Author Rabbi Lawrence Kushner to speak at Fairfield University


Image: L KushnerRabbi Lawrence Kushner - the popular and prolific author of scores of books on Jewish spirituality, a novel and a screenplay - will speak at Fairfield University on Monday, October 7, at 7:30 p.m. in the Dolan School of Business Dining Room.

Free and open to the public, Kushner's talk - "Tales of the Mystical God: When the Sacred Appears Within the Everyday" - is part of Fairfield University's Carl and Dorothy Bennett Center for Judaic Studies' Scholar-in-Residence program.

"For Jews, the problem is not whether or not you believe in God, but how often you are far away from and how often you are close to the Nameless One," said Rabbi Kushner, the Scholar-in-Residence at Congregation Emanu-El in San Francisco. "These will be stories of ordinary events when we suddenly realize how close we have been (all along)."

There is limited seating. To reserve a seat, call the Bennett Center at (203) 254-4000, ext. 2066.

During Rabbi Kushner's two-day visit to campus, he'll facilitate a discussion with faculty and staff; engage in text study with clergy and educators at Congregation B'nai Israel in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and speak to Dr. Ellen M. Umansky's "Introduction to Judaism" and "Women in Judaism" classes. The Scholar-in-Residence program is made possible through the generosity of David and Edith Chaifetz of Fairfield, Connecticut.

Kushner's most recent book, "I'm God; You're Not: Observations on Organized Religion & Other Disguises of the Ego" (Jewish Lights), was praised by critics. Publishers Weekly observed: "His interest in Jewish mysticism is a further indication of his deviation from the customary intellectual and spiritual sources of a Reform rabbi."

He is the author of 18 books on spirituality and Kabbalah, including "Kabbalah: A Love Story;" "Five Cities of Refuge" (with David Mamet), "In God's Hands (with Gary Schmidt); and a screenplay, "Your Good Friend" (with Matthew Jacobs). He also has been a commentator on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered."

Kushner was the first chairman of Reform Judaism's Commission on Religious Living and has served on the board of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations. He was the Rabbi-in-Residence at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York City, and continues as an adjunct member of the faculty of the Hebrew Union College at the Los Angeles campus.

While the rabbi of Congregation Beth El in Sudbury, Massachusetts for 28 years, he originated the concept of synagogue havurot (small fellowship groups) and helped his congregants write V'tahaer Libenu (Purify our Hearts), the first gender-neutral liturgy ever published. He is also a serious impressionist artist specializing in urban landscapes.

Fairfield University's Bennett Center for Judaic Studies is directed by Ellen M. Umansky, Ph.D., who has served as both the Carl and Dorothy Bennett Professor of Judaic Studies at Fairfield and the director of the Bennett Center since its inception in 1994.

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Media Contact: Meg McCaffrey, (203) 254-4000, ext. 2726, mmccaffrey@fairfield.edu

Posted on September 18, 2013

Vol. 46, No. 49