th anniversary of Rabbi Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s death, New York University’s Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies is today announcing that it has received grants to organize a three-day international academic conference on the contribution of the Lubavitcher Rebbe to his own movement and its teachings, to Hasidic thought, world Jewry and western civilization as a whole. The conference, “Reaching for the Infinite: The Lubavitcher Rebbe, Life, Teachings, and Impact”, will be held in fall 2005.

The program, which will be held on the NYU campus, is being developed by Professors Elliot Wolfson and Lawrence H. Schiffman of New York University, with the help of Dr. Naftali Loewenthal of the University of London.

Funding for the conference is being provided by George and Pamela Rohr, and Craig and Debra Cogut.

Professor Lawrence H. Schiffman, chair of NYU’s Skirball Department, said, “It is clear that Menachem Schneerson had an enormous impact on contemporary Jewish life, influencing many segments of the Jewish community. It seems to us that at this time, ten years after his passing, we are at an appropriate vantage point at which to step back to evaluate Rabbi Schneerson’s life and contributions in a rigorous and academic setting. This conference will bring together a wide range of scholars from different disciplines, allowing us to benefit from the work of scholars who may not have the necessary familiarity with Hasidic sources but whose methodological perspectives can be of great help in understanding the modern development of Chabad under the Rebbe’s leadership.

“My fellow organizers and I would like to thank George and Pamela Rohr and Craig and Debra Cogut for their generous support of this important conference.”

Conference presenters will be asked to present new research based on the use of literary and archival sources, for the most part, or sociological or media research. Papers will be prepared in advance of the conference so that papers can be provided to respondents who will be drawn from a variety of disciplines, so as to greatly widen the academic perspective on the Rebbe and his contributions.

This conference will produce the first full-length academic treatment of the Rebbe, including both the papers and the prepared remarks of the respondents. Publication of this volume will make available the results of such work to a much wider public and set the stage for further academic research on this important topic in the modern history of Judaism.

New York University, located in the heart of Greenwich Village, was established in 1831 and is one of America’s leading research universities. It is one of the largest private universities, and it has more international students than any other college or university in the U.S. Through its 14 schools and colleges, NYU conducts research and provides education in the arts and sciences, law, medicine, business, dentistry, education, nursing, the cinematic and dramatic arts, music, public administration, social work, and continuing and professional studies, among other areas.

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