My research focuses on Indo-Judaic studies, an area that I helped to pioneer. I am interested in the interactions and affinities between Indic and Judaic civilizations. I have written books about Jewish communities in India, and articles about ancient world links between India and Israel, comparisons of themes within Judaism on the one hand and Hinduism, Buddhism or Jainism on the other, as well as about Hindu-Jewish and Buddhist-Jewish dialogue. In 1990 I was invited to join a delegation of eight scholars and rabbis who met with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his palace in Dharamsala, India for extensive Jewish-Tibetan dialogue, and in 2009 I addressed the first quasi-official dialogue meeting held in the west between swamis and rabbis.
My interest is based both in my training and my own personal journey. I have spent many years in South Asia (India, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan, Nepal) and was trained in the classical thought and languages of the subcontinent. I have written a number of books and articles about Indo-Tibetan religions, both in South Asia and in the diaspora. Since I have a strong Judaic background, combining the two was a natural for me.
Some years ago I started FIU’s unique Program in the Study of Spirituality. As well as bringing some of the world’s greatest practitioners and scholars of spirituality to speak at FIU, we have the world’s only undergraduate program in the study of spirituality.
At FIU I teach specialized courses about the Religions of India – a variety of undergraduate and graduate offerings on the texts and histories of Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism, as well as about the Jews of Asia. I teach World Religions, and on occasion the methods seminar. I have just developed a new course, “Contemporary Global Spirituality,” that investigates the relationship between spirituality and the professions, such as health care, business and entrepreneurship, education, the arts, military sciences, psychology, and so on.
In 2010 I was named the Bhagwan Mahavir Professor of Jain Studies, and will be developing courses, lectures, and exchange programs in this exciting area.
I have been very involved in FIU's programs in Asian Studies and Jewish Studies, and have taught in the College of Business (as the Kauffman Professor of Entrepreneurship, 2009-2010) and the College of Medicine.