2024 Anniversary Edition

collage of images related to HBI, faces, book covers, artwork


Diane Troderman

Diane Troderman

May 29, 2024

Amazing how 25 years have flown by since Shula Reinharz asked me to be the first chair of the HBI. I don’t remember exactly what I thought HBI encompassed, but Shula definitely had a big vision. I had deep respect for my then professor Sylvia Barack Fishman who would become Shula’s co-director. That sealed the deal. It was an amazing journey to be part of history in the making. 

Images of book and art exhibitions associated with HBI

May 28, 2024

Throughout its history, HBI has remained steadily committed to research about gender and the Holocaust, with the premise that women experienced the Holocaust differently from men, and that women responded differently, using the limited forms of agency available to them. HBI supports important elements of this work through scholarship, film, books, and art about this era.

Shula Mola
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Dr. Shula Mola

Past HBI Scholar in Residence, Dr. Shula Mola, on her year long HBI residency

May 27, 2024

HBI 2022-2023 Scholar in Residence Dr. Shula Mola shares her enthusiasm for all the work she accomplished during her year-long residence at HBI. Dr. Mola’s research included an oral history of the women of the Enkash - the Zar and the Mergem Gojo (blood hut) as spaces for resistance and focused women’s experiences.  “I learned a lot about Ethiopian women and the culture, and I learned a lot about myself through this specific research,” she said. 

multiple book spines of Nashim

May 24, 2024

Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women's Studies and Gender Issues was co-founded by the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies, and the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. This journal provides an international, interdisciplinary academic forum for the innovative work being done in Jewish women’s and gender studies. It regularly includes articles on literature, text studies, anthropology, archeology, theology, contemporary thought, sociology, the arts and more.

images of eight student docents

2023 HBI student docents

May 21, 2024

HBI initiated a Student Docent Program this past year to help with Deeply Rooted: Faith in Reproductive Justice, a 21 artist show, and Lives Eliminated, Dreams Illuminated with artists Lauren Bergman and Ella Milch-Sheriff. HBI’s eight student docents helped HBI curators imagine a feedback space, created resource and docent guides, and helped with exhibition outreach and gallery tours. 

a collage of art from past HBI art programs

May 20, 2024

Art is a central part of the way that HBI achieves the mission of producing and promoting fresh ideas at the intersection of Jewish studies and women’s and gender studies. To this end, HBI features at least one, but sometimes several exhibitions per year in the Brandeis Kniznick Gallery. At the same time, art is woven into other aspects of HBI’s work by funding creative projects as well as sponsoring other events related to the arts. 

Rachel Gross
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Dr. Rachel B. Gross

May 17, 2024

HBI Research Associates are affiliates who carry out projects that support the institute’s mission. HBI provides RAs with academic oversight, access to HBI and the resources of Brandeis University and they play an active part in the intellectual life of the institute and the university by attending and presenting work in the HBI Seminar Series. Many of HBI’s Research Associates have already been Scholars in Residence and continue their work and their affiliation with HBI in this way.

Melissa Klapper
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Dr. Melissa Klapper

May 15, 2024

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute Academic Advisory Committee (AAC) is composed of recognized experts in a range of disciplines within Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies. Each year, they share their time and expertise with us to conduct evaluations of proposals submitted to the HBI Research Awards Program.  A subset of this group acts as the final Research Awards Selection Committee.

a collage of books

A sampling of past HBI Conversations Series titles

May 14, 2024

Want to explore Jewish women's lives through new and thought-provoking literary fiction, memoir and more? Want to connect first hand with those who create it? The Sandra Seltzer Silberman HBI Conversations Series, dedicated in honor of our beloved Conversations friend, Sandy Silberman, z"l, brings us together in a warm, online setting to share stories that explore the diversity of Jewish women's experiences across the world from yesterday and today. 

 (L) Book cover of The Light of Days, by Judy Batalion, in white letters on a red background with a photo of Renia Kukielka wearing a kerchief on her hair and an overcoat and showing her shadow as a fighter. (R)  Judy Batalion.
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"The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos" by Judy Batalion (Deckle Edge, 2021)

May 10, 2024

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute awards grants to support research or artistic projects in Jewish women’s and gender studies across a range of disciplines. The purpose is to support work that has the potential to make a significant contribution to the field of Jewish Gender Studies by using the lens of gender to inform the field of Jewish Studies, by bringing insights from Jewish Studies to the field of Women’s and Gender Studies, and by exploring interreligious collaborations between Jewish women and women of other faiths. Since our founding, HBI has given 327 Research Awards, many that resulted in books, some that were published in the HBI Series on Jewish Women, won book awards and became acclaimed best sellers.

