Jewish & Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue
Goals and Methodology of Jewish & Latter-day Saint Academic Dialogue Project
Primary participants: This semi-annual academic dialogue is led by Rabbi Mark Diamond and Dr. Steven Windmueller on the Jewish side, and by Dr. Andy Reed and Dr. Shon Hopkin on the Latter-day Saint side. The primary Latter-day Saint participants include (biographies at the bottom of the page): Barbara Morgan Gardner, JB Haws, Richard Holzapfel, Shon Hopkin, Lita Little Giddens, Jared Ludlow, Quin Monson, Andy Reed, Jacob Rennaker, and Brent Top. The primary Jewish participants include: Mark Diamond, Sarah Emanuel, Tamar Frankiel, Joshua Garroway, Kristine Garroway, Holli Levitsky, Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman, Rabbi Sam Spector, and Steven Windmueller.
Semi-annual meetings: The formal dialogue began at BYU in Spring 2016, continued in Los Angeles in Winter 2016, and has continued with a similar schedule, with a notable visit to Jerusalem in June 2019. The dialogue concluded with a visit to Cincinnati and Kirtland, Ohio in August 2023.
Methodology: Dialogues usually consist of three to four, close-doored academic sessions, one to two public sessions to give those interested an opportunity to stay informed of our discussions and to ask questions, and educational opportunities for the dialogue participants to learn about the religious practices and history on each side, including participating in worship services together. The academic sessions typically include two presentations/papers representing each side’s view on a particular topic, followed by open discussion among the dialogue participants.
Previous Topics: Topics discussed include: Sabbath beliefs and practices; Liturgy; Jewish/Latter-day Saint Political Views of Israel; Political Behaviors of Jews/Latter-day Saints in the United States; Latter-day Saints/Jews in Literature; Jews/Latter-day Saints in Cinema; Views on Covenant; Views on the Apostle Paul; Latter-day Saints/Jews in Interfaith Dialogue; Jewish/Latter-day Saint Practices to Emulate; Biblical Foundations of Latter-day Saint Self-Understanding; Life Cycle practices; Latter-day Saint doctrinal developments; Race relations in Judaism and in the Church; LGBTQ+ Inclusion for Jews/Latter-day Saints; Conversion in Judaism and the Church; Environmental Stewardship; History of Educational Efforts and Approaches; Theologies of Suffering; Views on Peace, War, and Violence; Charismatic Movements; Temples & the Hebrew Language in Latter-day Saint History; and Current Trends and Future Developments in Latter-day Saint and Jewish Communities. The publication shown above resulted from published papers that had originally been presented in the dialogue sessions.
Mark S. Diamond
Mark is a past president of the Los Angeles Council of Religious Leaders and has led study tours of judicatory officials, clergy, diplomats and community leaders, including a mission to the Vatican and Jerusalem highlighted by an audience with Pope Benedict XVI. He delivered the commencement address at the 2013 doctoral graduation ceremony of the University of the Incarnate Word, and has taught and lectured at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Pepperdine University, Baylor University, Fuller Theological Seminary and Claremont School of Theology. His articles have appeared in Conversations: The Institute for Jewish Ideas and Ideals, e-Jewish Philanthropy, the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles, the Interfaith Observer, and the Shalom Hartman Institute.
Mark received his Master of Arts degree in Jewish Studies, rabbinical ordination and Doctor of Divinity (honoris causa) from the Jewish Theological Seminary. He is a Magna cum Laude graduate of Carleton College and also studied at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management and the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. He and his wife Lois are the proud parents of three grown children, Adina, Ariella and Jeremy, and daughter-in-law Sara and son-in-law Jason.
Prior to joining the LMU faculty, Professor Emanuel was Visiting Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies at Colby College (2018-2020) and Visiting Assistant Professor of New Testament at Oberlin College (2017-2018). Professor Emanuel’s research attends to the Jewishness of Christian origins, the relationship among text, culture, and identity, and the interplay between traditional historical-critical methodologies and contemporary critical theory (e.g., queer theory, trauma theory, humor theory). She is co-chair for the CoLaboratory at Feminist Studies in Religion, Inc., where she co-hosts the podcast, "Feminists Talk Religion." She is also Content Area Editor of Biblical Studies at Ancient Jew Review. Some of Professor Emanuel’s most recent publications include Humor, Resistance, and Jewish Cultural Persistence in the Book of Revelation: Roasting Rome (Cambridge University Press, 2020), “Grace Be to You in the Presence of the Past: Ghosts, Hauntings, and Traumatic Dissociations in Margaret Atwood’s Alias Grace and the Gospel of John” (Gorgias Press, 2020), and “On the Eighth Day, God Laughed: ‘Jewing’ Humor and Self-Deprecation in the Gospel of Mark and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (Journal of Modern Jewish Studies, 2020).
