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Dr. William Kolbrenner's picture

kolbrener@gmail.com

William Kolbrener earned a PhD from Columbia University and is currently a professor in the Department of English Literature at Bar Ilan University in Israel. An internationally renowned authority on John Milton, Renaissance poetry and philosophy, Kolbrener also publishes and lectures widely on Jewish life and learning. He is the author of a new and groundbreaking study of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik entitled The Last Rabbi.

Dr. William Kolbrener, a senior lecturer at Bar Ilan University , has brought his dynamic style of lecturing to a diverse set of audiences: from the campuses of UCLA and Columbia , to yeshivot in Jerusalem to synagogues and temples in America . Trained at Oxford and Columbia Universities , Kolbrener brings a perspective informed by a rare combination of secular erudition and Jewish commitment.

Instead of turning away from the intellectual demands posed by the philosophical traditions of the West, Kolbrener places those traditions in conversation with Jewish sources in order to illuminate the challenging but empowering perspectives of Torah. Adopting an approach that directly addresses the cosmopolitan and secular sophistication of contemporary Jewish audiences, Kolbrener reveals how traditional Jewish sources do not shy away from the urgent questions of faith, spirituality, and truth which continue to be of urgent relevance today. Touching upon sources that range from the philosophies of Plato and Spinoza, to the quantum physics of Bohr and Einstein, to the literary works of Milton and Shakespeare, Kolbrener's approach promises to elicit the continued significance of Jewish sources and models for the problems of today.

Kolbrener, an internationally acclaimed authority on the works of the early modern period in England (with a book on John Milton from Cambridge University Press) has published articles on the philosophical works of Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik and the philosophical underpinnings of the Talmud. His book in progress Between Athens and Jerusalem provides an account of a personal-and unconventional-synthesis of secular study and Jewish learning. A former fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and a Fellow of the Israel Science Academy (for which he oversaw an inter-disciplinary project on legal pluralism), Kolbrener has been a Mellon Fellow of the Humanities, a Lady Davis Fellow at Hebrew University , and a Fellow at the Einstein Forum in Potsdam Germany.