Two lecturers are scheduled to take place at Elizabethtown College’s Young Center over the coming week. On April 20, Rod Janzen, history professor at Fresno Pacific University in California, will present the Durnbaugh Lecture on Hutterites from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Benyamin Neuberger, professor of political science and African studies at the Open University of Israel and Snowden Fellow at Etown, will present his lecture on the Haredim and the Amish on April 26 at 7:30 p.m.
Jeff Bach, director of the Young Center, asked Rod Janzen to participate in the Durnbaugh lectures because Janzen has “studied the Hutterites for over 30 years and published a number of books about them, including the most recent, “The Hutterites in North America.”
Janzen will focus on the contemporary trends in Hutterite life in his lecture entitled “Aspects of Hutterite Life: Communal Christianity and 21st-Century Challenges.”
According to Janzen, the Hutterites are “a community of about 50,000 old order, plain-dressed Christians who have lived communally since the 1520s. There are about 500 colonies located across the northern plains of the United States and the prairie provinces of Canada.”
“There is much diversity among Hutterites,” Janzen said in an email. “Some colonies allow the use of musical instruments, including electric guitars, while others do not even allow members to own cell phones.”
“The Durnbaugh Lecture is unique because Professor Janzen is the best authority on how to write life today,” Bach said. “This is a unique opportunity for the college community to hear from the leading authority on how to write about their faith and their way of life.”
As a Snowden Fellow, Neuberger will present a lecture at the College during his three-month stay. Neuberger will also be conducting research on the Amish to draw more comparisons to the Haredim while he is in Etown.
The Haredim are conservative, orthodox Jewish people who live mainly in Israel, while the Amish live mostly in the United States. The Haredim live in separate communities from those who do not practice their beliefs as they don’t agree with the government in many respects and want to have as little contact as possible with non-Orthodox society. Like the Amish in the past, the Haredim are exempt from the draft, but unlike the Amish it is because they do not identify with the state, not because of their religious pacifism.
Neuberger said that the lecture will focus more on the Haredim, considering the number of Amish living in Lancaster County. “I already wrote something in the past about the Amish, and I don’t think it would be appropriate for me talk about the Amish because people here know more about them than I do,” Neuberger said. “So I think the appropriate thing would be to talk mainly about the Haredim in Israel and draw some comparisons between the two groups.” He will compare the two religions and their relationship with the respective state in which they live.
“The Snowden Lecture is unique because Dr. Neuberger is the first scholar to do careful comparative studies on the Amish and the Haredim regarding their relationship with their respective governments,” Bach said.
Despite their differences, these two groups also share some similarities. According to Neuberger, some people in Israel refer to the Amish as the “American Haredim.” Both groups have very strict rules that govern their daily lives, such as the way they dress.
Neuberger believes those who want to know more about Israel will “certainly” benefit from his lecture, as well as those who do research on the relationship between church and state among various religions.
These lectures will provide insight on the similarities and differences these religious communities have with “modern life” as well.