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Bilgray Memorial Lectureship Series

"Freedom and Justice in the World Today"

Ambassador Rabbi David Saperstein

February 8 – 10, 2018 at Temple Emanu-El

Thursday, February 8, 7:00 pm, Lecture: The State of Religious Freedom in the United States and across the Globe, at Temple Emanu-El

Friday, February 9, 5:45 pm, Bilgray Scholar Dinner at Temple Emanu-El - to RSVP for Dinner, sorry registration closed.

Friday, February 9, 7:30 pm, Sermon at Shabbat services: Israel's Three Most Vital Challenges: Peace, Equality, and the Battle for Religious Freedom and Tolerance in Israel, Temple Emanu-El

Saturday, February 10, 12:00 pm, Rabbi's Tish: Economic Justice: Testing the Morality of Our Nation - dairy/vegetarian potluck

Rabbi David Saperstein was selected by Newsweek magazine in 2009 as the most influential rabbi in the country, and he represented the Reform Jewish Movement to Congress, the Executive Branch, and to a series of U.S. Presidents as the Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism (RAC) for forty years. From December 2014 when Rabbi Saperstein was confirmed by the US Senate, until January 2017 he was at the US State Department as U.S. Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom.

During his four-decade tenure at the helm of the Religious Action Center, Rabbi Saperstein headed several national religious coalitions, including the Coalition to Protect Religious Liberty. He serves on the board of national organizations including the NAACP, People For the American Way, National Religious Partnership on the Environment and the World Bank’s “World Faith Development Dialogue.”

In 1999, Rabbi Saperstein was elected as the first Chair of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, created by a unanimous vote of Congress, and in 2009, he was appointed by President Obama as a member of the first White House Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2004 and 2006, the Wall Street Journal and the Religion News Service respectively described him as among the country’s most influential shapers of religious issues in national elections.

An attorney, Ambassador Rabbi Saperstein teaches seminars in First Amendment Church-State Law and in Jewish Law at Georgetown University Law School.

Past Scholars in Residence

  • 2017 Rabbi Richard Address
  • 2016 Dr. Alan Morinis
  • 2015 Rabbi Rachel Mikva
  • 2014 Rabbi Eric Yoffie
  • 2013 Rabbi Arthur Green, Ph.D
    'The Origins of Neo-Hasidism'
  • 2012 Rabbi Michael L. Morgan, Ph.D
    'The Social and Ethical Character of Human Existence: Emmanuel Levinas and Judaism'
  • 2011 Prof. Joseph Regenstein
    'Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Kosher and Halal But Were Afraid to Ask'
  • 2010 Prof. Jonathan Boyarin
    'Trickster's Children: Paul Radin, Stanley Diamond & Filiation in Anthropology'
  • 2009 Rabbi Neil Gillman
    'The Death of Death: Jewish Views of the Afterlife'
  • 2008 Prof. Jonathan Sarna
    'The Mystical World of Colonial American Jews'
  • 2007 Prof. Tamara Eskenazi
    'Divine authority and mass violence: Holy war in Islam, Christianity and Judaism'
  • 2006 Prof. Reuven Firestone
  • 2005 Rabbi Steve Greenberg
  • 2005 Rabbi Sandy Seltzer
  • 2005 Rabbi Rami Shapiro
  • 2005 Rabbi Byron Sherwin
    'When Passion Cools: Judaism and Catholicism from Vatican II to the 21st Century'
  • 2005 Prof. Judith Cohen
  • 2004 Prof. Mitchell Schwarzer
    'Recreating a World in Images'
  • 2003 Prof. Daniel Matt
    2003 Prof. Daniel Matt: 'God and the Big Bang: Discovery Harmony Between Science and Spirituality'
  • 2002 Edwin Black
    'IBM and the Holocaust'
  • 2001 Marge Piercy
    'Jewish Poetry in a Contemporary Mode'
  • 2000 Prof. Yehuda Reinharz
    'Revolution in Jewish History The Founding & Future of Israel'
  • 1999 Tribute to Rabbi Bilgray
    In lieu of a regular Bilgray lecture, the Committee on Judaic Studies - in conjunction with the Bilgray Lectureship Committee of Temple Emanu-EL - sponsored a celebration in memory of Rabbi Albert T. Bilgray.
  • 1998 Prof. Arnold J. Band
    'Hebrew Literature and the Zionist Narrative'

Lectures given from 1986-1997 were transcribed, and most are available as PDF documents. Click to view:

  • 1997 Prof. Amy-Jill Levine
    'Threatened Bodies Women, Apocrypha, Colonialism'
  • 1996 Prof. Marc Bregman
    'Serah Bat Asher: Biblical Origins, Ancient Aggdah and Contemporary Folklore'​​​​​​​
  • 1995 Prof. Susannah Heschel
    'Transforming Jesus from Jew to Aryan: Protestant Theologians in Nazi Germany'
  • 1994 Prof. Michael Fishbane
    'To Jump for Joy: The Rites of Dance According to R. Nahman Bratzlav'
  • 1993 Prof. Shemaryahu Talmon
    'The 'Dead Sea Scrolls' or 'The Community of the Renewed Covenant''
  • 1992 Prof. Arnold M. Eisen
    'Rethinking Jewish Modernity'​​​​​​​
  • 1991 Prof. Leon A. Jick
    'Method in Madness'
  • 1990 Prof. Ellis Rivkin
    'Josephus and the Pharisees'
  • 1989 Prof. Amos Funkenstein
    'Intellectuals and Jews'
  • 1988 Prof. Robert Alter
    'Putting Together Biblical Narrative'
  • 1986 Prof. Jacob R. Marcus
    'The Significance of American Jewish History'

The Rabbi Albert T. Bilgray Lectureship

The Bilgray Lectureship is a joint project, co-sponsored by Temple Emanu-El and the University of Arizona. In cooperation with the University's Program of Judaic Studies, it brings to Tucson distinguished authorities in the realm of Judaic Studies.

The Bilgray Lectureship was created in 1985 by members of Temple Emanu-El in Tucson, Arizona to honor Albert T. Bilgray, Rabbi Emeritus and Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona. In the course of more than a quarter century, Professor Bilgray created and helped develop three programs at the University: Hebrew Language and Literature, Religious Studies, and Judaic Studies. The Lectureship seeks to perpetuate the rabbinic and scholarly emphases of Rabbi Bilgray's career through a popular presentation on Jewish life and literature, as well as through an academic, scholarly approach.

The Bilgray Lectureship Endowment

The Bilgray Lectureship Endowment endeavors to augment the resources of the Lectureship so that it can generate sufficient annual income to ensure a continuing program through the years. Permanent memberships are available through a one-time gift of $500 or more.  (Click here to donate.)
The Lectureship also thanks its many friends who contribute lesser sums. The Lectureship is delighted to acknowledge the following Permanent Memberships and Lectureship Committee Members: 


*Estate of Beulah Alfou
Lillian Myerson


*Gertrude and Charles Gordon (Gifts and Estate)
*Gizella and Jack Nevins (Gifts and Estate)
*Evelyn and *Shaol Pozez


*Leo Rich (Gifts and Estate)


Esther and *Richard Capin
*Helen and Zellie Capin
Selma and *Lew Davis
Evo-Ora DeConcini Foundation
Joan and Donald Diamond
Dr. Steve and Ruth Dickstein
Helen and *Herbert Goldman
*Irving Kaplan
*Jean Myerson
Ruthann and *Louis Pozez
Senior Congregants of Temple Emanu-El
*Doris and *Dr. Leonard Weiner


*Margaret Agron
*Leona and David L. Bloom
Felice and Harlan Capin
*Lillian Capin
Friends of *Dr. Max Costin
*Janette and *Dr. Joseph Gerber
Selma Gilbert
Harriet and Milton Herman
*Emma Jacobson
Jessica and *Frank Lazarus
Marjorie Levy
Hilda and *Robert Nathanson
Friends of *Louis Posner
*Mavis and *Dr. Maurice Zee
Edith Arnstein

*In Memoriam

The 5778 Albert T. Bilgray Lectureship Committee

Rabbi Batsheva Appel
Dr. Richard Brodesky
Anne Friedman
Sharon Geiger
Ruth Rosenstein
Dr. Stephen & Jeannette Shawl
Julie Tronson
Joan Weinberg

Tue, September 18 2018 9 Tishrei 5779