Last Edited: Monday, November 21, 2011 10:07 AM -0600 /  Last Updated: Thursday, February 09, 2012 01:37 PM -0600

Aline Mopsik

More than a painter, Aline is an artist at home with audio-visual media that extends to video and benefits from the participation of her whole family. You can enjoy her creations, visit her exhibitions, and explore her techniques of composition online at her homepage. The gallery of  images at Gal@rt have extensive commentary in French. The video presentation of Aline's artistic itinerary by her husband, Charles, lasts about 23 minutes and requires downloading almost 14MB.

Ari Alexander

Ari Alexander, an American Jew, graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in American History and recently completed two Masters degrees in the United Kingdom as a 2001 Marshall Scholar: an MA in Comparative Ethnic Conflict from the Queen's University of Belfast, with a thesis comparing the educational systems in post-war Beirut and contemporary Belfast; and a MPhil in Modern Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Oxford, where his research focused on Iraqi Jews living in the period between World War I and World War II. During his graduate studies, Alexander lived and studied in Beirut, Damascus, and Jerusalem. He currently is the Co-directoralong with Maria Ali-Adibof Children of Abraham, a web-based dialogue project that works with Muslim and Jewish teenagers around the world. He has previously served as a counselor and facilitator at two conflict resolution camps, Seeds of Peace International Camp and Face to Face/Faith to Faith, in addition to working with Jewish teenagers in United Synagogue Youth and at the Lauder Camp in Szarvas, Hungary.

"The project, called Children of Abraham, seeks to break down distrust between Muslims and Jews by having young people engage in Internet conversations and contribute to a photography display about the two religions. Unlike other interfaith efforts that stress only the similarities, Children of Abraham allowed the participants to engage in frank, provocative discussions that confronted such subjects as suicide bombings by Palestinians and Israel's military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The project was started during the summer by a Jewish man and a Muslim woman who decided their respective communities had become too insular. The name, Children of Abraham, reflects the notion that Jews and Muslims share a common spiritual ancestor, the Biblical patriarch Abraham. 'My feeling was that the established organizations are doing next to nothing in promoting interfaith relations or even the most basic way of stopping hate,' said Ari Alexander, a Manhattan resident. "Muslims and Jews tend to be suspicious of one another - largely as a result of the way the Arab-Israeli conflict has played out in the media." Alexander and co-director Maria Ali-Adib of London created a Web site,, and recruited 60 students from 23 countries for two-month internships. The interns were required to submit 50 photographs showing similarities between Judaism and Islam, and to file three to five postings per week on the Web site's chat rooms." John Chadwick, Bergen Record, 26 Nov. 2004. Ari and Maria are currently leading efforts at organizational expansion to include public relations, graphic design, educational and fundraising support.

Ari's thesis submitted in September 2002 in partial fulfillment of the degree of Master of Arts in Comparative Ethnic Conflict, School of Politics, The Queens University of Belfast.

Israel Shahak's theory that anti-Gentile traditions have influenced Israeli policy is well known in both Arab and anti-Semitic circles, but Jews have yet to properly confront it.

Catherine Chalier

I met Catherine, Elizabeth's elder sister, on my first trip to the West in June 1984, and she visited us the following year in Benares. Over the years, I've been getting to know her work on Jewish philosophy better and have also participated with her in several scholarly and community events (some organized by her): interreligious seminar on the problem of evil by Levinas, Ricoeur and Jacques Dupuy (8?); memorial services for her student David Gritz killed tragically during a suicide-bombing at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2003); mourning reunions for Charles Mopsik, etc. Catherine has become increasingly active in interfaith dialogue and recently participated at a public exchange at the Georges Pompidou Center with a Muslim scholar who had recently translated the Koran.

[(Shofar - Tamara Cohn) HighBeam listing]

Is it possible to apply a theoretical approach to ethics? The French philosopher Catherine Chalier addresses this question with an unusual combination of traditional ethics and continental philosophy. In a powerful argument for the necessity of moral reflection, Chalier counters the notion that morality can be derived from theoretical knowledge.  Chalier analyzes the positions of two great moral philosophers, Kant and Levinas. While both are critical of an ethics founded on knowledge, their criticisms spring from distinctly different points of view. Chalier reexamines their conclusions, pitting Levinas against (and with) Kant, to interrogate the very foundations of moral philosophy and moral imperatives. She provides a clear, systematic comparison of their positions on essential ideas such as free will, happiness, freedom, and evil. Although based on a close and elegant presentation of Kant and Levinas, Chaliers book serves as a context for the development of the authors own reflections on the question What am I supposed to do? and its continued importance for contemporary philosophy. [Translated by Jane Marie Todd, Cornell University Press, 2002, 208pp, $17.95 (paperback), ISBN 0801487943.]

