Trinity College professor Dr. Ronald Kiener to deliver Fairfield University's Judaic Studies lecture, "Jewish Mysticism: From Moses to Madonna"


What do Moses and pop icon Madonna have in common?

More than most people think.

Image: Ronald KienerOn Tuesday, February 9 at 7:30 p.m., Ronald Kiener, Ph.D., director of the Jewish Studies Program at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn., will help individuals "mediate" between very different presentations of Jewish mysticism when he delivers the 2010 Judaic Studies Lecture at Fairfield University.

With a nod to Madonna for making Kabbalah part of the modern vernacular, Dr. Kiener will give a talk entitled, "Jewish Mysticism: From Moses to Madonna." "I'm addressing the disconnect between the venerable and highly secretive teachings of traditional Jewish mysticism such as the story of Moses on the one hand, and the open and fashionable marketing of 'pop'-Kabbalah on the other," said Dr. Kiener, professor of religion and the founding coordinator of the major in Middle Eastern Studies at Trinity.

Dr. Kiener is the co-author (with Joseph Dan) of "The Early Kabbalah," a volume in the Classics of Western Spirituality series published by Paulist Press. He is currently working on a scientific edition of "Saadia Gaon's Book of Beliefs and Opinions," to be published by the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities in Jerusalem. He is also working on a book, entitled "Ecstatic Kabbalah: A Reader."

Dr. Kiener has written extensively on Middle Eastern affairs for the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times and the Hartford Courant. He also has published articles in the field of medieval and modern Jewish and Islamic thought in a variety of scholarly journals.

He held a Lady Davis Visiting Professorship at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. He was a visiting professor at Tel Aviv University, a visiting instructor at Dartmouth College, and a visiting lecturer at Smith College. He has been the recipient of a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship and a Mellon Fellowship in Medieval Studies.

He received a B.A. in Hebrew Literature from the University of Minnesota in 1976, and a Ph.D. in Religious Studies from the University of Pennsylvania in 1984.

Sponsored by the University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies, the event, free and open to the public, will take place in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room. Call the Bennett Center to reserve a seat at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066. For more information about the Bennett Center, visit

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726,

Posted on January 15, 2010

Vol. 42, No. 170

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