Scholar Highlights

See Maya Dworsky highlighted in the Graduate School newsletter.

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. Bi-monthly seminars on Israel Studies enrich their academic coursework and prepare them to make significant contributions to the scholarship in the field.

Click here for information on how to apply.

Scroll below for profiles of our current Schusterman Scholars.

Maham Ayaz, NEJSMaham Ayaz

Maham is a 2nd-year PhD candidate. She 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 is excited to begin her time at Brandeis and hopes to use her background in international studies, human rights, and constitutional law to study political membership in Israel.


Yair Bar Zuri, NEJSYair Bar-Zuri

Yair Bar Zuri is 1st year doctoral student 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. 


Aviv Ben-Or, NEJSAviv Ben-Or

Aviv is completing his doctorate this year with the generous support of the Dissertation Completion Fellowship awarded by the Association of Jewish Studies. His dissertation explores the works of Iraqi-born Israeli authors Shimon Ballas and Sami Mikhael, both of whom wrote in their native Arabic before switching to Hebrew. Specifically, he is interested in the construction of Arab-Jewish subjectivity in the context of transition from Arabic to Hebrew, as well as the implications of translingual writing for our understanding of the literary landscape in 20th century Israel. Awarded a University Prize Instructorship, Aviv taught a course at Brandeis in Fall 2015 entitled "Modern Arab-Jewish Literature."


deboardRobert DeBoard, NEJS

Robert is a 3rd year doctoral student. He 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.

dworskyMaya Dworsky, Anthropology

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...

eva gurevich

Eva Gurevich, NEJS

Eva is a 3rd year doctoral student 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. 


hakklai Iddo Haklai, NEJS

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.  


mostafa hussein Mostafa Hussein, NEJS

An alumnus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo (MA 2009), Mostafa came to Brandeis to broaden his scholarly interest in the intersection between Jewish and Islamic thought. His doctoral dissertation explores the Hebrew scholarship on Arabo-Islamic civilization published in Palestine/Israel during the 1880s-1950s and the refraction of fundamental issues which played an important role in shaping the consciousness of the Hebrew Yishuv: Building a new Hebrew culture; the relationship between Jews and the land; and the relationship between Jews and the local Arab population. He is the recipient of a 2016 Dissertation Year Fellowship from Brandeis as well as a fellowship for 2016-2017 from the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. See him highlighted in the Schusterman Center newsletter.


Susanna Klosko, NEJSSusanna Klosko

Susanna received her BA from the College of William and Mary and has been with the Schusterman Center since 2009. She was awarded the Malkin Fellowship in Israel Studies (2009-2014) and the Israel Institute Doctoral Fellowship (2013-2015). She is currently writing her dissertation, tentatively titled “No Healing for this Sickness: Immigration, Disability, and Palestine’s Jews under Western custody, 1880-1939”. In her dissertation she examines the historical connection between immigration, chronic illness, and the Land of Israel by exploring how these were informed by an ethos of productivization and immigration control which came to Palestine not only with Zionist activists but with the jurisdiction of Western powers. In 2016-2017, she is a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia, teaching in the Jewish Studies Department.


ari moshkovskyAri Moshkovski, NEJS

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.


Gangzheng She

Gangzheng She, NEJS

Gangzheng graduated in 2011 with a degree in Hebrew Language and Culture from Peking University, where he co-founded the Jewish Cultural Research Association. His doctoral dissertation focuses on China's involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict during the Cold War. He has conducted research on the evolution of Israel's national image in mainstream Chinese media from 1949-1992. Prior to Brandeis, Gangzheng worked as a research associate at China Development Research Foundation and the Foreign Affairs office of Guangzhou municipal government. 


Dina Shvetsov, NEJSDina Shvetsov

Dina’s research is focused on legal, political, socio-cultural and religious constituents of Israeli identity with regard to evolutions of Israeli policy on immigrants, refugees and converts to Judaism. She holds a BA and MA in Politics from the National Research University Higher School of Economics in Moscow and a dual MA in Public Policy and Jewish Professional Leadership from Brandeis University. Dina wrote her Master’s thesis on illegal migration from Africa to Israel. She speaks Russian, Hebrew and understands German. She is a 2nd year doctoral student.


karen spira

Karen Spira, NEJS

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. 


Amber Taylor, NEJSAmber Taylor

Amber graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University, and then received her MA at Brandeis in 2012. Her doctoral studies have focused on American Christian relations with the State of Israel. She is currently writing her dissertation, which examines the history of the Mormon Church in the Holy Land, with a particular interest in the way Mormons - in contradistinction to other Christian groups - have viewed and created a presence in the Land, and how that presence has been perceived by local residents as well as religious and social groups. Amber is fluent in Spanish, and has learned both Hebrew and Arabic for her doctoral work.

Click here for updates on Schusterman Scholars that have completed their doctoral degrees.