Madrasa-Midrasha | Preparing for Sacred Seasons

Thursday, March 7th 2024, 11:30am
Dinner Board Room, Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, 2400 Ridge Road Berkeley, CA 94709

Madrasa-Midrasha ​| Preparing for Sacred Seasons

Please join the GTU's Madrasa-Midrasha Program as we honor the messages of Passover, Ramadan, and Lent featuring Sam S.B. Shonkoff, Celene Ibrahim, and Arthur Holder. A light lunch will be provided for those who attend in-person.

Registration for In-Person | Registration for Zoom

Sam S.B. Shonkoff's talk "The Promises and Perils of Remembering 'Egypt'" begins with Pesach liturgy citing the ancient rabbinic exhortation, “In every generation, a person is obligated to see themself as if they went out from Egypt.” What has this personal identification with both oppression and liberation meant for Jews throughout the millennia, so often navigating their own vulnerable conditions? And in recent generations—in the unprecedented circumstances of a militarized Jewish nation-state, as well as an unjust occupation—how might practices of remembering “Egypt” pose both grave dangers and liberatory possibilities?

Dr. Ibrahim's talk "Muslim Mindfulness" explores the methods and modalities through which Muslims engage in introspection, particularly as Ramadan approaches.

Arthur Holder's talk "What Are You Giving Up for Lent?" considers the central role of individual freedom in practices of Christian asceticism, especially during the 40 days of the Lenten fast in preparation for the feast of Easter (which most Christians outside the English-speaking world know as Pascha). Chapter 49 in the monastic Rule of St. Benedict (6th century CE) is a key text that illustrates the point.


Sam S.B. Shonkoff is the Taube Family Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the GTU, where he teaches on Jewish religious thought, modern Jewish cultures, and methods in theology, ethics, and the historical-cultural study of religions. His research focuses primarily on German-Jewish thought and Hasidism, as well as appropriations of Hasidic spirituality in relatively secular spheres. Shonkoff’s current book project investigates themes of embodiment in Martin Buber’s representations of Hasidism vis-à-vis the original sources. He is co-editor with Ariel Evan Mayse of Hasidism: Writings on Devotion, Community and Life in the Modern World (Brandeis University Press, 2020) and the editor of Martin Buber: His Intellectual and Scholarly Legacy (Brill, 2018).


Dr. Celene Ibrahim is a scholar of religious studies with a focus on Islamic social and intellectual history. She is the author of the monograph Women and Gender in the Qur'an  published by Oxford University Press (2020). The book won the Association of Middle East Women's Studies Book Award (2021) and was a featured title for Women's History Month by the American Academy of Religion (2022). She is also the author of Islam and Monotheism (2022), published in the Elements series by Cambridge University Press. She is the editor of the book One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2019) and specializes in spiritual care and interreligious engagement. Ibrahim currently serves on the faculty in the Department of Religious Studies and Philosophy at Groton School and is the School's Muslim Chaplain. Ibrahim earned a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. She received a degree in divinity from Harvard University and a degree in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University.

Arthur Holder is a historian of Christian spirituality with particular interests in early medieval biblical interpretation, mysticism, and the writings of the Venerable Bede. A priest of the Episcopal Church, he was Professor and Academic Dean at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific before serving as Dean and Vice President of Academic Affairs for the Graduate Theological Union (2002-2016). In the American Academy of Religion he has been co-chair of the Christian Spirituality Group (2003-2008) and a member of the Theological Education Committee (2013-2016). He is an active member in the Society for the Study of Christian Spirituality, for which he served as President in 2009. At the GTU he gave the Distinguished Faculty Lecture on “Will Spirituality Have a Past?” in 2010 and the Annual Reading of the Sacred Texts on “Religious Experience as Sacred Text” in 2013. He received the GTU Excellence in Teaching Award in 2019.




We would like to thank the Walter & Elise Haas Fund for the generous support of the Madrasa-Midrasha Program at the GTU.