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Albert Swissa’s Keynote Address: “Bound Together: Ishmael as the Ever Present Absence in Isaac's Binding"

Wednesday, March 28, 2012
4:00 AM
3222 Angell Hall

How might one re-imagine the boundaries of the Biblical telling of the binding of the Isaac? In his talk, author Albert Swissa traces the discontinuities in the famous Biblical story through Midrashic interpreta-tion, seeking to break the silence of Isaac and re-inscribing the presence of Ishmael as kin and marker of difference. His scholarly engagement explores and challenges seemingly intrinsic assumptions in Jewish religion, the division between Israeli Jews and Palestinians, ethnic politics in Israel, common genres in Hebrew literature and more.
Albert Swissa was born in Casablanca in 1959 and migrated to Israel in 1963. As a child he resided first in the “Asbestonim” transit camp and then in the “Ir Ganim Gimel” housing project in the south of Jeru-salem. Swissa grew up in an ultra-orthodox family and studied as a young boy in yeshivas. When the first Lebanon War broke out in 1982, Swissa left behind his religious life and emigrated to Paris, where he studied theater and dance. In 1991 he wrote the novel Aqud (Bound) in Paris and won the Bernstein Prize for young writers. He returned to Jerusalem in 1997, and for many years worked as a journalist and columnist at the local newspaper Kol Ha’Ir. In 1998 he opened Café Zigmond, which he continues to run to this day. Sponsored by: OVPR, Comparative Literature, Near Eastern Studies, Zell Writer’s Series, Rackham, International Institute, Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, Mediterranean Topographies, IRWG, Institute for the Humanities, CMENAS, University of Michigan Hillel, Context for Classics, Romance Languages and Literatures, DAAS, American Culture, Arab-American Studies.