Our Yachad speaker for this year is the most provocative and engaging speaker on Jewish archeology, or any archaeology, I’ve ever heard.
It’s possible that you’re already aware of his work, because it was featured earlier this year on a television documentary of the discover of the Ponar escape tunnel. Ponar was the site of a concentration camp where Jewish slave laborers were forced to exhume and burn the bodies of previous Jewish victims. Some of them dug a tunnel and escaped; while their story was known, the location wasn’t until his team found it. You can view the documentary, which also shows work at the site of the Great Synagogue of Vilna, at https://to.pbs.org/2QE1w9X.
Dr. Richard Freund has developed a specialty in minimally-invasive archeology that uses hi-tech instruments to visualize what is under the surface of the earth without digging. This makes it possible to focus on the most productive places to dig, and to avoid disturbing human remains.
In Israel, he has directed projects at associated with the beginnings of Christianity and Judaism at Nazareth, Bethsaida; Qumran, site of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls; and Yavne. In addition, he has directed projects in Spain; Poland; Rhodes, Greece; and Lithuania.
He is the Maurice Greenberg Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Maurice Greenberg Center for Judaic Studies at the University of Hartford. In his time there he has built the Judaic studies program into one of the most successful in a small institution.
Dr. Freund’s Yachad lecture will be on Monday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. The topic will be “Did the Exodus from Egypt and Mount Sinai Really Happen? New Insights from Archaeology.”
His work has been featured in dozens of magazines and newspapers as well as in television documentaries. He is the author of hundreds of scholarly articles and ten books (written or co-edited) including his most recent book, Digging through History (Rowman & Littlefield, 2012; paperback 2016).