Meet Some of Our Graduate Students
Chris Anderson is interested in the intellectual, cultural, and social history of the ancient Near East as it is reflected in both texts and archaeology. Within this wide field, his research interests include Akkadian language and literature, the various influences of Neo-Assyrian imperialism on ancient Israel and the development of biblical literature. He is also interested in the formation, reception, and interpretation of the Hebrew Bible, especially Pentateuchal theory. He holds a MA and a MDiv from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary.
Joshua Beaumont, from the Chicagoland area, holds a BA in Theology from Gordon College, and studied Philosophy at Northern Illinois University. A second year masters student, Josh studies the twin streams of mysticism and rationalism in the tradition of Jewish thought, with special emphasis on the interplay between secularization and theology.
Rachel Bernstein received her B.A. in Jewish Studies from the University of Virginia and her M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Women and Gender Studies from Brandeis University. As a PhD student, Rachel's research interests include emerging adulthood and Jewish young professionals, Jewish culture and the arts, and gender and sexuality. Rachel has worked as a research assistant on projects examining new Jewish leadership, Jewish education, and gender and American Jewish families.
Ira Blum (MA/MA) earned a BA in Religion Studies at Muhlenberg College and is very proud to be a part of the Brandeis-Hornstein community. Born and raised outside of Philadelphia, Ira has worked in a variety of Jewish educational capacities, including teaching at religious and Hebrew school programs, participating on the executive board of his college Hillel, and as staff at Camp Ramah in the Poconos. Before enrolling at Brandeis, Ira staffed Kivunim: New Directions, a gap year program for North American high school graduates, who studied co-existence and world Jewry in Jerusalem, and then visited ten countries over the course of ten months. Most recently he served as Rosh Edah, or unit head for children entering 4th and 5th grades at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and then facilitated prayer experiences for families raising children with special needs at Tikvah Family Camp. He looks forward to increasing his learning of experiential Jewish educational models and strategies, as well as studying topics of Jewish identity among a cohort of current and future Jewish leaders.
Bronson Brown-deVost comes from a background in Classical languages (BA, Loyola Marymount University) and began his graduate career in Bible/Northwst Semitic Languages (MA, the Catholic University of America). He is currently working towards his PhD in Bible and the Ancient Near East, is finishing comprehensive examinations, and preparing for his dissertation. He currently teaches Biblical Hebrew for adult learners in the Ivrit Lakol program and has taught courses in Akkadian language at Brandeis. Classical studies, however, still hold relevance for him and he continues to work as a private teacher of Greek and Latin. His interests are primarily philological in the broadest sense encompassing both text and language. This involves everything from the development of literary traditions through time and the importation and adaptation literary forms and traditions across cultural boundaries to the evolutionary development of languages themselves. Currently he is spending a lot of time thinking about ancient attitudes towards texts of various genres and in different social settings.
Jamie Bryson is currently a PhD student in Bible and Ancient Near East at Brandeis. His main research interest is in the Hebrew Bible, and particularly the Pentateuch. Originally from South Carolina, he attended the University of South Carolina receiving a Bachelor of Arts in Speech. After college, Bryson went to Seminary at Columbia International University, where he received a Master of Divinity. While in Seminary he had the opportunity to study in Israel, an experience which propelled him to pursue further graduate studies in the Hebrew Bible at Brandeis, where he completed a Master of Arts in Bible and Ancient Near East in 2011.
Zeynep Civcik, Schusterman Scholar, is a NEJS Ph.D. student. In 2003-2004 Zeynep conducted a research project at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University and wrote a thesis about the changes and continuities of Israeli security policy. For her dissertation, she is undertaking a comparative study of the role of the military in the foreign policies of Turkey and Israel.
Joshua Cypress received his B.A. in anthropology from Princeton University and his M.A. in philosophy from Yeshiva University. Josh's focus is in modern Jewish sociology. In 1996, he received a Wexner Graduate Fellowship for rabbinic ordination and worked as an Orthodox pulpit rabbi for nine years in New York and New Haven, Connecticut. He is now a NEJS PhD student.
Molly Elizabeth DeMarco is a Ph.D. candidate in Bible and Ancient Near East. She received her B.A. in Philosophy at Rhode Island College in 2005 and her M.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis in 2007. She is currently working on her dissertation which explores the literary correspondences between the Priestly and non-Priestly narratives in the Pentateuch. One of her primary concerns is to situate the Hebrew Bible in its broader ancient Near Eastern context.
