Press Release 10/7/16 (Kent, Connecticut) – On Sunday, November 6, at 2:00 p.m. the Kent Memorial Library will host Kent resident and author Burton L. Visotzky. He will discuss and sign copies of his newly published book, Aphrodite and the Rabbis: How the Jews Adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It. His writing is published in America, Europe, and Israel. He is the author of eleven books and over 120 articles and reviews.
Rabbi Burton Visotzky serves as Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS, charged with programs on public policy. Visotzky also directs the Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue at JTS.

Professor Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout North America, Europe, and Israel. He has been featured on radio, television, and in print. Rabbi Burt Visotzky has been named to “The Forward 50” and repeatedly to the Newsweek/Daily Beast list of “The 50 Most Influential Jews in America.”

Visotzky has been a Kent resident for 20 years and served on the board of Kent Affordable Housing as well as on the KentPresents/KentProvides committee. He and his wife, Sandra Edelman, are currently very active volunteers for the Kent Library Association. For more information about him, visit: burtonvisotzky.com.

Aphrodite and the Rabbis shows the reader that:
– The Passover Seder is a Greco-Roman symposium banquet
– The Talmud rabbis presented themselves as Stoic philosophers
– Synagogue buildings were Roman basilicas
– Hellenistic rhetoric professors educated sons of well-to-do Jews
– Zeus-Helios is depicted in synagogue mosaics across ancient Israel
– The Jewish courts were named after the Roman political institution, the Sanhedrin
– In Israel there were synagogues where the prayers were recited in Greek.

Historians have long debated the (re)birth of Judaism in the wake of the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple cult by the Romans in 70 CE. What replaced that sacrificial cult was at once something new–indebted to the very culture of the Roman overlords–even as it also sought to preserve what little it could of the old Israelite religion. The Greco-Roman culture in which rabbinic Judaism grew in the first five centuries of the Common Era nurtured the development of Judaism as we still know and celebrate it today.

Arguing that its transformation from a Jerusalem-centered cult to a world religion was made possible by the Roman Empire, Rabbi Burton Visotzky presents Judaism as a distinctly Roman religion. Full of fascinating detail from the daily life and culture of Jewish communities across the Hellenistic world, Aphrodite and the Rabbis will appeal to anyone interested in the development of Judaism, religion, history, art and architecture.

“Witty and insightful.” ―Publishers Weekly

“An erudite, pertinently illustrated, and accessible work of religious history.” ―Booklist

” Aphrodite and the Rabbis is a masterpiece of Jewish thought. Rabbi Burt Visotzky shows us how Roman culture flows through Judaism in ways most of us never imagined. Your Passover Seder will never be the same! This stunning work will bless you and inspire you.” ―Rabbi Naomi Levy, author of To Begin Again and Hope Will Find You

“Understanding how Rome shaped the Rabbis, with Burt Visotzky as tour guide, is a fascinating, funny and enlightening journey. Here is a history that teaches not only about who we were, but has deep lessons about who we are and who we might become.” ―Rabbi David Wolpe, Max Webb Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple and author, David: The Divided Heart

“Burt Visotzky has written a marvelous new book full of insight and humor, yet resting on a lifetime of scholarship and faithfulness. Don’t miss it.” ―Thomas Cahill, author of The Gifts of the Jews

This program is free & open to public. His book Aphrodite and the Rabbis will be available for purchase & signing after the talk. Please register. For more information, call 860-927-3761 or go to kentmemoriallibrary.org.