Sarah Pessin

Sarah Pessin


Interfaith Chair

What I do

Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought, Interfaith Chair, Team Leader for DU's Religious Inclusivity Initiative, Chair of the Academic Planning Committee for Faculty Senate.


Philosophy, Religion, Judaic Studies

Professional Biography

Sarah Pessin is Professor of Philosophy and Jewish Thought in the Department of Philosophy and in the Center for Judaic Studies where she also serves as Interfaith Chair. She is currently the Director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Chair of the Faculty Senate's Academic Planning Committee. She has served as the Creative Director for the Holocaust Memorial Social Action Site project on campus, and serves as Team Leader for DU's Religious Inclusivity Initiative. Sarah works on various topics in the philosophy and phenomenology of religious and civic experience, the philosophy of race, Jewish and Islamic philosophy, Neoplatonisms, medieval philosophy, modern Jewish thought, and comparative philosophies of religion, including methodological questions about the study of texts across cultures. Sarah is active in interfaith and civic bridge-building and is interested in the nature of the sacred and its relation to inter-human engagement and response.

Visit Sarah's website at


  • Ph.D., Philosophy, The Ohio State University, 2000
  • MA, Philosophy, Columbia University, 1994
  • BA, Philosophy, Yeshiva University, Stern College, 1991

Media Sources


Sarah's current projects center on (1) philosophies and phenomenologies of alterity, exile, and "difficult hope," (2) Levinasian responsibility with implications for rethinking love, faith, hope, and forgiveness in contemporary American civics, and (3) Greek, Jewish, and Islamic Neoplatonic insights on goodness.
She is working on two book projects on "trembling, resignation & agency": One is a close study of early Levinas in terms of "Pausal Subjectivity"--an encounter with self through past, paradox & pardon. The 2nd, "Hate and Protect," is a series of essays exploring a Levinasian "Politics of Responsibility" through an applied American civic lens.

Areas of Research

judaic studies
religious studies
public good
race and racism
diversity and inclusion

Key Projects

  • Interfaith Youth Core

Featured Publications

Pessin, S. (2013). Ibn Gabirol's Theology of Desire: Matter and Method in Jewish Medieval Neoplatonism. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pessin, S. (2019). The Jewish Tradition. (B. Foltz, Ed.), Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader. London: Bloomsbury Academic.
Pessin, S. (2014). Islamic and Jewish Neoplatonisms. In P. Remes & S. Slaveva-Griffin (Eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Neoplatonism (pp. 541-58). Durham: Acumen Press/ Routledge.
Pessin, S. (2017). Khoric Apophasis: Matter and Messianicity in Islamo-Judeo-Greek Neoplatonism. In M. Fagenblat (Ed.), Negative Theology as Jewish Modernity. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.


Pessin, S. (2019). The Future and Past of Redemption and the Convergence of Sacred and Racist Exclusions: From Sartre to Levinas on Being Jewish. Diverse Lineages of Existentialism II: Critical Race, Feminist & Continental Philosophy conference. George Washington University, Washington, DC: North American Levinas Society .
Pessin, S. (2018). Past, Pause, Paradox, Pardon [and Method] in Early Levinas. Jewish Thought Workshop. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University.
Pessin, S. (2019). Powers and Receptivities in Ibn Gabirol and Maimonides. Conference for contributors to Oxford University Press volume on powers. Columbus, OH: Department of Philosophy, The Ohio State University.
Pessin, S., & Tuitt, F. (2018). Difficult Conversations: Race in the Classroom. ODI, OTL.