Visiting Assistant Professor of Religion
Education and Teaching
I finished my Ph.D. in the Department of Religion at Princeton University within the subfield "Ethics, Religion and Politics." My advisors were Jewish philosopher Leora Batnitzky, ethicist Jeff Stout, and public intellectual Cornel West. My undergraduate degree was in Philosophy and Religion at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio where I also completed a masters degree in Philosophy. My undergraduate thesis was on theodicy (answers to the theological problem of evil) in Latin American liberation theology. My master's degree treated John Dewey and Michel Foucault on the role of the philosopher in democracy. Leaving the little town of Athens for the big city lights of Cambridge, Massachusetts, I attended Harvard Divinity School, taking courses with Seyla Benhabib, Hilary Putnam, Judith Plaskow, Elie Wiesel (at BU) and Cornel West. From there I was a visiting non-degree student at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where I studied Jewish thought, history, and religion.
At Princeton, I was a teaching assistant for Jeff Stout's Christian Ethics course, as well as Peter Singer's Practical Ethics. I also worked at the McGraw Center for Teaching and Learning leading teaching workshops for graduate students. I have taught at Vassar, Lehigh, Swarthmore and Temple.
My teaching and research interests focus on the religious thought and practice of Judaism (and Christianity) in the Modern West, Jewish thought and practice, Christian and Jewish ethics, secularism, politics and religion, and philosophy of religion.
Outside of academia, I try to be useful for various social justice movements: the Israeli-Jewish peace camps, community organizing, workers' rights, and global health. I was a contributing editor to HEEB Magazine. I am still a part-time breakdancer, and stand-up comic.
My dissertation, "Jewish Thought and the Problem of the 20th Century" rehabilitates the project of "political messianism" in the service of radical humanitarianism. I am obsessed with the tension between our knowledge of urgent global problems, our ability to do something about these evils, and our inadequate responses. I use debates between 20th century Jewish thinkers (Michael Walzer, Steven Schwarzschild, Gillian Rose, Michael Wyschogrod, Emil Fackenheim, David Novak) to trace a new way of understanding moral practice in the context of global human suffering, and local political agency. Religious practices offer interesting answers to the question "What ought I to do?" - answers that can be 'translated' into secular idioms and contexts. My dissertation will hopefully serve as a contribution to practical ethics in general, as well as for Jewish thought.
I am finishing a book-a memoir/travel narrative about living in Israel, working with the peace camp, and studying Jewish philosophy and history, called "After Zion." After my dissertation, I have several projects mapped out: a work on Judaism and altruism called "Judaism and the Jericho Road"; a constructive work on Jewish thought called "The Sabbath of History"; articles on Saul Alinsky and Religion, Jewish women thinkers, political conversion, and the influence of Spinoza on recent progressive thought.
Atheism in Theory and Practice
Religious Radicals: The Religious Socialism of Martin Luther King
Jewish Messiahs: From Jesus to East Jerusalem
Postmodern Religious Thought
Philosophy of Religion
Hebrew Bible and Its Modern Interpreters
Evil in Modern Thought and Practice (Vassar, Swarthmore)
Religious Ethics (Vassar, Swarthmore)
Women in Dark Times: Theological Political Radicals of the 20th Century
Modern Problems of Belief (Vassar)
Beyond Good and Evil: Religion and Politics in Modern Europe (Lehigh)
Holocaust: History and Meaning (Lehigh)
Jewish Secularism: From Spinoza to Seinfeld (Temple)
Jewtopias! The Secular Romance with Communism, Zionism, and Liberalism (Temple)