Prof. George Yaakov Kohler

Jacobovitz Building floor 4 room 404
Fields of Interest
  • Religious philosophy and Jewish theology in 19th century Germany
  • Jewish Messianism
  • Beginnings of kabbalah research in 19th century Germany
  • Jewish-Christian theological dialog


    1994-1997   Faculty of Marketing, Berlin University of Arts

                Public Relations/Business Communication (BA)

    2001-2005   Ben Gurion University of the Negev

                                        Jewish Thought (MA - with distinction)

          Thesis: Infinity in Gersonides -      Advisor: Prof. Haim Kreisel

    2006-2010   Ben Gurion University of the Negev

                                        Jewish Thought (PhD – summa cum laude)

    Thesis: The Rediscovery of Maimonides’ Guide of the Perplexed by the Wissenschaft des Judentums   Advisors: Prof. Haim Kreisel, Prof. Gideon Freudenthal

    From October 2010-2011 Minerva Postdoc fellow at the University of Frankfurt/M.

    From October 2011-2012 Thyssen-Foundation Postdoc Fellowship at BGU of the Negev

    Professional Experience

    2009-2010 lecturer at the department of Jewish thought at BGU

    From fall 2009 till today guest lecturer at the Papal Lateran University in Rome

    Winter-Semester 2010/11 lecturer at the Goethe University Frankfurt/M.

    From fall 2012 faculty member and senior lecturer at Bar Ilan University’s department for Jewish Thought

    From 2015 Director of the Joseph-Carlebach-Institute for Jewish Theology

    Grants and Fellowships

    June 2007 Keren Kayemet Prize for Philosophy

    2007-2010 Rotenstreich fellowship

    2009 Grünewald-Prize of Leo Baeck Institute Jerusalem

    2010 Prize of the Association of Israelis of Central European Origin

    2010 Minerva Postdoctoral Fellowship

    2011 “Mahar” Prize for the best published essay of the Humanities faculty at BGU

    2011 Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives Fellowship

    2011 Thyssen-Foundation Postdoc Fellowship

    2012 BGU Faculty of Humanities research prize



    First Semester

    Introduction to Jewish Philosophy from the 17th to the 19th Century

    Close reading of selected Jewish philosophical texts from Spinoza, Mendelssohn, Maimon and others as a means of introduction to Jewish thought from the 17th to the 19th century

    Biblical Passages in the light of Modern Philosophical Ethics

    Interpretation of selected Biblical passages (Gan Eden, 10 Commandments, Burning Bush etc.) as precepts of axioms in modern philosophical ethics (universal morality, rationality of morals)

    Reading of Spinoza’s Tractatus – Introduction to his Religious Thought

    Introduction to Spinoza’s Theologico-Political Treatise and reading of selected passages on general topics of the philosophy of religion (revelation, miracles, chosenness etc.)

    Second Semester

    Introduction to the Jewish Philosophy of the 20th Century

    Close reading of selected Jewish philosophical texts from Hermann Cohen up to Emanuel Levinas as a means of introduction to modern Jewish thought of the 20th Century

    Hannah Arendt – Ethical Aspects of her Jewish thought

    Reading of selected passages from Arendt’s Eichmann-book and her exchange of letters with Gershon Scholem in an attempt to understand her notion of the “banality of evil” and other ethical aspects of her Jewish though

    The Relation of Spinoza’s religious philosophy to the thought of Maimonides

    Discovery and discussion of the indebtedness of Spinoza’s theology in his Theologico-Political Treatise to the religious philosophy of Maimonides in his Guide of the Perplexed






    Reading Maimonides' Philosophy in Nineteenth Century Germany – The Guide to Religious Reform (Springer Science, Dordrecht 2012 / vol. 15 of Amsterdam Studies in Jewish Philosophy)

    Der jüdische Messianismus im Zeitalter der Emanzipation - Reinterpretationen zwischen davidischem Königtum und endzeitlichem Sozialismus (anthology, deGruyter, 2013)

    Reviewed articles in journals

     “Medieval Infinities in Mathematics and the Contribution of Gersonides”, in: History of Philosophy Quarterly, 23-2 (2006), pp. 95-116

    “Manuel Joel in Defense of the Talmud – Liberal Responses to Religious Antisemitism in Nineteen-Century Germany”, Hebrew Union College Annual 79, (2008/2010), p. 141-163.

    “German Spirit and Holy Ghost - Treitschke’s Call for Conversion of German Jewry: The Debate Revisited”, in: Modern Judaism 30:2 (2010), p. 172-195.

    “Finding God’s Purpose - Hermann Cohen’s Use of Maimonides to Establish the Authority of Mosaic Law”, in: Journal for Jewish Thought and Philosophy 18:1 (2010), p. 85-115

    „Die Idealisierung des Diesseits“ – Maimonides’ Einfluss auf das Konzept des Messianismus in Hermann Cohens Essay Charakteristik der Ethik Maimunis, in: Judaica, 3/2011 p. 241-262. (engl. „The Idealization of the Mortal World“)

    "Is there a God an sich? Isaac Breuer on Kant’s Noumena", in: AJS Review 36:1 (2012), p. 121-139.

    „Platzmachen für Gott - Else Lasker-Schüler, Rabbiner Kurt Wilhelm und der religiöse Liberalismus in Palästina“, in: Aschkenas. 2013; 21(1–2): p. 179–199 (engl. Make Room for God - Else Lasker-Schüler, Rabbi Kurt Wilhelm and religious Liberalism in Palestine)

    “Moses as a Superhuman – Criticism of Maimonides’ Theory of Prophecy by Wissenschaft des Judentums Scholars in Early 20th-Century Germany”, in Jewish Studies Quarterly, No. 1, 2015, p. 87-107.