"Levinas has been an important philosophical figure in France since the 1930s, initially for his work on Husserl and Heidegger, and subsequently for his elaboration of a distinctive ethical position based on respect and responsibility for the Other. Over the last decade he has become widely known in the US, influencing discussion in disciplines such as ethics, the philosophy of religion, literary and cultural studies, and sociology. Readers interested in his ethical writings have sometimes overlooked the fact that an important part of his work consisted in talmudic commentaries; and the extent to which his "philosophical" texts relate to, draw upon, or inform his commentaries remains a contested issue. The current collection of essays, including Levinas's "On the Jewish Reading of Scriptures" (already published in Beyond the Verse) and a Response from the eminent French philosopher and Levinas expert Catherine Chalier, seeks to consolidate Levinas's importance in the English-speaking world by demonstrating his actual or potential influence on biblical studies. Tamara Cohn Eskenazi's Introduction presents the volume as "a conversation with the work of Levinas" (p. 2). It contains essays which directly address Levinas's work, essays which apply his insights to biblical texts, and essays which explicitly take issue with him. Throughout the collection Levinas appears as both steeped in biblical values and as directly affecting how modern commentators might read and respond to the Bible." [Colin Davis, Department of French Studies, University of Warwick, UK]

Catherine shares impressions of her recent visit (May 2004) for 16 days to deliver 4 workshops, each lasting 3 hours, at the University of Beijing at the invitation of the Chinese government.

"Catherine Chalier is known for several fine books that demonstrate her familiarity with the philosophy of Emmanuel Levinas or develop his thought in relation to urgent questions of our time. A new book of hers that confronts Levinas with the greatest moral philosopher of modern history, with whom Levinas, despite radical differences, shares a deep affinity, is therefore particularly welcome, not only for a reassessment of Kants revolution, but also for a clarification of the questions and answers by which Levinas went beyond Kants ethical theory. [...] Instead of a fight between Levinas and Kant, one could stage a more reconciliatory intrigue by strengthening and reformulating their partially hidden affinities and convergences, some of which Levinas repeatedly recognized. Such a drama would not lead to a synthesis, but it could foster an advancement of the search for an appropriate theory of the Good. Chalier wrote a skillful book on Kant as seen from the standpoint of Levinas; what we still need is a book on Levinas from the (retrieved) perspective of Kant; or even better: a new stage of the ongoing search for an ethics beyond ethics."

Charles and Aline Mopsik

Charles Mopsik, long-time editor of the series on Judaism, Les Dix Paroles (Verdier Press), was the foremost specialist of the Kabbalah in France. A researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS), Charles also taught Kabbalistic themes at the coles des Hautes tudes en Sciences Sociales. We got to know him through our collaboration on "Union and Unity in Hindu Tantricism and Kabala" for Hananya Goodman, ed., Between Jerusalem and Benares: Comparative Studies in Judaism and Hinduism (SUNY Press, October 1994). We had also discussed plans for a collective volume on transgressive sacrality in the Jewish tradition. Charles subsequently introduced us to several specialists of Judaism, starting with Moshe Idel and most recently Jonathan Garb, and we had likewise introduced him to our circle of friends, such as Jacques Vigne. Charles Mopsik passed away on 13 June 2003, while Elizabeth and I were in Paris, leaving behind a prodigious life-work of Kabbalistic studies. His last seminar at the EHESS was devoted to bio-ethics (cloning, etc.) from a (Jewish and particularly) Kabbalistic (golem, etc.) perspective. His latest book on ben Sira will appear in 2003 also with Verdier Press.

"This cultural and artistic association is founded on the widening spiritual legacy of Charles Mopsik. Its principal aims are: to preserve the memory of Charles Mopsik and promote his work throughout the world in every form and through every known and yet unknown medium so that his research work and his thought become obligatory reading in these domains and are rightfully recognized internationally." Aims of the Charles Mopsik Association

An Association Charles Mopsik was already proposed on 14 June 03, the day following his passing, whose activities have since been spearheaded and presided over by Aline. His official site, launched in June 2004, provides a complete listing of all his publications, projects (translations, audio-visual, online presence, etc.), testimonies to his ongoing legacy, etc. Among these projects are an English translation of The Rites which make God (Les rites qui font dieu), other translations into Italian and Hebrew, and the transcription of some 50 hours of lectures on the Kabala that Charles had made available at the Amphi site.

Elizabeth Visuvalingam

Review of David Shulman and Shalwa Weil, eds., Karmic Passages: Israeli Scholarship on India (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2008), published in The Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies (Number 10, summer 2009), pp.113-117.

Jonathan Garb

Moshe Idel

Moshe Idel, Max Cooper Professor of Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the author of over fifteen books. He holds a Ph.D. in Kabbalah and has served as visiting professor and researcher at many universities and institutions worldwide, including Yale, Harvard and Princeton Universities in the USA and cole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales in Paris. His numerous publications include Kabbalah and Eros (2004); Kabbalah: New Perspectives and Messianic Mystics (both by Yale University Press), and Hassidism: Between Ecstasy and Magic (SUNY, Albany). He is the winner of several awards and prizes, including the EMET Prize, given by the Prime Minister of Israel; the prestigious Israel Prize for Jewish Thought (1999); The Gershom Scholem Prize for research in Kabbalah, given by the Israeli Academy for Sciences and Humanities; the Present Tense/Joel H. Cavior Literary Award for Religious Thought; and the Jewish National Book Award.

