July 5, 2024

Goddard College: A Requiem

By Rafi Ellenson


An Interview with Daniel Boyarin and Shaul Magid

The iconic “clockhouse” building at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont

In January 2024, Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont announced that it was permanently closing its doors and terminating its programs of higher education beyond online learning. For many members of Goddard’s community, myself included, this marks the final chapter in the history of one of the most progressive and experimental educational experiments in American history.

Goddard College was founded in 1938. It was a successor to the Green Mountain Central Institute, which was founded in 1863 in Barre, Vermont and renamed as Goddard Seminary in 1870. Its present iteration, Goddard College, was founded on the grounds of the Greatwood Farm in Plainfield, Vermont—a tiny town about ten miles away from Montpelier—and also included an off-site campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Goddard was the first of other similar alternative educational institutions such as Evergreen College in Washington State, Franconia College in New Hampshire, Simons Rock College (affiliated with Bard College) in Massachusetts, Bard College in New York, Antioch College in Ohio, and Hampshire College in Massachusetts. 

Goddard quickly became the flagship institution for experimental education in America under the leadership of Royce S. “Tim” Pitkin, an advocate of progressive education in the tradition of the Summerhill School, founded in England in 1921. Summerhill’s founder, Alexander Sutherland Neill, developed an educational philosophy founded on the belief that giving students control over their education was the best way to promote creativity, knowledge, and innovation. Students at Goddard often created their majors, developed their own research proposals, and worked collaboratively. While some also took more conventional courses, each student designed their own research projects that were then presented to the student body at the end of the semester.

With the rise of the counterculture in the 1960s, Goddard became a center of progressive politics, ecology, and radical thought. This era was perhaps the heyday of Goddard’s influence. Its Third World Studies Program and Institute for Social Ecology were groundbreaking educational experiments that combined philosophy, social sciences, art, natural sciences, and literature. The Institute for Social Ecology played a role in the anti-nuclear movement in the 1970s and the Occupy movement in the 2010s.

As the counterculture morphed into a more neoliberal social mindset in the 1980s and 1990s, Goddard fell on hard times. It became difficult to continue its radical educational philosophy and attract young students who were feeling the pressure of more conventional, pre-professional forms of education to prepare them for the workforce. But Goddard refused to alter its educational philosophy, aspirational vision, and commitment to social activism. To compensate, it transformed itself from a largely residential program where students would live in communal houses, grow their own food, and engage in various kinds of social experiments, into a series of largely non-residential degree programs for older or non-traditional students.

The news of Goddard’s closure in 2024 is unfortunate precisely because it seems the current generation of college students has once again become attuned to the merits of combining progressive education with radical politics and activism. Goddard could have been a perfect resource for many who are committed to social transformation, climate change, and confronting the systemic inequality that still plagues our nation. But decades of conformity took their toll on a small institution like Goddard, and it simply could not maintain its stature in the changing economy of higher education.

As an alumnus of Goddard College (’79), I can say with confidence that my time there changed my life. It gave me a framework for how to think about the world as I moved in directions that were unavailable at the college itself, but directions that I know the Goddard community would have encouraged nonetheless. As a scholar of Jewish Studies and of religion, Goddard provided me with the tools of radical thinking, freedom of inquiry, and experimental thinking, all of which have stayed with me to this day. My final thesis at Goddard focused on Martin Buber’s writings on Hasidism, which makes perfect sense in retrospect, as Buber had a radical religious anarchist experience of his own in early twentieth-century Germany.

As it happens, my colleague and friend Daniel Boyarin, one of the most celebrated scholars of Judaism today, is also an alumnus of Goddard, having graduated in 1968. So is Rafi Ellenson, the son of David Ellenson (z”l), who was a renowned scholar of Judaism and was appointed the eighth president of Hebrew Union College in 2002. As part of Rafi’s final project at Goddard, he interviewed Daniel and me as a way of creating a kind of generational triangle, combining three points in Goddard’s history: its heyday in the 1960s, its struggle to remain relevant in the 1970s, and its last phase in the 2020s. Below is a transcript of the conversation between us, each of whom in our own ways found Goddard to be an inspiration for our vocations, our intellectual and spiritual strivings, and our identities, both as Jews and citizens of the world.