Adam Eisler is an M.A. student focusing on the modern Middle East and Israel. Born in Ramat Gan, Israel, Adam moved to New Haven, Connecticut at a young age. Before attending Brandeis, Adam studied at the University of Connecticut and Tel Aviv University where he contributed writings to the UConn Free-Press and Namaste Human Rights Journal. His current research focuses on Israeli war commemoration and national memory.
Zev Eleff is a NEJS doctoral student studying American Jewish history. His scholarly focus is the Europeanization of American Judaism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. A Wexner Fellow-Davidson Scholar, Eleff received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. He has produced several books, as author of Living From Convention to Convention: A History of the NCSY, 1954-1980 (2009) and editor of Mentor of Generations: Reflections on Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik (2008). His scholarly articles have appeared in the Journal of American Academy of Religion, American Jewish Archives Journal, Modern Judaism, and Tradition.
Lucia Finotto came to Brandeis after several years of professional experience as a translator in Milan, Italy. Her doctoral studies are in Medieval Sephardic Judaism and Medieval Islam with a focus on the Jews of the medieval kingdom of Sicily. Her dissertation work examines the role of Jewish translators of 13th and 14th-century Sicily in the transmission of Islamic scientific and philosophical texts to pre-modern Europe. Besides her native Italian, Lucia's languages include Arabic, Hebrew, French and Latin.
Eva Gurevich is an M.A. student at NEJS. Her interests include the aesthetics of Israeli and Palestinian geopolitics, with a special focus on art and its representation of land relations. Other related interests include aesthetics of Zionist environmental design as well as cartography. She holds a BFA in Photography from the San Francisco Art Institute, and has worked in several Jewish museum and art institutions including The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life at University of California, Berkeley.
Eric Harvey is a PhD student, focusing on Bible and the Ancient Near East. He holds a BA in Psychology from Colorado State University, an MA in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Languages from Fuller Seminary, and an MA from Brandeis. He is primarily interested in the historical development of religious and cultural thought and literature throughout the cultures of the ancient Near East. More specifically, he is interested in mythological literature, the mythological background of the Hebrew Bible, and the reuse, reformulation, and transformation of texts and traditions over time.
David Harris is an MA student focusing on the Bible and the Ancient Near East. He received his BA in Near Eastern Studies from The Johns Hopkins University and is very proud to be part of NEJS and the Brandeis community. His interests are varied, but is primarily interested in biblical exegesis and criticism, Semitic philology, Israelite religions (and the relatedness of Israelite religious practices with the broader Near East as well as the Mediterranean world) and textual criticism. David enjoys cooking, playing poker and chess, and is a movie buff (he recently acquired a love of Israeli films). In addition to studying ancient Semitics, David recently began studying Modern Hebrew this past summer at Middlebury College and plans to continue his study of the language at Brandeis.
Alexandra Tali Herzog received two MA degrees (one in French Literature and one in English Literature with a specialization in American Cultural Studies) from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. She is now a PhD candidate in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies where she received a joint MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Womens and Gender Studies in 2007. Her main areas of interest are Modern Jewish Literature and Culture, Yiddish literature and Comparative Literature (French, English, German and Yiddish). She is currently working on her dissertation on the Yiddish writer Isaac Bashevis Singer.
Sara Kirsh graduated last Spring from Michigan State University with a degree in International Relations and Jewish Studies. She is currently a first year masters student in the NEJS program, where she concentrates on politics in the Middle East, Israeli nuclear posture, and Zionism's impact on Israeli foreign policy.
Susanna Klosko, Schusterman Scholar, began her doctoral studies at Brandeis in the Fall of 2009. She received undergraduate degree at the College of William and Mary, studying history and Russian Studies. At Brandeis she is a Schusterman scholar in the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. Her interest is in Zionism and in the Yishuv. For her dissertation she will focus on the lived experiences of those Russian Jews who migrated to Ottoman Palestine between the years 1880-1920.Ira Krakhman, BGI Fellow, is an MA student in NEJS and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Program. Before coming to Brandeis, she worked as a coordinator for a fundraising and development team at the Jewish Agency for Israel. Previously, she partnered with the Jewish Agency emissary to the Bay Area Russian Jews, laying foundations for communal engagement and stewardship among her Russian Jewish peers – a charismatic community known as Mishmash. For the past two years, as both professional and volunteer, she has taken great interest in the program's strategic development. Ira's vision is to see the Bay Area Russian Jewish community raise its unique presence through grass-roots innovation and creative engagement of local resources, including local funding sources.
