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Steven Kepnes announced as new director of Chapel House

By Matt Hames on October 23, 2013
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Steven Kepnes

Steven Kepnes is the new director of Chapel House and director of the Fund for the Study of the Great Religions.

Provost and Dean of the Faculty Douglas Hicks named Steven Kepnes the new director of Chapel House and director of the Fund for the Study of the Great Religions.

“Steven has been serving in an interim capacity in these roles since July 1, and I am grateful to him for his willingness to take on this good work in a more permanent way,” said Hicks.

Hicks said that Kepnes brings a broad array of experience that prepares him to serve these highly regarded Colgate institutions. He is a longtime member of the Department of Religion and Jewish Studies Program, which he helped found.

He is a renowned scholar in his fields, which include Jewish philosophy, theology, and ethics; biblical and rabbinic hermeneutics; Holocaust and genocide studies; and interreligious scriptural and liturgical reasoning.

Through his writing and teaching Kepnes has shown a deep appreciation for religious and spiritual practices, including contemplation, said Hicks. His local, national, and international efforts in the “Scriptural Reasoning” movement have given him prominence in inter-religious dialogue and encounter.

In addition to these appointments as director of Chapel House and the Fund for the Great Religions, which are effective immediately, Kepnes will be named professor of the study of world religions, and professor of religion and Jewish studies, pending approval by Colgate’s Board of Trustees at its January meeting. Since 2001 Kepnes has held the Finard Chair in Jewish studies, and he will move out of that chair in order to take on this professorship in world religious traditions.

Kepnes joined the Colgate philosophy and religion faculty in 1988, following degrees from Hobart and William Smith Colleges (BA) and the University of Chicago (MA, PhD). He has served as chair of the religion department, director of the Jewish studies program, chair of Core 151, and as director of extended study groups to Israel. He is the author of many journal articles, most recently “Holiness as the Unique Form of Jewish Spirituality,” in Conversations: Journal of Jewish Ideas and Ideals. His recent books include The Future of Jewish Theology (Wiley-Blackwell), Jewish Liturgical Reasoning (Oxford University Press) and, edited with Basit Koshul, Studying the “Other,” Understanding the “Self”: Scripture, Reason and the Contemporary Islam-West Encounter (Palgrave Macmillan).

Below is a photo slideshow of Chapel House.

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