Watch as Judy Batalion shares how The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos would not have been possible without HBI's early support. 

collage of images of book covers and art from HBI events, with the words: Jewish American Heritage Month.

May 9, 2024

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, a time to celebrate the more than 350-year history of Jewish contributions to America and American culture. A crucial collaborator in the field of Jewish women's and gender studies for twenty-five years, HBI has made important contributions that have supported generations of innovative scholarship, art, and literature by and about American Jewish women, and the world.

With pride, we share a small selection of HBI’s contributions.

Four members of the Boston Agunah Taskforce sit and stand around table filled with books.

Members of the Taskforce: (L-R) Layah Kranz Lipsker, Shanna T. Giora-Gorfajn, Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, and Rabbi Aryeh (Robert) Klapper

May 7, 2024

Part of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law, the Boston Agunah Taskforce is devoted to research, education and advocacy for fairness in the Jewish divorce process. We believe that withholding a Jewish divorce is a form of domestic abuse. Women sometimes wait years for a solution, and are often referred to as “agunot,” women ‘chained’ to marriages that are no longer viable. Get refusal is not just an Orthodox issue. It can affect every segment of our Jewish community.

Black and white images of family members smiling and together.

Now I know their names: Family members murdered in the Holocaust

Photo Credit: ©Karin Rosenthal 2023

HBI Holocaust Research Study Group

May 6, 2024

Today, on Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, we remember and mourn the six million Jews and others who perished in the Holocaust. Earlier in the day, HBI held its annual public program featuring the work of the HBI Holocaust Research Study Group (HRSG). A multi-disciplinary group of women scholars actively working on individual Holocaust related projects, our members include a journalist, a prose writer, a public artist, a poet, a fine art photographer, a sociologist, a public health professor, and a film-maker. This year’s program, “Listening to History: Memory of the Holocaust and Competing Narratives of the Israel/Palestine Crisis” was recorded and will be shared here in the coming days. Learn more about this research group and watch past events.

book covers, on the left, Holy Rebellion, Religious Feminism and the Transformation of Judaism and Women's Rights in Israel by Ronit Irshai and Tanya Zion-Waldoks, in white letters on a black background showing a red Torah, and on the right, The Marital Knot: Agunot in the Ashkenazi Realm, 1648-1850 by Noa Shashar, in white letters on a gray background, showing an image of a dress made of hundreds of pieces of paper
Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law

May 3, 2024

A publication series of the Brandeis University Press, the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law focuses on the conflict between women’s claims to gender equality and legal norms justified in terms of religious and cultural traditions. It seeks work that develops new theoretical tools for conceptualizing feminist projects for transforming the interpretation and justification of religious law, examines the interaction or application of civil law or remedies to gender issues in a religious context, and engages in analysis of conflicts over gender and culture/religion in a particular religious legal tradition, cultural community, or nation. Created under the auspices of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute in conjunction with its Project on Gender, Culture, Religion, and the Law, this series emphasizes cross-cultural and interdisciplinary scholarship concerning Judaism, Islam, Christianity, and other religious traditions.

Here are two of the newest books in the series, Holy Rebellion: Religious Feminism and the Transformation of Judaism and Women's Rights in Israel by Ronit Irshai and Tanya Zion-Waldoks, and coming in December, The Marital Knot: Agunot in the Ashkenazi Realm, 1648-1850 by Noa Shashar.

Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy
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Dr. Cochav Elkayam-Levy

May 2, 2024

Today’s anniversary celebration installment focuses on the annual Diane Markowicz Lecture on Gender and Human Rights made possible by Sylvia Neil and her husband Dan Fischel in memory of Sylvia’s late sister, Diane Markowicz, to honor her commitment to gender equality and social justice. 

 Images of HBI-related events - Markowicz Lecture, Agunah Taskforce - and the book cover for "Holy Rebellion"
HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL)

May 1, 2024

The mission of HBI’s Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law (GCRL) is to support research and activism which explores conflicts between women's claims to gender equality and legal norms justified in terms of religious and cultural traditions. Its location at HBI shapes its unique approach to exploring these issues. The project supports research on the rights of women in Jewish law, both in Israel and the Diaspora. It also supports comparative work that examines the issues of women's rights under religious laws in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural perspective.

The GCRL hosts scholars in residence and sponsors research. Within the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law there is the Diane Markowicz Lecture on Gender and Human Rights, the Boston Agunah Task Force, and the HBI Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law. In the coming days, we will explore each of these. The HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law was founded and is chaired by Sylvia Neil.

