Orange County’s Community Scholar Program (CSP) will kick off its 15th annual, one-month scholar program on January 5, 2016. The scholar is Dr. Sharon Keller, who, in addition to being a native New Yorker, describes growing up in a Conservative “shul going, kosher keeping” household. Keller, who holds a Ph.D. from NYU, will present her scholar topic entitled, “Sex, Magic, and Death in the Bible and Its World.” In addition to being this year’s Community Scholar, she has been an Assistant Professor of Bible and Ancient Semitic Languages at The Jewish Theological Seminary and at Hebrew Union College; she has also held appointments at NYU, and New York City’s Hunter College, teaching biblical text courses and more general courses in biblical literature and history, as well as courses in art and archaeology of the lands of the Bible and the ancient Mediterranean world. She has written and edited numerous scholarly articles and academic books, most of which relate to the interplay between biblical Israel and ancient Egypt.
CSP is no stranger to Orange County or Jlife magazine. The program, having graced the cover of Jlife, and a popular topic for articles, has been providing compelling, provocative, and noteworthy speakers since 2002. In addition, the program has incorporated a week-long summer program that has brought popular speakers and musicians to Southern California, and includes a retreat for adults and children alike.
This year’s scholar will, no doubt, bring interesting and notable topics to light. This is Keller’s first visit to Orange County—a land far away for this Liberal Jew, born and raised in New York, and she is looking forward to the challenge of presenting discussions that are interesting and fun. “People learn better when they are having fun,” says Keller.
Keller teaches straight biblical text in its context. According to Keller, “The ancient texts have to be looked at from where they were. There is truth in the Bible that supersedes veracity. You see the larger picture, which allows you to see the text as it was, what it is, and what it can be.” Using the example of the biblical content referring to treatment of slaves, Keller reminded me that the Bible was not condoning we continue to have slaves. The interpretation relates to how we treat those who work for us. “The intention remains the same, but it applies to those who are reading [the text].”
Keller is looking forward to the variety of different activities and venues slated for her visit. Beginning January 5, 2016 and going almost daily through January 31, Keller will present at various venues across Southern California. From omens, to murder, to politics and sex, the topics are sure to keep those attending the scholar program rapt and intrigued.
For more information, please contact Orange County Community Scholar Program at: (949) 682-4040.
Lisa Grajewski, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist and adjunct Assistant Professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She has been a contributing writer for Jlife magazine since 2004.