    "Rabbi Max Joseph – Between Reform and Zionism", in: Review of Rabbinic Judaism 19 (2016) 96–117

    Reviewed chapters in books

    “Maimonides and Ethical Monotheism – The Influence of the Guide of the Perplexed on German Reform Judaism”, in: James T. Robinson (ed.) The Cultures of Maimonideanism, Brill (2009), p. 309-334.

    „Ein notwendiger Fehler der Weltgeschichte - Ludwig Philippsons Auseinandersetzung mit dem Christentum“, in: Görge K. Hasselhoff (ed.) Die Entdeckung des Christentums in der Wissenschaft des Judentums, Berlin 2010, p. 33-62.

    Judaism Buried or Revitalised? ‘Wissenschaft des Judentums’ in Nineteenth Century Germany – Impact, Actuality and Applicability Today, in: Daniel J. Lasker (ed.),  Jewish Thought and Jewish Belief, Beer Sheva 2012, p. 27-63.

     „Eine verpasste Gelegenheit: Abraham Geigers lebenslang spannungsvolles Verhältnis zur Religionsphilosophie des Maimonides“, in: Christian Wiese (ed.) Jüdische Existenz in der Moderne: Abraham Geiger und die Wissenschaft des Judentums, Berlin 2013, p. 249-274

    Keine Brücke zwischen Begriff und Welt - Orthodoxe Kritik an der Religionsphilosophie Hermann Cohens, in: Eveline Goodman-Thau und Hans-Georg Flickinger (ed.), Zur Aktualität des Unzeitgemäßen - Beiträge zum Jüdischen Denken, Reiner Wiehl zum Andenken, Nordhausen 2013, S. 111-140.

    Prayers for the Messiah in the Thought of Early Reform Judaism, in: Uri Ehrlich (ed.) Jewish Prayer: New Perspectives, Beer Sheva 2016, p. 5-29.

    Forthcoming (reviewed and accepted):

    “The Captivating Beauty of the Divine Spark – Wissenschaft des Judentums and Receptions of Yehuda Halevi’s Kuzari in Germany”, in: Transversal – Journal for Jewish Studies, 2016

    “The Rediscovery of Gersonides as a Religious Philosopher by the Wissenschaft des Judentums”, in Gad Freudenthal (ed.), Gersonides Through the Ages,  Brill 2016

    “Humankind is Advancing – Samuel Hirsch’s Rediscovery of Messianism and its Consequences for Modern Jewish Religious Philosophy”, in: Thorsten Fuchshuber and Judith Frishman (ed.), Samuel Hirsch – Religious Philosopher and Radical Reformer, De Gruyter 2016

    Book Reviews:

    Josef Albo: Jüdische Philosophie und christliche Kontroverstheologie in der frühen Neuzeit, in: Jewish Quarterly Review - Volume 95, Number 4, Fall 2005, pp. 724-727

    Am HaSefer, in: ZRGG 62, 1 (2010), p. 85f.

    Maimonides interkulturell gelesen, in: ZRGG 62, 2 (2010), p. 188-190

    Moshe Halbertal: HaRambam, in: ZRGG 62, 3 (2010), p. 301-303

    Abraham Melamed: On the Jewish Origin of Philosophy and Science, in ZRGG 63, 2 (2011) p. 186-188

    Dieter Adelmann: Reinige dein Denken – über den jüdischen Hintergrund der Philosophie von Hermann Cohen, in: Modern Judaism 31, 1 (2011), p. 109-113.

    Ran HaCohen: Reclaiming the Hebrew Bible, in: ZRGG 63, 4 (2011), p. 398-400

    Elliot N. Dorff and Jonathan K. Crane (eds.): The Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality, in: Medaon – Magazin für jüdisches Leben in Forschung und Bildung, 9 (2015), 16, S. 1–4,

    James Diamond:Maimonides and the Shaping of the Jewish Canon, in: Medaon – Magazin für jüdisches Leben in Forschung und Bildung, 9 (2015), 17, S. 1–4

    Conferences and workshop participations (with invited papers presented):

    World Congress of Jewish Studies 2009, 2013

    Congress of the European Association for Jewish Studies 2010, 2014

    Workshop “The Philosophy of Monotheism”, Zurich 2012

    International Conference “Moses Hess between Socialism and Zionism”, Jerusalem 2012

    International Conference “Law – Religion – Revolution”, Berlin 2012

    12th EAJS Summer Colloquium “Wissenschaft des Judentums in Europe: Comparative Perspectives”, Oxford 2012

    Conference “Roads not Taken - Research and Appropriation of Kabbalah in the 19th and early 20th century”, Frankfurt 2013 (co-organiser)

    13th EAJS Summer Colloquium, „The Jewish-Theological Seminary of Breslau“, Oxford 2013

    International Mordecai Kaplan Conference, Washington DC, 2014

    Yale Program for the Study of Antisemitism – International Conference, 2014

    “Gersonides Through the Ages” Conference, Geneva 2014

    Workshop “Messianism without Messiah”, Zurich 2012

    American Association for Jewish Studies Conference, Baltimore 2014

    10th International Joseph Carlebach Conference, Hamburg 2015, (co-organiser)

    “Re-Framing American Jewish History and Thought” - International Conference, Potsdam 2016



    Last Updated Date : 22/12/2022