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HBI celebrates our 20th Anniversary this year and recognizes the vision and leadership of our founding director, Professor Shulamit Reinharz.  In our first 20 years, we have engaged with thousands of scholars, authors, artists and community members around issues of Jews and gender. We have helped create the field of Jewish gender studies and continue to support its growth. 

Be a part of our future by making a donation to the HBI.

Donate to HBI

Upcoming Events

A Fringe of Her Own: Artist's Lecture & Reception

Tuesday, April 17, 5 - 8 pm

Join us at 5 pm for a lecture with Tamar Paley, reception to follow.

Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts Program

On The Fringe: Creating New Traditions
Sunday, April 22, 12 - 1:30 pm

Tamar Paley will lead a discussion on our relationship with ritual objects.

Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts Program

GCRL Lunchtime Seminars

The lectures meet on Mondays from noon to 1:30pm in the Liberman-Miller Lecture Hall at HBI. A kosher lunch will be provided. Click here for schedule.

Latest Publications


ZionismHBI Blog: Fresh Ideas
Humility as an Intersectional Practice
Gender and Justice bookcoverGender and Justice in Family Law Disputes
A Season of Singing bookcoverA Season of Singing: Creating Feminist Jewish Music in the U.S.
A Season of Singing bookcoverGirls of Liberty: The Struggle for Suffrage in Mandatory Palestine
Jewish Families in Europe bookcoverJewish Families in Europe

 Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social RevolutionLove, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution

The Polygamy QuestionThe Polygamy Question

Joffe and Banda book coverWomen's Rights and Religious Law

Ornit RozinA Home for All Jews

The Strangers We BecameThe Strangers We Became

Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender IssuesNashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies & Gender Issues 

Inbar Raveh - Feminist Rereadings of Rabbic LiteratureFeminist Rereadings of Rabbinic Literature

Four Men and a Woman ebookFour Men and a Woman

Chana Maisel: Agricultural Training for WomenChana Maisel: Agricultural Training for Women

For the Love of the FatherFor the Love of the Father

The Audacity of HolinessThe Audacity of Holiness: Orthodox Women's Theater in Israel

KnishKnish: In Search of the Jewish Soul Food


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The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute develops fresh ways of thinking about Jews and gender worldwide by producing and promoting scholarly research, artistic projects and public engagement.

The world's only academic center of its kind, the HBI provides research resources and programs for scholars, students and the public. The Institute publishes books and a journal, convenes international conferences and local programming, and offers competitive grant and internship programs.

We invite you to explore our website and experience the impact of the HBI.

HBI Hosts Tamar Paley Exhibit

March - June, 2018

A Fringe of Her Own: A Collection of Ritual Objects for Women

Tamar Paley

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute is proud to present Israeli artist Tamar Paley. In “A Fringe of Her Own,” Paley's collection of handmade Jewish ritual objects deconstructs and reinterprets the tallit, tzitzit, and tefillin, typically worn by men. Traditionally, the tzitzit or fringes hold special significance as a reminder of one’s spiritual obligations. In Paley’s collection of wearable objects, the fringes become a delicate sculptural form. The exhibition will be installed in the Kniznick Gallery at the Women’s Studies Research Center from March - June, 2018.

Recognizing the gap that exists between Jewish women and ritual objects and with a growing need to provide a feminine interpretation of patriarchal religious practice, Paley’s work offers a reshaping of traditional patriarchal forms from a female perspective using materials, text, and symbolism that acknowledge the physical and spiritual experiences of women in Judaism.

Exercises for the Quiet Eye with Annie Storr
Tuesday, March 20, 2:30 - 4:00 pm

WSRC Scholar, art historian and museum educator Annie Storr will lead art-experiencing exercises through the Kniznick Gallery exhibition of Tamar Paley's "A Fringe of Her Own: A Collection of Ritual Objects for Women." Storr developed Exercises for the Quiet Eye (EQE) to encourage patient reflection, appreciation, and an attempt to avoid the rush to understand, or determine a set interpretation for what we see.

Artist's Lecture & Reception
Tuesday, April 17, 5 - 8 pm

Join us at 5 pm for a lecture with Tamar Paley, reception to follow.

Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts Program

On The Fringe: Creating New Traditions
Sunday, April 22, 12 - 1:30 pm

Tamar Paley will lead a discussion on our relationship with ritual objects.

Leonard Bernstein Festival of the Creative Arts Program


Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture: “Iran's Unfinished Revolution - What Began in 1979 Continues Today”

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

We look at modern Iran through the eyes of HBI Scholar-in-Residence Roya Hakakian, a widely published author, poet, journalist and documentary filmmaker. She will describe the journey of her own prominent Iranian Jewish family, who at first thought Khomeini’s revolution would be liberating, but soon realized the danger and ultimately fled Tehran, seeking asylum in Vienna.

