This lecture will use visual and literary materials to demonstrate how modern rabbis have seen themselves and been seen by others. It will demonstrate how, as their rabbinical role changed, so did their self-perception as indicated by their portraits, some of which were circulated among their admirers. It will show how adapting to the role of modern clergy and of secular scholar resulted in new, symbolic forms of dress. We shall also see how the rabbi displayed himself as priest and as prophet, and how imagery changed once women became rabbis.
Michael A. Meyer is the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Jewish History Emeritus at the Hebrew Union College–Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati, and a regular visiting professor at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Among his award-winning books are The Origins of the Modern Jew (1967), Response to Modernity (1988), Jewish Identity in the Modern World (1990), and Joachim Prinz, Rebellious Rabbi (2007), and he is the author of more than two hundred articles and reviews. During his fellowship at the Katz Center this fall, Professor Meyer is at work on his recent project, “Dispersion–Diversion: Consequences of the Migration of Jewish Studies from Germany to America.”