Hannah Levinger received her BA in Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies and English Literature from Brandeis University. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with High Honors on her Islamic Studies thesis. She studied abroad in Rabat, Morocco for part of her junior year. Her area of interest is the philosophical and religious similarities between the three main monotheistic religions. Hannah is also the Brandeis Novice Crew Coach.
Celene Ayat Lizzio is pursuing a PhD in Arab and Islamic Civilizations. She has written over twenty articles, book chapters, and encyclopedia entries exploring Muslim family law, Muslim feminist theology and women’s religious leadership, among other topics. Her current research explores ritual, sacred healing, and wellness practices in Shadhiliyya Sufi communities in North America. Ms. Lizzio is also lecturer on Islam, gender, and interfaith relations at Merrimack College, where she serves as an advisor to the Center for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations. She holds a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School and a bachelor’s degree in Near Eastern Studies with highest honors from Princeton University.
Orah Minder graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2006 with a dual major in English and religion. She then went on to pursue a Masters of Education at Lesley University. She taught for four years at the South Area Solomon Schechter Day School, now Kehillah Schechter Academy. She spent four summers at Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English and completed her Masters of English there in August of 2010. Orah will be studying English education in the Jewish day school here at Brandeis. She is specifically interested in how Jewish day schools teach Jewish American literature and how such texts impact the formation of a Jewish American identity in day school students.
James D. Moore is a Ph.D. student in Bible and ancient Near Eastern Studies. He is primarily interested in literary, historical, and comparative approaches to ancient Near Eastern texts. He has written a Brandeis Master's Thesis on scribal culture and the invention of religious texts in the ancient Near East and the Hebrew Bible. Before attending Brandeis, he wrote a Master's Thesis on wordplays in Biblical Hebrew at Vanguard University of Southern California where he also took a B.A. in religion. He has read papers at West Coast and New England regional SBL meetings––at one of which winning best student paper. He has also read papers at national SBL meetings on topics including: North West Semitic grammar, Israelite scribal culture, and the Syriac Version of Leviticus.
Ari Moshkovski, Schusterman Scholar, is a PhD student focusing on the history and politics of Israel and the contemporary Middle East. Ari holds a B.A. (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) in Jewish Studies and Political Science, and an M.A. in History from Queens College, CUNY. At Queens College, he engaged in extensive research and curriculum development on Israel and the Middle East as part of a project funded by the Clinton Global Initiative and the Ford Foundation. He was also a co-founder of the Queens College Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding under a grant from the United States Department of Education. Ari's research interests include Israeli foreign affairs and security policy, Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, and the evolution of religious nationalisms among Jews and Arabs.
Golan Moskowitz, a NEJS doctoral student, is interested in the emergence of the modern (and postmodern) Jewish self and its relationship to gendered climates in Europe, the U.S., and the Middle East. He hopes to further investigate Jewish positioning and self-narration as they intersect with "problems" of gender, power, diaspora, and individual marginalization in the literatures, art, cultures, and social histories of modern and contemporary Jewry. A writer with a BA in studio art, Golan has authored a short graphic memoir and aspires to create graphic texts in addition to works of traditional scholarship. He also serves as an editorial assistant at the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry.
Hussein Mostafa, Schusterman Scholar, is a NEJS Ph.D. student. Having received an MA degree from Al Azhar University in Cairo, in Islamic Studies in Israel, Hussein intends to broaden the outlook on Islamic Scholarly works conducted by Israeli scholars and on their connection to the Western oriental studies carried out by Jewish researchers. Aside from his native Arabic language - colloquial Egyptian and Classical Arabic - Hussein speaks Hebrew and German.
Jason Olson, Schusterman Scholar and NEJS Ph.D. student completed his undergraduate degree (cum laude) in Hebrew Bible, and is planning to build on that knowledge by studying how religious Zionism affects politics in Israel and the greater Middle East. He is particularly interested in the development of the US-Israel military alliance.
