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Alon Goshen-Gottstein (Hebrew: אלון גושן גוטשטיין) (born 1956, England) is a noted scholar of Jewish studies and a leading theoretician and activist in the domain of interfaith dialogue. He is founder and director of the Elijah Interfaith Institute since 1997. He specializes in bridging the theological and academic dimension with a variety of practical initiatives, especially involving world religious leadership.
Goshen-Gottstein is the son of Moshe Goshen-Gottstein – a professor of Jewish studies, linguist, Bible scholar, and theologian – and Esther Goshen-Gottstein, a clinical psychologist. The Jerusalem home in which Goshen-Gottstein grew up was open to students of various religions, as well as to visiting clergy. Coupled with extensive travel in early childhood, Goshen-Gottstein was raised to have an open and expansive perspective on the world, seen through the lens of academia.
Goshen-Gottstein is married to Therese (born Andrevon), who is a close collaborator in his interfaith activities. Goshen-Gottstein's two sons, Elisha and Nerya, follow in his footsteps in the pursuit of religious knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and an expansive worldview.
Education and Academic CareerEdit
Goshen-Gottstein's underwent religious training and was ordained a rabbi 1978. For the following thirty years he served as a reserve chaplain in the Israeli army, but he has never practiced as a communal rabbi.
Goshen-Gottstein attended Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a concentration in the fields of Talmud and Jewish Thought. He also studied at Harvard University Christianity and religions. He received a Ph.D from Hebrew University in Jerusalem. in 1986; his thesis was on the subject "God and Israel as Father and Son in Tannaitic Literature." His Ph.D was supervised by E.E.Urbach. His specialization in rabbinic theology, of the literature of Talmud and Midrash, made him one of the few experts in the Jewish theology of that period. He has taught at a variety of Israeli universities and published extensively in this field. Goshen-Gottstein headed the Institute for the Study of Rabbinic Thought at Bet Morasha College, Jerusalem, from 1997 till 2013, and oversaw conferences and publications in the field.
For a decade Goshen-Gottstein was a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Advanced Studies. Here, he engaged with contemporary existential issues and became versed in public interfaith conversations, for which he was in charge for several years on behalf of the Hartman Institute.
Besides his academic training, Goshen-Gottstein has drawn from other Jewish and non-Jewish resources. He is affiliated with several hassidic communities and has been deeply influenced by hassidic teaching and spirituality. He has also published in that area.
Goshen-Gottstein's spiritual education has included formative relations with non-Jewish spiritual masters and in–depth relations with a broad range of Christian monastic communities. He has shared in the spiritual lives of Christian and Hindu communities and enjoyed the friendship, wisdom, and counsel of teachers from the Buddhist and Muslim traditions. There is probably no other Orthodox Rabbi who has such inside knowledge of the life, thought and spirituality of so many diverse religious communities.
His personal experience led him to found in 1997 the Elijah Interfaith Institute, initially as a consortium of 13 Jerusalem-based academic theological schools. The Institute evolved into a global gathering of premier religious figures (Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders) and scholars (Elijah Interfaith Academy). Goshen-Gottstein’s personal foundations in the field of religious leadership and academic training equipped him to moderate processes of learning and broader public engagement, involving leaders and scholars. His own interest in spirituality across religions and his extensive network of personal relationships have shaped some of the Elijah Institute’s unique programming, leading to research and publication on areas such as “Religious Genius” (study of saints and exceptional individual across religions); Friendship Across Religions and the study of mystical and spiritual life.
His ability to negotiate religious leadership and academic scholarship and to make them address broader publics with novel insights and approaches has made him a voice on global issues related to relations between religions. He has appeared on multiple television shows in different countries, and has published op-ed pieces in different publications and in multiple languages, in addition to his own blogs.
His contribution to the interreligious field was recognized by the Polish Council of Christians and Jews, that conferred upon him the title “Figure of Reconciliation.”
Goshen-Gottstein has eighty publications (books and articles), concentrated in three main areas: Rabbinic theology, Jewish thought, and spirituality and interfaith relations. As a consequence of his work with the Elijah Interfaith Institute, his later writing has concentrated more in the third category. He also maintains active blogs on Times of Israel and Huffington Post. These draw from his scholarly knowledge and interfaith work to address issues of contemporary concern in the field of religion and interreligious relations.
For Goshen-Gottstein’s English essays, consult his page on academia.edu
Following is a list of published and edited books
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2017). Religious Genius: Appreciating Inspiring Individuals Across Traditions. Palgrave Macmillan. 2017
- Goshen=Gottstein, Alon (Ed.). (2016) Sharing Wisdom: Benefits and Boundaries of Interreligious Learning. Lexington Books. 2016.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2016). Same God, Other god: Judaism, Hinduism, and the Problem of Idolatry. Palgrave Macmillan. 2015
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (Ed.) (2016). The Future of Religious Leadership; World Religions in Conversation. Lexington Books. 2016.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2015). The Jewish Encounter with Hinduism: Wisdom, Spirituality, Identity. Palgrave Macmillan. 2015
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (Ed.) (2015). Friendship across Religions. Lexington Books. 2015.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (Ed.) (2015). Memory and Hope. Lexington Books. 2015.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (Ed.) (2014). The Religious Other: Hostility, Hospitality, and the Hope of Human Flourishing. Lexington Books. 2014.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (Ed.) (2014). The Crisis of the Holy. Lexington Books. 2014.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon and Eugene Korn (2012). Jewish Theology and World Religions. The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization. 2012
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon and Reis Habito, Maria (2008). Die Krise Des Heiligen Herausgegeben (German). EOS. 2008
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2000). The Sinner and the Amnesiac: The Rabbinic Invention of Elisha ben Abuya and Eleazar ben Arach. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. 2000.