Jay Michaelson: Keynote Speaker, Teacher, and Scholar


Rabbi Dr. Jay Michaelson is a sought-after keynote speaker, scholar in residence, and teacher. Jay has spoken at numerous Fortune 50 companies, over 200 religious institutions and universities, and at conferences from Shanghai to Black Rock City. Jay often speaks about the intersections of politics and our psychological, spiritual lives, bringing both a savvy, humorous journalistic approach to the subject at hand and a deep grounding in twenty years of meditation and spiritual practice.

Samples: YouTube channel.



Climate Anxiety and Eco-Anxiety

It’s well known that America is experiencing a deep and widespread mental health crisis, particularly among young people.  According to several studies, profound anxiety about the state of the world — the climate crisis, the loss of economic opportunity, the disruptions of the pandemic and American political polarization — is one of the main drivers of this phenomenon. Concern about these issues is, of course, important — but anxiety about them often renders us powerless.

Jay brings a unique combination of backgrounds to his talks and teaching on climate anxiety: he has been a journalist covering climate change since the late 1990s, and has been a meditation teacher since the mid-2000s.  In his writing and speaking on climate anxiety, he addresses both the factual and psychological elements of this emerging crisis, and offers actionable tools to address it.


Antisemitism in America

Since the horrifying events of October 7, 2023, Rabbi Michaelson has written over fifty articles about Palestine, Israel, and antisemitism. He has been on podcasts and television shows; he has spoken on university campuses and at private gatherings of leaders. (The excerpt here is from February 2024.) And from the beginning of this tragic period, Jay’s approach has emphasized nuance, the importance of listening to multiple narratives, and concern about the ways moral panic and extreme positions have taken hold all across the political spectrum.

Even before the war, Jay has been writing about antisemitism and Islamophobia for many years.  His 2022 article responding to the antisemitic statements of Kanye West, called There are a Lot of Jews in Hollywood: Let a Rabbi Explain Why, went viral and won the 2023 New York Society of Professional Journalists Award for opinion writing.  His  urges a coexistence based not on agreement, but on respect for the humanity of those with whom we disagree — and the distinction between valid disagreement and bigotry.

Psychedelics and Society

The “Psychedelic Renaissance” is well underway. But what does this emerging phenomenon mean for society, religion, and how organizations operate?  Bringing his twenty years of experience as a meditation teacher, scholar, and journalist to this new psychological and spiritual arena, Jay Michaelson’s writing and talks on psychedelics make the subject matter at once accessible and thought-provoking.


Other Topics

Finding Balance: Mindfulness in a World at War

Religious Freedom, LGBT Equality, and Reproductive Justice 

Journalism in the Age of Alternative Facts 

God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality

Gender Diversity in the Bible and History

Why Are We Like This? Politics, Psychology, Spirituality

Selected Corporations, Conferences, and Institutions 

American Academy of Religion
Association for Jewish Studies
Burning Man
Delta Airlines
Green Team Summit
Harvard Divinity School
Mysteryland Festival
New York Insight Meditation Center
Reconstructionist Rabbinical College
Shift Network
University of California Riverside

Academic Presentations

Current Academic Appointments
Emory Center for Psychedelics & Spirituality (Field Scholar)
American Jewish University (Fellow)
Chicago Theological Seminary (Affiliated Assistant Professor)

Past Positions
Brown University (Visiting Scholar)
Harvard Divinity School (Field Education Supervisor)
Boston University Law School (Visiting Assistant Professor; Environmental Ethics, Law & Religion)
City College of New York (Adjunct Professor, Kabbalah)
Yale University (Instructor, Jewish Mysticism college seminar)

