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Meet Our Master's Students


Eli Cohn
was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minn. He went to Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Ore., where he graduated with a B.A in Philosophy. While in school, Eli helped found the Greater Portland Hillel and served as its first president. After graduation, Eli spent a year in Israel on the program OTZMA, where he volunteered, worked and traveled throughout the country. For the past two years Eli has worked as the Coordinator for Israel Engagement for the Hillel at Brandeis University. He also serves on the committee for ReachOut, an organization committed to engaging Jewish young adults in community service. The product of a lifetime of Jewish camping, youth groups, Hillel, and more, Eli has special interests in Jewish education, Israel and Jewish peoplehood.

Robert DeBoard received his M.A. in History from Baylor University, where he wrote his thesis on British security and counter-insurgency in Mandatory Palestine. Additionally, he worked at Baylor’s Institute for Oral History on the Texas Holocaust Liberator’s Project. Robert’s research interests include military history and foreign policy in the Middle East, as well as the Mandatory Period in Palestine and Israel in the Cold War. Tentatively, his research at Brandeis will focus on Israeli defense strategy in the 1950s.

David Gabriel grew up in nearby Newton, MA. He received his BA in History and Politics from Earlham College. He is returning to the Greater Boston Area after a year of service with the AVODAH Social Justice Service Corps in New Orleans, LA at the Promise of Justice Initiative. David enjoys cooking, reading and debating politics. His research interests are in early Israeli historiography and Palestinian Nakba memory. 

Eric Greene got his first taste of coexistence working at a small zoo in Israel's Arava desert staffed by arabs, Jews, and other Eric Greeninternational wanderers. This summer (2014) he was a delegate at the Muslim Jewish Conference in Vienna where he met Jews and Muslims from around the world who share a similar vision for a peaceful and sustainable future.  He is a singer/songwriter and a percussionist and recently released his first solo album entitled "Gone".  He works extensively in the greater Boston Jewish community as an educator, trip leader, and Bar Mitzvah tutor.  Eric holds a bachelors degree in Operations Management and Legal Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. 

Erin Ferry hails from Cranston, R.I. and received her B.A. in Business Management from Loyola University Md. She is moving back to the East Coast after completing a year of service with the Jesuit Volunteer Corps NW in Hillsboro, Ore. at the Metropolitan Public Defender’s office. She is an avid sports fan (a die-hard Dallas Mavericks and Notre Dame Fighting Irish football fan) and enjoys running and biking. While this field is still new to her, she is eager to study the rich history and culture of the Middle East and looks forward to sharing knowledge, experience, and thought-provoking discussion with her classmates!

Justin HugueninJustin Huguenin is an M.A. student at NEJS. He holds a B.A. in History from the Ohio State University, and is excited to start graduate work at Brandeis. His primary interest is in ancient Middle Eastern religions, and in particular in alternative religious schools of thought as represented in texts such as Jubilees and Enoch. Some of his past research has focused on Zoroastrianism and martyr cults in Kievan Rus, and most recently he completed an undergraduate thesis looking at the role of politics and Hellenistic Judaism in the events leading up to the Hasmonean Revolt.

Kimiko Ichikawa was born in Japan and immigrated to the United States in 2006 and has a Bachelor’s degree in Hebrew from UCLA. A master’s student at NEJS, she has Hebrew Literature as an academic interest and loves traveling, cooking and cats. 

William Klein proudly hails from West Amherst, NY. He received his B.A. in History from SUNY Brockport. While at Brockport, he served as President of the school's Hillel and also became first acquainted with the academic subject of historical Jewish-Muslim interactions. He earned an M.A. from Tel Aviv University in Security and Diplomacy Studies in 2013, where he got to see a glimpse of such interactions more up-close.  During his time in Israel, he experienced Operation Pillar of Defense--when, for the first time in two decades, air-raid sirens sounded in Tel Aviv. He is most interested in the modern (late 20th and 21st century) Middle East, particularly focusing on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Kurdish Question. He is very excited to be a 1st-year MA student in NEJS and look forward to improving my skills in both the Hebrew and Arabic languages. He hopes to eventually earn a PhD in Near East Studies.