Today, Hakakian is outspoken on current issues in the Middle East, most recently commenting on the uprisings in Iran and the actions of Iranian feminist women. Learn more about her views on contemporary Iran through her articles in the Boston Globe,  Reuters and The New York Times.

Tuesday, February 27, 7 p.m.
Napoli Room
Gosman Athletic Center
Brandeis University

RSVP recommended.

The Diane Markowicz Memorial Lecture on Gender and Human Rights is generously funded by a gift from the Dan Fischel and Sylvia Neil Philanthropic Fund.

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe Named Director of HBI

Lisa Fishbyn JoffeBrandeis University has appointed Lisa Fishbayn Joffe to serve as Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI), effective January 1, 2018. Joffe began work in the role with an interim appointment on July 1, 2017 upon the retirement of HBI founding director Shulamit Reinharz.

Formerly, Joffe was HBI’s associate director, and director of HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law and of the Boston Agunah Task Force. In addition to serving as director of HBI, Joffe will teach “Gender, Multiculturalism and The Law,” cross-listed in the Philosophy and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies departments. Professor Sylvia Barack Fishman will continue to serve as Co-Director of HBI.

An article in Brandeis Now celebrated Joffe's appointment.

HBI Welcomes Spring Scholars

Roya Hakakian

Roya Hakakian

A writer and journalist, Roya Hakakian works in film and print. Her reportage has been featured on network television, including CBS 60 Minutes. Her opinions and essays have appeared in Time, The New York Times, and NPR’s Weekend Edition among others. Her poetry in Persian has been translated and appear in anthologies, including the PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature. Her memoir, Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran, was among Publisher's Weekly's best books and Elle Magazine's Best Nonfiction in 2004. She’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction for her book, Assassins of the Turquoise Palace. Roya is a founding member of Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. While in residence at the HBI, Roya will work on the next installment of her memoir focused on her escape from Iran, her wanderings in Europe, and her eventual arrival at the American Embassy in Vienna where she sought asylum.

Tally Kritzman-Amir

Tally Kritzman-Amir

Tally Kritzman-Amir, Ph.D., is an expert in the field of refugee law and policy which she studies from an interdisciplinary approach that draws on sociology, philosophical theory, and international and comparative human rights law. She has been a Polonsky Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and a Fox fellow at the Macmillan Center for International and Areal Studies at Yale. She is the editor of the book Where Levinski Meets Asmara: Asylum Seekers and Refugees In Israel - Social and Legal Aspects (Van Leer-HaKibbutz Hameuchad, 2015), the most comprehensive collection to date of articles on this topic. Tally currently heads a coalition of academics, NGOs, INGOs, and state officials on the rights of asylum seeking women and children. While at the HBI, Tally will continue her research on the gender-specific obstacles that confront asylum-seeking women in Israel.

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, Ph.D., studies gender within the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities in Israel with an eye to determining the nature of religious women’s epistemology. She seeks to understand and interpret media that is directed to them by the religious press. Her work traverses the disciplines of media studies, anthropology and Jewish studies and she has presented her findings in numerous chapters, articles, and conferences. Rivka is a returning scholar to the HBI. Her project in the spring is to continue working on her book that looks at the complex relationship between women in religious communities and the modern world through a comparison of women from the Old Order Amish of rural Pennsylvania and Ashkenazi Ultra-Orthodox Jews living in Israel.

Shira Wolosky

Shira Wolosky

Shira Wolosky, Ph.D., is a full professor in the Department of Hebrew and American Literature at Hebrew University. She is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on American poetry and literature, and her monograph on 19th-century American women’s poetry in the Cambridge History of American Literature is regarded as a seminal work on the topic. Shira is now focused on American Jewish women’s literature, and has written several influential articles on Emma Lazarus and Penina Moise. Her analysis combines combines literature and history, but also political theory and discourses of ethnicity, multiculturalism, transnationalism, and “post-identity.”

While at the HBI, Shira will continue her work on American Jewish women’s writing to examine the ways in which people form selfhood through participation in more than one community, without dissolving all borders and definitions of self and community. Her focus will be on the work of Anzia Yezierska.

Liwerant Wins 2017 Marshall Sklare Award

Judit LiwerantDr. Judit Bokser Liwerant, professor of political science at Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and member of the HBI Board of Advisors, makes history as the first Latin American scholar to receive the Marshall Sklare Award. She accepted this award at the Association of Jewish Studies conference in Washington D.C., December 17–19. The honor is given annually by the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry to a senior scholar who has made a significant contribution to the field. Liwerant’s work has been broadly recognized as groundbreaking in its interdisciplinary scope, approaching the study of Latin American Jewry as much in terms of local social, cultural, and political definitions as in terms of transnational systems of identity, including Diaspora-Israel relations.

