Dr. Ruth Illman is Docent (associate professor) of comparative religion at Åbo Akademi University and of history of religions at Uppsala University. She is currently Director of the Donner Institute for Research in Religious and Cultural History in Turku, Finland. Together with Dr. Karin Hedner Zetterholm she is the editor of the open access peer-review journal Scandinavian Jewish Studies. She has published more than thirty peer-review articles in journals such as Contemporary Jewry, Temenos: Nordic Journal of Comparative Religion and Journal of Contemporary Religion as well as monographs and edited volumes with Routledge, Brill and Equinox. Her most recent work is Music and Religious Change among Progressive Jews in London: Being Liberal and Doing (Lexington Publications, 2018).
From piyyutim to zemirot to Yeshiva acapella groups in the United States, the use of music in the Jewish faith is numerous and varied. In this interview, Breann Fallon of the Sydney Jewish Museum chats to Dr Ruth Illman of Åbo Akademi University and Uppsala Universityi n about her research on the role of music as an agent of change within the progressive Jewish community in London that appears in her most recent monograph Music and Religious Change among Progressive Jews in London: Being Liberal and Doing Traditional. In particular, Dr Illman discusses the power of music to fuse the traditional and the liberal in a forward movement of progressive Judaism.