—Shaul Magid

RAFI ELLENSON: I’m so glad we finally made this work. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time since I started at Goddard several years back and finally, as I was graduating, I said it’s about time that I actually do it.

DANIEL BOYARIN: Moadim l’simcha!1

RAFI ELLENSON: I want to start off by going back and asking when exactly you attended Goddard, why you found yourself there, and maybe a bit about who you were before you arrived. Shaul, would you like to start off?

SHAUL MAGID: Sure, I would love to. I think Daniel and I might have attended about a decade apart. I first went to Goddard in 1978. I had dropped out of college, and I had been traveling around the country in my 1972 Volkswagen bus and living out in the mountains of New Mexico. When I came back east, I was thinking about going back to school, and I really had no idea where I wanted to go or what I wanted to study. By then, I had become a committed macrobiotic, and for a time I thought about going to a place in upstate New York to learn how to make acoustic guitars. I had never heard of Goddard, but I knew I didn’t want to go to any conventional place.

There used to be this big, white, thousand-page book on American colleges. I was just thumbing through it one night, and I stumbled upon this place called Goddard. I had never heard of it, but I read about it and it sounded great. The next week I took my VW bus up to Plainfield to check it out and see what it was. I met with some people there, including the president, and it seemed like it was exactly what I wanted at the time. It was really serendipitous in that way; I really just jumped into it. 

Very soon after I started, I actually went to Israel. When I came back, I went back to Goddard to finish my degree. At that time, in 1979, I was already pretty frum (a religious Jew), which was an interesting experience for some of the people who had known me before and some of the people that never knew me. I wasn’t Haredi yet, but I was certainly on the derech (an Orthodox euphemism for on the right path)—so I did not look like your average Goddard student. I had a roommate who was a straight-up New England WASP, who had probably hardly ever met a Jew, and now he was rooming with a guy who put on tefillin every morning. There were certain personalities and thinkers there that I remember, people like the social ecologist anarchist Murray Bookchin. I don’t know if Murray Bookchin was there when Danny was there—

DANIEL BOYARIN: I went to Goddard fifteen years before you; I graduated in 1968.

SHAUL MAGID: Okay, so a very different time; that’s for sure. When Daniel went, Goddard was pretty much in its heyday. It was this place on the countercultural map. When I went, by 1978, the counterculture had morphed somewhat but Goddard really hadn’t, and I think it was already feeling the pains of somehow living in the early stages of its own obsolescence. When Daniel was there, I heard they had a nude (dorm) house; in my time, they had lesbian houses where a man could only enter if let in and accompanied by one of the women in the house. We grew most of our own food. We would put water up to boil, run outside to pick corn in the field next to the house, and by the time we got back, the water was boiling. People were still living in teepees when I was there. It was a residence choice.

I would love to hear what Daniel has to say. Because when I was at Goddard, people were talking about Goddard during his time like it was the bayit rishon, so to speak.

DANIEL BOYARIN: Bayit rishon never existed… it was the bayit sheini… [laughter]

SHAUL MAGID: It was the bayit rishon in the imagination of Goddard…

DANIEL BOYARIN: Everything’s always the bayit sheini, the bayit rishon is always imaginary.

RAFI ELLENSON: I would love to hear about what Goddard was like for you, Daniel. I found an interview that you had online with the JWeekly in San Francisco, and you talked about going to Hebrew University [in Jerusalem] for your junior year abroad. I’d love to hear who you were before, where you were coming from, what brought you there, and what that transformation was like while you were at Goddard.