Published in Jewish Heritage Online Magazine (JHOM).

"This is  a report  on a series of lectures given by Moshe  Idel at  the University  of Washington (Seattle) about  a year  ago. I  have  divided report into three posts, one for each lecture. These are  not verbatim  transcripts:   they are summaries of  the sort  that might  be  made  by anyone from  notes made during the lecture.  Not everything is  included, and  most of  what Idel said is  summarized.   I have  tried to indicate where I  missed things,  and what I missed.  The initial material  is from  the  flier  that  was passed out to everyone before the lectures. Moshe Idel  is in  no  way  responsible  for  my reports of his lectures.  I have done my best to be as  accurate as I could.  At the same time, I should hope  that  I'm  not  infringing  on  his copyright by reporting what he said.  --Such are  the mysteries of the copyright law!"

Nathan Katz and Ellen Goldberg

Dr. Katz is Professor of Religious Studies at Florida International University in Miami. Arguably the worlds leading authority on Indian Jewish communities, he is a pioneer in the field of Indo-Judaic Studies and has been involved in Jewish-Hindu/Buddhist dialogue for three decades. His Who Are the Jews of India? was a Finalist for the 2000 National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies, and he has been awarded four Fulbright grants for research and teaching in South Asia. He edits an academic journal, the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies. He reads and/or speaks a number of Asian languages, as well as Hebrew-Aramaic, and has lived in South Asia for more than seven years, two of which with the U.S. Information Agency in Afghanistan in the early 1970s. He has published more than a dozen books, half about Buddhism or Hinduism, half on Indo-Judaic studies. He was a member of the eight-person delegation of scholars and rabbis who met with H.H. the Dalai Lama of Tibet about Jewish survival in exile. He has received statewide and national acclaim and awards for classroom excellence, and has lectured at major universities and institutes around the world.

Paul Fenton

Scriptural exegesis in Kabbala and Sufism (in French, 26  Feb 2009)  

Paul Fenton aborde ici les quatre modes d'exégèse scripturaire chez Alâ ad-Dawla al-Simnânî (1261-1336), qui établit sa propre herméneutique ou interprétation des textes en rapport avec la mystique expérimentale de la lumière. Admettant que le sens exotérique est inséparable du sens ésotérique, il sonde les différents niveaux de l'être en correspondance avec les différents niveaux exégètiques, à travers les phénomènes visionnaires, les "photismes" colorés - comme indices de l'avancement spirituel de l'itinérant sur le chemin -, et les diverses manifestations du "Moi" supérieur. Il établit ainsi une connexion entre l'herméneutique et l'anthropologie mystique qui implique que le sens caché progresse en même temps que la croissance de "l'organisme subtil" caché dans l'être humain. Conférence filmée lors de la 4ème journée Henry Corbin, organisée par l'Association des Amis de Henry et Stella Corbin.

The Treatise of the Pool: Al-Mawala Al Hawdiyya (Obadyah Maimonides) - June 1981

Hardcover: 146 pages Publisher: Octagon Press, Limited; 1st edition (June 1981) Language: English ISBN-10: 0900860871 ISBN-13: 978-0900860874

 Lesser and greater Jihad in Sufism and Judaism (YouTube, Lapis Magazine 2007) - note [external] presents Paul Fenton speaking about the lesser and greater jihad, and telling stories of Sufi and Jewish similarities in language and history. The presentation is from lapismagazine's 2007 Esoteric Quest for The Golden Age of Andalusia: Sufis, Kabbalists and Christian Philosophers in Medieval Spain.

Sadia Shepard

In the 1930’s, filmmaker Sadia Shepard’s Indian Jewish grandmother eloped with her Muslim grandfather and migrated from India to Pakistan and later, to the United States. Seventy-five years later, Shepard embarked on a journey to research and reconnect with the tiny community her grandmother left behind. In her acclaimed memoir The Girl from Foreign (Penguin 2008) Shepard tells the story of her journey to India to research and reconnect with the Bene Israel of western India. In Search of the Bene Israel is a documentary film in which she seeks to understand her grandmother’s history and the future of this 5000 person group, which believes that it was shipwrecked in India 2000 years ago. In this moving film, we meet members of the community struggling with the difficult decision of whether to stay in India or join the world’s Jews in Israel. Interweaving impressionistic 16mm and Super 8mm footage with intimate video interviews and observational material, we come to know a family who takes care of a rural synagogue, a Jewish Indian filmmaker working in Bollywood, and a young couple on the eve of their marriage and departure for Israel. Sadia Shepard is a writer and documentary filmmaker (In Search of the Bene Israel, 2008; State Title, 2004; Eminent Domain, 2000; and Reinvention, 1999) and is based in New York City. She recently produced The September Issue, a documentary portrait about the making of Vogue magazine, which won the Excellence in Cinematography Award at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival. She teaches non-fiction writing at Columbia University and lectures widely about growing up in a home with three religions and the history of the Bene Israel. More information about her work, as well as photographs of the Bene Israel, are available at:

Sunthar Visuvalingam