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Star and Crescent

Melton is developing a course that explores the historical evolution of the relationship between Judaism and Islam, between Jews and Muslims.

The Star and the Crescent: The Long Relationship of Judaism and Islam, written by Prof. Howard Lupovitch, will be available in September 2017. 

Jews and Muslims have co-existed, at times peacefully at times contentiously, for more than a millennium. And although there were moments of strife, during the first thousand years after the founding of Islam it was actually better to be Jewish in a Muslim country than in a Christian country. The Star and the Crescent broadens our understanding and challenges our assumptions at a time in our own era when tensions are high. Through the study of Muslim and Jewish texts, as well as other primary sources, the course will:

  • Investigate the significant differences between Shiite and Sunni Muslims and the ramifications of these differences for Israel and the world at large, as well as the status of Islam as viewed through the lens of our rabbinic tradition.
  • Explore the ways that shifting political governance brought along with it changes in the Jewish quality of life under Muslim and then Ottoman rule, as well as the impact of Muslim mysticism on Jewish philosophers and Kabbalists, and vice versa.
  • Analyze the origins of the Middle East crisis, exploring the image of Islam and Muslims in the Zionist imagination, the beginnings of anti-Zionist polemics and agitation among Pan-Arab Nationalists before and after World War I.
  • Conclude by moving away from the conflict in the Middle East to consider the often overlooked and misunderstood relationship between Jews and Muslims in Europe and America, pondering the question: When detached from the political conflict over a sacred territory, can the cultural parallels between Judaism and Islam and the overlapping heritage of Muslims and Middle Eastern Jews create the basis for a peaceful and stable relationship?

Prof. Lupovitch serves as Associate Professor of History and the Director of the Cohn-Haddow Center for Judaic Studies at Wayne State University. He received his Ph.D. in Jewish History from Columbia University. He has taught at Cornell University, Colby College, the University of Western Ontario and University of Michigan where he was also a fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies. Professor Lupovitch is the 2009 winner of the Benard L. Maas Prize for Achievement in Jewish Culture and Continuity in the Area of Humanities. He is a beloved teacher for the FedEd Adult Jewish Learning department of the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit.

This Rachel Wasserman Scholar’s Course has been dedicated by James Webb of Dallas, TX, in memory of his late wife Marcia Fisher Webb.

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