DANIEL BOYARIN: Well, first of all, Shaul is absolutely right: When I went to Goddard, it was at its height. It had two campuses at that point because one was not big enough for the number of students—just to give you a sense of how lively it was at the time. Two campuses in Vermont! I don’t want you to think it was enormous—I think there were a total of one thousand students, but they were distributed on two campuses within a ten-minute walk of each other through the woods. 

The old Goddard founders were still mostly alive. Obviously Tim Pitkin wasn’t alive anymore, but his sons were, and so were people like Forest Davis and Robert Mattock. He was quite elderly by then, but he had been at Goddard since its founding, so it was still very much the old Goddard. But at the same place, there was the School for Vermont Living, which was very progressive: William Heard Kilpatrick, John Dewey-style educational philosophy. At the same time, of course, the ’60s really hit big. When things were going on at Berkeley, where I’ve spent the last thirty years, things were going on at little Goddard, too. It was a very, very exciting time.

I became a self-confessed communist, went through a pseudo-Eastern-mystical phase and experience, and ended up a frum Jew at the end of the four years. There were twenty-five of us who graduated my year; we were very close. We had a gathering, just those of us who were finishing—and I remember someone saying about me, “I’m glad one of us is going to be a Jew…” [laughs]

So, I was clearly the class Jew, and “Jew” was not understood pejoratively.

Anyway, I did go to Israel for a year in the middle of college. A couple of very important things happened to me during that year. I fell in love with the Talmud, but I did not become religious until after I came back to Goddard. I also fell in love with a woman, to whom I’ve been married for fifty-two years now. So it was a fairly momentous year, that year away in Israel.

SHAUL MAGID: By the time I came back from Israel, I was already frum and living in Borough Park, Brooklyn. I ended up finishing college through a new option called the Adult Degree Program. You’d go up to Vermont for a couple of weeks each semester, and then you’d come back again at the end of the semester to present your work.

It was a very interesting experience for me, because I was living in Borough Park in a totally Haredi Jewish world, but then for three weeks or a month every semester, I’d go up to Plainfield, a world that was not Jewish at all. I was somehow trying to see the symmetry between them—to look at the Haredi world as some kind of countercultural alternative or spin-off of the Goddard world.

But I was completely accepted at Goddard, without question. One of the last times I went there, to present my final project, I was full-on Haredi: long black coat, hat, the whole costume. That was certainly a trip. I was working with a professor named Leonard Grubb, and another professor named Dick Hathaway, who was this kind of Norman Rockwell figure. He was a Protestant character who somehow took an interest in me because I must have fit some kind of Jewish stereotype, or something that was attractive to him. It was like I could see him thinking, “God, I can actually teach a real Jew!” I ended up working with him a lot as a sociologist, and he was actually quite good. I did a long sociological project on Eastern European Hasidism, which was really the first time that I ever read anything by Hasidic writers. I actually wasn’t able to read anything in Hebrew at that point, but I was reading Martin Buber for the first time, and so on.

When I was there, as opposed to when Danny was there, things were really in the throes of the New Age and environmentalist movement: New Games (a non-competitive version of sports), meditation, organic farming. A lot of Goddard’s student body had moved into a kind of ecological-environmentalist register, which probably wasn’t present as much in the ’60s. We basically all became a part of this collective organic farm, where we grew our own vegetables. I lived in a macrobiotic house, where we each took turns buying and cooking food. It was like living in a little commune; everything was done by consensus, which can drive you crazy. One nudnik could ruin everything. If you brought in any dairy or eggs, you could get in a lot of trouble!

It’s funny, because I taught for four years at Dartmouth and I own a log cabin in Vermont. When I was at Goddard, I always said I wanted to live in Vermont, but I never thought it would happen. A few years ago, I visited Goddard for the first time in forty years. I went there with a friend, Eric Jacobson, and my wife Annette, who is now a professor at Harvard. Eric, who now lives in Montpelier, also went to Goddard, probably ten years after I did. We knew a lot of the same people.

