No Footnote: My Colleague Shamma Friedman Won the Top Talmud Prize in Israel

I congratulate my Jewish Theological Seminary colleague, expert in university Talmud studies, Shamma Friedman, who has won a prize, the top Israeli prize for Talmudists.

This is the prize that was made famous in the Yossi Cedar comedy film, "Footnote" whose premise was that the committee gave the prize by mistake to the father when they meant to give it to the son, both professors of Talmud, and mayhem ensued.

I hope that no mayhem will follow this award to Professor Friedman, and I am confident that it was not an error. His many contributions to Talmud study are described admiringly by Shai Secunda here (How Shamma Friedman, Winner of This Year’s Israel Prize, Revolutionized Talmud Study: Meet the American-born JTS professor who modernized an ancient pursuit) and by Yehuda Mirsky here (Talmud: The Back Story).

Mirsky says in part, "Friedman's massive scholarship yields a complex picture: a picture of hosts of talmudic sages consciously and ceaselessly reinterpreting earlier traditions in order to achieve coherent teachings to guide them in the present."

The main difficulty that I have with the Friedman work is its non-controversial "back story" scope - asking a lot about how we got the Talmud and how it is made up of layers of traditions.

I'm more interested in the contents of the Talmud - the values and ideas in the massive document and its role as a guide for religious, spiritual and intellectual life. Neither article tells me anything about what Friedman contributed to those areas of inquiry.

1 comment:

R Scheinberg said...

Professor Shamma Friedman is thanked in the credits at the end of the movie "Footnote" הערת שוליים!