Religious Studies

Levine Lecture Series in Jewish Studies


Created through a generous $125,000 gift from local residents, Nate and Ann Levine, the series brings to SMU distinguished scholars in all areas of Jewish studies, including history, religion, philosophy, literature, art, and interfaith relations. Lectures are held twice a year, September through November and February through April, in McCord Auditorium, Dallas Hall. All lectures are free and open to the public and free parking is available on SMU campus.

Upcoming Levine Lectures


On Tuesday, October 28, 2014, Rabbi Dr. Shai Cherry will speak on “Judaism and Darwinism.” What are Judaism’s historical attitudes toward science? Has it changed since Darwin? Is Darwinism kosher, and what are the challenges and implications for Judaism of living in a Darwinian world? In answering all these questions, Rabbi Cherry comes to the amazing conclusion that Jewish history has prepared Jews for Darwinism in an uncanny way. 

The lecture will take place at McCord Auditorium, on the third floor of Dallas Hall, a large domed building on the north side of SMU campus (street address 3225 University Blvd. Dallas). It will begin promptly at 7:30 pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. No reservations or RSVPs are necessary, and free parking is available. 

Shai Cherry holds a doctorate in Jewish Thought and Theology from Brandeis University (2001); he was subsequently ordained as a Conservative Rabbi by the Ziegler School (2009). His initial research focused on Jewish articulations of creation and responses to Darwinian evolution. In addition to publications on these topics, Cherry wrote the first user-friendly textbook on Jewish biblical commentary: Torah through Time: Understanding Bible Commentary from the Rabbinic Period to Modern Times. Dr. Cherry is also the featured lecturer for The Great Course’s “Introduction to Judaism.” Most recently, his writings focus on Jewish ethics and law. Cherry has taught at Vanderbilt University, UCLA, the American Jewish University, and UCSD. In 2011, Dr. Cherry founded Shaar Hamayim: A Jewish Learning Center for high-level text study with classes for both teens and adults. In 2014, he co-founded Kosher 2.0, a kosher certifying organization that promotes ethical business practices.


Fall 2006

"Jews, Jesus, and 'Gospel Dynamics':
Reversing Intentional Ignorance"

Michael J. Cook, Bronstein
Professor of Judeo-Christian Studies, Hebrew Union College, Jewish Institute of Religion, Cincinnati


Spring 2007

"Maintaining Jewish Identity in a Challenging Christian Environment: The Case of Medieval Europe"

Robert Chazan, S. H. and Helen R. Scheuer
Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies, New York University


Fall 2007

"From Jesus to Shylock: The Merchant of Venice in Theological Context"

Susannah Heschel, Eli Black Professor of Jewish Studies, Dartmouth College
Spring 2008

"Jesus and Judaism"

Amy-Jill Levine, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Professor of New Testament Studies, Vanderbilt University


Fall 2008

"Faith after Auschwitz: Jewish and Christian Responses to the Holocaust"

Zev Garber, Professor and Chair of Jewish Studies, Los Angeles Valley College
Spring 2009

"The Binding of Isaac and the Crucifixion of Jesus"

Jon Levenson, Albert A. List Professor of Jewish Studies, Harvard Divinity School


Fall 2009

"Reading the Bible after the Holocaust"


Marvin A. Sweeney, Professor of Hebrew Bible, Claremont School of Theology, and Professor of Religion, Claremont Graduate University


Spring 2010

"Christian Jews? The New Communities of Jewish Believers in Jesus"

Yaakov Ariel, Professor of Religious Studies, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill             


 Fall 2010        "Johnny Cash in the Holy Land: Christian Zionism and American Popular Culture."  

Shalom L. Goldman, Professor of Hebrew and Middle Eastern Studies, Emory University


 Spring 2011    "Scriptural Community, Scriptural Conflict: Judaism, Christianity, Islam"  

David Nirenberg, Deborah R. and Edgar D. Jannotta Professor of Medieval History and Social Thought, University of Chicago    


 Fall 2011        “The Truly Other Jewish World History: The Ten Lost Tribes between Jews and Christians"  

 Zvi Ben-Dor Benite, Professor of History and Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies and Acting Director of Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies, New York University


 Spring 2012   "The Menorah and the Cross: A New Discovery Illuminates the Jewish-Christian Split in the Roman World"

  Steven Fine, Professor of Jewish History, Yeshiva University, New York
Fall 2012   “The Ethics of a Shepherd"

Dr. Yoram Hazony, Founder and Provost of Shalem Center in Jerusalem
Spring 2013    "What Do we Do with Genesis? Feminism and Bible in the 21st Century"   Dr. Tammi J. Schneider, Professor of Religion and Dean of the School of Arts and Humanities, Claremont Graduate University


If you have questions or comments or would like to be included in the series' e-mail list, please contact Dr. Serge Frolov at 214-768-4478 or .