Jay Michaelson is an innovative writer and teacher whose work focuses on spirituality, Judaism, sexuality, and law. His articles, classes, essays, and fiction bring the erudition of the academy and the devotion of the contemplative path to audiences around the country. God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice is his first book. He is also the editor of Az Yashir Moshe: A Book of Songs and Blessings and the founder and chief editor of Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture, recognized as a leading institution of the "New Jewish Culture."
In addition to his writing, Jay has taught Kabbalah and spiritual practice at a wide range of institutions, including Yale University, City College, Elat Chayyim, the Skirball Center, the Wexner Summer Institute, Limmud UK, Limmud NY, Wesleyan University, Drew University, the New York University Hillel, the Burning Man festival, Easton Mountain, the Park Avenue Synagogue, the Trinity School, the Dorot Fellowship, and a number of synagogues and community centers, as well as online at www.learnkabbalah.com. He taught for four years the Jewish Theological Seminary's Ivry Prozdor school, and for five years at Camp Ramah in the Berkshires. He has created and taught over twenty curricula for formal and informal Jewish education, ranging from "How Not to Believe in God" to "The Philosophy of Halacha." A frequent speaker, panelist, and scholar in residence at synagogues and community centers, Jay brings Kabbalah down to earth, and brings the most mundane of earthly subjects to a higher spiritual plane. His classes range from textual studies of the Zohar to lighter workshops such as Eat Your Way to Enlightenment: The Art of Eating Meditation.
A recent finalist for the Koret Young Writer on Jewish Themes Award, Jay is a columnist for the Forward newspaper, where he writes the "Fringes" column on emerging Jewish spiritualities, as well as a contributor to the Jerusalem Post, Slate, Shma, and other publications. Jay also writes and lectures widely on issues of law and religion, and was a recent presenter on "Anti-legalism and anti-Judaism" at Cardozo School of Law's conference on Jews in the Legal Profession.
Jay's background as a teacher of Kabbalah is unusual in that he has both academic and "practical" training in the Kabbalah. After graduating from Columbia University, Jay obtained an M.A. in Religious Studies from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, focusing on Jewish mysticism and working one-on-one with Moshe Idel, Rachel Elior, and others, and taking classes with Joseph Dan, Zeev Harvey, and other leading scholars of Jewish mysticism and philosophy. His primary academic work involved writing on the role of the material world in Chabad and Bratzlav Hasidism, translating portions of the Shaarei Tzedek by a disciple of Abraham Abulafia, and his master's thesis on the dichotomies of letter and spirit and flesh and spirit in Judaism and early Christianity. He has also worked with professors Elliot Wolfson and Daniel Boyarin.
A lifelong student, and now a teacher, of the world’s mystical traditions, he considers himself both a nondenominational, halachic Jew and a Western Buddhist. Jay recently completed Rabbi David and Shoshana Cooper's Jewish Meditation Advanced Training Program, during which he spent six weeks in silent meditation retreat over the last two years, and, in fall 2004, sat a six-week silent meditation retreat at the Insight Meditation Society in Barre, Massachusetts. Jay lives in Putnam County, New York.