Rabbi Niles Goldstein, a former visiting scholar with the Center for Interfaith Engagement, returns to Eastern Mennonite University as the keynote speaker for the 2021 Academic and Creative Excellence (ACE) Festival. Goldstein is a Reform rabbi and educator and award-winning author of ten books, and he leads the Congregation Beth Shalom of Napa Valley in California. He is a sought-after speaker on spirituality, personal growth, the environment, leadership, and congregational innovation.
The ACE Festival Keynote will take place virtually on Wednesday, April 21, at 7:30 p.m. EDT. Goldstein will speak on “Dreams, Drama and Dogma: Spiritual Writing Through the Centuries,” exploring the diverse legacy of writing in the Abrahamic faith traditions, from antiquity to the present.
Members of the public can view the free livestream on Facebook Live from our EMU Facebook page. (You do not need a Facebook account or page to access Facebook Live, nor does clicking on the link obligate you in any way to Facebook.)
Goldstein has a rich resume of community work in various disciplines. He helped found the Napa Center for Thought & Culture, an organization grounded in Jewish traditions and values that organizes thought-provoking programs and events. He was the founding rabbi of The New Shul, an innovative synagogue in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. He’s the national Jewish chaplain for the Federal Law Enforcement Officers Association and a chaplain for the Napa Police Department. He’s done humanitarian work in Central Asia and the Caucasus.
As a visiting scholar with the Center for Interfaith Engagement in spring 2014, Goldstein taught courses in spiritual writing and comparative monotheistic religions. He has also served on the faculties of New York University, Loyola University, and Hebrew Union College’s Jewish Institute of Religion.
The rabbi will also speak with a panel of EMU faculty and students about his newest book, Eight Questions of Faith: Biblical Challenges That Guide and Ground Our Lives (Jewish Publication Society, 2015), in a virtual event at 10:15 a.m. on April 21.
The book uses eight questions found in the Bible – such as “why did I ever issue from the womb?” – to explore themes of mortality, responsibility, forbidden knowledge, sin, and the afterlife. Goldstein couples these meditations with reflections on his own life experiences.
Professor Marti Eads said the book’s “deep engagement with Hebrew scripture around existential questions is sure to spark rich campus conversation, not just during Goldstein’s visit but for days to come.” Copies of the book are already available for EMU students on a first-come, first-served basis in the language and literature department.
“Goldstein’s search for answers are resonant with any reader’s considerations of personal life and career,” wrote Rabbi Arnold D. Samlan in a review for the Jewish Book Council. “Indeed, the great value of this book is in the way the reader will take the author’s experiences, personalize his questions, and move toward more meaningful choices in their own life.”