Telephone: (617) 495-5986
Address: Harvard Chaplains Office, The Memorial Church, Harvard Yard, Cambridge, MA 02138
Greg grew up in Flushing, Queens, New York, “the most diverse neighborhood in the most diverse borough in the most diverse city on the planet,” as an assimilated and disinterested Reform Jew. He studied Buddhism and Taoism while at Stuyvesant High School in New York City, and in college went to Taiwan for a semester aiming to study Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism in its original language and context. Finding that Eastern religions do not necessarily have greater access to truth than Western ones, he returned to the U.S., shifted his focus to rock music, recording and singing professionally for a year after college. Soon thereafter, he learned of the movement of Humanism and the possibility of a career as a Humanist rabbi and chaplain.
In 2005, Greg received ordination as a Humanist Rabbi from the International Institute for Secular Humanistic Judaism, where he studied in Jerusalem and Michigan for five years. He holds a BA (Religion and Chinese) and an MA (Judaic Studies) from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and a Masters of Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School.
Epstein was the primary organizer of “The New Humanism,” an international conference in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Humanist Chaplaincy at Harvard, which drew one of the largest and most diverse audiences of any Humanist gathering in North American history. He blogs for Newsweek and The Washington Post. He is an adviser to two student groups, the Harvard Secular Society, the Harvard Interfaith Council, and to the Harvard Humanist Graduate Community. He also chairs the Academic Advisory Board of the national umbrella organization the Secular Student Alliance, joining such renowned nonbelievers as Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens.
Greg posts updates and more information about him on Facebook.
Listen to "Alyssa," a song Epstein wrote, sang, and recorded with his former band, "Sugar Pill"
"Alyssa" is a ballad about a young woman whose high school best friend died of AIDS after contracting HIV from a blood transfusion. As part of the process of mourning for him, she chose to become a counselor for HIV-positive children from poor and homeless families. Based on a true (and quintessentially Humanistic) story, the sad but uplifting lyrical style typifies Epstein's songwriting work on two popular albums: "Hope Remote" (1999) and "All the Stars" (2000), that Sugar Pill released for now-defunct indie label GhostModern Records.