Lenny Prado is a Ph.D. student focusing on Bible and Ancient Near East. He is married and has two beautiful children. His primary research interests include such topics as the composition and compilation of the Torah; development of Israelite Religion (e.g., representation of deities, portrayals of human/divine interaction, cultic ritual practices); scribes and scribal culture in the ancient Near East; and Oral Tradition and Memory. When he is not spending time with his family or hitting the books, you can find him rooting for New York sports teams, especially the Yankees and the Knicks.
Shay Rabineau, Schusterman Scholar, is a NEJS Ph.D. student whose doctoral studies are on the modern Middle East with a focus on Israel. He is a National Merit Scholar and award-winning writer, proficient in both Hebrew and Arabic. He is spending the 2011-12 academic year in Israel researching the Israel trail network.
Nate Ramsayer, a first-year M.A. student in NEJS, hails from the gorgeous (but cold!) land of northern Minnesota. He holds a B.A. in Religious Studies from the University of Minnesota, with a focus in Hebrew Bible. For several years Nate has been a frequent guest lecturer at various venues in MN, ND, and MA, opening up the fascinating fundamentals of biblical scholarship to the wider public. His research interests include source criticism of the Torah, the intersection of ancient Near Eastern and biblical literature, Iron Age epigraphy, Hittitology, and Dead Sea Scrolls. He spent this past year studying archaeology at Boston University and Harvard University, and has returned from a summer of excavation at Tell es-Safi (biblical Gath) in the Shephelah in Israel as an ASOR Heritage Fellow. Nate is also a professional choral singer in Boston, and when not studying the mysteries of the Bible and ancient Near East, he enjoys practicing the majestic art of samurai sword, watching 80’s cartoons, and chillaxin’ at home with his cat.
Gangzheng She, Schusterman Scholar, is a NEJS Ph.D. student. A native speaker of Mandarin, Gangzheng's language skills include both modern and biblical Hebrew, Arabic and Cantonese. He intends to study Israeli society and Jewish civilization, examining Israel's multi-ethnic and transitional society through a socio-political comparison with other countries in the region.
Hannah Sherman was born and raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills. She attended the University of California, Santa Cruz where she earned her B.A. in American Studies. In her time at UC Santa Cruz, Hannah was active in Hillel and served as a Hebrew tutor. She spent three months of her senior year in college in Washington, D.C. where she was an intern for Jewish Women International, a non-profit organization working to end domestic violence. As an intern, Hannah researched and prepared information for several congressional briefings and wrote many blog posts on issues relating to Judaism and domestic violence. An avid traveller, Hannah has spent many summers abroad, including a trip to Israel in the summer of 2011. Pursuing a Dual Masters Degree in Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Hannah hopes to combine her fascination of cultural arts with her love of the Jewish community, gaining the experience in order to work in a Jewish cultural institution.
Emily Sigalow, received her B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology and Mathematics from Swarthmore College and her M.A. in Jewish History from Ben Gurion University, Israel. Emily's research interests include the sociological study of religion, culture, and gender, with a specific focus on contemporary Jewish communities. Before coming to Brandeis, Emily spent nearly five years studying and working in Israel.
Malka Zeiger-Simkovich is a doctoral student studying late Second Temple Judaism, early Christianity, and early Rabbinics. Her interests focus on the interaction, cultural influence, and literary sharing between Jewish and non-Jewish individuals and communities in the 1st century BCE and 1st century CE, and how such sharing is evidenced in pseudepigraphic literature. Malka has recently written an article entitled "Greek Influence on 2 Maccabees" which has been published in the "Journal for the Study of Judaism". Her 2011 paper on attitudes towards androgyny in Plato and early Midrash won the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Award for Outstanding Research Paper on Jews and Gender. Malka's languages include Syriac, Greek, and Hebrew.
Karen Spira, Schusterman Scholar, is a NEJS Ph.D. student. Karen will examine the reconstruction of Jewish family life in Israel among young Holocaust survivors, focusing on a group of child survivors from Slovakia and surrounding areas. She is particularly interested in strategies for effective Holocaust education. Karen's languages include Hebrew, German and Spanish; she plans to pursue Yiddish and Czech/Slovak, to facilitate her research in Israel and Europe.
Amber Taylor graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish Translation, and completed her MA at Brandeis in 2012, with her thesis, “Ezra Taft Benson and the State of Israel: A Mormon American Leader's Support for the Jewish State.” Her doctoral studies will continue to examine the history of American Christian relations with Israel. In addition to Spanish, Amber knows modern Hebrew, and plans to master Biblical Hebrew for her research.