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Meet Our Phd Students

Chris AndersonChris 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.

Aviv Ben-OrAviv Ben-Or, Schusterman Scholar, is a doctoral student in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University, as well as a fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. He is studying Modern Hebrew literature and the Jewish literary tradition in a broad sense, ranging from the medieval period to modern times; he is concentrating specifically on Jewish cultures and histories in the Arabic-speaking milieu. Aviv's doctoral work explores the contact between Hebrew and Arabic literatures and cultures, as well as manifestations and expressions of Arab-Jewish identity, and his research will be centered on Iraqi-Jewish authors in Israel who produced writings in both languages. Aviv is spending the remainder of 2013 in Israel conducting research in preparation for his dissertation.

Rachel Bernstein

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. She has published on the sociological underpinnings of images of young Jewish women in television and film, as well as the gendered division of household and religious labor in Jewish families. Her main research interests include trends in the intersections between gender and Judaism; religious and cultural expression in emerging adulthood; and Jewish culture and the arts.

Bronson Bown-deVostBronson 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.

Esther BrownsmithEsther Brownsmith is a PhD candidate in Bible and Ancient Near East, coming to Brandeis with an MA from Yale Divinity School, summa cum laude, and a BA from Rice University. Her interests include intersectionality, intertextuality, and interpretive techniques. (Also alliteration.) In particular, she seeks to explore how poetic techniques can both constrain and enhance mythic and religious meaning. Outside of studying ancient texts, Esther enjoys baking, reading comic books, singing with her choir, and spending time with her spouse and pet degus.

Jamie BrysonJamie Bryson is currently a PhD student in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis, focusing on Bible and the ancient Near East. He has a strong research interest in the Dead Sea Scrolls, and more specifically how they can inform our understanding of the formation of the Hebrew Bible in the cultural context of Second Temple Judaism. He holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of South Carolina, a Master of Divinity from Columbia International University, and a Master of Arts from Brandeis University.

Zeynep CivcikZeynep 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 CypressJoshua 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 DeMarcoMolly 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.

Zev EleffZev Eleff is a NEJS doctoral candidate in the field of American Jewish history. His scholarly focus is the Europeanization of American Judaism during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His dissertation, focusing on religious authority in nineteenth century American Judaism, will play close attention to how the American Jewish experiences compared to other American religions as well as Judaism in Europe. Eleff received rabbinic ordination from Yeshiva University’s Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary and an MA from Teachers College, Columbia University. An alumnus of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship, he has authored more than a dozen books and scholarly articles in the area of American Jewish history.

Sarah (Sari) Fein is a PhD student in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, focusing on Bible and the Ancient Near East. She studies the literature of the Second Temple period, which includes "Rewritten Bible," and both written and visual midrash. She is especially interested in how this literature changed, challenged, or developed the role of women in the Hebrew Bible. Sari holds a MTS in Hebrew Bible/Old Testament from Harvard Divinity School, a MS in Special Education from CUNY Hunter College, and a BA with honors in Religion from Oberlin College. In her free time, she enjoys yoga, cooking, singing, teaching Hebrew School, and watching Doctor Who with her husband and their cat.

Lucia FinottoLucia 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.

Allyson C. Gonzalez is a doctoral candidate in the NEJS program. She researches Sephardic communities in the Alyssa Gonzalezmodern period, exploring constructions of the Sephardic at the intersection of gender and race. Her dissertation, which is supported by an Andrew W. Mellon Dissertation-Year Fellowship, examines a network of Sephardic-identified artists, writers, and cultural producers who met in Spain during World War I. She has received several grants to support her research, including from the Fulbright-Hays Program and the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. Allyson completed her master's degree from the University of Chicago. Before returning to graduate school, she was a journalist who, with her newspaper team, was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

Eva GurevichEva Gurevich is a PhD student at NEJS. She is a cultural historian who is deeply interested in Israeli human geography. Her tentative dissertation topic will deal with left-wing ideological movements that supported Greater Israel, and the transformation of the Israeli political spectrum between 1967 and 1981. She is looking specifically at the [Whole] Land of Israel Movement which included many prominent figures, among them Nathan Alterman, Moshe Shamir and Yitzhak Tabenkin.

Iddo Haklai, a Schusterman scholar, is a PhD student at NEJS. Iddo received a B.A. in Jewish Thought and Political Science and an M.A. in Political Science, both Magna Cum Laude, from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked for several years at Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust research and education center. His research interests focus on modern Orthodox Jewish thought, he is specifically interested in the theological underpinnings of the internal fragmentation of the "Dati-Le'umi" (the non-Haredi Orthodox) community in Israel in recent decades and in the re-framing of classical religious-Zionist terms and concepts as means in the internal sectorial dispute within that public. 

Eric HarveyEric 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.

Mostafa Hussein MostafaHussein, 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.

KloskoSusanna Klosko received her B.A. in History with a minor in Russian Studies from the College of William and Mary. She is currently in Israel working on her dissertation. Susanna is writing on mental health care among the Old Yishuv at the turn of the century. She compares Palestine's first mental hospital, Ezrath Nashim, to international welfare organizations for Palestine's Jews. In doing so, she examines how the language of poverty and debility used by such institutions inscribed the relationship between the healthy and the sick.

