David Ellenson

David Ellenson

David Ellenson is director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies and visiting professor in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. Chancellor-emeritus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, he served as president of HUC-JIR from 2001-2013. A scholar of modern Jewish thought and history, Ellenson is recognized for his writings and publications in these fields. He has written extensively on the origins and development of Orthodox Judaism in Germany during the Nineteenth Century, Orthodox legal writings on conversion in Israel, North America, and Europe during the modern era, the relationship between religion and state in Israel, the history of modern Jewish religious movements, and American Jewish life. 

Rachel FishRachel Fish, PhD '13
Associate Director

Rachel Fish is associate director of the Schusterman Center. She completed her doctoral degree in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University. 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. At Brandeis, Fish teaches the Myra Kraft seminar on Israel in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. She also teaches undergraduate courses on Israeli history and Zionist thought. In 2015 she held the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, where she lectured on modern Israel and received the Derek Bok Certificate of Teaching Excellence. She 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.  She is co-editor, with Ilan Troen, of the edited volume Essential Israel: Essays for the Twenty-First Century (Indiana University Press). Read extended profile

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Rise SingerJoann Leavitt
Assistant Director

Rise Singer joined the Schusterman Center as assistant director in September 2014 after 10 years managing the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program at Brandeis. Prior to Brandeis, Rise enjoyed an extensive career in university technology management, as well as stints in college admissions and international educational settings. Her academic training was in Russian language and intercultural relations.

Keren GoodblattKeren Goodblatt
Communications Specialist

Keren Goodblatt is the Schusterman Center’s communications specialist. Before coming to Brandeis she was the student life coordinator at Hebrew College and speaks Italian and French, as well as Hebrew. Prior to her current role she was information architect for Jellyfish, our online resource center, and managed recruiting campaigns.

Abby HuberAbby Huber
Web Specialist / Executive Assistant

Abby Huber is our web specialist / executive assistant. She joined the Schusterman Center after living in Germany for five years and completing a master's degree in international literatures at the University of Tübingen. She has taught English as a second language, worked as a translator from both Spanish and German, and led programs to engage children and youth in their communities in New York City.

Photo of Julie VanWagenenJulie VanWagenen
Program Coordinator 

Julie VanWagenen is the center's program coordinator, planning and implementing center events. Her work history includes 10 years as a meeting/education planner, where she managed all aspects of large continuing medical education programs. Prior to this role, she worked for 9 years as an executive assistant to senior vice presidents while pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at Suffolk University. Most recently, her work was in Port au Prince, Haiti, where she lived full-time and represented missional organizations in the area of orphan care, learning to speak Haitian Creole. She is eager to help facilitate the teaching and learning process in Israel Studies.