About Jay Michaelson
Dr. Jay Michaelson is the Vice President of Social Justice programs at the Arcus Foundation, as well as a well-known writer, scholar, and activist. ¬†Jay’s work focuses on the intersections of religion, contemplative practice, sexuality, and law.
Writing. ¬†Jay is the author of four books, God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality (2011), ¬†Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism (2009), Another Word for Sky: Poems (2007), and God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice (2006) over 200 essays, articles, and works of fiction. ¬†His next book is Evolving Dharma, to be published in Fall, 2013. ¬†Jay is Associate Editor of Religion Dispatches magazine and a contributing editor of the¬†Forward¬†newspaper, and his writing appears often in the Daily Beast, Huffington Post, Salon, and other publications. ¬†In addition, Jay was the founder of Zeek, the first Jewish online magazine, and editor of Az Yashir Moshe: A Book of Songs and Blessings.¬† ¬†His writing has been anthologized in volumes including Queer Religion, Torah Queeries, Signs of the Apocalypse: Rapture, The Passionate Torah: Sex and Judaism, and¬†Righteous Indignation: A Jewish Call for Justice.
Academic Background and Work. ¬†¬†Jay¬†holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University, a J.D. from Yale Law School, an M.A. in Religious Studies from Hebrew University, an MFA in Writing from Sarah Lawrence, and a BA Magna Cum Laude from Columbia. ¬†The areas of focus for his scholarly work are the regulation of sexuality/sexual ethics, ¬†law and religion, antinomianism, and queer theory. ¬†Jay has been a visiting professor at Boston University Law School (2007-08), and has held teaching positions at Yale University and City College of New York. ¬†His academic articles have been published in Theology and Sexuality, Michigan Journal of Gender & Law,¬† Duke Law Journal, Stanford Environmental Law Journal, the Journal of Law in Society, and the Yale Law Journal, and he has presented papers at the American Academy of Religion, Association for Jewish Studies, CUNY Graduate Center, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, and numerous conferences.¬†¬† In addition,¬†Jay was a clerk to Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, a Golieb Fellow in legal history at NYU Law School, a recipient of several prizes and awards for his legal writing and scholarship, and for eight years was founder and general counsel of Wasabi Systems, a venture-funded software company.
Dharma/Jewish/Faerie Spiritual Background. Jay dances at the intersections of Judaism, Buddhism, and earth-based spirituality. ¬†In 2008-09, he spent five months on silent meditation retreat in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, in America and Nepal, and has sat long retreats in that tradition for ten years.¬† In the Jewish tradition, Jay has learned and taught Kabbalah since 1993, completed the Elat Chayyim Jewish Meditation Advanced Training program, spent two years at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, and has been a practicing¬†halachic Jew for three decades. ¬†Jay chose not to pursue rabbinic ordination and instead offers his teachings as a lay practitioner of Torah and Dharma.
Teaching/Speaking. Outside the academy, Jay is a frequent scholar in residence and teacher at institutions including the Human Rights Campaign, Kripalu, Wexner Institute, The New York Open Center, Limmud, Burning Man, Easton Mountain, and numerous universities including Wesleyan, Yale, Portland State, Lehigh, Drew, NYU, University of Chicago, Oregon State, American University, Harvard, Union College, Union Theological Seminary, and others. ¬† Jay has taught at over 100 churches, synagogues, and community centers around the country. ¬†¬†In this work, Jay brings together scholarly rigor with a personal commitment to spiritual practice and personal growth.¬† He is a former assistant principal of the Jewish Theological Seminary’s Prozdor School, and has written over twenty curricula on Jewish life and practice.
LGBT Advocacy. Jay is the founding director of Nehirim, an LGBT Jewish organization, and is a longtime advocate on behalf of sexual minorities in religious communities. ¬†His work in this area has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and NPR.¬† He has published numerous articles and books on issues of sexuality and religion. ¬†In his advocacy and teaching, Jay is known for bringing a religious voice to bear on questions of LGBT equality, and for finding common ground between people of differing opinions on the issue.
Awards. ¬†2012 Lambda Literary Award finalist;¬†2010 award for best opinion writing by the New York Society of Professional Journalists; 2009 Forward 50 list of influential American Jews.
Other Work.¬† Jay co-founded of the Tibet Oral History Project, which records the testimonies of Tibetan victims of the Chinese Occupation. ¬† He also writes widely on issues of environmental protection (particularly climate change), Israel and Jewish identity, emerging forms of spirituality, and others. ¬†He lives in upstate New York.