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Secularism on the Edge: The Church & the State in the United States, France & Israel

SFS Program for Jewish Civilization

Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM (EST)

Washington, United States

Secularism on the Edge: The Church & the State in the...

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Day Two of the Program for Jewish Civilization's conference on secularism in the United States, France & Israel.

Refreshments will be available throughout the day and lunch will be served. RSVP is requested. 

Co-sponsored by the BMW Center for German and European Studies, the Department of French, and the Department of Government.


10:00 AM – 12:00 PM PANEL I: “Contemporary Challenges to American Secularism”
Barry Kosmin, “The Vitality of Soft Secularism in the U.S. and the Rise of the “Nones”
Jacques Berlinerblau, “What Is Secularism?”
Caroline Mala Corbin
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM PANEL II: “Hiloniyut: Current Legal and Social Issues”
Denis Charbit, “A Self-Restrained Secularism? Halakhhah and Sharia in Contemporary Israel”
Ilan Greilsammer, “The “status quo”: Old and New Frontlines between Hilonim and Anti-Hiloni Forces in Israel?”
Anita Shapira, “Israeli Religious Secularism”
3:15 PM – 5:15 PM PANEL III: “Laïcité in a Multicultural France”
Régine Azria, “Post-War French Jewry Facing Laïcité in a Multicultural France”
Jean Baubérot, “Laïcité and Freedom of Conscience in Pluricultural France”
Henri Peña-Ruiz, “Laïcité as a Background of Emancipation”
6:00 PM – 7:30 PM PUBLIC INTERVIEW III
Jacques Berlinerblau and Phil Zuckerman
“Secular America: Nones, Atheists, the Unaffiliated”


Professor Kosmin is Director of the Institute for the Study of Secularism in Society and Culture (ISSSC) and a Research Professor in the Public Policy & Law Program at Trinity College. He has been a Principal Investigator of the American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) series 1990-2008 since its inception. Dr. Kosmin has also directed many other large national social surveys and opinion polls in Europe, Africa and the U.S., including the CJF 1990 US National Jewish Population Survey. He is the author of over 20 books and research monographs and more than 50 scholarly articles in the areas of sociology, demography, politics, philanthropy, and policy research.

Professor Corbin holds a B.A. from Harvard University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. She was a James Kent Scholar while at Columbia Law School, where she also won the Pauline Berman Heller Prize and the James A. Elkins Prize for Constitutional Law. Following law school, she clerked for the Hon. M. Blane Michael of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. She then litigated as a pro bono fellow at Sullivan & Cromwell LLP and as an attorney at the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. She completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at Columbia Law School immediately prior to joining the University of Miami faculty in 2008.

Jacques Berlinerblau is Associate Professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He has published on a wide variety of issues ranging from the composition of the Hebrew Bible, to the sociology of heresy, to modern Jewish intellectuals, to African-American and Jewish-American relations. Professor Berlinerblau’s most recent book isHow to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom.

Professor Charbit is Chair of the Department of Sociology, Political Science, and Communication at the Open University of Israel. He received his PhD from Tel-Aviv University and specializes in the study of the intellectual and cultural history of 20th century France as well as the history of Zionism. He is author of several books, includingQu’est-ce que le sionisme? and Les intellectuels français et Israël.

Dr. Greilsammer is a professor of political science at Bar-Ilan University in Tel-Aviv. He received his doctorate from University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne in international relations. Professor Greilsammer has lived in Israel since 1972. He has published several books, most notably Léon Blum: Lettres de Buchenwald and the widely translated Le sionisme.

Dr. Shapira is the former Ruben Merenfeld Professor in the Study of Zionism at Tel Aviv University, former dean of the faculty of Humanities, and head of the Rabin Center. She is currently Senior Fellow at the Israel Democracy Institute. Professor Shapira specializes in modern and contemporary Jewish history, especially in social and cultural history and questions of identity. She ahs published numerous books and articles on the history of Zionism, the Jewish community in Palestine and the state of Israel. Her best known works are “Berl Katznelson: a Biography of a Socialist Zionist”, “Land and Power, the Zionist Resort to Force, 1882-1948”, “Yigal Allon: Native Son”, and “Yosef Hayyim Brenner, A Life Story”. She has won many prizes and awards, including the Israel Prize in 2008. Professor Shapira is currently working on a biography of David Ben Gurion.

Dr. Azria is a professor of sociology at the École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS) in Paris and a member of the Centre d’Études Interdisciplinaires des Faits Religieux at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique. She studied at the Sorbonne and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Professor Azria’s areas of specialization include Jewish identity and diaspora and religious affairs in France. She is Assistant Editor of the Archives de Sciences Sociales des Religions and has authorednumerous publications about Judaism.

Dr. Baubérot is a historian and sociologist of religion as well as the founder of the sociology of secularism. He holds a doctorate from the École Pratique des Hautes Études (EPHE), where he founded the Groupe de Sociologie des Religions et de la Laïcité and is now Professor Emeritus of history and sociology of laïcité. Professor Baubérot has served in the cabinet of Ségolène Royal and as a member of the Stasi Commission. He was awarded Chevalier of the Légion d’honneur and is author of numerous books, including most recently Laïcité 1905-2005, entre passion et raison andLa laïcité expliquée à Monsieur Sarkozy.

Dr. Peña-Ruiz is a philosopher, writer, and politician. He is currently maître de conférences at the Institut d’Études Politiques de Paris. Dr. Peña-Ruiz is an expert on laïcité and was a member of the Stasi Commission. His books include La Laïcité andQu’est-ce que l’école? in addition to several other philosophical works. He is a member of the conseil scientifique of the think tank Res Publica Foundation.

Phil Zuckerman is a professor of sociology and secular studies at Pitzer College in Claremont, California. He is the author of several books, including Faith No More(Oxford, 2011) and Society Without God (2008), and he is the editor of several volumes, including Atheism and Secularity (Praeger, 2010). He is currently working on a new book on secular life in America that is being published by Penguin.


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When & Where


Georgetown University
Washington, 20057

Thursday, February 21, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 7:30 PM (EST)


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