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From Andalusia to Cairo: The Life, Works and Thought of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (RaMBaM)
Alas, it is impossible to overstate Moses Maimonides’ influence on Judaism. At the height of the Islamic enlightenment, Moses was born (1138) in Cordoba, Spain to Maimon the judge. His family fled a decade later when the tolerant Islamic regime was overthrown by a fanatic sect.

Finally settling in Cairo, Maimonides served as physician to the Sultan, Saladin, during the Christian Crusades in the Land of Israel. The product of high Islamic culture and deep Jewish learning, Maimonides transformed Jewish literature and Jewish thought. He systematized, codified, and rationalized the Jewish traditions which he had inherited. In shocking ways, he turned Judaism into a religion.

This four-week course will immerse us in the family, life, times, works, and thought of Rabbi Moshe ben Maimon (RaMBaM). We’ll travel from the poetry-infused life of Andalusia to the medical clinic RaMBaM ran outside of Cairo. We’ll look at his commentary, code, philosophy, and letters. Finally, we’ll see how his son’s attraction to Sufi mysticism was both predictable and an uncanny precursor to post-Enlightenment Judaism.

Rabbi Dr. Shai Cherry serves as rabbi and Creative Educational Officer of Congregation Adath Jeshurun in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania. After eighteen years in academics, Cherry shifted from university teaching to the pulpit in 2019. Rav Shai’s early academic research focused on Judaism and Darwinism. His latest work, Coherent Judaism: Constructive Theology, Creation, and Halakhah brings these threads together to offer a vision of 21st-century Judaism. Formerly on the faculties of Vanderbilt University and the University of San Diego, he is the featured lecturer for The Great Courses’ “Introduction to Judaism”.
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