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2010.03.05 > For Immediate Release
contact: Wendy Townley - University Relations
phone: 402.554.2762 - email: wtownley@unomaha.edu

Brooks Lecture Welcomes Jennifer Michael Hecht

Omaha - The 2010 Rabbi Sidney H. Brooks Lecture is 7 p.m. Thursday, March 18, in the Milo Bail Student Center’s Chancellor’s Room on the University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) campus. The event is free and open to the public.

Jennifer Michael Hecht, who holds a Ph.D. in history from Columbia University, will present "Doubt, Disbelief, and the Meaning of Life," demonstrating a long, strong history of religious doubt from the origins of written history to the present day all over the world. Hecht will discuss how non-belief, skepticism and doubt have paralleled and at times shaped the world’s great religious and secular belief systems.

“Throughout history some of the greatest religious thinkers have expressed great doubt in the supernatural aspects of religion while describing the awesome strangeness of our real situation," she said. "This is true for all the great world religions and especially for Judaism. From Koheleth, to Maimonedes, to Spinoza, to the present day, the Jewish contribution to philosophy has included a robust poetic atheism that takes the human feeling of sacredness as sufficient to the definition of sacredness."

Hecht is a philosopher, historian and poet. Her Doubt: A History demonstrates a long, strong history of religious doubt. Hecht’s The End of the Soul Soul: Scientific Modernity, Atheism and Anthropology won the Phi Beta Kappa Society’s 2004 Ralph Waldo Emerson Award “for scholarly studies that contribute significantly to interpretations of the intellectual and cultural condition of humanity.”

Her book The Happiness Myth takes a skeptical look at modern ideas of the good life. Hecht’s poetry books have won national awards, including the Poetry Society of America’s first book prize for The Next Ancient World, and Publisher’s Weekly called her most recent poetry book, Funny, “one of the most original and entertaining books of the year.”

Her work appears in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Republic and The New Yorker. She teaches poetry in the graduate writing program of The New School University in New York City.

The Rabbi Sidney H. Brooks Lecture is the result of an endowment honouring the Rabbi Sidney H. Brooks. It is presented through the sponsorship of the Religious Studies program, the Natan and Hannah Schwalb Center for Israel and Jewish Studies, the College of Arts and Sciences and Temple Israel.

For more information, call Dr. William L. Blizek, 554-3347, or Dr. Guy Matalon, 554-2139.

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The University of Nebraska at Omaha (UNO) is Nebraska’s metropolitan university. The core values of the institution place students at the center of all that the university does; call for the campus to strive for academic excellence; and promote community engagement that transforms and improves urban, regional, national and global life. UNO, inaugurated in 1968, emerged from the Municipal University of Omaha, established in 1931, which grew out of the University of Omaha founded in 1908.

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