Ruth Langer

Rabbi Dr. Ruth Langer
Address2825 Lexington Road
Louisville, KY 40280

Associate Professor, Boston College, Department of Theology

A.B., Bryn Mawr College, 1981
M.A.H.L., Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, 1985
Rabbinic Ordination, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, 1986
Ph.D, Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion, 1994

Ruth Langer is Associate Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Boston College, Department of Theology and Associate Director of its Center for Christian-Jewish Learning. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish Liturgy in 1994 and her rabbinic ordination in 1986 from Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion in Cincinnati. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and a native of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

One cluster of her research interests and publications focuses on questions of the development of Jewish liturgy and ritual. Her book, To Worship God Properly: Tensions between Liturgical Custom and Halakhah in Judaism, published in 1998 (Hebrew Union College Press), examines the interplay between liturgical law and custom in the medieval world, investigating the tensions between rabbinic dictates and the actual practices and understandings of the community. She also co-edited Liturgy in the Life of the Synagogue (Eisenbrauns, 2005) and has published a long list of articles.

As Associate Director of Boston College, Department of Theology’s Center for Christian-Jewish Learning, Ruth Langer has also been teaching, writing, and speaking about Jewish-Christian relations. This center offers courses, lectures, and seminars on various aspects of Jewish-Christian relations. It also sponsors scholarly research and serves as a resource to many local, national, and international organizations.

Langer’s primary research project combines these two areas of interest. She is investigating the history of the rabbinic birkat haminim (malediction of the sectarians), a text that often reflected Jewish understandings of their relationships with their Christian neighbors. Because these relations were often quite negative, the medieval text functioned as a curse. Consequently, it was a topic of polemics and apologetics, and eventually Christian rulers and churches censored it. This study will be the definitive history of this prayer, tracing it from its origins, through its censorship, to its modern unoffensive forms.

Areas of Interest

Jewish Liturgy;

Logos Almanac of the Christian World

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