Meet the Students of HBI

Violet Fearon, HBI student bloggerThis year, HBI is thrilled to have a number of students working in various positions to help the Institute’s core mission of promoting research on the intersection between Jews and gender. The HBI students will be researching Jewish communities in Latin America, examining religious divorce in Boston, and blogging. Find out more about them on our blog.

Conversations with Extraordinary Women

Marcia Falk

Marcia Falk, author of The Book of Blessings: New Jewish Prayers for Daily Life, The Sabbath, and the New Moom Festival (CCAR) and The Days Between: Blessings, Poems, and Directions of the Heart for the Jewish High Holiday Season (HBI Series on Jewish Women) speaks to HBI Director Lisa Fishbayn Joffe.

Tune in to hear the conversation. 

Co-sponsored with The Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies Program

Watch our Facebook Live video of Spiritual Sisters: A Poetry Reading by Lesléa Newman and Joy Ladin

Joy Ladin and Leslea Newman

Watch our Facebook Live Video of the German-Jewish Cookbook launch event!

German-Jewish Cookbook

Click here to purchase a book.

Tribute Video for Shula Reinharz's Retirement

On June 30, 2017, Shula Reinharz, HBI founding director, will retire. Watch her tribute video. 

Donors Support the Fund for the Future of the HBI Campaign

The HBI gratefully acknowledges and thanks the following leadership donors for their support of the Fund for the Future of the HBI Campaign. Their generosity gives HBI the resources to sustain success and grow in new ways.

Phyllis Hammer
Sylvia Neil
Laura Schor
Debs Weinberg

$75,000 - $99,999
Elaine Reuben

$25,000 - $74,999
Rita and Irwin Blitt
Leslie and Michael Gaffin
Shulamit and Jehuda Reinharz
Annie Sandler

$10,000 - $24,999
Suzanne Priebatsch
Diane Troderman
Arnee R. and  Walter A. Winshall
Jane Zolot

$1,000 - $9,999
Talia Carner
Tony Hananel
Liliane Targownik

*as of 6/23/17

View complete donor list.

HBI Hosted Helène Aylon​ Exhibit  

The HBI hosted Helène Aylon during the 2017 spring semester.  This groundbreaking, Jewish, feminist artist has created an installation in the Kniznick Gallery of the Women's Studies Research Center at Brandeis University as part of the year-long celebration of HBI's founding director, Shulamit Reinharz, who will retire at the end of June 2017.

Afterword: For the Children
Access online catalogue.

Helene Aylon

Internationally-acclaimed Jewish feminist artist Helène Aylon presented her conclusion to The G-d Project: Nine Houses Without Women, her 20-year series highlighting the dismissal of women in Jewish traditions and text. In Afterword: For the Children, Aylon dedicated her finale in the series to the future generations, challenging all who regard The Ten Commandments not to shrug off a dark foreboding which emanates in her view, from the patriarchy - not from God.  

The text of the Second Commandment holds future generations responsible for the sins of their fathers. The artist’s examination of this text revealed a universal dilemma through its connection to contemporary policies and practices that shape the world our children will inherit. The concept of “Tikkun Olam” (correction of the world) holds significance in Aylon’s immersive digital installation, as her continuous attempt at “repairing” the revered text becomes​ a​ quiet yet assertive protest.

Aylon's exhibition "Afterword: For the Children" will travel to the Jerusalem Biennale 2017, opening on October 1, 2017.

Note: The HBI is postponing applications for the Artist-in-Residence program until October 2017.


On February 2, 2017, HBI partnered with ORA and J-FAB in a panel that discussed the plight of agunot and the halachic prenup. Panelists included Rabbi Jeremy Stern Director of ORA, Rabbi Aryeh Klapper of the Boston Beit Din and Boston Agunah Taskforce,  Elizabeth Schön Vainer the Outreach and Program Director from Journey to Safety, at Boston's Jewish Family and Children's Service, and Rachel Light, a former agunah. The event was moderated by HBI's Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Watch event in its entirety. Note: The stream will pause during Rachel Light's commentary, which we were not permitted to record, but will resume. 

Deis Impact logo

polygamy title page

In case you missed the event on January 30, 2017, you can watch it in its entirety below:

Boston Agunah Taskforce Named Semi-finalist, Lippman-Kanfer Prize

Lippman Kanfer Foundation for Living Torah names the Boston Agunah Taskforce as a semi-finalist for the Lippman-Kanfer Prize for Applied Jewish Wisdom.  The Boston Agunah Taskforce is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process. The Taskforce believes that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse.BATF logo

HBI Partners with JOFA for Free Webinar: Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families

How do young women and men feel about sex, love, and marriage? Who gets married and when? How do couples and individuals decide about children? What are the changing faces of modern Jewish families and what do diverse families mean for American Jewish life today?

