Doctoral Students

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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.


Aviv Ben-Or, NEJSAviv Ben-Or

Aviv is a 4th-year doctoral student researching two Israeli authors, Shimon Ballas and Sami Mikhael, both born in Baghdad, who began writing short stories in Arabic before making the transition to Hebrew. Aviv's dissertation will examine texts in both languages in order to address literary representations of Arab-Jewish subjectivity and questions of translingual writing and its implications for understanding the Israeli literary landscape of the 20th century.


deboardRobert DeBoard, NEJS

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 tentatively focused on Israeli defense strategy in the 1950s.

eva gurevich

Eva Gurevich, NEJS

Eva is a cultural historian deeply interested in Israeli human geography. Her dissertation research will examine the transformation of the Israeli political spectrum between 1967 and 1981 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. Eva speaks fluent Hebrew and Russian, and is currently gaining proficiency in Arabic.


hakklai Iddo Haklai, NEJS

Iddo received his BA in Jewish Thought and Political Science and an MA in Political Science (both Magna Cum Laude) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He has worked for years at Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust research and education center. Iddo is interested in the theological underpinnings of the internal fragmentation of the "Dati-Leumi" (non-Haredi Orthodox) public in Israel in recent decades and in the creation of different conceptual patterns in relation to inclusion and exclusion of women and LGBT people in non-Haredi Orthodox synagogue practices and communities.


mostafa hussein Mostafa Hussein, NEJS

An alumnus of Al-Azhar University in Cairo (M.A. 2009), Mostafa is a 4th-year doctoral student in the department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. His dissertation research focuses on the reading of Islam in modern Jewish thought. Mostafa hopes to further explore the works of Jewish Islamicists in the German Academy and the Institute for Oriental Studies at the Hebrew University in Mandatory Palestine. He recently defended his prospectus on Hebrew scholarship on Islamic civilization.


Susanna Klosko, NEJSSusanna Klosko

Susanna received her B.A. in History with a minor in Russian Studies from the College of William and Mary. She is currently writing her dissertation, which examines mental health care at the turn of the century. She compares Palestine's first mental hospital, Ezrath Nashim, to international welfare organizations for Palestine's Jews. In doing so, she examines how the language of poverty and debility used by such institutions inscribed the relationship between the healthy and the sick.


ari moshkovskyAri Moshkovski, NEJS

A 4th-year doctoral candidate, Ari's fields of specialization include the history of Zionism, contemporary Orthodox Judaism, Israeli foreign policy, and the modern Middle East. He is designing a dissertation project focused on Israeli religious politics and the peace process. 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.


Jason Olson, NEJSJason Olson

Jason is a 5th-year doctoral candidate conducting research on the question of Christian support for and opposition to the state of Israel. His dissertation will show how and why Christian solidarity with Israel shifted from the liberal Protestants before 1967, to the conservative Protestants post-1967, and how the rise of both the Likud party in Israel and the Christian Right in America has transformed the US-Israeli relationship itself. In 2014, he was called to active duty as a Navy officer and will be educating midshipmen about the modern State of Israel.


Idan Rochell, HistoryIdan Rochell

Idan's MA research at the University of Haifa focused on the diplomatic history of the US-Israeli relationship with regard to water development. He is interested in the mutual geopolitical interests and common democratic tradition underlying the US-Israel relationship. Idan's dissertation will focus on Israeli leader's attempts to portray Israel as a cultural extension of the United States and present Israeli actions as fulfilling American values such as pioneering, with an eye towards ensuring American support. 


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. He is a 4th-year doctoral student interested in China-Middle East relations, especially 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. 


karen spira

Karen Spira, NEJS

Karen is a 4th-year doctoral student conducting dissertation research on child welfare and the Jewish orphanage institution in Palestine/Israel from the Mandate period through the 1950s. Her research explores Zionist, Jewish and American views of child-rearing and education and the effects of state-building and the Holocaust on orphaned and disadvantages youths during this period. Karen's languages include Hebrew, Slovak and German.


Amber Taylor, NEJSAmber Taylor

Amber graduated Cum Laude from Brigham Young University in Spanish Translation, and completed her MA at Brandeis in 2012, with her thesis, “Ezra Taft Benson and the State of Israel: A Mormon American Leader's Support for the Jewish State.”  Her doctoral studies focus on the relationship between American Christians and the State of Israel, particularly through the lens of Holy Land pilgrimage and tourism. In addition to Spanish, Amber knows modern Hebrew, and plans to master Arabic for her research.

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