This article is a sequel to “LSD and the Rabbis.“By Shalom GoldmanIn utilizing intoxicants to heighten individual religious experience, Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi was influenced by the emerging zeitgeist of the early 1960s, a zeitgeist that the Esalen Institute of Big Sur, California, did much to develop and promote. In seminars led by luminaries like Aldous Huxley, Timothy Leary, and Humphrey Osmond, Esalen taught a generation of seekers about the theory and practice of “drug-induced… read more about LSD and the Rabbis: Part II »

In A Vocabulary of Desire, Laura Lieber offers a nuanced, multifaceted and highly original study of how the Song of Songs was understood and deployed by Jewish liturgical poets in Late Antiquity (ca. 4th-7th centuries CE). Through her examination of poems which embellish and even rewrite the Song of Songs, Lieber brings the creative spirit-liturgical, intellectual, and exegetical-of these poems vividly to the fore. All who are interested in the early interpretation of the Song of Songs, the ancient synagogue, early Jewish… read more about A Vocabulary of Desire »

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This article originally appeared on Patheos, and can be found at: By Shalom Goldman, August 20, 2014Editors' Note:This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Jewish community here.Yes, American Jews, according to the 2013 Pew… read more about The Military Diminishment of Judaism »

By Shalom GoldmanThis article originally appeared on Sacred Matters.  You can access the original article at: reactions to the death last month of Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi may be a sign that the conversation about psychedelic drugs and American religion is moving into a new stage. On July 8th that “Old Grey Lady,” the New York Times, published a long and very respectful obituary of Schachter.… read more about LSD and the Rabbi's »

A New Yorker cartoon of a few years back shows Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea. Looking at Moses, one Israelite says to the other, “Well, he’s alright, but I wish he were a little more pro-Israel.”The leadership of American Jewish community organizations never has to worry about such criticism. For the officials of the self-described “major” American Jewish groups, “strong on Israel” is the first qualification of leadership, and “pro-Israel” means one thing: justifying and defending all actions of the… read more about Quashing Jewish Dissent on Israel »

Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE MicrosoftInternetExplorer4 It is with great pleasure and enthusiasm that the Duke Center for Jewish Studies and the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library announce that the Abraham Joshua Heschel papers collection guide is now live and the collection is open to research:… read more about Abraham Joshua Heschel Papers are open! »

Follow Jill Rubin, rising senior in the History Department at Duke, as she writes about her experiences in NYC while interning at the Union for Reform Judaism in NYC.  Ms. Rubin's honors thesis, which she is working on both this summer, and through the academic year, focuses on Jewish and African-American relations in the post-civil rights era.  Ms. Rubin will make a presentation on her research during the academic year, to which all of our friends and colleagues will be invited.Her blog details her impressions as an intern… read more about Working at the URJ: My Summer in NYC »

This article originally appeared on ISLAMiCommentary at:“A Christian, a Muslim and a Jew walk into a… “Sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it’s a serious refrain that’s become especially familiar over the last few weeks.In May, the Pope makes a Holy Land pilgrimage to Amman, Bethlehem and Jerusalem with Argentinian colleagues and friends Sheik Omar Abboud and Rabbi Abraham Skorka. And then this past… read more about Pope Francis and the Holy Land: Is Religion the Pathway to Peace? »

This article originally appeared at: to the Poem here “An introduction of words and a beginning of speech:From the first, I request authority and permission…”Thus opens the famous and enigmatic piyyut—liturgical poem or hymn—of the Shavuot festival, Akdamut Milin.  This lengthy Aramaic poem, ninety mono-rhymed lines in all, now functions as an extended… read more about The Piyyut (Poem) Akdamut Milin: The Enigma and Perseverance of Tradition »

Selfie MilitarismRebecca L. Stein and Adi Kuntsman 23 May 2014This article originally appeared at: In late April, an amateur video of Israeli army aggression in the occupied West Bank began to circulate online. The content was neither new nor surprising: a soldier shoving, kicking and pointing his gun at unarmed Palestinian teenagers in Hebron’s old city. What was new, however, was the form and scale of the public response.… read more about Selfie Militarism »

Vladimir Putin painting by Former President George W. Bush via Shalom GoldmanIn June of 2001, George W. Bush famously claimed that he had looked into the eyes of Vladimir Putin and “found him to be very straightforward and trustworthy, and we had a very good dialogue. I was able to get a sense of his soul.”This month, after Putin’s speech on the Russian claim to Crimea and his subsequent annexation of the peninsula, Bush’s comment about Putin… read more about Religion, Nationalism, and “Ancestral Homelands” »

This week marks the 20th anniversary of the start of a months-long carnage that claimed the lives of about 800,000 people in Rwanda. We’d like to believe it took us by surprise, but there is just too much evidence to the contrary. It was reported in real time, and we looked away. Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style… read more about The Use and Abuse of the Holocaust in Marking the Rwandan Genocide »

