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Deviant Yeshiva 2024

Upside down fire juggler on a red-orange background: Deviant Yeshiva - being jewish, being weird

Where can you find weirdly Jewish study in the Netherlands? At Oy Vey’s Deviant Yeshiva. This time the Deviant Yeshiva will be held in Den Haag at 18:30 on Sept 8, Oct 20, and Nov 10. You don’t have to be Jewish to join us. You just have to be curious.

Being Jewish, Being Weird


Are you feeling weird? Are having trouble explaining your Jewish identity, and why it is important to you? Welcome to the club! We are here to help…make you even more confused! We will read texts by weird Jews (and some non-Jews) about how weird it is to be Jewish. The idea is to create a safe space for conversations that never seem to have a place.

Reclaiming Jewishness

Diasporic Jewishness can be understood as an identity that has been and remains subject to colonial pressures. It has been impacted by the cultural orthodoxies and political institutions that exist in the places where Jews have traversed and settled. One such example of this can be traced in the influence of Christian institutions. These institutions historically saw Jewishness framed as Judaism: an exclusively religious identity, limited to religious elements. This prompts us to ask whether Jewishness can be ‘de-colonized’, and if so, how?

Locating common grounds

Defining of the colonial framework is a dichotomous dynamic between the ‘civilized’ versus the ‘barbarian’. ‘Barbarians’ are subject to persecution by the civilized hegemony. Various groups have been made victim of this ‘civilizing project’. The expulsion of Jews and Muslims from the Iberian Peninsula, the conquest of the Americas, witch hunts, the trans-Atlantic slave trade, and the Holocaust are all events that recount the violent enforcement of civility. The negation of those perceived as ‘barbaric’ is enforced by way of coerced assimilation, structural persecution, and genocide. Aimé Césaire, co-founder of the Négritude movement during the first half of the 20th century, argued that the rise of fascism in Europe should be understood as part of a much longer trajectory. One that started in the Iberian Peninsula, passed through the whole world, and returned to Europe. In his reasoning, Césaire’s sought not to create a ‘competition’ between disasters, but rather situate fascism within the broader civilizing project. In the same way, the analyses of philosophers Adorno and Horkheimer evoke parallels between different groups of persecuted people. It is crucial to understand these analyses not as comparative hierarchies, but as an exposition of two faces of the same project. Through identifying the similar mechanisms underpinning distinct world events, we are able to more thoroughly nourish our understanding of the common goals and challenges shared by other groups.

Examining the persistence of antisemitism

Though having successfully integrated within the cultural and civil hegemony, the subaltern status of Jews remains apparent. This is evidenced by the lasting presence of antisemitism. Despite this, it has — quite ironically — become commonplace in popular political discourse to encounter the expression ‘Judeo-Christian civilization’. It is clear, however, that for most of history Jews have been marked as belonging to the group of the ‘barbarian’. As such, we know that the concept of ‘Judeo-Christian civilization’ is not grounded in a long-established harmony between its two elements. This dissonance urgently invites us to analyse the origins and ramifications of this expression, especially considering the repressive nature that often accompanies it.

Logistical requirements

We will have three sessions. Each dedicated to a topic. We will provide the text ahead of the session and convene to talk about the impressions the reading made on us. As simple as that! You don’t have to agree or like the argument that is being put forward. The idea is just to think about together.

Priority is given to those who can attend all 3 sessions, but you can also sign up for individual ones.

What we’ll be reading


Nathan, E., & Topolski, A. (2016). The myth of a Judeo-Christian tradition: Introducing a European perspective. Is there a Judeo-Christian Tradition?, 1.

Anidjar, G. (2013). On the European question. Belgrade Journal of Media and Communications, 2(03), 37-50.


Homi Bhabha “Joking Aside: The Idea of a Self-Critical Community” in Cheyette, B., & Marcus, L. (1998). Modernity, culture and “the Jew.” Polity Press.

Cohen, S. (1984). “The Leftʹs Advice to Jews”That’s Funny, You Don’t Look Anti-Semitic. Leeds: Beyond the Pale Collective.

Jews and Race

Shohat, E., & Stam, R. (2012). “Allegorical Crossings: Blacks, Jews, Muslims”in Race in translation: Culture wars around the postcolonial Atlantic. New York University Press.

Boyarin, D. (2023).“Judaïtude/Négritude” in The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto. YALE University Press.

To sign up for the sessions, click here.

Deviant Yeshiva

What’s so deviant about the Deviant Yeshiva? Join us and find out! The Deviant Yeshiva explores the concept of Judaism through the writings of philosophers who write about Jewishness.

This is a chance to expand your mind and read and discuss Jewish philosophical texts with our own Yoni Busquila. Yoni is a teacher of philosophy at the University of Leiden.