Bath Houses

The Shared Space between Athens and Jerusalem

in European Judaism
Author: Lev Taylor 1
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  • 1 Leo Baeck College, UK
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Abstract

While some philosophers have posited Judaism and Hellenism as opposites, interesting collaboration has always taken place in the liminal spaces between the two poles. In this article, I explore one such space: the bathhouse. I draw on two stories from different epochs and places: Rabban Gamliel's interlocution with Proclus ben Philosophus in second-century Akko; and Rabbi Lionel Blue's experience with Rabbi Dr Werner van der Zyl in twentieth-century Amsterdam. Based on these two stories, I argue that certain spaces allow for collaboration, wherein seemingly contrasting cultures can be reconciled. I focus particularly on how attitudes to minds and bodies are articulated through the prism of bathhouses.

Contributor Notes

Lev Taylor is a rabbinic student at Leo Baeck College in Finchley. This article was produced under supervision by Professor Victor Seidler, with support from Rabbi Professor Jonathan Magonet and Dr Jeremy Schonfield.

European Judaism

A Journal for the New Europe

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