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Ruth Tsoffar (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor) will give an online talk exploring the sublime space of milk and honey in the Bible and the way it has been mythologized in Israeli discourse.

 

About the talk

“Life in Citations,” Tsoffar’s recent book, tells a complicated story about the relationship of secular Israelis to biblical narratives. From the early days of Zionism, the Bible has wielded an immense constitutive power as the primal script, giving birth to nation, selfhood and Jewish ontology.

The story of the twentieth- century arrival to Zion was conflated with the story of Exodus out of slavery and into the Promised Land. In this talk, Tsoffar will explore the sublime space of milk and honey in the Bible and the way it has been mythologized in Israeli discourse. She first interrogates the utterance of “a land of milk and honey” within its performance for Moses through the burning bush in Exodus and the narrative of the twelve spies in Numbers.

Numerous examples from art, poetry and eco-friendly industry of milk help me to trace the historical development of their vicissitudes from the Bible to various Zionist manifestations. I draw on the abundance of this citational cosmology, showing how the discourse of milk and honey has been mobilized as the cultural elixir of the nation.

About the speaker

Tsoffar outdoors, smilingRuth Tsoffar is a Professor of Women’s Studies, Comparative Literature and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She is the author of “Life in Citations: Biblical Narratives and Contemporary Hebrew Culture,” (Routledge, Studies in Comparative Literature, 2019) and the award-winning “The Stains of Culture: An Ethno-Reading of Karaite Jewish Women,” (Wayne State University Press, the Raphael Patai Series in Jewish Folklore and Anthropology, 2006).

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