Cursing the Christians? A History of the Birkat HaMinim

Rabbi Dr. Ruth Langer

Monday, February 27, 2012 at 7 p.m. | Campion Hall: Banquet Hall North

[ Video available. Click on “Videos” above.]

The Birkat Haminim is a Jewish prayer that in its earliest forms cursed apostates, sectarians, Christians, and enemies of Israel, especially imperial powers.  In her new book Cursing the Christians?, Prof. Ruth Langer draws on shifting liturgical texts and the diverse polemics and apologetics concerning the prayer to trace its history from Late Antiquity, through the Middle Ages and modernity, to the prayer’s transformation into a general petition that God remove all evil from the world. Her research is sure to be the definitive treatment of this topic for many years to come.

Rabbi Dr. Ruth Langer is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Christian-Jewish Learning at Boston College. Her research and writing focuses on Jewish liturgy and Christian-Jewish relations. Currently serving as chair of the Council of Centers on Jewish-Christian Relations and co-editor of its professional journal, Studies in Christian-Jewish Relations, Prof. Langer is the also author or editor of: Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue: Studies in the History of Jewish Prayer, ed. with Steven Fine (Eisenbrauns, 2005) and To Worship God Properly: Tensions between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism (Hebrew Union College Press, 1998).