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 1st-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..


Aviv Ben-Or, NEJSAviv Ben-Or

Aviv is a 5th-year doctoral student focusing on modern Hebrew literature. 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 will be giving a course at Brandeis in Fall 2015 entitle "Modern Arab-Jewish Literature."


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 MA in Political Science (both Magna Cum Laude) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He worked for several years at Yad Vashem, Israel's national Holocaust research and education center. His research interests focus on Orthodox Jewish thought, specifically on the theological underpinnings to the internal fragmentation of the "Dati-Leumi" (non-Haredi Orthodox) community in Israel and in the re-framing of classical religious and religious-Zionist terms and concepts in sectorial disputes within that public.


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. 


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 has been awarded the Malkin Fellowship in Israel Studies (2009-2014) and the Israel Institute Doctoral Fellowship (2013-2015). She is currently working on her dissertation, 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, such as Britain and America.


ari moshkovskyAri Moshkovski, NEJS

A 5th-year doctoral candidate, Ari's fields of specialization include the history of Zionism, contemporary Orthodox Judaism, Israeli foreign policy, and the modern Middle East. His dissertation explores 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.


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.


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 5th-year doctoral student interested in China-Middle East relations; 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. 


karen spira

Karen Spira, NEJS

Karen is a 5th-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. For Fall 2015, she will be giving a University Writing Seminar on "Making New Jews: Zionism and the Construction of Israeli Identity."


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 working on 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.