When we arrived, there was some kind of graduation going on. As Daniel said, there were two campuses: there was the main campus, and then there was the other campus called North Woods, but that campus is gone now. I walked around and got a chance to talk with some of the people who were graduating. I told them that it was my first time back on campus in decades; it’s kind of a shock to people who are twenty years old to hear that. It was the middle of the winter: a lot of snow, pretty empty. It brought back a lot of memories. 

Goddard probably wasn’t as wild when I was there as it had been in the mid ’60s. Of course, there were plenty of drugs, and great music, but it just wasn’t the same kind of environment. People were intense—and maybe Danny could speak to this, too—so my impression was that it was a really robust intellectual environment. People were really interested in the things they were doing; not in any kind of conventional sense, but they were really very suited to their ideals. And I think that rubbed off on me.

Murray Bookchin, a social theorist and professor at Goddard College

DANIEL BOYARIN: I also saw that so many people around me were doing very different things than the choice that Chava and I made. We got married during my junior year abroad, and I came back with her. I was only twenty at the time.

There was a kind of simple acceptance, you know? In other words, that story I told earlier—about the classmate who said, “I’m glad one of us is going to be a Jew”—is actually very telling. Some of the Jews were Buddhist, some of the Jews were Maoist, and some were still leftists. (I really–thank God,—recovered my leftism over the following decades.). We got a lot of support, especially from the head Conservative rabbi in Burlington. Soon after I got back from Israel, sometime around Rosh Hashanah, Chava and I decided that we wanted to have a kosher home and start keeping Shabbos. So I called the rabbi up, and he said, “Come up to Burlington.” He gave us a full set of fleishig (meat) dishes and milichg (diary) dishes, just like that. We put them into our car, and he explained a lot to us about kashrut

I then got quite close to the Orthodox Rabbi in Burlington, and I used to go and learn with him. He was not a Lubavitcher,2 which kind of amazed me—because at that point I thought that practically all the Haredim that you’d encounter were Lubavitchers. I was in my second year at Goddard, clearly was moving in a certain direction, because I spent—now, this is something you could probably only do at Goddard College—I spent the entire year studying chumash and Rashi on my own, just painstakingly, painfully working through the text with dictionaries. And then I started reading Finnegan’s Wake, with extensive commentaries, as well. So that was my year of self-taught philological apprenticeship. Then I went to Israel for the year.

By the time I came back, I had spent a year studying Talmud on a very elementary level in the mechina at Hebrew University, and as I said, I knew I was just in love with it. I suppose it might have been predictable—the turn to Torah, or in other words, the turn to mitzvot. But I didn’t predict it until it happened. I actually had a dream in which I saw letters of white fire on black fire—and I didn’t even know the midrash 3 then. So it was some sort of, I don’t know, intuition or something. And I woke up my young wife in the middle of the night—we’d only been married for three or four months—and I said, I want to start being religious. And she said, “Fine,” and went back to sleep.

RAFI ELLENSON: Although you had fundamentally different religious experiences in terms of observance, it seems like Goddard really facilitated Jewish intellectual journeys for both of you, in a way. For you, Daniel, it was studying chumash and Rashi; and for you, Shaul, it was reading Buber. I’m wondering more about the people who taught you these texts, and about what other things ended up being the cornerstones of your discipline-defining careers.

SHAUL MAGID: One thing I remember is that I was there the year of the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant Occupation, when thousands of protestors broke down the fences in the Seabrook Nuclear Power Plant and occupied the premises. We went to the president of the college and asked if we could take a week off to go to Seabrook—and he actually decided to close the entire college for a week, so that all the students would be able to go participate. And we all did; we all went and climbed the fence and hung out in this place, which was really, you know… basically as much of a party as it was anything else. I seem to recall that [the rock musician and activist] Jackson Browne was there and that he played on a makeshift stage. 

Ten thousand people camped out on the grounds of a nuclear power plant. We all slept in tents, and at night, there were all these campfires with people playing music. That experience made a deep impression on me; not so much the experience of being in Seabrook, but the fact that the college felt that this was education in practice, that they shut down the whole place and told everybody to go. There was something about that—I don’t even remember the president’s name at this point, but there was something about that decision that struck me and stayed with me into my adult life.

