NATHAN KATZ is Distinguished Professor, Emeritus, in the School of International and Public Affairs, Emeritus, at Florida International University (FIU). He was the Founding Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, the Bhagwan Mahavir Professor of Jain Studies, the Kaufmann Professor of Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration, an affiliated faculty in the College of Medicine, Director of Jewish Studies, and founder and director emeritus of the innovative Program in the Study of Spirituality. He is also the co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies.
Katz is the author of fifteen books and more than one hundred scholarly and popular articles. He has won four Fulbright awards for research and teaching in South Asia, where he has lived for more than seven years. The Florida Humanities Council has named him a “Master Teacher” an unprecedented twelve times, and in 1994 his classroom excellence was recognized with a Florida State University System Teaching Incentive Program award. In 1999 he won the President’s Award for Achievement and Excellence, the most prestigious distinction awarded by FIU. His Who Are the Jews of India? was a Finalist for the 2000 National Jewish Book Award in Sephardic Studies and also earned the 2004 Vak Devi Saraswati Saman Award from India.
Katz came to FIU in 1994 and was responsible for the visits of His Holiness the Dalai Lama to FIU in 1999, 2004 and 2010, as well as honorary doctorate awards to Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz and Professor Hans Küng. He came to FIU after ten years at the University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, where he was Professor and Graduate Program Director of Religious Studies, Director of the South Asian Studies Program, Director of the Judaic Studies Program, and Vice-Chair of the University Graduate Council. He was named USF’s Scholar-of-the-Year in 1990.
Katz previously served on the faculties of Williams College in Massachusetts and Naropa University in Colorado. Before earning his Ph.D. with distinction at Temple University, he spent two years with the U.S. Information Agency in Kabul, Afghanistan. More recently, he was Visiting Scholar in the Centre for Historical Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi, and Visiting Scholar at the David Hartman Institute, Jerusalem.
Katz’s research spans the religious traditions of South Asia and focuses on Indo-Judaic Studies. He has written or edited fifteen books about Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. His books include a memoir, Spiritual Journey Home: Eastern Mysticism to the Western Wall (2009), Who Are the Jews of India? (2000), which was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award, The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (co-author, 1993), Ethnic Conflict in Buddhist Societies: Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma (co-author, 1988), and Buddhist Images of Human Perfection (1982).
Katz is editor of an academic journal devoted to exploring the interactions and affinities between Indian and Jewish civilizations, Indo-Judaic Studies. He has been a pioneer in establishing dialogues between Jews and Hindus and Buddhists, on international and local levels. In 1990 he was invited to participate in the historic Tibetan-Jewish dialogue, hosted by the Dalai Lama at his palace in Dharamsala, India. He was a featured character in Rodger Kamenetz’s bestseller, The Jew in the Lotus, and he made an appearance in the film of the same title. He was engaged with a series of “Hindu-Jewish Summits,” 2007-2012, and has spoken about the Jain and Jewish communities in North America for JAINA. He organized a program series on “Muslim-Jewish Relations” at the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU in 2013, and is featured in the documentary film, “Is There Room at the Inn? Muslims, Jews and the Holy Land” (Red Lotus Films, 2015).
Katz has lectured at universities and other academic institutions around the world, including Oxford University, Southern Methodist University, Manhattan College, University of Vienna, Hebrew University, Yakar Institute (Jerusalem), Benares Hindu University, Chulalongkorn University (Bangkok), Peradeniya University (Sri Lanka), University of Strasburg, Harvard, Columbia, Penn State, University of Washington, Amherst College, the Royal Nepal Academy, Jawaharlal Nehru University (India), College of William and Mary, Trinity College, University of Florida, Judah L. Magnes Museum (Berkeley), Newark Museum, Tampa Museum of Art, University of Kansas, University of Pittsburgh, University of Saskatchewan, Institut Monumenta Serica (Germany), the East-West Center (Honolulu), University of Denver, University of Cincinnati, Florida Atlantic University, University of Miami, University of California at Santa Barbara, University of Maine, Indian Institute of Technology – Jodhpur, and the Indira Gandhi International Centre for the Arts (India).
Katz is currently leading a multi-year, international research project on the impact of “New Age” spiritualities, especially those of Indian origin, on the American Jewish community and on the State of Israel. The project is housed at the Van Leer Institute-Jerusalem and FIU. He also serves on the Board of Sivananda Yoga Ashram Bahamas, where he coordinates symposia on interfaith, spiritual themes.