Eric Maurer is a dual M.A. student in NEJS and the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program.  Hailing from Burlington, Mass., Eric holds a B.A. in Judaic Studies from the University of Hartford.  During his undergraduate studies, Eric was honored as the Jerome E. Caplan Scholar of the Year and as a Fishman Fellow in American Jewish History and Jewish Communal Leadership.  Eric's academic interests are focused in modern Jewish history, in particular Holocaust studies, anti-Semitism, and Jewish literature. Eric is eager to integrate the study of Jewish history and culture into the realm of the Jewish community.

Alaa Murad

Alaa Murad is an M.A. student at NEJS and COEX from Cairo, Egypt. She holds a B.A. in Political Science from the British University in Egypt and is very excited to be a part of Brandeis' vibrant community. Alaa intends to concentrate on modern Jewish history, Jewish-Muslim relations, and conflict and identity in the Middle East. Before coming to Brandeis, she was a research associate at the Social Research Center at the American University in Cairo and mainly focused on gender and labor in impoverished urban areas in Egypt

Hunter Rees is a Master of Arts candidate in the program for Teaching Hebrew.  His particular Hebraic Hunter Reesinterests are Biblical and Modern Hebrew grammar and phonetics, Hebrew poetry of the 20th century, and contemporary Israeli short fiction.  Hunter holds a Bachelor of Arts in Slavic Languages and Cultures from Columbia University, where he also studied comparative linguistics.

Alexandra Scarf is a M.A. candidate in Bible and the Ancient Near East. She holds a B.A. in Classical Studies and arrived at Brandeis from research in Harvard’s Comparative Literature Dept. Alexandra is interested in pursuing the philosophical problem of time within the ancient Near East, its ideological and ontological components, and its later reception. Her research fields include modern classical reception, Middle Egyptian, Biblical literature and literary temporality. Her languages are Latin, Hebrew, Middle Egyptian and German.

Megan StewartMegan Stewart is a Masters student in the Joint M.A. program with NEJS and COEX. Hailing from Bangor, Maine, she received her Undergraduate Degree in Anthropology at Texas A&M University in 2012 where she focused her studies on Near Eastern religion, Arabic language studies, and archaeology. Megan's interests include both early and modern Quranic interpretation as well as improving international relations between the Near East and the United States.

Evan TaskarEvan Taksar (MA/MA) grew up in Los Angeles, California.  She earned a B.A. in Political Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder, with a certificate in Jewish Studies.  At Boulder, Evan served as a board member of the Boulder Hillel and was active in the Program in Jewish Studies.  She spent her senior year in college as the Development Intern at the Boulder Jewish Community Center.  Evan has spent the past 15 summers at Camp JCA Shalom Malibu, first as a camper and, for the past 5 summers, in various staff positions.  Most recently Evan served as a as Unit Head for second, third, and seventh grade students.  She considers her time spent at camp to be the most defining Jewish experience of her life, both personally and professionally.  After graduating college, Evan has continued to be engaged with the Jewish community.  She has worked as the Youth Director and as a Jewish Educator.  In her spare time, Evan enjoys cooking, live music, reading and going on adventures.  Evan is excited to attend the Hornstein/NEJS program and continue her work within the Jewish communal world.

Shane Thompson is an M.A. student in the Bible and the Ancient Near East track of the NEJS Department. Hailing from Columbia, SC, Shane holds a BA in History and Religion from Wake Forest University, and, among several post-grad degrees, most recently completed a Masters of Theological Studies from Candler School of Theology, Emory University.  His interests are in ritual, law, and power structures in the ancient Near East, as well as Semitic languages, Archaeology, and ritual theory.  When not studying, Shane can be found digging in Israel or cheering on the Atlanta Braves or Wake Forest Demon Deacons.

Stefany Truesdell is a Master's student in NEJS, focusing on the Jewish Studies track. I have both a B.A. from CSU Bakersfield in Religious Studies with minors in Political Science and Asian Studies as well as an M.A. from CSU Long Beach in Religious Studies. I am originally from Southern California, but have lived in Northern California, Houston, and moved here from Montana. My Master's thesis for CSULB looked at conversion as a necessary feature of nation building and is entitled "Conversion: An Element of Ethno-Religious Nation Building in Early Judaism." My primary areas of interest are Second Temple Judaism and the Holocaust and I intend to research the effect of the Holocaust on American Jewish identity for my thesis. When not doing academic work, I enjoy watching football, playing video games, cooking, and doing various crafts, such as quilting and beading.