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. Her practice is rooted in ancient and contemporary Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Sufi, secular, and scientific texts. She is one of the co-founding teachers of Nishmat Hayyim (Breath of Life) Jewish Mindfulness Meditation Center at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, MA. Sheila co-leads events with Rabbi Moshe Waldoks (invited by Dalai Lama to dialogue in Dharamsala) and Dr. Roberta Isberg that include weekly and monthly sits, bi-annual day-long retreats, and an annual weekend Shabbat retreat. She co-leads a 3-week silent retreat outside of DC with Rabbi Jeff Roth. Her practice and teachings integrate mind, heart, intellect, and spirit through silence and chant, cultivating “response-ability,” literally an ability to respond in fresh ways to the profound challenges in our daily lives and as humans together on this planet. Sheila has had the good fortune to sit in dozens of extended silent meditation retreats ranging from one week to one hundred days with remarkable teachers in diverse traditions including: Japanese Soto Zen Zoketsu Norman Fischer in Mexico and the U.S.; Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village Monastery in France and in the U.S.; Thai Forest Vipassana with Sylvia Boorstein, Joseph Goldstein, Akincano, and Sharon Salzberg at Insight Meditation Society and the Forest Refuge in Massachusetts; and with James Baraz, Carol Wilson, and Howard Cohn at Spirit Rock in California.