About

I am a Professor of Religion, Jewish Studies, and Medieval Studies 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. For the past nine years, I served as the director of the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies. Prior academic leadership positions included director of undergraduate studies in Religion and 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 family background see “From my mothers crocodile handbag”, an unfinished story about my mother, who was a German Jew, a Kindertransport refugee in England, an out-of-wedlock mother twice, and an amazing woman to whom I owe my life.

Among my ongoing passions is music. For many years, in Germany, I toured with a group called “Aschira,” which was part of a revival of 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. 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 vocalist (genre: Jazz, Weird Jazz).

My current passions include: bread baking, bass clarinet, and the terrific graduate students in the Graduate Program in Religion specialization of Religion in Philosophy, Politics, and Society.