RAFI ELLENSON: Then I definitely want to ask: how do you understand Goddard working into your life writ large? Both of you are known for your iconoclasm and for being really disciplined in your academic work, as well as in your political activism. You’re both very well known for your left-wing politics, particularly in the academy. And I’m wondering, is that a direct outgrowth from Goddard? Is that something you think you would have gotten if you had ended up at, let’s say, Amherst College, or is that a unique product of this school?

DANIEL BOYARIN: Well, I’ll start with this. There’s no way I would have ended up at Amherst College. I was raised by leftist parents, but I was in what I would now call a right-wing, social democrat, nationalist movement: namely, Zionism. But at the time, it seemed to have a lot of leftist currents—mainly Habonim Dror.4

So, my leftist orientation, or my orientation toward radical social justice movements, was actually something I brought with me to Goddard. If anything, at Goddard I initially retreated from leftism and moved in the direction of a more mystical, quiet, pious philosophy of life. That’s why I said that I only recovered my leftist passion, my radical passion, in later years. Because during those mystical years, when I look back, I was interested in Daoism and then in a return to Judaism in an embarrassingly non-scholarly way. 

When I went to Israel, I went to study Zohar. The only reason I went on to study Talmud afterwards was that the first day I was there, I went to the Association of Americans and Canadians in Israel [AACI] to get some help with finding a place to stay, and there happened to be an Orthodox person working there. He asked me why I had come to Israel. I said why, and he explained to me that I couldn’t possibly study Zohar if I hadn’t studied Talmud. So, I signed up for Talmud. And I did still study Zohar that year, but it was really the Talmud that grabbed me at that point. So Goddard did not, in any way, make me a leftist. If anything, at that point in the late 60s, various kinds of mysticism and pre-New Age thought—I mean that literally as a defined set of sentiments: “pre–New Age,” not just before New Age, but that which was going to develop into the New Age—were the dominant current.

SHAUL MAGID: Do you happen to remember the name of the Orthodox guy you met at the AACI?

DANIEL BOYARIN: No, because we’re talking over fifty years ago…

SHAUL MAGID: But that person literally changed the way many of us study Talmud. That person is the link that basically changed the way we study Talmud today, certainly in the academy! I’m sure he had no idea.

DANIEL BOYARIN: Well, by now, I’m sure he knows everything, considering that this was fifty years ago, and he was probably in his fifties when I had met him.

SHAUL MAGID: In a certain way, I had a kind of bookend experience to Daniel, because I came to Goddard more than a decade later, but also because I grew up pretty middle of the road. I think I became a leftist—I don’t know if I would even call it that then, or even knew what that was—as a rebellion, against the kind of conventional non-political life growing up in the post-war suburbs. I grew up in Long Island, and nobody thought about politics; nobody’s parents had too many books in their houses. My father was an advertising executive and my mother stayed home when my sister and I were kids. She went to work later. Both of my parents were liberal democrats, the first time I saw my mother cry was when MLK was assassinated in 1968, but I don’t remember there being much of an intellectual life at home. When I was probably fourteen or so, I read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and I remember thinking, “Holy shit, that’s possible?!” That was it. I never looked back.

And so, in a way, I became a leftist in high school—and I think that’s one of the real differences between me and Daniel. When Daniel grew up, most people went through high school in a more conventional way, and then got turned on to new things in college. Whereas, by the time I was in the world in the early-to-mid-seventies, things were already filtering down, and people were dropping acid in tenth grade. It was a whole different movement. I remember having to get a permission slip from my mother when I was in junior high school to attend an anti-Vietnam War rally so that the teacher would let me out of class. So much of this happened much earlier for me. But I think one of the things that Goddard did was that it gave me a community of people who all got turned on in high school. And suddenly we were together. We didn’t feel like freaks, even though we were “freaks.” Before that, I was just thinking about these things without any context or any community, aside from the macrobiotic community at Rising Tide Natural Foods in Locust Valley, Long Island. So I think when I got to Goddard, it dawned on me that there were other people that actually thought the way I did. 

