Ari Goldman, professor, author and expert on religion in media, will be keynote speaker at JSPA conference Feb. 1 – 3

Ari Goldman, professor, author and expert on religion in media, will be keynote speaker at JSPA conference Feb. 1 - 3

Ari Goldman, best-selling author and an authority on news coverage of religion and spirituality, will headline the Fifth Annual Conference of the Jewish Scholastic Press Association, to be held Feb. 1 – 3 in Los Angeles.

Mr. Goldman is a professor in the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University, where he directs the Scripps Howard Program in Religion, Journalism and the Spiritual Life. He joined Columbia’s faculty in  1993 after 20 years at the New York Times, most of them covering religion.

He will speak Friday evening, Feb. 2, at Beth Jacob Congregation in Beverly Hills.

At Columbia, students in Mr. Goldman’s “Covering Religion” class travel to religious centers around the world, and have visited Israel, India, Russia, Ukraine, Ireland, Italy and the West Bank.  He also teaches a course called “The Journalism of Death and Dying.”

Mr. Goldman is also on the faculty of The School of the New York Times, which offers journalism and culture classes to high school students and adults in New York City.  His course there is called “Writing the Big City: Covering New York.”

In 1991, Mr. Goldman published his first book, The Search for God at Harvard (1991), a chronicle of his year at Harvard Divinity School, where he was sent by the New York Times for a sabbatical to expand his knowledge.  The book, which became a best-seller, describes his encounters with faiths ranging from Catholicism and Islam to Buddhism and African sacrificial cults, always viewed through the lens of his own Modern Orthodox upbringing and faith.

“From my life journey,” he writes near the book’s close, “I believe that traditional Judaism is large enough, compassionate enough, forgiving enough and tolerant enough to encompass the world.”

Mr. Goldman’s other books are Being Jewish: The Spiritual and Cultural Practice of Judaism Today (2006),  Living a Year of Kaddish: A Memoir (2007), and  The Late-Starters Orchestra (2014)about rediscovering a passion for the cello as an adult.

He contributes occasional articles to Slate, Salon, The Forward, The Washington Post, and the New York Jewish Week, in addition to the Times.

Mr. Goldman has served as scholar-in-residence at Yeshiva University’s Stern College for Women, as a Skirball Fellow at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies in England; and as Visiting Fulbright Professor at Hebrew University in Jerusalem.  His academic degrees are from Yeshiva University, Columbia and Harvard, where he studied in the Divinity School for a year that became basis for his first book.

Also on the JSPA program this year will be Mr. Goldman’s wife, the journalist Shira Dicker, who will give a workshop Friday morning about Steven Spielberg’s new movie, The Post.

JSPA is a national journalism education organization that teaches students top-level skills while looking at journalism through a Jewish lens.  Its goals are to improve student media at Jewish high schools, enhance journalism education in those schools, and teach students and advisers how they can add Jewish content and sensibility to their publications, and also to convey a Jewish outlook on journalism to students in any school.

It promotes these goals in a way that respects Jewish values and the Jewish calendar, in particular using Shabbat to create a journalistic cohort that can consider news gathering in a Jewish way.  Its motto, found in Leviticus Chapter 19, verse 16, is You shall not go up and down as a talebearer among your people, neither shall you stand idly by the blood of your neighbor; I am the Lord.   Applying this in journalism means using both courage and restraint, knowing when to use which, and being able to channel curiosity into purpose.

Co-sponsors of the conference are the American Jewish Press Association and Shalhevet High School. For more information, please contact Joelle Keene at [email protected].

To register for the conference, please click here.