On May 12, 2016,  JOFA and HBI partnered for a free webinar with Professor Sylvia Barack Fishmaneditor of Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution and Dr. Michelle Shain, author of the chapter "Dreams and Realities: American Jewish Young Adults' Decisions about Fertility." Amy Powell, communications director at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, moderated the discussion.

This is a co-production with: JOFA logo

HBI Gives $70,000 in Research Awards

With titles ranging from “The Rise of Orthodox Jewish Women Comic Artists in Israel” from Noa Lea Cohn of Bar Ilan University and “The Reception of the Diary of Anne Frank: What the Japanese Search for and See in Anne,” from Mina Muraoka of the National Defense Academy of Japan, HBI recently distributed $70,000 for 25 Research Awards. Together, these awards highlight many of the values dear to HBI: supporting a range of projects true to the HBI mission, continuing support for established scholars in the field of Jews and gender and nurturing the careers of junior scholars.

To choose the annual research awards, HBI works with its Academic Advisory Committee, comprised of 160 experts and academics from 52 schools in eight countries, to read the proposals and comment over a review period. The process culminates with a day-long meeting at HBI in December to discuss the best proposals. Final decisions are made by Prof. Sylvia Barack Fishman, HBI’s co-director and chair of the AAC, along with Prof. Shulamit Reinharz, HBI’s founding director, Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, associate director of HBI and director of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, and HBI academic programs manager, Deborah Olins. The research awards divide into sub-categories that include History, Israel and the Yishuv; Families, Children and the Holocaust; Diaspora Studies; Judaism; Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law; Biography; Film and Video; and Arts.

The 2016 AAC meeting also provided an opportunity to celebrate HBI’s 20th anniversary and to honor Professor Shulamit Reinharz, HBI’s founding director, who retired in June, 2017.

HBI YouTube channel

Scholarly Research

Artist-in-Residence program

Gilda Slifka Internship Program

Visit our YouTube channel for additional videos on our HBI Conversations program and the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

HBI in the News

The Polygamy Questionedited by Janet Bennion and Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, reviewed by Feminist Legal Studies and Reading Religion: A Publication of American Academy of Religion

Contemporary Jewry reviews Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by HBI's co-director, Sylvia Barack Fishman.

HBI director, Shulamit Reinharz, WSRC Scholar Jutta Lindert, et. al, publish paper on Psychopathology of Children of Genocide Survivors: A Systematic Review on the Impact of Genocide on Their Children‘s Psychopathology from Five Countries.

The JOFA Journal reviews Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution, edited by HBI co-director, Sylvia Barack Fishman.

Former SIR, Lori Harrison-Kahan, wins Western Literature Association's Don D. Walker Prize for research done at HBI on her paper, Miriam Michelson’s Yellow Journalism and the Multi-Ethnic West. 

Congratulations to Julia Creet, former HBI scholar-in-residence and AAC member; Sara R. Horowitz, AAC member, and Amira Bojadzija-Dan, for winning the Canadian Jewish Book award in the category of Jewish Thought and Culture for H.G. Adler: Life, Literature, Legacy (Northwestern University Press).

HBI Board member, Talia Carner, discusses her Jewish identity in The Times of Israel.

Orit Rozin’s new book, A Home for All Jews: Citizenship, Rights, and National Identity in the New Israeli State, in the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, gets a rave review in The New Rambler.

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, former HBI scholar-in-residence, writes about how women in two devout communities cope with the Internet, in Negotiating agency: Amish and ultra-Orthodox women’s responses to the Internet in the journal, New Media and Society.

Great review in Mooney on the Theatre on the work of former HBI Scholar-in-residence,  Katka Reszke, a Polish filmmaker for "We Keep Coming Back.”

HBI Intern, Nora Smolonsky, writes in Mayyim Hayyim’s blog, A Visit to Mayyim Hayyim: A Nondenominational Mikveh

HBI Board member Talia Carner speaks on her new book, Hotel Moscow

Janet H. Burstein publsihed  Israeli Mothers in Film:“Re-visioning” Culture, Engendering Autonomy in Project Muse. 

Rave review in Jewish Boston for The Pearl the Slipped it's Shell by Wendy Wolfe Fine, HBI 2016 artist-in-residence.

HBI founding director, Shulamit Reinharz is quoted in the Forward, The Frum Filmmakers Revolutionizing Cinema

Brandeis student newspaper, The Justice, writes Evolving Families about the book launch for Love, Marriage and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution.

HBI's former scholar-in-residence Kathryn Hellerstein in The Daily Pennsylvanian on influential women in the Yiddish tradition.