Tamar Biala
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Tamar Biala

April 30, 2024

A publication series of the Brandeis University Press, the HBI Series on Jewish Women offers a wide range of books by and about Jewish women in diverse contexts and time periods. Of interest to scholars and the public, the HBI Series on Jewish Women fills major gaps in Jewish Studies and in Women and Gender Studies as well as their intersection.

Neta Weiner and Stav Marin

Neta Weiner and Stav Marin

Studio Israel

April 29, 2024

Studio Israel began during the pandemic as an online conversation series that looks at Israeli culture and diversity through the lens of contemporary Israeli artists and creatives. This Thursday, May 2 at 6:30 pm, we launch the first Studio Israel Live: The Multilingual Music of Jaffa with Neta Weiner and Stav Marin. Joining Weiner and Marin is Yuval Gur, JArts x CJP Community Creative Fellow. For more information or tickets, visit our events page. Studio Israel is a partnership among Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Jewish Arts Collaborative, Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, and the Vilna Shul and is made possible by generous support from Combined Jewish Philanthropies.

View recordings of our past programs on our Studio Israel web page. 

Samantha Pickette
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Dr. Samantha Pickette

April 26, 2024

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute accepts six undergraduate and two graduate students with a demonstrated interest in women’s studies, Jewish women’s studies or topics related to Jewish women/Jewish gender issues around the world to participate in our paid residential internship program. Students have the opportunity to work on their own research project, support the research of a Brandeis affiliated scholar, learn about research and careers in Jewish and gender studies, and go on day trips of interest.
Mara Lebovitz
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Mara Lebovitz, Brandeis ‘24

Student opportunities at HBI

April 25, 2024

HBI has a number of opportunities for students both during the academic year and the summer. This past year HBI employed students for various roles including as student Kniznick gallery docents for the art exhibitions Deeply Rooted: Faith in Reproductive Justice and Lives Eliminated, Dreams Illuminated. Students also worked as research assistants for scholars in residence and for HBI affiliates. They are employed to help in the office, recruit for our Gilda Slifka Summer Internship and other events, and to help run events smoothly. Tomorrow, we will discuss the Gilda Slifka Summer Internship, one of HBI’s important student programs. 

Today, Mara Lebovitz, Brandeis ‘24 HBI student assistant and gallery docent, shares her experiences working for HBI both in the Kniznick Gallery and the office. 

Max Strassfeld
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Dr. Max Strassfeld

HBI Scholar in Residence Program: HBI’s Relevance in Today’s Climate

April 24, 2024

The HBI Scholar in Residence program offers distinguished scholars, writers and communal professionals the opportunity to produce significant work in the area of Jewish studies and gender issues while being freed from their regular institutional responsibilities. Scholars in Residence contribute to the life of HBI by immersing in the institute’s weekly activities, participating in HBI conferences and programs, and delivering a public lecture. Since our founding HBI hosted 138 scholars in residence, working on a range of topics. For example, this year’s research areas included disability culture in Israel, fiction about the Jewish American family, emerging travel for Jewish women between 1860 and 1920, queer Niddah, and American Jews and the politics of abortion. 

Dr. Max Strassfeld, 2022 Scholar in ResidenceProject on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Lawspeaks to HBI’s relevance in today’s climate. 

 Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman
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Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman

HBI’s Impact on Jewish Women’s and Gender Studies

April 21, 2024

In the years following HBI’s founding, it had an enormous impact. Dr. Sylvia Barack Fishman, HBI’s founding co-director, explains HBI’s academic influence in both building and contributing to the field of Jewish women’s and gender studies. 

Dr. Shulamit Reinharz
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Dr. Shulamit Reinharz

April 19, 2024

How did HBI begin? 

The genesis of HBI can be traced to a 1995 report of the Hadassah-sponsored National Commission on American Jewish Women, chaired by Brandeis sociologist Dr. Shulamit Reinharz, who ultimately became the founding director of HBI.

Rachel Barenbaum
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Author Rachel Barenbaum

Happy Anniversary HBI!

April 18, 2024

During these 25 days, we will feature testimonials from people who tell their own HBI stories. Today, we hear from Rachel Barenbaum, 2022 HBI Scholar in Residence, and author of A Bend in the Stars (2019) and Atomic Anna (2022). She reflects on HBI’s influence on her work.

Lisa Fishbayn Joffe

Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, Shulamit Reinharz Director of HBI

April 17, 2024

Twenty-five years ago, in a small office at Brandeis, the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute opened its doors to a single scholar, published one book, and gave out 20 HBI Research Awards. Read more from HBI Director Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe