Doctoral Students

The central mission of the Schusterman Center is to promote exemplary teaching and scholarship in the field of Israel Studies. As such, it supports doctoral students enrolled in Brandeis' Graduate School of Arts & Sciences whose research focuses on the modern State of Israel.

These Schusterman Scholars are part of the intellectual hub of students, faculty and visiting scholars that make up the Center. Biweekly seminars on Israel Studies enrich their academic coursework and prepare them to make significant contributions to the scholarship in the field.

how to apply

Our Current Schusterman Scholars

Maham Ayaz, NEJS

Maham Ayaz

Maham received her BA in International Studies from the University of Chicago in 2013 where she focused her thesis on citizenship and refugee rights in Bangladesh. She has since worked at the American Bar Foundation as a research analyst. She hopes to use her background in international studies, human rights, and constitutional law to study political membership in Israel.

Yair Bar Zuri, NEJS

Yair Barzuri

Yair Bar Zuri is interested in modern Jewish philosophy and history, in particular the cultural aspects of Zionism. In his doctoral work, he plans to explore the secularization of Jewish culture as a significant element of the Zionist project, through interdisciplinary approaches to secularity in sociology, history and philosophy. His main focus is on the attempt to renew Jewish culture in the Zionist project, by delving deeper into the character of Jewish myth as it is portrayed in the writings of different Zionist scholars.
Shirah Malka Cohen, NEJS

Shirah Malka Cohen

Born in Israel and raised in Japan, Shirah completed her undergraduate studies in liberal arts at Doshisha University in Kyoto, during which she also spent time at Leiden University in the Netherlands. Her main interest is the influence of nationalism on literature, in particular on literature of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. She wrote her honor's thesis on the influence of nationalism on the development of modern Hebrew and modern Japanese literatures. In her graduate studies, she will delve deeper into this topic, focusing on Hebrew, Japanese, and English literatures.
Robert DeBoard, NEJS

Robert DeBoard

Robert received his MA in History from Baylor University, where he wrote his thesis on British security and counter-insurgency in Mandatory Palestine. He also worked in Baylor's Institute for Oral History on the Texas Liberators Oral History Project. Robert's research interests include military history and foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly Mandatory Palestine and Israel during the Cold War. His research at Brandeis is focused on British security strategy in the first months of the first Arab-Israeli war, from November 1947-May 1948.
Maya Dworsky, Anthropology

Maya Dworsky

Maya grew up in Atlit, Israel, a tiny coastal town outside Haifa. Always interested in literature and its relation to the formation of ethnic identities, she majored in both Cultural Anthropology and English Literature at the University of Oregon. She received her Masters at Brandeis in Comparative Humanities, producing a Capstone thesis with the title: White Kids Fight Dragons, Black Kids Fight Drugs; the Intersectionality of Childhood and Race in Children’s Literature. In her doctoral work she plans to continue her research into the use of pedagogical narrative in the formation of ethnic and national identities not only in the US, but also in Israel and Palestine. See her profile.
Rima Farah, NEJS

Rima Farah

Rima is interested in the history of Christians in the Middle East and in the formation of their ethnic identities, with an emphasis on Christians in Israel. Her research on this issue is focused on the historical events and cultural causes that contribute to the rise of ethnic and political controversies among Christians in Israel, with particular attention devoted to the contemporary divisiveness among Christians, in which there are those advocating for the traditional and predominant Arab identity and nationality versus a segment of anti-Arab faction who identify themselves as Aramaic and endorse Israel’s recent official recognition of the Christian Aramaic nationality. This phenomenon has become more evident today in the wake of the political upheavals in the Middle East and Israel. Rima holds a BA in French and English language and literature, and a MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Haifa University, as well as holding an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Fluent in Hebrew and Arabic, she has a good knowledge of French.
Eva Gurevich, NEJS

Eva Gurevich

Eva is examining the transformation of the Israeli political spectrum after 1967 and left-wing ideological movements that supported the Greater Land of Israel. Specifically, she will be looking at the "Land of Israel" movement that included prominent cultural figures such as Nathan Alterman, Moshe Shamir, and Yitzhak Tabenkin. She is using the Movement as a lens to understand Israeli public discourse as it is presented with the existentialist questions and choices that the '67 war brought about. Eva speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian, has advanced proficiency in Yiddish, and is currently gaining proficiency in German.
Mika Hackner, Politics

Mika Hackner

Mika holds an MA in Politics from Brandeis University, an MA from the University of Haifa in Peace and Conflict Management, as well as an honors degree from the University of Cape Town in Justice and Transformation and a BA from the University of Auckland in Politics and History. She specializes in Comparative Politics and her research interests include comparative regime types; democratic transition and consolidation; democratic regime persistence; the impact of extremism on democratic states; and militant democracy. Utilizing a comparative perspective, her research will examine differing notions of militant democracy and its application in, and to, Israel.

Iddo Haklai, NEJS

Iddo Haklai

Iddo received his BA in Jewish Thought and Political Science and MA in Political Science (both Magna Cum Laude) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and worked for several years at Yad Vashem. His research interests focus on the theological frameworks and concepts developed by thinkers within the religious-Zionist labor movement in British Mandatory Palestine. He is interested in the integration of religious traditionalism, Zionism, modernism and social-democratic ideas by individuals affiliated with the 'Torah VeAvodah' movement in the interwar period and in the implications of that integration to contemporary dilemmas facing the Israeli society.  

Ari Moshkovski, NEJS

Ari Moshkovski

Ari's fields of specialization include the history of Zionism, contemporary Orthodox Judaism, Israeli foreign policy, and the modern Middle East. He is writing his dissertation on the role of the National Religious Party and the Chief Rabbinate in the Egyptian-Israeli peace process of 1977-1982. He holds a BA (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and an MA from Queens College, CUNY, where he developed undergraduate and high school curricula on American relations with the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict for the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding.

Karen Spira, NEJS

Karen Spira

Karen is writing her dissertation on institutional Jewish childhood in Palestine/Israel between 1918 and 1948. Her research explores Zionist, Jewish and American Jewish views of child-rearing, identity, and education, as well as the effects of state-building and the Holocaust on orphaned and disadvantages children. In 2016 she will be teaching part of the NEJS class on "The Destruction of European Jewry." Her languages include Hebrew, Slovak and German.