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Becoming Elijah: Prophet of Transformation

Hosted By: The Center for Jewish History

In the Bible, Elijah is a zealous prophet, attacking idolatry and injustice, championing God. He performs miracles, restoring life and calling down fire. When his earthly life ends, he vanishes in a whirlwind, carried off to heaven in a fiery chariot. Though residing in heaven, Elijah revisits earth—to help, rescue, enlighten, and eventually herald the Messiah.

How did this zealot turn into a compassionate hero, the most popular figure in Jewish folklore, invited into every Jewish home during the Passover Seder? In Becoming Elijah: Prophet of Transformation, his new biography in the Jewish Lives series at Yale University Press, author Daniel C. Matt explores this question, tracing how Elijah develops from the Bible to rabbinic Judaism, Kabbalah, and Jewish ritual (as well as Christianity and Islam). Dr. Matt will be in conversation with Dr. Barry W. Holtz, Theodore and Florence Baumritter Professor of Jewish Education at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

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Teachers

Daniel C. Matt

Daniel C. Matt is a teacher of Jewish spirituality and one of the world’s leading authorities on Kabbalah and the Zohar. He has been featured in Time and Newsweek and has appeared on National Public Radio and the History Channel. He has published over a dozen books, including The Essential Kabbalah (translated into eight languages), Zohar: Annotated and Explained, and God and the Big Bang: Discovering Harmony between Science and Spirituality (revised edition, 2016). Several years ago, Daniel completed an 18-year project of translating and annotating the Zohar. In 2016, Stanford University Press published his ninth volume of The Zohar: Pritzker Edition, concluding the Zohar’s main commentary on the Torah. For this work, Daniel has been honored with a National Jewish Book Award and a Koret Jewish Book Award. The Koret award hailed his translation as “a monumental contribution to the history of Jewish thought.” Daniel received his Ph.D. from Brandeis University and for twenty years served as professor at the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. He has also taught at Stanford University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Daniel lives in Berkeley with his wife Hana. Currently he is writing a biography of Elijah the Prophet for the Yale Jewish Lives series. He also teaches Zohar online.
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Host

The Center for Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History is home to the largest collection for Jewish History and culture held outside of Israel, and offers a wide range of learning opportunities to the public.
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