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The Mystery of the Bible’s Phantom CamelsA new study reignites the thorny debate over biblical accuracyBy Elizabeth Dias @elizabethjdiasFeb. 11, 201442 Comments Getty ImagesOnce upon a time, Abraham owned a camel. According to the Book of Genesis, he probably owned lots of camels. The Bible says that Abraham, along with other patriarchs of Judaism and Christianity, used domesticated camels — as well as donkeys, sheep, oxen and slaves — in his various travels and trade agreements. Or did he? Last week, archaeologists… read more about The Mystery of the Bible’s Phantom Camels »

by SHALOM GOLDMAN for ISLAMiCommentary on FEBRUARY 21, 2014:  Normal 0 false false false EN-US X-NONE X-NONE /* Style Definitions */ table.MsoNormalTable {mso-style-name:"Table Normal"; mso-tstyle-rowband-size:0; mso-tstyle-colband-size:0; mso-style-noshow:yes; mso-style-priority:99; mso-style-parent:""; mso-padding-alt:0in 5.4pt 0in 5.4pt; mso-… read more about Shalom Goldman on Religion, Intermarriage, and the Peace Process »

Duke is proud to present “The Earth is the Lord's”: Psalms and Songs of Exile and Return; contemporary settings of Biblical texts for baritone and piano.The performance will take place on Wednesday, February 26, 2014 at 10:00am in Goodson Chapel at the Duke Divinity School.  Duke's very own Eric Meyers (baritone) and J. Samuel Hammond (piano) will perform music by Penka Kouneva (Ph.D., Duke University), and Patrrick Norman Hunt (Stanford University), in an exciting composition that makes use of ancient melodies,… read more about “The Earth is the Lord's”: Psalms and Songs of Exile and Return »

    Holy Smoke  By Shalom GoldmanSince the 1960s many in America’s alternative religious communities have embraced the use of marijuana and other mind-altering substances in their religious rituals. By hearkening back to Native American rites, these religious practitioners can point to a long tradition of American spirituality that had its religious experiences enhanced by intoxicants. With very few exceptions, federal law is reluctant to let these groups possess what are under American law “… read more about Holy Smoke »

Professor Evyatar Marienberg (UNC-Chapel Hill), gives a lecture entitled "The Rabbis and Human Rights: The Ancient Period" as part of "The Jewish Tradition and Human Rights" lecture series.The lecture series is generously sponsored by the Duke Center for Jewish Studies, The Kenan Institute for Ethics, Jewish Life at Duke, and the Duke Human Rights Center.The series will continue this Spring:February 3rd: Kalman Bland (Duke): "Medieval Jewish Perspectives on Human Rights"April 7: Zachary Braiterman (Syracuse): "What's Human… read more about The Rabbis and Human Rights: The Ancient Period »

“And a Merry Christmas to You, Mr. Netanyahu!”January 6, 2014By Shalom Goldman, Duke UniversityAmerican Jews have long struggled with the Christmas Season. It may not be our holiday, many Jews have felt, but it is after all a great American holiday. How then are we to relate to it?For more traditional Jews, the national Christmas celebration generates anxiety about their place in the American religious landscape. In the second half of the 20th century, as Jews became more assimilated to… read more about “And a Merry Christmas to You, Mr. Netanyahu!” »

 The Center for Jewish Studies at Duke University invites applications for the Perilman Post-Doctoral Fellowship in any field of Jewish Studies for the 2014-2015 academic year, with the possibility of renewal for the following year. The Fellowship provides a stipend of $39,264 (US) per year, as well as benefits, for one full year.  The Fellow will be expected to present a public lecture on his or her research in the Fall of 2014, to teach one undergraduate course in Spring 2015, and participate in the intellectual life of… read more about Duke CJS Announces: Perilman Post-Doctoral Fellowship »

Carol Meyers, Mary Grace Wilson Professor of Religion at Duke University and current president of the Society of Biblical Literature, delivered the presidential address in a plenary session of the annual meeting entitled "Was Ancient Israel a Patriarchal Society?"For more on the address, as well as the annual conference, please visit the SBL website at:  read more about Carol Meyers Delivers Presidential Address to SBL »

Bob Dylan connects religion and pop culture Amanda Brumwell / The ChronicleFaculty jam out to a repertoire of Bob Dylan songs at Goodson Chapel Thursday. By Zaynah Alam | October 4, 2013     Students, faculty and community members were knocking on heaven's door in Goodson Chapel Thursday evening. Gotta Serve Somebody—an event organized by Shalom Goldman, professor of religion and Middle Eastern studies, to celebrate the achievements of iconic singer-songwriter Bob Dylan—featured discussions of song lyrics and live… read more about Gotta Serve Somebody: Bob Dylan in American Religion and Culture »