Julia Watts Belser - Ruderman Synagogue Inclusion Project Event 5/23/16

Rabbi Julia Watts Belser is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies in the Theology Department at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on rabbinic theology and culture in late antiquity, bringing expertise in disability and gender studies, as well as ecological criticism, to the study of rabbinic literature and law. She is the author of Power, Ethics, and Ecology in Jewish Late Antiquity: Rabbinic Responses to Drought and Disaster (Cambridge University Press, 2015).

In addition to her work as a historian of rabbinic culture, Belser also writes and teaches Jewish feminist ethics, bringing classical Jewish texts into conversation with contemporary issues of violence, power, and privilege, and disability rights, environmental justice, sexual violence, and racial justice.

Before joining the Theology Department at Georgetown, Belser held a faculty fellowship in Women’s Studies and Religion at Harvard Divinity School and taught in the Department of Religious Studies at Missouri State University. She received her Ph.D. in Jewish studies from UC Berkeley and the Graduate Theological Union, as well as rabbinic ordination from the Academy of Jewish Religion California.

Her writing has appeared in The AJS Review, The Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Worldviews: Global Religion, Culture, and Ecology, Harvard Divinity Bulletin, and The Journal of the Society for the Study of Christian Ethics, as well as a variety of popular venues: Tikkun Magazine, Midstream: A Journal of Jewish Thought and Fireweed: A Feminist Quarterly. Belser serves on the board of the Society of Jewish Ethics and holds leadership positions in the American Academy of Religion.

Active in disability justice and global health organizing, Belser is the co-author of A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities (Hesperian Foundation, 2007), a grassroots guide designed to help women with disabilities organize in their local communities to challenge the root causes of poverty, gender violence, and disability discrimination. Developed in collaboration with disabled women in 42 countries, the book has been translated into 11 languages and is now used around the world. She serves as core faculty on the Summer Institute of Disability and Theology, and has recently written Jewish Values and Disability Rights, a Jewish community guide on disability rights that is forthcoming from the Jewish Funders Network.


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