I am a Professor of Religion in the College of Arts and Sciences at Boston University, where I have been teaching since 1994. My fields of teaching are western religions, Jewish studies, and philosophy of religion. Since July 2013, I serve as the director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. Prior academic leadership positions included director of undergraduate studies in Religion and interim director of the Division of Religious and Theological Studies.
I received my PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University in 1994. Before that I prepared for the ministry in the Evangelische Kirche der Pfalz, a regional Protestant church in Germany, after completing my theological studies in Göttingen, Kiel, and Heidelberg (Germany). In between I spent two years in Jerusalem, studying at Hebrew University (1982-83 and 1986-87), in a program focused on Jewish-Christian relations. If this sounds confusing (“Is this guy a Christian or a Jew?”), I recommend you read my work. For some biographical background see “From my mothers crocodile handbag.”
Among my ongoing passions is music. For many years, while in Germany, I toured with a group called “Aschira,” which was part of a revival of interest in Jewish culture in Germany, though in contrast to the Klezmer revival that was also going on at the time, we performed mostly Hebrew songs, including Hasidic chants that we adapted from Rabbi Shlomo Carlebach and others. Since coming to the US in 1988, I have mostly played drums and percussion, though I still occasionally sing. You can hear me on several tracks of the Molly Flannery Quintett’s CD “Slow Dance at the Asylum”, as a percussionist and voice (genre: Jazz, Weird Jazz).