Prof. Gannit Ankori 

Prof. Gannit Ankori describes aspects of Israeli art to students.

Visiting Faculty
Tuvia Friling, 2013-2014
Michael Feige, 2011-2012
Uri Bialer, 2011 and 2014
Sammy Smooha, 2010
Maoz Azaryahu, 2010
Yoram Bilu, 2009
Benny Gidron, 2008-2009


Liora Norwich, 2014-2015
Shay Rabineau, 2013-2014
Sara Hirschhorn, 2012-2013
Emily McKee, 2012-2013
Michal Ben-Josef Hirsch, 2009-2012
Yuval Jobani, 2010-2011
Motti Inbari, 2008-2009

Israel studies and related courses


The following faculty serve as the backbone of the Israel Studies curriculum on campus, bolstered by the Hebrew language faculty and visiting professors and post-doctoral fellows hosted by the Schusterman Center.

Gannit Ankori is Chair of the School of the Creative Arts at Brandeis University. She is Professor of Art History & Theory and Chair in Israeli Art at the Department of Fine Arts and the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies. Gannit has published extensively in the field of Israeli and Palestinian art, with special emphasis on issues pertaining to gender, nationalism, religion, trauma, exile, hybridity and their manifestations in art and film. Her book, Palestinian Art (Reaktion Books, London, 2006) was awarded a “Polonsky Prize for Originality and Creativity in the Humanistic Disciplines” in 2007. She has curated several exhibitions of Israeli and Palestinian artists, among them "Home" (1997) with Jack Persekian at Gallery Anadiel, Jerusalem and "Dor Guez: 100 Steps to the Mediterranean" (2012) with Dabney Hailey at the Rose Art Museum.
 She is currently working on a series of exhibitions of Israeli video art. Gannit has also published three books and numerous articles on the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, among them her 2013 book Frida Kahlo that is part of Reaktion Book's acclaimed 'critical lives' series; her 2002 Imaging Her Selves: Frida Kahlo’s Poetics of Identity and Fragmentation; and a major catalogue essay for the Kahlo retrospective at Tate Modern, London (2005). She also curated a Kahlo exhibition at the Jewish Museum in New York (2003-4). Gannit joined Brandeis in the fall of 2010.  Before coming to Brandeis, she served as the Henya Sharef Professor of Humanities and Chair of the Department of Art History at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She previously held appointments as Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University and at Tufts University's School of the Museum of Fine Arts. For a list of her courses at Brandeis and other details, click here.

Rachel Fish '13 is associate director of the Schusterman Center.  She completed her doctoral degree in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University in 2013.  Her dissertation, "Configurations of Bi-nationalism: The Transformation of Bi-nationalism in Palestine/Israel 1920's-Present," examines the history of the idea of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel. Rachel has worked as an educator and consultant in various capacities in the Jewish community and higher education, teaching about Zionism and Israeli history at Brandeis University, UMASS Amherst and the Me’ah Adult Jewish Education program. At Brandeis she teaches the Myra Kraft seminar on Israel at the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. In 2015 she also holds the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, lecturing on modern Israel.

Yehudah Mirsky is associate professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. He studied at Yeshivat Har Etzion and Yeshiva College and received rabbinic ordination in Jerusalem. He graduated from Yale Law School, where he was an editor of the law review, and completed his PhD in Religion at Harvard. He worked in Washington as an aide to then-Senators Bob Kerrey and Al Gore, and at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, and served in the Clinton Administration as special advisor in the US State Department's human rights bureau. From 2002-2012 he lived in Israel and was a fellow at the Van Leer Institute and Jewish People Policy Institute. He has written widely on politics, theology and culture for a number of publications including The New Republic and The Economist, and is on the editorial board of Eretz Acheret. After the attacks of September 11 he served as a volunteer chaplain for the Red Cross. He is currently a member of the board of Yerushalmim, the movement for a pluralist and livable Jerusalem. His biography, Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution, was published in 2014 by Yale University Press. At Brandeis he teaches courses on the nexus of religion, state and society.

Eugene R. Sheppard is associate professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought, and associate director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry. He is most interested in modern German Jewish thought and the influence of European Jewish refugees on public life and academia in the United States.  His publications include Leo Strauss and Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher (2006) and Babylon and Jerusalem: Engaging the Thought and Legacy of Simon Rawidowicz (co-edited with D. Myers, forthcoming). Sheppard is co-editor, with Samuel Moyn, of the Brandeis University Press/UPNE series The Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought and associate editor of the Tauber Institute series. At Brandeis he teaches courses on Jewish nationalism and Zionist thought.

Ilana Szobel is assistant professor on the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Chair in Hebrew Literature. Her recent book, The Poetics of Trauma: The Work of Dahlia Ravikovich (2013), was published as part of the Schusterman Series for Israel Studies.  It examines the work of Dahlia Ravikovich (1936-2005), one of the most significant cultural figures in Israeli society. In her teaching, Szobel presents the challenges posed by gender, war and peace, family structure, economic and cultural dislocation as compelling entry points for the study of Israeli society and culture.

Ilan Troen '63 is director of the Schusterman Center and is the Stoll Family Chair in Israel Studies. Before joining Brandeis, he served as director of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute and Archives in Sede Boker, Israel, and dean of the faculty of humanities and social sciences at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. He has authored or edited numerous books in American, Jewish and Israeli history. He is the founding editor of Israel Studies (Indiana University Press), the leading journal in the field, publishing three issues annually on behalf of Brandeis and Ben-Gurion University. His book publications include Jewish Centers and Peripheries: European Jewry Between America and Israel 50 Years after World War II (1998); The Americanization of Israel (2001), with Glenda Abramson; Divergent Jewish Cultures: Israel and America (2001), with Deborah Dash-Moore; Imagining Zion: Dreams, Designs and Realities in a Century of Jewish Settlement (2003); with Jacob Lassner, Jews and Muslims in the Arab World; Haunted by Pasts Real and Imagined (2007); with Maoz Azaryahu (eds.), Tel Aviv, The First Century: Visions, Designs, Actualities (2012); and with Donna Robinson Divine (eds.), Zionism in the Twenty-First Century (forthcoming in 2014).


Shai Feldman is the Judith and Sidney Swartz Director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis University. He is also an associate fellow of the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) in London and a member of the Board of Director's of Harvard University's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. Before joining the Crown Center, Feldman served from 1997 to 2005 as head of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University, and from 2001 to 2003, as a member of the UN Secretary General's Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters. Author of numerous publications, Feldman has written five books on the topic of Israeli security and peacemaking, including:  Israeli Nuclear Deterrence: A Strategy for the 1980s (1982); The Future of U.S.-Israel Strategic Cooperation (1996); Nuclear Weapons and Arms Control in the Middle East (1997); Bridging the Gap – A Future Security Architecture for the Middle East (1997) with Abdullah Toukan;  and, Track-II Diplomacy – Lessons from the Middle East (2003) with Hussein Agha, Ahmad Khalidi, and Zeev Schiff. His book, Arabs and Israelis: Conflict and Peacemaking in the Middle East, co-authored with Abdel Monem Said Aly and Khalil Shikaki, is forthcoming by Palgrave Macmillan in 2013.

Sylvia Barack Fishman is Chair of the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University, where she is the Joseph and Esther Foster Professor of Contemporary Jewish Life; and also co-director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She is the author of seven books and numerous monographs and articles on the interplay of American and Jewish values, transformations in the American Jewish family, the impact of Jewish education, gender studies and the changing roles of Jewish men and women, contemporary Jewish literature and film, and the relationship of Diaspora Jews to Jewish peoplehood and Israel. Her most recent book is The Way Into the Varieties of Jewishness. She is currently working on a new book, Love, Marriage, and Jewish Families: Paradoxes of a Social Revolution. Prof. Fishman received her BA from Stern College at Yeshiva University and her Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, where she wrote on the way English poets used the Hebrew Bible.

Kanan Makiya is the Sylvia K. Hassenfeld Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at Brandeis University. Baghdad-born Makiya wrote Republic of Fear, which became a bestseller after Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1991. Prior to his appointment at Brandeis, he was engaged with the US government and Iraqi opposition in developing a detailed roadmap for the democratization of Iraq after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime.

Jonathan Sarna is  the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University and Director of its Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. Dubbed by the Forward newspaper in 2004 as one of America’s fifty most influential American Jews, he is Chief Historian of the National Museum of American Jewish History, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than twenty books, including the new When General Grant Expelled the Jews.  He is best known for the acclaimed American Judaism: A History.  Winner of the Jewish Book Council’s “Jewish Book of the Year Award” in 2004, it has been praised as being “the single best description of American Judaism during its 350 years on American soil.”

Naghmeh Sohrabi is assistant professor of Middle East History and associate director for Research at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies. Sohrabi was a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center from 2005-2007. She received her Ph.D. in history and Middle East studies from Harvard University in 2005. Her dissertation received an honorable mention from the Foundation for Iranian Studies. Sohrabi is currently under contract with Oxford University Press to publish her book on 19th century Persian travelers to Europe. She has taught courses at Harvard University, Skidmore College, and most recently at Brandeis.


Sara Hascal has been a lecturer in Hebrew at Brandeis since 1985. Her specialties are in Judaic studies, Hebrew literature, and in reading consultation. She has developed Advanced Hebrew Literature I and II, which focus on the theme and unique style of young Israeli writers, stressing new trends and aspects of Israeli daily life during the last five decades.  She also developed two Hebrew courses, Voices of Jerusalem and Portrait of an Israeli Woman, both of which treat the subject matter through the traditions, history, politics, arts and cultural aspects of Israel. 

Bonit Porath is a senior lecturer in Hebrew. She teaches classes at all levels, from novice to advanced, integrating culture with language teaching. Her special area of interest is the history of the Hebrew language and the revival of Modern Hebrew. She also teaches at the Brandeis-Middlebury School of Hebrew.