Fred Astren, Ph.D.

Fred Astren, Ph.D.San Francisco State University
Professor and Chair, Department of Jewish Studies
Professor Astren received his doctorate in Near Eastern Studies from the University of California at Berkeley in 1993. His research interests include minority/sectarian history and sacred history in the Mediterranean Middle Ages, with special focus on Jewish history under Islam, Jewish-Muslim relation  and the Karaite Jewish sect. Dr. Astren is working on a book about Jews of the early Middle Ages in the Mediterranean. (publicity PDF)


November 1 | 4 p.m.
Cities, Writing, and Readerships: Social History and Jewish Sectarianism in the Early Centuries of Islam
Lattie F. Coor Hall, room 4403 | Arizona State University, Tempe campus


November 2 | 5:45 p.m.
Karaite Judaism: A Jewish Alternative to Rabbis and the Talmud, from the Middle Ages to the Present
Kabbalat Shabbat service followed by a special Shabbat dinner ($18)
Beth El Congregation | 1118 West Glendale Avenue, Phoenix
r.s.v.p. by October 26 to Renee Joffe | 602-944-3359 x113| r.s.v.p. form (fillable PDF)

Karaite Judaism, originated in the Muslim Middle Ages, offered a competitive alternative to rabbinic Judaism that focused on the Hebrew Bible, rejected the Mishna and Talmud and developed its own religious law and interpretations. In the Middle Ages, their Judaism can be characterized as anti-rabbinic, legally strict, and focused on Scripture, with a messianic emphasis on the Land of Israel. There is a sharp divide in their later history between Karaites of Islamic lands and Karaites of Christian Europe.


November 3 | 9 a.m.
Judaism and Islam: Roots, Relationships and Perceptions
beginning during services with discussion continuing after Kiddush
Beth El Congregation |  1118 West Glendale Avenue, Phoenix
r.s.v.p. by October 26 to Renee Joffe | 602-944-3359 x113| r.s.v.p. form (fillable PDF)

The seeds of Islam were germinated in the same Near Eastern soil as that of Judaism. The perspective of the Koran, the holy book of Islam, assumes much about the world that is common to the Hebrew Bible. Within both traditions, believers understand God as a creator and final judge, who offers reward and punishment, and who reveals Himself through His prophets and His books. Abraham is a central figure in both traditions. Muhammad, the Prophet of Islam, probably saw himself as a prophet in ways similar to the prophets of the Bible. Parallels and similarities found in the two traditions are extremely helpful for understanding their differences and intertwined histories.


Beth El Congregation logo
Made possible through a partnership between Beth El Congregation and the Center for Jewish Studies
with support from the Faculty of Religious Studies in the School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies