September 1, 2008 - August 31, 2009
Jonathan Garb (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
Philip Wexler (The Hebrew University of Jerusalem)
The research group seeks to address the vibrancy of contemporary Jewish mysticism, both as a social movement and as an emerging research field, as well as the absence of comparative and social scientific study of this exciting temporary development. Our goals are to draw on the significant strength of the academic expertise of the group members in the sociology and social psychology of religion, the study of classical and contemporary Kabbalah and the comparison between mystical systems. We believe that this will serve to support and enrich the work of Israeli researchers who are exploring numerous case studies, yet without a strong theoretical and comparative foundation.
Some of the central themes we will explore include: topics in Jewish mysticism, with an emphasis on contemporary and "modern" Jewish mysticism; studies in comparative mysticism, where we will explore both historical and contemporary questions, especially in Buddhism and Christianity, but also with regard to Islam; more general issues that touch on the theory and method of the study of mysticism. Within this last category, we will explore sociological, anthropological, social psychological and psychological questions that traverse the specific traditions and modern expressions of the varieties of contemporary mysticism.