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2018 Chautauqua Season

Interfaith Friday: Burton Visotzky

Jul 20, 2018 2:00pm ‐ Jul 20, 2018 3:15pm



Rabbi Burton L. Visotzky serves as Appleman Professor of Midrash and Interreligious Studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary, where he joined the faculty upon his ordination as rabbi in 1977. Visotzky was a dean of the Graduate School and founding Rabbi of the egalitarian worship service of the Seminary Synagogue.  He now serves as the Louis Stein Director of the Finkelstein Institute for Religious and Social Studies at JTS, charged with programs on public policy. Visotzky also directs JTS’s Milstein Center for Interreligious Dialogue.

Prof. Visotzky has been visiting faculty at Oxford; Cambridge; and Princeton Universities; the Russian State University of the Humanities in Moscow; and served as Master Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome (where he met Pope Benedict in 2007). He has served as an adjunct on the faculty of Union Theological Seminary since 1980. In 2014, Visotzky served as Distinguished Visiting Professor at the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas (Angelicum) in Rome, where he met Pope Francis.

Prof. Visotzky's writing is published in America, Europe, and Israel. He is the author of eleven books and over one-hundred-twenty articles and reviews. His most recent book, APHRODITE AND THE RABBIS: How the Jews adapted Roman Culture to Create Judaism as We Know It, was published in 2016. He is also co-editing a three-volume compendium, Judaism, which will be published in 2019 by Kohlhammer Publishing of Stuttgart.

Rabbi Visotzky serves on the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Committee on Ethics, Religion, and the Holocaust. He is a member of the Roundtable of Religious and Faith Based Organization Leaders advising World Bank President Jim Yong Kim. Prof. Visotzky also serves on the “Advisory Committee on Genocide Prevention and the Responsibility to Protect” for the UN under-Secretary General. Visotzky regularly consults with the UN Inter-Agency Taskforce on Religion and Development. He is a member of the J-Street advisory board, was National Co-Chair of Rabbis for Obama 2012; as well serving on the Boards and Executive Committees of CancerCare and Kent Affordable Housing. Visotzky is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Rabbi Visotzky participates in interreligious engagement internationally, in places as diverse as Washington; Warsaw; Rome; Vienna; Cairo; Doha, Qatar; Madrid; Muskat, Oman, and Marrakech, Morocco. He was the winner of the 2012 Goldziher Prize, awarded biennially by Merrimack College for work in Jewish-Muslim relations. In 2017, Visotzky joined the board of governors of the International Jewish Committee for Interreligious Consultations: the official body representing the Jewish people to the Vatican, World Council of Churches, and other international religious bodies.

Professor Visotzky is active as a lecturer and scholar-in-residence throughout North and South America, Europe, and Israel. He has been featured on radio, television, and in print. In 1995- 1996, he worked with Bill Moyers on the ten-part PBS series, “Genesis: A Living Conversation.” He consulted with DreamWorks on their 1998 film, “Prince of Egypt.” In 2012, Visotzky worked with Christiane Amanpour on her four-hour mini-series, “Back to the Beginning.” Rabbi Burt Visotzky has been named to “The Forward 50” and repeatedly to the Newsweek/Daily Beast list of “The 50 Most Influential Jews in America.”  Married to attorney Sandra Edelman, they live in New York City and Kent, Connecticut.


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