Rabbi Sharon Brous is the founder and spiritual leader of IKAR, a new spiritual community in Los Angeles that grew out of the desire for a Jewish community that feels authentic, smart and relevant, one that isn’t afraid to engage politics, take risks and ask important questions about what it means to be a Jew and a human being in the world. She co-teaches a course for rabbinical students on social justice and spiritual activism with Daniel Sokatch and has written numerous articles and lectures often on issues of religion, human rights and human dignity.
Nathaniel Deutsch is Professor of Literature and History and Director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of California-Santa Cruz. His most recent book, “Inventing America’s ‘Worst’ Family: Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael,” will be published by the University of California Press in January, 2009. He is currently working with the Mandaeans, the last surviving Gnostics from Antiquity, to prevent their ancient community from becoming extinct as a result of the Iraq War.
Josh Kun is a professor in the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism and the Department of American Studies & Ethnicity at the University of Southern California. He is the Director of The Popular Music Project at The Norman Lear Center and the author and editor of books about popular music, the US-Mexico border, and Los Angeles. He is a proud member of The Idelsohn Society for Musical Preservation.
Amichai Lau-Lavie is the founder, executive and artistic director of the New York City-based Storahtelling Company: Jewish Ritual Theater Revived. He is an Israeli-born mythologist, storyteller and teacher of Judaic Literature, hailed by Time Out New York as “Super Star of David” and “iconoclastic mystic” and as “one of the most interesting thinkers in the Jewish world” by the New York Jewish Week. He is a consultant for Reboot, a member of the Synagogue 3000 Spiritual Leadership Team, and serves on the board of trustees for Bikkurim: the Incubator for New Jewish Ideas. Amichai is the theatrical representative for Rebbetzin Hadassah Gross.
Tony Michels is author of A Fire in Their Hearts: Yiddish Socialists in New York (Harvard Univ. Press, 2005) and professor of American Jewish history at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. He is currently researching books on the history of Jewish communists, teen movies, and the rise and fall of Rock & Roll. His article on Jonathan Richman and The Modern Lovers appeared in the Sound Issue of Guilt and Pleasure.
Eddy Portnoy teaches Jewish history and writes on Yiddish popular culture.
Gayle Wald chairs the English department at George Washington University, where she teaches African American literature and popular culture. Her book Shout, Sister, Shout! is a biography of gospel’s first superstar, and she is working on a book about the black nationalist TV variety show Soul!