Professor Emanuel is Slytherin Sun Hufflepuff Rising. When she’s not teaching or researching, she can be found training, surfing, cello-ing, and exploring California with her partner, Zoë, and their three best fluffs: Gus, Doug, and Finn.
As an exponent of significant issues in modern Jewish life, she is the author of The Voice of Sarah: Feminine Spirituality and Traditional Judaism; The Gift of Kabbalah; Kabbalah: A Brief Introduction for Christians, and co-author with Cantor Judy Greenfeld of Minding the Temple of the Soul and Entering the Temple of Dreams. Her writings on prayer and mysticism include also two recent books: Loving Prayer: A Study Guide to Everyday Jewish Prayer (2017), and She Rises While It Is Still Night: Dreaming in the Four Worlds of Kabbalah (2018), both from Gaon Books.
Her doctorate is from the University of Chicago in the field of History of Religions, with a specialty in modern Christianity and religion in America. In that field, she is the author of a widely-used textbook on Christianity and two works on 19th century American religion, Gospel Hymns and Social Religion and California's Spiritual Frontiers.
An Ohio native, Tamar and her husband Hershel have lived in California for more than three decades, mostly in Los Angeles. Hershel was born in Poland and survived the Shoah as a child, hidden by a Polish family. They have 5 children and 12 grandchildren; the families live in Los Angeles, Chicago, Jerusalem, London, and Cincinnati.
Barbara Morgan Gardner
Barbara received her master's degree in Educational Leadership and Foundations with an emphasis in international education development, her Ph.D. in Instructional Technology and did post-doctoral work at Harvard University in Higher Education Administration and Management. Previous to teaching at BYU she worked as a seminary and institute teacher as well as a researcher for the Church Educational System. She was born and raised in Salem, OR, served a Spanish-speaking mission in L.A. California, visitors’ center, and currently resides in Highland, UT. She is married to Dustin Gardner. Barbara enjoys spending time with her family, learning, teaching, traveling, people, the great outdoors and life!
Josh earned his doctorate from the Religious Studies Department at Yale University and was ordained at the Cincinnati campus of HUC-JIR. His first book, Paul’s Gentile-Jews: Neither Jew nor Gentile, but Both, explores the ways in which Paul's epistle to the Romans constructs Jewish identity, and the role played by this construction in the ensuing emergence of Christianity. His second book, The Beginning of the Gospel: Paul, Philippi, and the Origins of Christianity offers a revisionist understanding of the origins of the Greek term euaggelion, usually translated “gospel,” in earliest Christianity.
Josh is a native of Rochester, New York. He currently lives in Pasadena, California, with his wife, Kristine Henriksen Garroway, and their three young boys.
Kristine Henriksen Garroway
Children in the Ancient Near Eastern Household,Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns (2014)
“Children and Religion in the Archaeological Record of Ancient Israel,” Journal of Ancient Near
Eastern Religions 17 (2017): 116-39.
“2 Kings 6:24-30: A Case of Unintentional Elimination Killing,” Journal of Biblical
Literature 31.1 (2018): 51-68.
Kristine currently resides in Pasadena with her husband and three boys.
Lita Little Giddens
He is married to the beautiful Laura Favero, which he submits as yet another evidence that miracles have not ceased! They are the parents of three boys and a daughter, and they love living in Provo and cheering (sometimes too fanatically) for the Cougars.
He served a Spanish-speaking mission in Raleigh, North Carolina, so he speaks Spanish with a slight Southern accent (and English with a heavy Hooper, Utah accent).
Richard N. Holzapfel
University, and his Ph.D. in Hebrew Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, focusing on medieval
Hebrew, Arabic, and Spanish literature. While in Austin he served as president of the University Interfaith
Council. In 2011 he was hired to the Department of Ancient Scripture at Brigham Young University. While at BYU he has served as the Chair of BYU's Religious Outreach Council, the faculty advisor for Students of the Ancient Near East, and the faculty advisor for the Muslim Student Association. He currently serves as Chair of the Department of Ancient Scripture.
Shon has travelled extensively in the Middle East, including extended stays for studies in Syria, Israel/Palestine, Egypt, Jordan, and Turkey. In January 2016 he traveled to Singapore to give the keynote address as the Christian representative at an interfaith dialogue. In addition to his interfaith interests, Shon teaches courses at BYU on the Hebrew Bible, Isaiah, the New Testament, the Pearl of Great Price, the Book of Mormon, and Ritual Theory. His research focuses on medieval Judaism, the impact of religious beliefs and practices, biblical studies, and ritual theory. He has authored, co-authored, and edited numerous books and articles on Isaiah, the Hebrew Bible, Latter-day Saint beliefs, interfaith understanding, and medieval literature, including Opening Isaiah: A Harmony (with Ann Madsen); Abinadi: He Came Among them in Disguise(edited, Book of Mormon Academy); Mormonism: A Guide for the Perplexed (with Robert Millet, as part of Bloomberg Press’ Guide for the Perplexed series); and the forthcoming Understanding Your Neighbor: Judaism(with Rabbi Mark Diamond, as part of the Widtsoe Foundation’s series).
