About Jay Michaelson
Dr. Jay Michaelson is a writer, scholar, and activist whose work focuses on the intersections of religion, contemplative practice, sexuality, and law.
Writing. ¬†Jay is the author of five books, Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment (2003), ¬†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 work has appeared in Newsweek/The Daily Beast, CNN Online, 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 sexuality, religion, law, and contemplative practice. ¬†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 other conferences.
Contemplative Practice. ¬†A well known “BuJu” or Buddhist Jew, Jay’s contemplative path includes Theravadan¬†Buddhism, post-denominational Judaism, and earth-based spirituality. ¬†In 2008-09, he spent five months on silent meditation retreat in the Theravadan Buddhist tradition, and has sat long retreats in that tradition for ten years. ¬†Jay has also learned and taught Kabbalah for twenty years, completed the Elat Chayyim Jewish Meditation Advanced Training program, and spent two years at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies. ¬†He is also a proud member of the Radical Faerie community.
Teaching/Speaking. Outside the academy, Jay is a frequent scholar in residence and teacher at institutions ranging from Yale University to the New York Open Center, the Human Rights Campaign to Burning Man, and dozens of universities, synagogues, and community centers. ¬†In this work, Jay brings together scholarly rigor with a personal commitment to spiritual practice and personal growth.
LGBT Advocacy. Jay was the founder of Nehirim,¬†an LGBT Jewish organization, and vice president of the Arcus Foundation, a leading LGBT funder. ¬†His particular focus is the intersection of religion and sexuality, including the new “religious exemptions” movement. ¬†Jay’s¬†work in this area has been featured in the New York Times, CNN, and NPR.
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.¬† ¬†During his legal career,¬†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. ¬†Jay also 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.