Welcome to my online portfolio, a site to showcase my research and teaching. See my CV.

I am writing a manuscript titled Schlepping Culture: The Jewish Renaissance between German and Yiddish, 1880-1940, for which I have already received two awards for published articles and the Leo Baeck Institute Early Career fellowship. This research details the transnational cultural transfers between German and Yiddish modernism as a result of mass migration. My research interests more broadly engage with German-Jewish intellectual history, Yiddish literature, Jewish-Muslim relations in contemporary German culture, Orientalism, and the quest for a new language in German literature since 1945. I have previously taught at Emory University, worked as a translator for the PBS television series Finding Your Rootsand was as an archivist for the Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem.

E-mail address: blockni@bc.edu                        Schedule an Office Hour Appt


“The Ex Libris of the German-Jewish Artist Emma Dessau Goitein.” In Emma Dessau Goitein: A European Artist in Perugia, 43-48. Museum of the Academy of Fine Arts of Perugia. Perugia: Fabrizio Fabbri, 2018.
“A Berlin Republic Convivencia? Ethnic Tensions in the Turkish-German-Jewish Triangle.” German Studies Review 40, no. 2 (May 2017): 353-371.
“On Nathan Birnbaum’s Messianism and Translating the Jewish Other.” The Leo Baeck Institute Year Book 60 (2015): 61-78.
“If I Forget Thee, O Jerusalem: The Jewish Exilic Mind in Else Lasker-Schüler’s IchundIch.” Nexus: Essays in German Jewish Studies 2 (2014): 103-120.
“Ex Libris and Exchange: Immigrant Interventions in the German-Jewish Renaissance.” The German Quarterly 86, no. 3 (Summer 2013): 334-353.

Modern Jewish Thought

Spring 2021
THEO2260/GERM 2160: MW, 3-4:15 PM



Class Notes




📖 Simon Noveck, ed., Contemporary Jewish Thought: A Reader, 2007. First Ben Yehuda Press Edition. ISBN 9780978998066
📖 Martin Buber, I and Thou, ISBN 9780684717258
📖 Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State, ISBN 9780486258492
📖 Other readings at Canvas to be printed and brought to class

Modern Jewish Thought

📖 Primary Literature (read as homework)
📌 Secondary material to be covered in class (Students will be responsible for citing the material on exams. If citing in essays, students should cite more precisely with author and page number.)
✎ 1-2 page critical response (write)
📥 3-4 page essay (write)
👓 speaker
DateAssignments are due on the date to the left.
Mon, February 1📌 Spinoza's excommunication (herem)
Wed, February 3📖 Spinoza, Tractatus Theologico-Politicus (excerpts, Preface, Ch. 3, Ch. 17 + skim selection of your choosing p. 19-30, 71-88, 287-315 (56 pages))
📌 Willi Goetschel, Spinoza’s Modernity: Mendelssohn, Lessing, and Heine (2004, excerpt)
Week 2Shabbtai Zvi & False Messiahs of the 17th century
Mon, February 8📖 Gershom Scholem, Redemption through Sin (1936 [1971]), 78-141, (63 pages)
Wed, February 10📖 The Memoirs of Glückel of Hameln, transl. Marvin Lowenthal (Ch. 3, 40-65)
✎ 1-2 page critical response (write)
Woche 3Mendelssohn & 18th-19th century Emancipation
Mon, February 15📖 David Sorkin, Moses Mendelssohn and the Religious Enlightenment (1996) Intro, Ch. 8-9 (41 pages)
📖 Primary documents: Frederick II, Charter Decreed for the Jews of Prussia (1750) + Mendelssohn on Michaelis (7 pages)
👓 Tomer Mangoubi, Karaite Judaism

Wed, February 17📖 Moses Mendelssohn, Jerusalem (1783), Ch. 2, 50-103 (53 pages)
Week 4Reform Judaism, 19th century
Mon, February 22📖 Susannah Heschel, Abraham Geiger and the Jewish Jesus (1998) Ch. 1, 23-49 (27 pages)
📖 Reform Judaism primary documents (The Jew in the Modern World, 1980) 145-168 (24 pages)

