JTS Professor Coedits New Book on Jewish Mysticism

Volume Features Contemporary Reflections on Classical Texts

Press Contact: Eve Glasberg
Office: (212) 678-8089
Email: evglasberg@jtsa.edu

December 8, 2010, New York, NY

Dr. Eitan Fishbane, an assistant professor in the Department of Jewish Thought at The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS), has coedited a new book entitled Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life: Classical Texts, Contemporary Reflections (Jewish Lights Publishing, December 2010). Dr. Fishbane’s coeditors are Dr. Lawrence Fine and Rabbi Or N. Rose.

Gathered in the volume, an exploration of the Jewish mystical tradition, are contributions by leading scholars and thinkers about an array of primary mystical sources—many available in English for the first time. This combination of old and new—traditional writings and current thought—provides enriching material for both newcomers and seasoned readers. The book is organized thematically so that each section focuses on a different dimension of spiritual life, including prayer and meditation, interpersonal relations, Torah study, and ritual observance. By seamlessly blending the esoteric, ancient worlds of Kabbalah and Hasidism with today’s best interpreters of these traditions, Dr. Fishbane and his coeditors have made these sources meaningful and relevant for a modern audience.

“The book was a collaborative effort with my coeditors,” says Dr. Fishbane. “From the start, we sought to create a volume that would honor our teacher and friend, Professor Arthur Green, on the occasion of his 70th birthday. Art was my doctoral adviser, and he has been a mentor to me for many years. We invited contributions from a wide range of his friends and colleagues, asking each scholar to select and translate a Jewish mystical text and then to write a contemporary spiritual commentary on that passage. The result is a collection of some of the most profound and creative voices in the academy and the Jewish community today—one that shows how the mystical tradition of Judaism can be a source of inspiration and illumination in our own time. For me, it is both a gift to my teacher and part of my ongoing attempt to bridge my academic work with my commitment to the growth of contemporary Jewish spirituality.”

Jewish Mysticism and the Spiritual Life has already garnered praise from leading figures in the Jewish community, who have hailed the book as a “dazzling collection” and a “volume overflowing with learning and insights.”

At JTS, Dr. Fishbane teaches courses in the literature and history of Jewish mysticism, from medieval Kabbalah to modern Hasidism. His research focuses on the nature of mystical experience, theories of selfhood in kabbalistic thought, and the intersection of literature and religion in the study of mysticism. He is a frequent scholar-in-residence and guest speaker at congregations across North America, and is actively involved in continuing education and enrichment for rabbis in the field. The recipient of many honors and awards, the most recent of which is the Charles A. Ryskamp Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies, Dr. Fishbane holds a BA, summa cum laude, and a PhD from Brandeis University.

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