Society of Jewish Ethics holds meeting here; sessions spotlight today’s issues

Professor Aaron Gross

The Society of Jewish Ethics (SJE), which will convene its 2019 Annual Meeting in Louisville from Jan. 3 to 6, will touch on a host of topics, including environmental ethics, and death and violence.
There will be eight sessions this year, an increase of two from the previous meeting.
And this year, the public may attend one session for free.
That session, “Environmental Ethics and Jewish Thought: Theory and Practice,” is slated for 7 p.m., Thursday, January 3.
It’s not the first time the SJE has opened its annual meeting to the public, and Executive Committee President Aaron Gross hopes this particular session will appeal to Louisvillians who take a serious interest in the planet.
“It will make enough sense that interested folks would join,” Gross said. “My guess is, it will look to most people like going to a lecture at a local university or when a professor is invited to speak at the JCC.”
Actually, the entire three-day meeting is open to the public, Gross said, “but the cost is usually restrictive.”
In addition to Thursday’s program, the other sessions offered at this year’s meeting are:
• Jewish Ethics and Modern Philosophy;
• Reading #MeToo in Classical Texts and Contemporary Discourses;
• What is the Opposite of Law? Perspectives on the Relationship between Halakhah, Personal Narrative, and Spirituality;
• Rabbinic Texts and Marginal Bodies Imperfection and Responsibility;
• Death and Violence;
• Maternal Experience as Resource and Challenge to Religious Ethics.
The sessions will be held at the Marriott Louisville Downtown.
Gross, who is an associate professor of theology and religious studies at the University of San Diego, said the selection process for session topics is ultimately driven by what the professors and graduate students are working on and what the papers they submit for consideration.
Still, he noted, the topics addressed at the annual meetings do reflect issues of the day.
“Current events figure very prominently,” Gross said. “We have sessions on the #MeToo movement and a session on environmentalism.”
As an organization, SJE has no political or theological slant, Gross said. “We’re not concerned that we come from a Reform, Conservative, Orthodox or Reconstructionist point of view [and] there are no concerns about taking a particular political point of view.”
SJE is affiliated with the Society of Christian Ethics and the Society of Muslim Ethics, both of which will holding their meetings simultaneously in Louisville. That will enable members of all three groups to participate in each other’s sessions.
“One of the customs of the conference is to have residents from other societies join us,” Gross said. “You sign up for any of the three conferences, you’re eligible for all of them.”
SJE is one of two national Jewish organizations meeting in Louisville in 2019. The Cantors Assembly, the umbrella group for the Conservative cantorate, will hold its 72nd annual convention here from May 19 to 23, also at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Adath Jeshurun Cantor David Lipp will be installed as its next president.

Want to go?
To register for the Society of Jewish Ethics Annual Meeting, visit The registration rates for nonmembers are $350, $100 for spouses and $175 for students.
There also are discounted “day rates” – $100 for Friday, $70 for Saturday, $25 for Sunday.

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