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Washington University, Cedars-Sinai, Jeff Selingo, Susan Cain, Bill Gates
The Research Master's programme in Religious Studies is a challenging, research-oriented programme that prepared Levi for participation in current debates in the international community of scholars of religion, as well as to make her own contributions to the field.
This Ph.D. program prepared Levi for academic careers in teaching and research. The program offered her three tracks:
• Late Biblical/Post-Biblical Judaism
• Rabbinic-Medieval Judaism
• Contemporary Judaism
Among the fields specifying these tracks are: Archaeology of Roman Palestine; Second Commonwealth Studies; Rabbinic/Talmudic literature; Hellenistic Judaism; and Medieval Jewish History, Philosophy, Mysticism, American Judaism and Zionism.
Levi has taught courses on Jewish sexual ethics, Jewish bodies and bioethics, purity in the Abrahamic traditions, argumentation in Jewish traditions, and comparative religious environmental ethics, as well as introductions to Judaism and to religious studies. She makes a concerted effort to diversify her syllabi in all these areas, with substantial representation from scholars who are women, LGBTQIA+, people of color, disabled, or otherwise marginalized.
Levi aims to elucidate how multiple voices and traditions should interact with one another in the practice of ethics. First, her research explores some of the major ways in which questions of bodily autonomy function in secular feminist and Jewish bioethical discourses. It then uses case studies to illuminate ways each discourse's concepts of bodily autonomy can be deeply problematic, and argues that the strengths in each discourse can serve as important correctives for the weaknesses in the other.
Her present study argues that sex is not a sui generis phenomenon; rather, it is species of social interaction, and that STIs should be understood, in turn, as predictable risks of certain forms of social interaction. Levi’s study thus argues that these parallel features of purity discourse are valuable resources, for both Jews and non-Jews, for thinking about the ethics of managing STIs, and it articulates a Jewish ethical framework that is textually grounded, socially responsible and sexually aware.
Methodologically, her blog posts advance an innovative approach to drawing contemporary ethical claims from classical text. Instead of drawing a one-to-one correspondence between contemporary sexual ethics and texts that explicitly discuss sex, her study asks which phenomena within the social world of classical texts function in ways that are fruitfully comparable to the ways sexuality functions in contemporary social situations.
In her article, Levi articulates ways that the Jewish traditions contribute to the current public debate about vaccination. Much of the rhetoric surrounding vaccine refusal appeals to concepts of individual autonomy and fears of political and intellectual authority, claiming that the individual is the best expert on his or her own health and on whether to actively deny accepted medical consensus.
In her book, Levi addresses the question of human and Earth flourishing. Each chapter considers specific religious ideas and specific environmental harms. Taken together, the chapters reveal that the question of flourishing is deceptively simple. Most would agree that humans should flourish without destroying the Earth. Nevertheless, not all humans have equal opportunities to flourish.