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Henry Goldschmidt, assistant professor of religion and society, joined the Religion Department in 2004.
 
Posted 03.31.05

Assistant Professor Studies Brooklyn Neighborhoods

Henry Goldschmidt joined the faculty in the Religion Department as an assistant professor of religion and society. Goldschmidt completed his undergraduate work at Wesleyan in 1991, and earned his Ph.D at the University of California Santa Cruz in 2000.

His dissertation, which he is currently revising for publication, focuses on Jewish identities and Black-Jewish differences in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Crown Heights, a neighborhood known for its history of conflict between Lubavitch Hasidic Jews and their predominantly Afro-Caribbean neighbors. The manuscript is titled “Race, Religion and Other Differences among the Chosen Peoples of Crown Heights.”

Goldschmidt, born and raised in Brooklyn, said his research in Crown Heights reflects an interest in the relationships between racial and religious identities, and, more broadly, in critical theories of collective identity.

“My work has been focused in Jewish studies and American religion, but I'm also very interested, to say the least, in Brooklyn,” he says. “I'm a Brooklynite and a Brooklynist. When I finish my research on Crown Heights, I'd like to do research with Jews and others who left Brooklyn in the 50s, 60s and 70s – the Brooklyn Diaspora.”

Goldschmidt says he wanted to return to his alma mater after receiving a “fabulous education” here as an undergraduate. The Religion Department also drew him back.

“The innovative and interdisciplinary religion department attracted me, which is built around the social and critical analysis of religion,” he says.

Last year, Goldschmidt co-edited a collection of essays with Elizabeth McAlister, associate professor of religion and African American studies, titled “Race, Nation and Religion in the Americas,” published by Oxford University Press in 2004. Another essay, titled "Food Fights: Contesting 'Cultural Diversity' in Crown Heights" was published in a collection of anthropological research on American politics called “Local Actions: Cultural Activism, Power and Public Life in America.”

Goldschmidt lives in Brooklyn with his wife Jillian Shagan and two cats, Junior and Cleo.

By Olivia Bartlett, The Wesleyan Connection editor