Faculty Advisory Committee

Gannit Ankori, Ph.D is the chair in Israeli Art in the Department of Fine Arts. 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 was also a visiting scholar and associate professor at Harvard University and a visiting associate professor at Tufts University School of the Museum of Fine Arts. She has published two books and numerous articles on Frida Kahlo (e.g. Imaging Her Selves: Frida Kahlo’s Poetics of Identity and Fragmentation, 2002) and curated the acclaimed museum exhibition Frida Kahlo’s Intimate Family Picture. She has taught and lectured about Israeli and Palestinian art for many years and has published extensively on the visual representation of gender-related issues, the construction of identity, exile, trauma, and hybridity. Her book, Palestinian Art, was published by Reaktion Books, London, in 2006 and is distributed in the US by the University of Chicago Press. She won a Polonsky Prize for Originality and Creativity in the Humanistic Disciplines for this publication. Her forthcoming English-language book, Frida Kahlo, will be published as part of the prestigious Critical Lives series by Reaktion Books in London.

Rachel Fish '13 is associate director of the Schusterman Center and a doctoral candidate in the NEJS department at Brandeis University. Her dissertation 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.

Yehudah Mirsky is associate professor of the practice 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, he is a Contributing Editor of the Jerusalem Report 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 contributing writer at Jewish Ideas Daily.com and a member of the board of Yerushalmim, the movement for a pluralist and livable Jerusalem. His biography of Rabbi Abraham Issac Kook is forthcoming from Yale University Press.

Jonathan Sarna, Ph.D 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 was Chief Historian for the 350th commemoration of the American Jewish community, and is recognized as a leading commentator on American Jewish history, religion and life. Dr. Sarna has written, edited, or co-edited more than twenty books, including the new "A Time to Every Purpose: Letters to a Young Jew."  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.”

Theodore Sasson, Ph.D is Senior Research Scientist at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies and the Steinhardt Social Research Institute, Brandeis University. He is also Associate Professor of International Studies at Middlebury College, and Visiting Research Professor, Sociology Department, Brandeis University. Author of books and scholarly articles in the fields of political sociology and criminology, Sasson’s current work examines Israeli political culture and Israel-Diaspora relations. His most recent articles include: “From Mass Mobilization to Direct Engagement:  The Changing Relationship of American Jews to Israel” (Israel Studies, summer 2010); “Trends in American Jewish Attachment to Israel: an Assessment of the ‘Distancing’ Hypothesis (with Charles Kadushin and Leonard Saxe, Contemporary Jewry, forthcoming 2010); and “From Shrine to Forum: Masada and the Politics of Jewish Extremism (with Shaul Kelner, Israel Studies, Spring 2008).

Ilana Szobel, Ph.D is assistant professor on the Joseph H. and Belle R. Braun Chair in Hebrew Literature. She received her doctorate from the Skirball Department of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University. Her dissertation won the Ben Halpern award for Best Dissertation from the Association of Israel Studies. Dr. Szobel's book, A Poetics of Trauma - The Work of Dahlia Ravikovitch,  is being published by Brandeis University Press as part of our Schusterman Series for Israel Studies. In her teaching, Dr. 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.

S. Ilan Troen '63, PhD, 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. He has authored or edited 11 books in American, Jewish and Israeli history. He is also the founding editor of Israel Studies (Indiana University Press), an international journal that publishes 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); and, with Maoz Azaryahu (eds.), Tel Aviv, The First Century: Visions, Designs, Actualities (2012).


Vardit Ringvald, Ph.D.  is the Director of the Hebrew language program and has been teaching at Brandeis University since 1985. Her presentations and publications deal with topics of competency-based curriculum for teaching Modern Hebrew in all educational settings. She is involved in national initiatives to advance the learning and teaching of Hebrew in America. She, along with her colleagues, published "Brandeis Modern Hebrew," which has become the standard college Hebrew textbook in America.  In summer 2007 she established the Brandeis-Middlebury School of Hebrew at Middlebury College VT.  She is also the Director and the Advisor for the MA in Hebrew teaching at Brandeis.


Eugene R. Sheppard, Ph.D is Associate Professor of Modern Jewish History and Thought, Associate Director of the Tauber Institute for the Study of European Jewry, and is currently serving as Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. He received his Ph.D. at UCLA in the department of History in 2001.  In Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher (Brandeis University Press 2006), he critically assesses the development of this controversial and enigmatic German-Jewish refugee's political philosophy and its legacy. Professor Sheppard is co-editing a volume on Simon Rawidowicz with David N. Myers; he and Samuel Moyn (Columbia University) are managing editors of a forthcoming series on Brandeis University Press/UPNE entitled Readings in Modern Jewish Thought. He is co-editor of the AJS Review book reviews. He is a contributor to the forthcoming Cambridge History of Jewish Philosophy.