Wed, February 24Orientalism
📖 John M. Efron, German Jewry and the Allure of the Sephardic (2015) Ch. 3, 112-160 (49 pages)
📌 Pittsburgh Reform Platform, 1885
📌 Ivan Davidson Kalmar and Derek J. Penslar, Orientalism and the Jews, (2005, Intro.)
✎ 1-2 page critical response (write)
Week 5Zionism, 20th century
Mon, March 1📖 Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State (1896), Preface - Ch. 3, 67-122 (54 pages)
Wed, March 3🚫 Mid-Semester Break—no class
Thurs, March 4Mid-Semester Make-Up
📖 Theodor Herzl, The Jewish State (1896), Ch.4 - Conclusion, 123-157 (35 pages)
📌 Michael Löwy, Redemption and Utopia: Jewish Libertarian Thought in Central Europe (1992, excerpts)
Week 6
Mon, March 8📖 Abraham Isaac Kuk, including "The Land of Israel," "The Rebirth of Israel," "The Experience of Mysticism" (Noveck, 95-128) 34 pages
📖 Todd Presner, “Clear Heads, Solid Stomachs, and Hard
Muscles” (2003, 28 pages)
Wed, March 10Messianism in Secular Thought
📖 Walter Benjamin, “Task of the Translator,” “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (Illuminations, 1968) 69-82, ,255-266 (26 pages)
📖 Walter Benjamin, “Theologico-Political Fragment,” 312-313 (2 pages)
Week 7
Mon, March 15📖 Martin Buber, including The Word “God,” God and the World’s Evil, Jewish Renaissance (Noveck, 243-275) 33 pages
📥 Essay on Messianism.
Wed, March 17📖 Martin Buber, I and Thou (1923) First Part, 51-85, 33 pages
Week 8Buber
Mon, March 22📖 Martin Buber, I and Thou (1923), Second - Third Part 87-144, 58 pages
Wed, March 24📖 Martin Buber, I and Thou (1923), Third Part 144-168, 25 pages
✎ 1-2 page critical response
Week 9
Mon, March 29🚫 Passover—no class
📖 Passover Haggadah. Focus on the section of Magid ("The Telling")

Wed, March 31📖 Franz Rosenzweig, including On Jewish Learning, Hebrew Language, The Builders: Concerning the Law (Noveck, 213-236) 24 pages
📖 Margarete Susman, "God the creator". In: Nahum N. Glatzer (Ed.), The Dimensions of Job: A Study and Selected Readings. Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2002 (originally published by Schocken Books, 1969). ISBN 9781592440061. p. 86-92 (7 pages)
Woche 10
Mon, April 5📖 Franz Rosenzweig, Star of Redemption (1921, Part 3, Book 1), 317-369. Read for the theme of blood
Wed, April 7📖 Susanne Hillman, “'A Germ So Tiny': Margarete Susman's Messianism of Small Steps," Soundings: An Interdisciplinary Journal, Vol. 96, No. 1 (2013), pp. 40-84.
Week 11
Mon, April 12📥 Essay on Jewish Statism, peoplehood.
📖 Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem (Penguin, Ch. 2 and Epilogue), 21-35, 270-279 (25 pages)
📖 Hannah Arendt & Gershom Scholem, "Eichmann in Jerusalem - An Exchange of Letters." Encounter 22:1 (January 1964), 51-56 (6 pages)
Wed, April 14Reform Judaism in the US
📖 Solomon Breibart, Exploration in Charleston's Jewish History, "A Neglected Figure in American Jewish Reform: The Reverend Mr. Gustavus Poznanski" (55-60) 6 pages
📖 Kaufmann Kohler, including "Evolution and Religion," "The Nature and Purpose of Prayer," "Mission of Israel" (Noveck, 293-326) 34 pages
Week 12
Mon, April 19Reconstructionist Judaism
📖 Mordechai Kaplan, including "An Approach to Jewish Religion," "A Conception of God," "The Social Structure of American Jewish Life" (Noveck, 329-368) 40 pages
Wed, April 21Feminist Jewish Theology
📖 Susannah Heschel, Introduction, On Being a Jewish Feminist, 1983. xiii-xxxvi (20 pages)
📖 Susannah Heschel, The Orange on the Seder Plate (1 page)
📖 Rachel Adler, The Jew Who Wasn't There: Halakha and the Jewish Woman, In: On Being a Jewish Feminist, 1983. [1973], 12-18 (6 pages)
📖 Aviva Cantor, The Lilith Question, In: On Being a Jewish Feminist, 1983. 40-50 (11 pages)
Week 13
Mon, April 26📖 Passover haggadot (Course Reserves, Handout)
✎ Prepare for Essay 3 by completing handout (Canvas)
Wed, April 28Hasidism, 18th century to Today
📖 Sue Fishkoff, The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch (Ch. 4 & 14, 66-87, 261-284, 46 pages)
✎ 1-2 page critical response (write)
Week 14
Mon, May 3📖 Sue Fishkoff, The Rebbe's Army: Inside the World of Chabad-Lubavitch (Prologue, Ch. 1. Ch. 5, 3-32, 88-106)
Wed, May 5No reading, only
✎ 1 page of the final essay or an outline (write)

Fri, May 14 📥 Essay 3 on Passover haggadot. Essay and makeup work due by 12pm noon.