Penn Ph.D. Student Named Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations by American Jewish Committee

Ari Gordon

Ari Gordon, a graduate student in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations at Penn Arts and Sciences, has been named Director of U.S. Muslim-Jewish Relations for American Jewish Committee (AJC).

Gordon came to Penn to continue his studies in support of his work in interfaith relations. He previously worked at AJC in interreligious affairs from 2005-08 and 2010-11, and has recently served as an AJC Special Advisor for Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. He holds a B.A. in Philosophy from Yeshiva University and a Master of Theological Studies in Islamic Studies from Harvard Divinity School.

“Penn’s rich resources and incredibly supportive faculty made my experience here everything I wanted,” he says. “To be a Jew who has a deep knowledge and respect for Islamic culture and history opens conversations to me as a religious diplomat. I don’t think that our history our present, but it provides resources to imagine what it can be and how we can shape a shared future.”

Gordon defended his dissertation, “Sacred Orientation: the Qibla as Ritual, Metaphor, and Identity Marker in Early Islam,” in November 2018. The thesis explores geographic orientation for prayer in Islamic, Jewish, and Christian practice as a symbol of collective belonging in the late antique and medieval worlds. His advisor was Joseph Lowry, Associate Professor of Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Gordon will graduate in the spring of 2019.

"Ari Gordon combines a historian's view of Judaism and Islam with a modern passion for the American Muslim and Jewish contexts," said Rabbi Noam Marans, AJC Director of Interreligious and Intergroup Relations. "His return to AJC offers a bright future of continued stalwart leadership for our programs that advance and expand Muslim-Jewish understanding and cooperation in the U.S."


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