Academic Lectures and Presentations

Queer Jewish Theologies, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, March 2024
Are Psychedelics Theologically Significant for Judaism?, Harvard Divinity School, April 2023
Queering Jewish Theology: Beyond the Binary,  Potsdam University, January 2023
Major Trends in Sabbatean and Frankist Research, Association for Jewish Studies, December 2022
The Queernesses of Sabbatean Mystical Messianism, American Academy of Religion, November 2022
The Queernesses of Jewish Heresy: Sabbetai Zevi, Jacob Frank, and the Eros of Hasidism, Center for LGBTQ Studies & Religion, September 2022
Three Misconceptions about Jacob Frank, Association for Jewish Studies, December 2021
Queer Politics, Queer Lives, Center for LGBTQ & Gender Studies in Religion, November 2020
Religious Liberty and/or Civil Rights, University of Kansas, May 2019
Holy Madness in Comparative Perspective, American Academy of Religion, 2018
What is Masterpiece Cakeshop Really About?, Rutgers Law School, April 2018
Meditation and Toxic Masculinity: Sex, Gender, and Patriarchy in American Buddhism, Smith College, March 2018
Antisemitism and Xenophobia in the Age of Donald Trump, SUNY New Paltz, 2017
Queering Jewish Theology, Castaneda Lecture, Chicago Theological Seminary, 2017
The Antinomianism of Jacob Frank: Between Philosophical Critique and Esoteric Myth, Lehrhaus 2017
Religious Exemptions: Civil Rights and the Parameters of Liberty, Univ. of Arkansas, 2015
The Antinomianism of Jacob Frank: Between Philosophical Critique and Esoteric Myth, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2017
Queer Theology and Social Transformation: Points of Contact, Points of Conflict, Univ. of Pittsburgh, 2017
Religious Exemptions: Civil Rights and the Parameters of Liberty, Univ. of Pittsburgh Law School, 2017
Same Sex Marriage as Resistance in an Age of White Supremacy, American Academy of Religion, 2016
Religious Liberty and Civil Rights, Univ. of Central Florida, 2016
Mysticism and Activism, Union Theological Seminary, 2015
The Scholar-Practitioner, American Academy of Religion, 2015
Religious Exemptions: Civil Rights and the Parameters of Liberty, Univ. of Arkansas Law School, 2015
Jesus Acted Up: Twenty Years Later, American Academy of Religion, 2014
Can There Be a Jewish Contemplative Studies?, Int’l Symposium for Contemplative Studies, October 2014
What is the Meaning of Frankist Sexual Antinomianism?, Association for Jewish Studies, 2014
Queer Theology and Social Transformation, Boswell Lecture, Pacific School of Religion, 2014
Religious Refusals: Legal, Political and Ethical Implications, Yale Law School, 2014
Was Frankism the Link Between Kabbalah and Enlightenment?, Association for Jewish Studies, December 2013
Religious Freedom and Equal Treatment: An International Look, Brooklyn Law School, October 2013
Frankism as Skeptical Antinomianism, Association for Jewish Studies, December 2012
The Erotic Dialogical: Harry Hay in the Light of Martin Buber, CUNY, October 2012
Rabbi Professor: Neo-Hasidism as Spiritual Bricolage, Van Leer Institute, June 2012
Homosexuality, Law, and Religion, Michigan Psychological Association, 2012
Queering God, Torah & Israel, Bunis Lecture, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College, 2012
Queering Kabbalistic Gender Dimorphism, American Academy of Religion, 2011
Queer Activism & Queer Scholarship, Pacific School of Religion, 2011
God, Gender, and Justice, University of Chicago, 2011
Liminality, Identity, and the “Good Gays,” Vanderbilt University, 2011
Homosexuality and Liminality, Berkeley Graduate Theological Union, 2010
Embodiment in Jewish Spiritual Practice, Academy of Jewish Religion, 2009
Homosexuality, Liminality, and Law, Boston University Law School, 2008
Vedanta & Neo-Hasidism, American Academy of Religion, 2007
Anti-legalism and anti-Judaism, Cardozo Law School, 2006
The New Jewish Culture and the Archaic Revival, Lehigh University, 2006
Kabbalah and Eros, Drew University, 2004

Jewish Institutions

Scholar in Residence

Congregation Beth Am, Los Altos Hills, CA, 2023
Congregation Shomrei Emunah, Montclair, NJ, 2023
Temple Shaare Tefila, Bedford, NY, 2018
Judea Reform Congregation, Durham, NC, November 2017
IKAR, Los Angeles, February 2017
Vassar Temple, March 2016
Temple Sinai, Stamford, CT, January 2016
KAM-Isaiah Israel, October 2015
Temple Emunah, Lexington MA, January 2015
Temple Sharei Tefilo-Israel, South Orange NJ, December 2014
Temple Israel Miami, December 2014
Temple Israel Boston, November 2014
Bates College, October 2014
Congregation Netivot Shalom, Berkeley, CA, April 2014
Middlebury College, November 2013
Lakeside Congregation, Highland Park, IL, November 2013
J Street Conference, 2013
World Congress of GLBT Jews, 2013
Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, New York, NY, March 2012
University of Chicago Hillel, February 2012
Beth Israel Center, Minneapolis, MN, December 2011
Jewish Community of Amherst, MA, May 2011
Temple Beth El, Stamford, CT, April 2011
Shir Tikvah, Minneapolis, MN, April 2011
Limmud New York (invited presenter), Jan 2011
Jewish Theological Seminary Rabbinic Training Institute, Jan 2011
Bet Alef Synagogue, Seattle, WA, Nov 2010
Beth El Temple, Harrisburg, PA, May 2010
Academy for Jewish Religion, Nov 2009
Easton Mountain Retreat Center, Greenwich NY, 2009
Temple Israel of Natick, Feb 2008
Congregation Dorshei Emet, Montreal, Nov 2007
Congregation Bet Haverim, Atlanta, GA, March 2007
Congregation Kol Ami, Tampa, FL  Feb. 2006
Wexner Heritage Foundation, August 2004