Celene Ayat Ibrahim-Lizzio is pursuing a PhD in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations. She has written over thirty articles, book chapters, and editorials exploring Islamic religious leadership and higher education, Islam and Muslims in North America, Islamic family law, Muslim feminist theology, and women’s religious leadership, among other topics. She holds a joint master’s degree in Women and Gender Studies and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis, a Masters of Divinity from Harvard Divinity School, and a bachelor’s degree with highest honors in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University. She is the Muslim Chaplain at Tufts University and the Islamic Studies Scholar-in-Residence at Hebrew College and Andover Newton Theological School in Newton, Massachusetts, where she teaches and co-directs the Center for Interreligious and Communal Leadership Education, a nationally recognized center for training religious leaders and forwarding scholarship in interreligious studies.  Ms. Ibrahim-Lizzio lectures locally and internationally on a variety of forums and has been recognized as a Harvard Presidential Scholar and a Fellow of Religion and Diplomacy at the Liechtenstein Institute of Self-Determination at Princeton University’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs.  

Orah Minder

Orah Minder is a PhD student studying Jewish education. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2006 with a dual major in English and religion. She went on to pursue a Master of Teaching at Lesley University. She taught English Language Arts for four years at a local Jewish day school. She spent four summers at Middlebury's Bread Loaf School of English and completed her Master of English there in 2010. Orah has also designed and taught writing courses at Bunker Hill Community College. She teaches a number of writing courses at Brandeis University including: "Mourning and Melancholia in the works of J.D. Salinger," "Philip Roth's Early Complaints," and "Identity Development in Jewish American Literature." Orah also works as a field instructor in the Masters of Arts in Teaching program and as a teaching assistant in the Teacher Research course.

James MooreJames 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 MoshkovskiAri 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 focus on the nexus between religion, narrative, and security in shaping Israeli foreign policy. During the 2012-2013 term, Ari served on the Graduate Council of Arts and Sciences and the Dean of Arts and Sciences Mentoring Award Committee.

Golan Moskowitz

Golan Moskowitz, a NEJS doctoral student, is interested in the construction of gendered selves and their relationship to legacies of Jewish history, memory, and trauma in the context of contemporary American and Israeli culture.  His dissertation will examine the role of Jewish, post-Holocaust, and queer sensibilities in Maurice Sendak's contributions to popular culture and children's literature.  A writer with a BA in studio art, Golan has authored a short graphic memoir and aspires to create visual 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.

Jason OlsonJason 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.

Jared Pfost is a PhD student in Bible and the Ancient Near East. He holds a BA from Brigham Young University in Ancient Near Eastern Studies. His research is primarily focused on the impact that Mesopotamian literature and culture had on ancient Israel and the creation of the Hebrew Bible. This specifically includes the way in which biblical authors used and reformulated Mesopotamian texts and traditions. He is also interested in the study of narratology in ancient Near Eastern literature.

Lenny PradoLenny 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.

Gangzheng She

Gangzheng She, Schusterman Scholar and  NEJS Ph.D. student. He graduated in 2011 with a degree in Hebrew Language and Culture from Peking University, where he co-founded the Jewish Cultural Research Association. He is interested in China-Middle East relations, especially China's involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict during the Cold War. He has conducted research on the evolution of Israel's national image in mainstream Chinese media from 1949-1992. Prior to Brandeis, Gangzheng worked as a research associate at China Development Research Foundation and the Foreign Affairs office of Guangzhou municipal government.

Emily Sigalow received her B.A. from Swarthmore College in Sociology/Anthropology with a minor in Mathematics and her M.A. in Jewish History from Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Israel. Emily's research focuses on the sociology of religion, gender, and culture, Emily Sigalowas related to contemporary Jewish life. Her dissertation project explores the historical and contemporary intersections of Judaism and Buddhism in America and asks broader questions about how multiple religious beliefs, practices, and identities get constructed and how religions interact and coalesce in everyday life. Her previous research has been published in the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion and has been funded by the Mellon Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Research Circle on Democracy and Pluralism, and the Tauber Institute. Prior to Brandeis, Emily spent nearly five years studying and working in Israel. For more information about Emily and her current and past research, see www.emilysigalow.com.

Malka Zieger-Simkovich

Malka Simkovich is currently working on a dissertation regarding universalist Jewish texts written in the Late Second Temple period.  She earned an M.A. degree in Hebrew Bible from Harvard University, and a B.A. in Bible Studies and Music Theory from Stern College of Yeshiva University in New York.   Malka is a Visiting Professor of Jewish Studies at Catholic Theological Union and works as an editorial assistant for the Harvard Theological Review. Her work has been published in the Journal for the Study of Judaism, and most recently she has presented at conferences in Istanbul, Montreal, and Munich. Malka has recently relocated from Brookline to Skokie, Illinois with her husband Aaron and three children, Yonatan, Hadar, and Ayelet.

Karen SpiraKaren 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 TaylorAmber Taylor graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish Translation, and completed her MA at Brandeis in 2012. She is currently a Schusterman Fellow researching American Christian relations with the State of Israel, particularly relating to Christian pilgrimage in the Jewish State. Amber is fluent in Spanish and Hebrew, and plans to master Biblical Hebrew and Arabic for her research.