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Vanessa Ochs  

Author of "Inventing Jewish Ritual", Winner of 2007 National Jewish Book Award, Professor of Religious Studies at University of Virginia

Vanessa Ochs is a professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Jewish Studies Program at the University of Virginia. She is also a rabbi, ordained in 2012. In the summer of 2020, she was a faculty member for the Bronfman Youth Fellowship.

In her research and writing she investigates new ritual, feminism, and material culture in Jewish life and continues to expand her work on Jewish Sensibilities to include health care. Her many awards include a Creative Writing Fellowship by the National Endowment for the Arts. Her books include: The Passover Haggadah: A Biography (Princeton University Press, 2020), Inventing Jewish Ritual (winner of a 2007 National Jewish Book Award, Sarah Laughed, The Jewish Dream Book (with Elizabeth Ochs), Words on Fire, and Safe and Sound.

She lives in Charlottesville with her husband Peter Ochs; they have two grown daughters.

Speech Topics


Anthropology of Judaism

Women in Judaism

Material culture and the study of religions

New ritual

Healing in Jewish tradition

Literature of spiritual journeys

Research in new Jewish rituals

The Life of the Passover Haggadah

Resilience and Creativity: Jewish creative responses to the pandemic

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