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Goshen-Gottstein is the son of Moshe Goshen-Gottstein – a professor of Jewish studies, linguist, Bible scholar, and theologian – and Esther Goshen-Gottstein, a clinical psychologist. The Jerusalem home in which Goshen-Gottstein grew up was open to students of various religions, as well as to visiting clergy. Coupled with extensive travel in early childhood, Goshen-Gottstein was raised to have an open and expansive perspective on the world, seen through the lens of academia.
Goshen-Gottstein's underwent religious training and was ordained a rabbi 1978. For the following thirty years he served as a reserve chaplain in the Israeli army, but he has never practiced as a communal rabbi.
Goshen-Gottstein attended Hebrew University of Jerusalem with a concentration in the fields of Talmud and Jewish Thought. He received a Ph.D. in 1986; his thesis was on the subject "God and Israel as Father and Son in Tannaitic Literature." His specialization in rabbinic theology, of the literature of Talmud and Midrash, made him one of the few experts in the Jewish theology of that period. He has taught at a variety of Israeli universities and published extensively in this field.
For a decade Goshen-Gottstein was a member of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Advanced Studies. Here, he engaged with contemporary existential issues and became versed in public interfaith conversations, for which he was in charge for several years on behalf of the Hartman Institute.
Besides his academic training, Goshen-Gottstein has drawn from other Jewish and non-Jewish resources. He is affiliated with several hassidic communities and has been deeply influenced by hassidic teaching and spirituality.
Goshen-Gottstein's spiritual education has included formative relations with non-Jewish spiritual masters and in–depth relations with a broad range of Christian monastic communities. He has shared in the spiritual lives of Christian and Hindu communities and enjoyed the friendship, wisdom, and counsel of teachers from the Buddhist and Muslim traditions. There is probably no other Orthodox Rabbi who has such inside knowledge of the life, thought and spirituality of so many diverse religious communities.
Goshen-Gottstein has eighty publications (books and articles), concentrated in three main areas: Rabbinic theology, Jewish thought, and spirituality and interfaith relations. As a consequence of his work with the Elijah Interfaith Institute, his later writing has concentrated more in the third category. He is a much sought after lecturer and writer.
While most of his energies are invested in developing the Elijah Interfaith Institute, he maintains his interest and creative work in the field of Rabbinic Thought. He has, for the past decade, been the director of the Institute for the Study of Rabbinic Thought at Bet Morasha, a small seminary-type college in Jerusalem.
Goshen-Gottstein's two sons, Elisha and Nerya, follow in his footsteps in the pursuit of religious knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and an expansive worldview.
Alongside his classical academic work, Goshen-Gottstein is also a singer. His work has been released on the Italian label Amiata Records.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2000). The Sinner and the Amnesiac: The Rabbinic Invention of Elisha ben Abuya and Eleazar ben Arach. Palo Alto: Stanford University Press. ISBN 978-0-8047-3387-8. Retrieved April 2011.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (2004). "Beside Still Waters: Jews, Christians and the Way of the Buddha (review)". Buddhist-Christian Studies (University of Hawai'i Press) 24: 259–262. doi:10.1353/bcs.2005.0010. ISSN 1527-9472. Retrieved April 2011.
- Goshen-Gottstein, Alon (April 1994). "The Body as Image of God in Rabbinic Literature". Harvard Theological Review (Cambridge University Press on behalf of the Harvard Divinity School) 87 (2): 171–195. doi:10.1017/s0017816000032776. JSTOR 1510120.