2016 Scholars-in-Residence

Past Scholars-in-Residence

Current Scholars

The HBI scholar-in-residence program offers distinguished scholars, writers and communal professionals the opportunity to produce significant work in the area of Jewish studies and gender issues while being freed from their regular institutional responsibilities. HBI scholars-in-residence receive a monthly stipend (for up to 5 months), office space at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center, and the opportunity to network and exchange ideas with HBI staff and faculty at Brandeis and surrounding institutions. Scholars-in-residence contribute to the life of the HBI by immersing in the institute’s weekly activities, participating in HBI conferences and programs, and delivering a public lecture. 

Geraldine Gudefin, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence 

GeraldineGeraldine Gudefin, a Ph.D student in History at Brandeis University,  is writing a dissertation entitled "Navigating the Civil and Religious Worlds: Jewish Immigrants & Marital Laws in France and the United States,1881-1939." Her research interests include modern French and American Jewish history, religion, law, and the state in the period of mass migration; legal pluralism; and the separation of church and state in comparative perspective. She holds an M.A. in History from Yale University, and a B.A. in History from Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV).

Ronit Irshai, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence 

IrshaiRonit Irshai is a lecturer in the gender studies program at Bar Ilan University and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School during the academic year of 2007-2008.

Her research focuses on gender and Jewish law (halakhah), theology and religious feminism, bioethics, and feminist jurisprudence and its relation to Jewish law.

Her first book: Fertility and Jewish Law – Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox Responsa Literature was published by Brandeis University Press in 2012 in both the HBI Series on Jewish Women and the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence 


Riki Shapira-Rosenberg is an attorney and Israeli feminist Orthodox activist. She holds a L.L.B from Bar-Ilan University, an L.L.M from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as a B.A. in Jewish History and Education from the Hebrew University. She is currently writing her doctoral thesis at the Department of Conflict Management and Resolution at Bar-Ilan University.

Over the past decade, Shapira-Rosenberg has been an active player in the most important legal struggles concerning the interface between religion and state in Israel. She provides a voice not only for an Orthodox and liberal religious feminist agenda, but also for men and women from the Haredi community. The projects she has led – such as the campaign against gender segregation on buses; the campaign against the Kol BaRama radio station, which refused to broadcast women’s voices; and the struggle against the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate – have been driven by coalitions bringing together Modern Orthodox, Haredi, Reform, Conservative and secular Jews.

Over the past 13 years, Shapira-Rosenberg has filled senior positions in Kolech – Religious Women’s Forum. She represented Haredi women struggling to secure political representation in student unions, local authorities, and political parties. She is a board member of Women of the Wall and works as an attorney at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), active on issues relating to human rights violations and religion and state.

Shapira-Rosenberg is an eighth-generation Jerusalemite. She is married to Dror and the mother of five children.

Avishalom Westreich, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence 

AvishalomAvishalom Westreich is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan, and a Research Fellow in the Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. In 2007–2008 he was a Research Fellow in the Agunah Research Unit at the University of Manchester, UK.

Dr. Westreich was awarded his Ph.D. on "The Talmudic Theory of Torts" from Bar-Ilan University (2007), and holds degrees in Hermeneutic Studies (M.A. Summa Cum Laude), Law (LL.B.), Talmud (B.A.), and Jewish History (B.A. Summa Cum Laude). His current main research and teaching areas are Jewish law, family law, and the philosophy of law. His publications include No Fault Divorce in the Jewish Tradition (Hebrew; 2014) and Talmud-Based Solutions to the Problem of the Agunah (2012).