There were other people that were “off the derech” (that is, unconventional, or countercultural), because it was really an off the derech kind of place. There were other people that were actually becoming radicalized, whether it was spiritually, or intellectually, or politically—so I had a feeling of not being alone, in a certain way. I think one gains a sort of confidence under those circumstances. I think that’s one of the things that Goddard really did for me: it gave me a certain kind of confidence that I could say what I wanted and do what I wanted, and still know that there would be people that would be even more leftist and radical than I was. It was a moment in my life when the weird became normal. It was a place where, as weird as you were, you’d still know that there was somebody who was going to be weirder than you. Fellow Goddard graduate Eric Jacobson, who was already an anarchist when he arrived, felt the same way a decade later.

RAFI ELLENSON: It’s still like that. I never thought of it in those terms, but it’s completely correct. 

As two people who have professional careers working in academia, what is the value that a school like Goddard can provide on the American academic scene?

DANIEL BOYARIN: That’s interesting, you know, I have so little sense of what Goddard is like now. I’m a donor and becoming, you know, a more regular contributor—because I really value places that are still firmly dedicated to intellectual life in one way or another. Even as opposed to UC Berkeley, where there are obviously still strong currents of that dedication, but we’re fighting for our lives here against people who prioritize STEM above all, people who consider the work that humanists do as equivalent to… I don’t know, embroidery, padding, at best poetry, and can’t see why the public should be supporting our hobbies. So I’m hoping, praying, and betting some support on Goddard as a place where ideas and books still matter. And, you know, I sometimes feel that if there are still humans one hundred years from now (of which I also am not certain), that people who read old books are going to be in little conventicles in places like northern Vermont. “A canticle for Leibowitz;”5 little monasteries in which books are still studied. That’s my romantic image of Goddard, at least.

Honestly, I had a wonderful time at Goddard; I had wonderful teachers. The real, ultimate hero of my intellectual life was Ernest Boaten.

Was he still there when you went, Shaul?


DANIEL BOYARIN: And there were quite a number of others who had a deep impact on me. Every single one of them, every single faculty member was a significant human being and a significant model of what a life devoted to ideas could be.

SHAUL MAGID: When I visited recently, I went into the hay barn, which held a lot of memories for me. I mean, it actually looks pretty much the same; it’s refurbished but still has the old look. That was a place where there was so much intellectual stuff going on, so much happening, just in those walls. It’s really actually quite moving, in a way.

RAFI ELLENSON: What would be an example of something that would be happening? A concert, a performance?

SHAUL MAGID: I remember Murray Bookchin—who was a very well-known social ecologist and anarchist; he just passed away a couple of years ago—he used to give these freewheeling seminars in the hay barn. I guess people registered for the course, but we all just came and sat on the rafters and bales of hay while he told story after story about socialism and anarchism in the 1930s. It was just such an event. I have no recollection of what he said, but I have memories of it being illuminating. Kind of like visiting a Hasidic rebbe. It really doesn’t matter if you remember what they say.

RAFI ELLENSON: Is there any sort of message that either of you would give to current students at Goddard?

DANIEL BOYARIN: I would answer that, first of all, by saying that the message I would give is for all students, not just Goddard students. But Goddard might be one place where the dream I have for all students could truly be carried out, and that is, to use college to just follow your passions. You’ll end up somehow or other just as likely to make a living, whether you do follow your passions or if you don’t, so you might as well. That’s really what I did. And I treasured every minute of it.