Shon and his wife live in Orem, Utah and have four children and two grandchildren.
Since holding the 2001-2002 Fulbright Distinguished Chair in American Literature in Poland, Holli has participated in symposia, conferences, and study trips to Germany and to Poland to advance German-Jewish and Polish-Jewish understanding. She regularly leads workshops for secondary and college teachers in California and in Poland on teaching the Holocaust. In 2011, her Schusterman Fellowship in Israel Studies led her to develop a summer course for LMU students and community members in Israel. "Literature and Faith in the Holy Land" examines the notion of hospitality in the encounter with the other. The course is accompanied by a rabbi and a priest whose work in the area of interreligious engagement brings to the students practical and positive applications of this encounter.
Jared has regularly presented papers at the Society of Biblical Literature Meetings and has participated in Sperry and similar symposia at BYU. He enjoys teaching Bible courses, Book of Mormon, World Religions, and History. Jared served a LDS mission to Campinas Brazil, and has also lived in Germany and Israel, last teaching at the BYU Jerusalem Center between August 2011-2012 and August 2016-2017. He likes sports, snorkeling, and teaching. He is married to Margaret (Nelson), whom he loves greatly, and they have five children: Jared Jr., Joshua, Joseph, Marissa, and Melia.
Andrew C. Reed
He is currently writing a book about the renowned Russian-Jewish hebraist, Daniil Avraamovich Khvol’son (1819-1911) and his scholarly achievements and public efforts to refute the blood libel charge in Russia. His relevant recent publications include: “The Saratov Case as a Critical Juncture in Ritual Murder History.” in The Worlds of Ritual Murder: Culture, Politics, and Belief in Eastern Europe and Beyond, Eugene M. Avrutin, Jonathan Dekel-Chen, and Robert Weinberg, eds. (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017), 74-94 and “Convergent Aims: The Revival of Jewish Studies in St. Petersburg and the Search for Russia's Unaffiliated Jews.”Scripta Judaica Cracoviensia, vol. 11 (2013): 25-46. Andy is married to Kaylyn and they are the parents of six children (Riley, Bentley, Kelsie, Bradley, Josie, and Wrigley).
Rabbi Samuel L. Spector
While in rabbinical school, Rabbi Spector served for three years as the student rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim in Merced, California; a member of the Chaplain Candidate Program for the United States Navy; and as a chaplain intern at Los Angeles County/USC General Hospital. While in school, he led several teen trips to Israel and Eastern Europe.
Prior to coming to Congregation Kol Ami, Rabbi Spector served as the Associate Rabbi of Temple Judea in Tarzana, California, where he became recognized for his creation of young professional programming. While there, Rabbi Spector was an Edah Fellow through the Los Angeles Jewish Federation and the President of the West San Fernando Rabbinic Task Force and a delegate to the Jewish Welfare Board. He is currently a member of the Central Conference of American Rabbis.
Rabbi Spector brings his love of working with children and young families to Congregation Kol Ami. He is passionate about adult education, Israel advocacy, social action, and social justice. He is an avid fan of baseball, Jewish history, and traveling, having been to over 60 countries. In his free time, you can find Rabbi Spector hiking, skiing, or playing with Nezek, his Brittany Spaniel, and Walter, his chocolate lab. Rabbi Spector is married to Jill, an Idaho-native, who works in hospitality; they are proud parents of their daughter, Miriam.
Rabbi Ilana Schwartzman
Rabbi Ilana is a third-generation rabbi. Her grandfather Rabbi Sylvan Schwartzman (z”l) was at the forefront of Reform Jewish education and her father Rabbi Joel Schwartzman has served as an Air Force chaplain and a congregational rabbi.
Brent L. Top
A specialist on political issues and American Jewish affairs, Steven's articles and monographs have appeared in a wide array of Jewish and general publications and books. His Pew-funded research on the major national Jewish community relations agencies appeared in a recent publication, Jewish Polity and American Civil Society: Communal Agencies and Religious Movements in the American Public Square (Roman and Littlefield, 2002). The Wind Report, an interactive website, www.thewindreport.com serves as a repository of Steven’s extensive writing.
Over the years, Steven was recognized for his commitment to the Jewish community. In 1995 the Jewish Communal Professionals of Southern California honored him when he received their Career Achievement Award. The Human Relations Commission of the County of Los Angeles recognized his service to the community In 2011 he was selected by BBYO (B’nai B’rith Youth Organization) to receive the Sam Beber Distinguished AZA Alumnus of the Year Award for his service to the Jewish people. In May of 2014, Steven was awarded an honorary degree from the Hebrew Union College.
Active on both the national scene and within the Los Angeles Jewish community, he has served on various boards and foundations. Steven is married to Dr. Michelle Pearlman Windmueller.