Thank you for stopping by and checking out American Academy of Religion, Western Region. I invite you to come to our annual regional meeting that will take place at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2022. We are a bunch of warm, engaging Religious Studies scholars, feminists, theo/alogians and scholar-activists. Our region has done groundbreaking, innovative work that includes 28 units on Religious Studies. This year we added Sikh, Disability and Jewish Feminist Studies. We were the first region to have Queer Studies. My experience is that the deeper one goes into scholarship, the more one realizes that necessity of taking social action. We have many scholars who are activists in their fields of study.
Our Vice President John Erickson has proposed an exciting theme, Grace, Mercy, and Atonement: Exploring Artistic, Ritual, and Social Action through Forgiveness. We are still grappling with the unknown--living with the pandemic and the new Delta variant in the midst of climate change. We have learned how to teach, run conferences, and live in a virtual world. As religious studies scholars and theologians, we grapple with meaning and implications of pandemic and liminal spaces in the virtual world. One of the positives of the virtual world is that it has brought many international scholars together from around the world face-to-face in virtual space where collaborative work and productive partnerships could form. We learned to manage different time zones and, from the perspective of religious practice, how to perform ritual and witness life cycle events in ways we never imagined. I hoped as of this writing we would be dealing with a post-pandemic world. I write this from Northern California where we are the middle of another intense fire season. Lake Tahoe is burning (which is something I never imagined).
Thanks to Black Lives Matter, our country is finally having a discussion about systematic oppression and the continuation of the legacy of daily slavery. We also acknowledge the oppression of the LGBTQI and transgendered peoples. We grapple with the fact that our country has been built on indigenous lands by acts of genocide and, as the call for this year, ask how we practice atonement and forgiveness. The indigenous peoples have subjugated knowledge of how to take care of Mother Earth which we desperately need to hear. We as religious studies scholars and theologians can contribute to this discourse and see the links between climate change, oppression, environmental racism, and genocide. If change is to happen, we need to take the first step of asking forgiveness.
I have the privilege of being President of this Western Region for the second time. I was President in 2015 and was brought back in by the board. I have made lifelong friends in the region.
As a scholar-activist I invite you to engage with me. I personally work in the theology of spiritual resistance and resilience. My focus is my own tradition of the recent trauma of the Jewish Holocaust. I published with Routledge the book Edith Stein and Regina Jonas: Religious Visionaries in the Time of the Death Camps. I examined the spiritual resistance of the first female Rabbi, Regina Jonas, and compared her resistance to a Jewish philosopher turned Carmelite nun and saint, Edith Stein. I have also co-edited with my friend Dirk von der Horst from the Western Region, Rosemary Reuther's Festschrift, Voices of Feminist Liberation: A Celebration of Rosemary Radford Reuther, with Routledge. I am co-editing a forthcoming book with Professor Souad Ali on Subjected Voices and Religion from our 2015 conference.
My present scholarship is about the practice and reclaiming of an ancient tradition of Hebrew Priestesses known as Kohenet. I am an ordained Kohenet. We are beginning to be recognized as Jewish feminist clergy . My main projects are examining the testimony and memoirs of Jewish Holocaust resisters and survivors to see how their experiences of resistance and survival can be applied to a sustainable society. I also writing about my own family The Four Tannenbaum Sisters of Czernovitz, Bukovina: The Monarchist, Communist, Humanist and Zionist. I examine the connection between political ideologies and survival We are in the thick of climate change and I feel called as a scholar to dive deep into what I learned from my own community and the reclaiming of my ancient, subjugated tradition.
I am looking forward to our conference and meeting some of you.