SHAUL MAGID: I had this experience recently when I was sitting in Washington Square Park in Greenwich Village. I was just sitting there playing banjo, which I liked to do on Friday afternoons, and there were these two young people,—maybe they were eighteen—sitting next to me. They were reading a book, slowly looking at a book together. And after a while, I happened to look at what they were reading, and they were both reading Ram Dass’s Be Here Now. I got up and walked over to them to tell them that I remember reading that forty years ago. I said, “I guess I just want to say that it gives me a lot of joy that people are still reading that book.” They both smiled. I think they got it: “Here’s this old guy coming up to us with a banjo, telling us he read Ram Dass when he was our age.” Kind of an instantiation of “tradition” in practice. 
I think my message to this crowd of students is that choosing to go to a place like Goddard is a really courageous move, because the pressure must have been so strong on the other side. You can feel the intense pressure students have today: parental pressure, social pressure… and yet, these young people are basically saying, “Screw you, I’m gonna do something different.” And I think that going to Goddard is an act of social resistance. Now it may no longer be an option, but there are other options, other ways to change the world. I think that that resistance lives on and is incredibly empowering, and the extent to which I’m still walking the earth, I’d love to be able to contribute to it however and wherever I can. Places like Goddard inspire that as a life choice. That is their derekh [their “way”]. May it continue.

​​Rafi Ellenson is a student at the Hebrew College Rabbinical School. Prior to rabbinical school he lived in Jerusalem working for the Hotline for Refugees and Migrants and for 0202: Points of View from Jerusalem. While in Jerusalem, he was awarded the Dorot Fellowship where he studied literary translation. In rabbinical school, he has worked as the Associate Director of the Dignity Project—an interfaith youth leadership program in Greater Boston—as the rabbinic intern at the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership, and as the Director of Hebrew Programming at URJ Olin-Sang-Ruby Union Institute (OSRUI). Rafi’s writing has been published in Verklempt! and Jewish Currents and he is the translator of a collection of haiku by the poet E. Ethelbert Miller, the little book of e. He is a graduate of the Individualized Bachelor of Arts program at Goddard College in Plainfield, VT.

Daniel Boyarin has taught Talmud to generations of students at UC Berkeley and is now actively resting. The No-State Solution: A Jewish Manifesto was published on January 31, 2023 by Yale University Press.

Shaul Magid is Professor of Jewish Studies at Dartmouth College, Kogod Senior Research Fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute of North America, Senior Fellow at the Center for the Study of World Religions at Harvard University, and rabbi of the Fire Island synagogue. He works on Jewish thought and culture from the sixteenth century to the present, focusing on the Jewish mystical and philosophical tradition. His three latest books are The Bible, the Talmud, and the New Testament: Elijah Zvi Soloveitchik’s Commentary to the Gospels (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2019); Piety and Rebellion: Essays in Hasidism (Academic Studies Press, 2019); and Meir Kahane: The Public Life and Political Thought of an American Jewish Radical (Princeton University Press, 2021). He writes regularly for Religion Dispatches+972, and other topical journals. He is an elected member of the American Academy for Jewish Research and the American Society for the Study of Religion.


  1.  “May you celebrate in joyfulness.”
  2.  Also known as Chabad, the Lubavitch movement is one of the most prominent branches of Hasidic Judaism. Founded in 1775, it follows the teachings of Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liady. Read more in the YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe: https://yivoencyclopedia.org/article.aspx/Lubavitch_Hasidism
  3.  From Midrash Tanchuma on Genesis 1: “How was the Torah written? It was written with letters of black fire on a surface of white fire…” Further reading: https://www.sefaria.org/sheets/236271?lang=bi
  4.  Habonim Dror is a Labor Zionist youth organization. Originally formed from the merger of two preexisting  youth groups established in the early twentieth century, it operates according to a secular, socialist, gender-egalitarian ethos and has established branches in seventeen countries. Learn more here.
  5. Yeshayahu Lebowitz (1903-1994) was an Orthodox Israeli intellectual and professor of philosophy, biochemistry, and the history of science. A well-known and controversial figure, he balanced a “theocentric” philosophy of Jewish observance with a staunchly humanistic, secular view of Zionism and politics, eventually becoming an outspoken critic of Israeli military policy. Read more in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/leibowitz-yeshayahu/