Sheila H. Katz, Ph.D, is the author of Connecting with the Enemy: a Century of Palestinian-Israeli Joint Nonviolence. She received a doctorate in Middle East History from Harvard University where she specialized in Palestinian-Israeli relations, organized programs on Middle Eastern women, and taught for eight years. Her first book, Women and Gender in Early Palestinian and Jewish Nationalism (University Press of Florida, 2003), investigates the origins of conflict through the transformation of gender and national identities during the first half of the 20th century. She has published numerous articles and reviews Kandiyoti’s, Gendering the Middle East, the Arab Studies Journal, the International Journal of Middle East Studies, the Middle East Journal, the Association of Middle Eastern Women’s Studies Newsletter, Harvard International Review, and Lilith Magazine. Dr. Katz lived in Jerusalem for six years where she founded one of the early feminist groups and a network for Palestinians and Israelis to confront tough issues together. She led workshops on inequality and becoming allies in Israel, Palestine, Cyprus, Northern Ireland, England, France, Sweden, Italy, Greece, and the U.S.
Dr. Katz is a Professor of Middle East History and Contemplative Studies in the multi-disciplinary Liberal Arts Department at Berklee College of Music in Boston where she teaches 21st-century musicians in courses that include Palestinian-Israeli Relations, cross-cultural history and practice of mindfulness meditation, and global perspectives on music and social change. Katz’s teaching emerges out of a curiosity about our interconnection with each other and all life, as well as the sources of conflict and inequality that divide us. She continually learns from her students who hail from over one hundred countries. Her extensive travels inform her teaching through encounters with the breathtaking beauty and heart-wrenching hardship in Ethiopia, Australia, Japan, Laos, Thailand, Israel, Palestine, Jordan, Egypt, Cyprus, Greece, Italy, Spain, France, Switzerland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Ireland, Mexico, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Galapagos, Peru, and Canada. Her students study history in ways that raise questions we face now, and explore contradictory realities, for example, how to take compassionate action despite our passions, hatreds, and delusions, and to navigate both our differences and our interconnection.
Sheila (aka “Yocheved”) is a student, practitioner, and teacher of mindfulness meditation.She co-founded Nishmat Hayyim (Breath of Life) Jewish Meditation Collective at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA where she co-leads weekly and monthly sits and annual retreats with Rabbi Moshe Waldoks (invited by Dalai Lama to dialogue in Dharamsala) and Dr. Roberta Isberg. She co-leads a 3-week silent retreat outside of DC with Rabbi Jeff Roth. Her meditation practice, rooted in Jewish and Buddhist teachings, arises out of a drive to address the roots of suffering and take compassionate action. Sheila has had the good fortune to sit in dozens of extended silent meditation retreats with remarkable teachers in diverse traditions including: Japanese Soto Zen Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village Monastery in France, Vipassana teachers Sylvia Boorstein, Joseph Goldstein, Akincano, and Sharon Salzberg at Insight Meditation Society and the Forest Refuge, and James Baraz, Carol Wilson, and Howard Cohn at Spirit Rock. She has studied contemplative Jewish practice with Shoshana Cooper and Rabbis: David Cooper, Alan Lew (z"l), Sheila Weinberg, Jeff Roth, Shefa Gold, James Maisel-Jacobsen, and Jonathan Slater.