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Recent Publications, Lectures and Awards

The Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis congratulates Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman and recent doctoral student Zev Eleff for their recognition as finalists for the National Jewish Book Award in various categories. Professor Fishman was recognized for her book Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution (Brandeis University Press) in the category of Anthologies and Collections.  Dr. Eleff was recognized for contributions in two categories: Orthodox Judaism: a Source Reader (Jewish Publication Society) in the category of Modern Jewish Thought and Experience, and Who Rules the Synagogue?: Religious Authority and the Making of American Judaism  (Oxford University Press) in the category of American Jewish Studies.

Yehudah Mirsky's work was included in an article about the best post-election journalistic commentary in the Daily Beast. 

Yehudah Mirsky was on a panel at a public event at The Brookings Institution in Washington, DC on the future of Israeli democracy. A clip of it can be seen here. 

Yehudah Mirsky was interviewed by the Jewish Standard about his scholarly work and its contemporary relevance. 

Jacqueline Vayntrub published "‘To take up a parable’: The History of Translating a Biblical Idiom," (Vetus Testamentum 66/4 [2016]: 627-645). In the article, Vayntrub examines the history of the translation of a Biblical Hebrew phrase in Greek, Aramaic, and Latin — a phrase which shaped the English idiom “to take up a parable, proverb, or song," and compares the Biblical Hebrew phrase to a similar Ugaritic phrase, showing how the phrase expresses the voicing of speech, not its initiation. The study concludes by offering an English translation which more closely reflects the metaphor for voice-activation employed by the Biblical Hebrew phrase.

Malka Simkovich, PhD, '15, authored The Making of Jewish Universalism: From Exile to AlexandriaLexington Books, 2016. Since her graduation, Malka has published three peer-reviewed articles and is currently an assistant professor of Jewish Studies and Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.


Esther Brown, BANE PhD student. Esther's cuneiform cookies were highlighted in a recent New York Times article

Eugene Sheppard. Commentators, thinkers, and scholars have long been obsessed with the circumstances of Amsterdam's Portuguese Sephardic community's ex-communication of Benedictus (Baruch) de Spinoza.  And more modern Jewish thinkers than not have speculated as to the impact of this event upon Spinoza's subsequent life and work.  This piece of fiction offers an alternative reception of Spinoza based upon a single change in biographical fact, namely how Spinoza might have found it necessary to formally repent, make teschuvah,  The narrative is presented through the particular prism of an encyclopedia entry written by Jakob Klatzkin (This piece of fiction offers an alternative reception of Spinoza based upon a single change in biographical fact, namely how Spinoza might have found it necessary to formally repent, make teschuvah,  The narrative is presented through the particular prism of an encyclopedia entry written by Jakob Klatzkin (1882-1948).  This thought experiment appears in a chapter of What Ifs of Jewish History(Cambridge U. Press, 2016), edited by Gavriel Rosenfeld.  

Yehudah Mirsky. Professor Mirsky discusses the legacy of a controversial, yet respected, Israeli political figure, Former Israel Prime Minister Shimon Peres, with BrandeisNOW.

Zev Eleff, PhD '15, published Who Rules the Synagogue?: Religious Authority and the Formation of American Judaism, Oxford University Press, 2016; Eleff weaves togeter the significant episodes and debates that shaped American Judaism during the ninteenth century when Jewish community leadership transformed from lay leadership to ordained rabbis, and Eleff places this story into the larger context of American religious history and modern Jewish history.  Eleff is Chief Academic Officer of Hebrew Theological College in Skokie, IL. 

Yehudah Mirsky. "Revelation and Redemption: Avraham Yitzhak Ha-Cohen Kook, 1865-1935," from Makers of Jewish Modernity, J. Picard et al eds, Princeton University Press, 2016, pp. 92-107

David Ellenson.  “To Reshape the World:  Interpretation, Renewal, and Feminist Approaches to Jewish Law and Legal  Ruling in America and Israel.”  Journal of Jewish Ethics, Vol. 2, No. 2 (2016), pp 38-63. [From the Rawidowicz lecture, Nov. 3, 2015.]

Senator Tim Kaine, Anne Holton, and the Meaning of Character:  A Personal Reflection—What growing up in Virginia taught me about moral courage.”  Tablet, The Scroll, August 12, 2016.

David Wright. “Law and Creation in the Priestly-Holiness Writings of the Pentateuch.” Pp. 71–101 in Laws of Heaven—Laws of Nature: Legal Interpretations of Cosmic Phenomena in the Ancient World. Ed. Konrad Schmid and Christoph Uehlinger. Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis. Fribourg: Academic Press; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2016. [From a conference at the Universität Zürich, 2011.]

Tzvi Abusch.  Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Rituals, volume 2 (with Daniel Schwemer, et al.) (Ancient Magic and Divination 8/2; Leiden: Brill, 2016).

Maqlû: A Student Edition and Selected Commentary (State Archives of Assyria Cuneiform Texts 11; Helsinki: Neo Assyrian Text Corpus Project, 2015).

Benjamin Steiner, PhD student, article "That Judaism Might Yet Live: Pastoral Care and the Making of the Post-Holocaust Conservative Rabbinate" will appear in American Jewish History.

Ilona Zsolnay, PhD, '09, publishes Being a Man:  Negotiating Ancient Constructs of Masculinity, edited by Dr. Zsolnay.  Her book reveals the myriad and complex negotiations for constructions of masculine identities in the greater ancient Near East and beyond and is a fascinating study for anyone with an interest in gender and sexuality throughout history.

Jonathan Sarna Receives Lee Max Friedman Award Medal

Jonathan Sarna

At the June, 2016 biennial Scholars' Conference of the American Jewish Historical Society Academic Council, Jonathan D. Sarna received the Lee Max Friedman Award Medal. This award was established in memory of a past Society president and is awarded biennially by the American Jewish Historical Society to any individual, group or association deemed to have rendered distinguished service in the field of American Jewish History.

Jason Olson, PhD '16, combines spirituality with academics in his role as Navy Chaplain.

Article by Simon Goodacre