The new collaboratory brings together theories and methodologies from a number of disciplines which never before were put together: (1) research in digital media, (2) research in history and Judaic studies, and (3) research in economic theory, conflict resolution and rationality. Some of the inspiration for exploring this new form of presentation comes from methods of debate and commentary that are common in traditional religious studying situations, such as Mishna studies in Jewish tradition and debates and commentary in Tibetan Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy.

This project has both specific “case based” and more broad “methodological” aspects. Accordingly, the significance of the proposed collaboration is in (1) establishing a research collaboration specific to the “Kamza and Bar Kamza” story, and (2) developing a tool that may facilitate additional interdisciplinary productions in the future. The research is divided into different stages of preparatory research, initial public event, development of
new media presentation / delivery system, and a follow up educational work.

Work Plan

The first year of the project will be devoted to collection of materials related to different aspects of the story and development of the debate technique. Towards the end of the first year we plan to hold a public event that will realize critical debate that will be interleaved with reading of the story, by gathering world experts from different fields of History, Judaic studies, Economic and Rationality, Religion and the Arts. Among the possible issues to be raised during the debate will be speculations about the fate and nature of Jewish people - what would have happened if the rabbi had asked to let them off?, the image of God, role of the events in shaping of monotheistic religions, Talmud, anti-Semitism and more. This event would be a unique opportunity to hold such a debate in a contemporary, engaging and widely accessible form.

During the second year, the additional materials collected during the symposium will be be
arranged in relational manner in a database. Using tags and content descriptors these contents will be retrieved, repeated and recombined in semi-improvisatory manner according to different focal topics occurring in the process of personal viewing or additional public performances. A digitally enhanced presentation will be designed in a manner that combines a time-lined narrative based on the Talmudic text with interactive non-linear browsing.

The third year will be devoted to summarizing the results of the project as well as developing a general methodology for using the debate and commentary play in additional contexts. Specific concern will be addressed towards educational usage of the new production method and its broad delivery in a compelling electronic format.

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