Jay Michaelson

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Jay Michaelson (born May, 1971) is a writer and LGBT activist in the USA who writes on spirituality, Judaism, sexuality, and law.[1] Michaelson is legal affairs and religion columnist at The Daily Beast[2] and a contributing editor to The Forward,[3] newspaper. Michaelson has twice won the New York Society for Professional Journalists award for opinion writing, most recently in 2014.[4]

Legal and political writing[edit]

Michaelson graduated Yale Law School in 1997. His 1998 Stanford Environmental Law Journal article[5][6] on geoengineering and climate change was described as "seminal" by Salon Magazine[7] and he is regarded as an early advocate of the policy.[8] Other legal academic work was published in the Yale Law Journal[9] and Duke Law Journal.[10]

Since 2004, Michaelson's legal and political writing has focused on religion, progressive politics, and LGBT issues. In 2009, his essay entitled "How I'm Losing My Love for Israel" generated substantial controversy in the Jewish world, including responses [11] from Daniel Gordis,[12] and Jonathan Sarna,.[13] His recent work has been featured on MSNBC ("Gays under attack over Ebola")[14] and Meet the Press ("Prayer breakfast dispute").[15] As a result, Michaelson was listed in the Forward 50 list of the most influential American Jews in 2009.

In 2013, Michaelson wrote a long-form report on the religious exemptions movement, Redefining Religious Liberty: The Covert Campaign Against Civil Rights..[16] Michaelson's work on this issue gained prominence a year later after the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court case.[17] Since then he has appeared on NPR[18] and at the Newseum[19] and written many articles on religious liberty in Reuters,[20] The Washington Post[21] and other publications.

In 2014, Michaelson co-founded a project at The Daily Beast entitled Quorum: Global LGBT Voices, which features TED-style talks by LGBT leaders from the Global South.[22] And in 2015, Michaelson began a series of articles for The Daily Beast on prosecutorial misconduct.[23] He has also written controversial articles on abortion, including one in the Washington Post claiming that Planned Parenthood is "doing God's work."[24]

Religious work[edit]

In addition to his political writing, Michaelson is also a rabbi and a teacher of jhana meditation in the Theravadan Buddhist lineage of Ayya Khema and Michaelson's teacher Leigh Brasington.[25] Michaelson has written several books on meditation and contemporary culture.[26] Michaelson holds a Ph.D. in Jewish Thought from Hebrew University, and was ordained as a rabbi in 2013.

Michaelson is Jewish and openly gay and often works in the intersecting fields of LGBT people and Jewish traditions.[27] Michaelson was called one of the "Most Inspiring LGBT Religious Leaders" in 2011 by the Huffington Post[28] and one of "Our Religious" Allies by the LGBT newspaper The Advocate.[29] He founded Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture in 2002 and Nehirim, an LGBT Jewish organization, in 2004. His 2009 book God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality was an Amazon bestseller, and Michaelson spoke at over 100 places of worship during the debates about same-sex marriage.

Michaelson is an affiliated assistant professor at Chicago Theological Seminary. He previously held teaching positions at Boston University and Yale University.


God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice.[30] Michaelson's first book discusses an embodied path to spirituality, culling from mystical and traditional Jewish traditions, as well as Buddhism and meditation.[31]

Another Word for Sky is a book of poetry.[32] One reviewer stated that "Michaelson sustains an intimate tonality that frames even obtuse sketches of people and place, but always with economy and concrete imagery."[33]

Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism. his third book is a work about nondualism and mystical Judaism.[34]

God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality. his fourth book argues that the preponderance of Christian and Jewish values support, rather than oppose, full equality for LGBT persons.[35] It was an Amazon.com bestseller and finalist for a 2012 Lambda Literary Award.[36]

Evolving Dharma: Meditation, Buddhism, and the Next Generation of Enlightenment, his fifth book, is about the ways in which Buddhist meditation have entered the American mainstream.[37]

The Gate of Tears: Sadness and the Spiritual Path, is about the place of sadness in Buddhist and Jewish spirituality.[38]


Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture. Michaelson was the founding editor of Zeek[39] which he founded in 2002. It ceased operations in 2015.

Nehirim. Nehirim[40] was a national LGBT Jewish organization Michaelson founded in 2004.[41] It disbanded in late 2015, stating that a variety of new LGBT Jewish groups were now meeting the needs that Nehirim had been created to fill.


  1. ^ Jay Michaelson.net
  2. ^ The Daily Beast, Jay Michaelson
  3. ^ Forward, Jay Michaelson
  4. ^ Deadline Club, September 26, 2014
  5. ^ http://elj.stanford.edu/elj/public/archives/author.shtml#m Stanford Environmental Law Journal
  6. ^ Online : http://www.metatronics.net/lit/geo2.html
  7. ^ Salon Magazine, April 2, 2008
  8. ^ Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2009
  9. ^ Jay Michaelson, Redefining Regulatory Reform: Toxics, Politics, and Ethics. Yale Law Journal, Vol. 105, Issue 7
  10. ^ Jay Michaelson, On Listening to the Kulturkampf: How America Overruled Bowers v. Hardwick, Even Though Romer v. Evans Didn't. Duke Law Review, Vol. 49, Issue 6
  11. ^ Forward, October 21, 2009
  12. ^ Forward, October 12, 2009
  13. ^ Forward, October 9, 2009
  14. ^ MSNBC, November 3, 2014
  15. ^ Meet The Press, February 4, 2014
  16. ^ Jay Michaelson, Redefining Religious Liberty, Political Research Associates, 2013
  17. ^ Reuters, March 24, 2014
  18. ^ All Things Considered, February 25, 2014
  19. ^ Gay Rights and Religious Freedom: Is Common Ground Possible?
  20. ^ Reuters, June 30, 2014
  21. ^ Washington Post, April 6, 2015
  22. ^ Quorum: Global LGBT Voices
  23. ^ The Daily Beast, September 28, 2015
  24. ^ Washington Post, July 24, 2015
  25. ^ Leigh Brasington Website
  26. ^ Wired, June 2013
  27. ^ Rock, Ben (May 1, 2012). "'God vs. Gay?' author comes to Nashville". Out & About Newspaper. Retrieved 21 August 2012. 
  28. ^ Huffington Post, October 20, 2011
  29. ^ Advocate, April 6, 2012
  30. ^ God in Your Body: Kabbalah, Mindfulness, and Embodied Spiritual Practice
  31. ^ Publishers Weekly, September 26, 2007
  32. ^ Another Word for Sky: Poems
  33. ^ Edge Magazine, April 19, 2008
  34. ^ Everything is God: The Radical Path of Nondual Judaism
  35. ^ God vs. Gay? The Religious Case for Equality
  36. ^ Lambda Literary Awards, 2012
  37. ^ Patheos, March 11, 2014
  38. ^ Jewish Book Council, "The Gate of Tears"
  39. ^ Zeek: A Jewish Journal of Thought and Culture (website)
  40. ^ Nehirim (website)
  41. ^ Time Out New York, October 18, 2007