Other Workshops and Lectures (selected)

Institute for Jewish Spirituality, 2015, 2022, 2023, 2024
Adamah/Hazon Meditation Retreat, 2015-2023
Bet Am Shalom, 2023
Beth-El Kesser Israel, 2023
Judaism Unbound Un-Yeshiva, 2022
Jewish Psychedelic Summit, May 2021
Beacon Hebrew Alliance, 2016, 2018, 2020
ALEPH Kallah, 2016, 2018
National Museum of American Jewish History, 2015
Hebrew Union College, 2015
J Street U, 2014
Congregation Adas Israel, 2014
Hebrew College, 2014
JFNA General Assembly, 2012
Boston University Hillel, 2012
Tufts University Hillel, 2012
Limmud Colorado, 2010
Limmud UK, 2009

Recent Jewish Topics (2021-present)

A Tree of Life: Jewish Tools for Resilience in Difficult Times
What’s Jewish About Psychedelics, and What’s Psychedelic about Judaism?
A Guide to Buddhism for the Perplexed Jewish Meditator
Un-Teshuvah: The Heresy of Jacob Frank
The Gate of Tears: Painful Emotions and the Spiritual Path
The Jewish Ethics of War
Jewish Crises and Counter-Theologies
Celebrating Gender Diversity in Jewish Text, Tradition, and Theology
Heretical, Psychedelic, Hybridistic, Kabbalistic Jewish Mysticism : Embodying Multiple Realms
The Mitzvah of Pride: How Expanding Understandings of Gender and Sexuality Enrich All Our Lives
God Does Not Exist, God is Existence Itself: An Introduction to Nondual Judaism
Holy Heresy: Jewish Heretics from Jacob Frank to Jewish Renewal
Polytheism and Nonduality: Integral Kabbalah and the Repersonalization of God
Spirituality and Social Justice 
Queering Kabbalah 

Spiritual and Dharma Centers

New York Insight Meditation Center, 2015, 2018, 2023, 2024
Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 2014, 2017, 2022, 2023
Shift Network Mystics Summit, 2022
Woodenfish Conference on Buddhism, Shanghai, 2019
Insight Chicago, 2016, 2017
Woodenfish Forum on Buddhism and Technology, 2017
Jhana Retreat, Garrison Institute, 2016
Zen Center for Contemplative Care, 2016
Alchemists Kitchen NYC, 2016
East-West Festival NYC, May 2016
Easton Mountain Retreat Center, 2005-15
Arlington Street Church, 2015
Dharma Punx NYC, 2015
Jhana Retreat (Assistant), Tri-State Dharma, 2015
Jhana Retreat (Assistant), Barre Center for Buddhist Studies, 2014
Against the Stream Meditation Center, 2014
Insight Meditation Houston, 2013


Other Venues

Bradley-Sullivan LGBT Center, Allentown, 2019
National LGBT Journalists Association, 2013, 2016
ACLU of Arkansas, 2015
Rubin Museum, 2013
Creating Change Conference, 2011-13
Michigan Psychological Association, 2012
Empire State Pride Agenda, 2005
New York LGBT Center, 2005
92nd Street Y, 2004
Burning Man, 2002-2016
Knitting Factory
Mysteryland Festival, 2004
CBGB, 2003




We couldn’t have asked for a better speaker for our first Pride Shabbat. Your message of inclusiveness, empathy and action resonated with so many people, largely I think because your message was really broader than just one of LGBTQ inclusiveness…it spoke to all who are marginalized and the importance of seeking common ground.
— Judy Fensterman, Temple Shaarei Tefilah


“When Jay comes to speak he really comes to connect. He’s as compelling discussing the latest trends in the political fight for LGBTQ rights as he is lucid (and fun!) while leading a graduate seminar on comparative mystical non-dualism. But my favorite time with Jay was when I got to pick his brain between events.
— Professor Michael Alexander, UC Riverside


“I had the opportunity to have Jay visit our sangha last month and give a dharma talk.  His talk and his presence was such a great experience for us as we do not have many teachers or speakers visit us often. So his offering to speak and sit with us was something worthwhile. All of us benefitted from his wisdom and sharing. We thank you Jay and welcome you back to sit with us anytime.”
— Quincy Pittmon, Insight Chicago


“Thank you so much for your book, for your talk – for bringing such insight, compassion, and real thoughtfulness to a topic that is attacked so often with the most shallow sort of mindlessness.”
— Celeste Aronoff, Jewish Family Services of Greater Kansas City


“Jay is one of those remarkable public thinkers who can, in the same extemporaneous breath, make people laugh and think harder than they have in a long time. Learning with him was without question one of our peak experiences.”
— Michael Getty, Central Reform Congregation of St. Louis