Randa Abbas, Fall 2018
Randa Abbas, PhD received a doctorate in Education from Bar Ilan University in 2006 with a dissertation entitled, “The Role of the school system in shaping the personality, identity and level of citizenship of its students: An ethnography case study in two Druze high schools.” She is a Druze Israeli Women who lives in Nahariya in the north of Israel. Abbas is the Academic Dean of the Arab Academic College in Haifa, and a lecturer in the Education Department at Western Galilee College in Akko, Israel. Her primary research interests include: Education in a multicultural society, education, language & identity, generational gaps in traditional societies, gender studies, and stereotypes and perception of the other.
Derya Agis, Summer 2010
Derya Agis earned her bachelor’s degree in Italian language and literature from Ankara University, and her master’s degree in English linguistics from Hacettepe University. She used to be a senior lecturer at Girne American University. She is the author of the “Emotional Expressions in Judeo-Spanish” and “Turkish Proverbs and Idioms: A Comparative Cognitive Pragmatic Approach to the Expression of Emotions via Facial Sensory Organs,” (Lap-Lambert Academic Publishing, 2009) and the “Studies on Judeo-Spanish and Sephardic Culture: Cognitive Scientific Essays,” (Lap-Lambert Academic Publishing, 2010). She has delivered various lectures at different symposia and published several papers about the Judeo-Spanish language and Sephardic culture. While at the HBI, she performed research on the similarities and differences between the gift-giving habits of the Turkish Sephardic and American Sephardic women.
Sara Airoldi, Fall 2018
Sara Airoldi, PhD, earned a doctorate in History from the State University of Milan in 2016 with a dissertation titled “Nation within motherland. Zionism and the challenge of identity in Italy 1918–1938.” She lives in Jerusalem, where she is the Posen Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her project at the HBI dealt with the conceptualization of otherness. She elaborates on anti-Jewish prejudices in rationalist and ecumenical ideologies, such as Liberalism and Socialism, in Western Europe.
Rachel Barenbaum, Fall 2022
Rachel Barenbaum is a prolific writer and reviewer whose work has appeared in publications such as the "LA Review of Books," "Harper’s Bazaar," "Hey Alma!" and more. A graduate of GrubStreet’s Novel Incubator, she is also the founder of Debut Spotlight and the Debut Editor at "A Mighty Blaze." In a former life she was a hedge fund manager and a spin instructor. She has degrees from Harvard in Business and Literature and Philosophy. Barenbaum's debut, "A Bend in the Stars," was named a "New York Times" Summer Reading Selection and a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. "The New York Times" declared Barenbaum's second novel, "Atomic Anna," "masterfully plotted." In a starred review from "Publishers Weekly" the editors wrote, "Barenbaum burnishes her reputation as an up-and-coming talent with this audacious time travel story.... Barenbaum dares greatly, and succeeds."
At HBI, Barenbaum worked on a collection of six short stories, each portraying a separate Jewish female assassin from the Russian Revolution including women who ran safe houses, built and planted bombs and planned various assassination attempts against the Czar. The six stories are tied together by themes of freedom and hope, showing all six women were dedicated to the idea of the greater good and a better future.
Ornit Barkai, Summer 2009
Ornit Barkai’s film credits include the documentaries “From Anne Frank’s Window,” “A Day in Poland,” “Past Forward” (work-in-progress), which all explore post-Holocaust narratives from multi-generational perspectives; “A Moment of Silence” and “Manhattan Moments,” which highlight 9/11 themes; and “Let Them Fly,” which documents Jewish youth leadership in New England and is part of the media curriculum of the Boston Bureau of Jewish Education. Ornit offers diverse media production and broadcasting experience with regional and national radio and TV stations and international programming. She holds an master’s degree in mass communications/TV production emphasis from Emerson College.
While at the HBI, Ornit Barkai carried out pre-production research for a documentary film on “The Polacas” (Polish women in Spanish), young women from the shtetls of Eastern Europe who were forced into prostitution in Argentina and Brazil by members of the Argentinean Jewish crime ring Zwi Migdal during the 19th and early 20th century. Working in a cinema verite style, Ornit aims to make a documentary that will offer a glimpse of the historic consequences of the ordeal of these tragic women.
Marleen Barr, Academic Year 2003–2004
Montclair State University (New Jersey, USA)
Marleen S. Barr is herself a pioneer in the feminist criticism of science fiction. A professor of American Literature at Montclair State University, Barr specializes in postmodern fiction, narrative theory and cultural studies. Her many works include “Oy Pioneer!,” “Lost in Space: Probing Feminist Science Fiction and Beyond.” Barr spent her HBI residency working on a new novel, “Oy Quebecois!”
Tamar Barzel, Spring 2012
Tamar Barzel is assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Wellesley College in Wellesley, Massachusetts, where she teaches courses on jazz, klezmer, the music of Cuba and Senegal, punk rock and the American avant-garde. Her research focuses on New York City’s experimentalist downtown music scene, and especially on an artistic and cultural phenomenon of the 1990s known as “Radical Jewish Culture,” when many artists turned their attention to writing unconventional music that drew on Jewish music and heritage in idiosyncratic ways, usually outside the sphere of klezmer. She is currently writing a book titled “Downtown and Disorderly: ‘Radical Jewish Music’ and its Discontents on Manhattan’s Experimental Music Scene.” In this book, she explores the relationship between avant-garde aesthetics and Jewish subjectivity, as theorized (through music) by several different artists. She presents her research regularly at conferences, including the Society for Ethnomusicology, the Society for American Music, the American Studies Association, the American Jewish Historical Society and the Jewish Music Forum. Most recently she published “The Praxis of Composition-Improvisation and the Poetics of Creative Kinship,” which is forthcoming from the University of California press in a volume titled “Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and Its Boundaries.” This article argues for the key role played by jazz, both musically and conceptually, in American experimental music.
Norma Baumel Joseph, Academic Year 1999–2000
Associate Professor of Religion, Concordia University (Montreal, Quebec)
While in residence at HBI, Professor Joseph worked on her book manuscript about Rav Moshe Feinstein’s legal opinions and was the guest editor for “Food, Gender and Survival,” Volume 5 of Nashim.
Michal Ben Ya’akov, Summer 2009
Lecturer, History Department, Efrata College for Education
Michal Ben Ya’akov’s academic research centers around 19th and early 20th century Eretz-Israel, with special emphasis on North African and Sephardi Jewry. Combining her academic interests with her work teaching at the Efrata College of Education in Jerusalem, she has done research on the history of the school, originally the Mizrachi College for Women. She received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2002. While at HBI, Michal’s research focused on the changing lives of Jewish immigrant widows from North Africa living in the various urban centers of 19th century Palestine.
Tamar Biala, Fall 2013, Fall 2015
Tamar Biala is engaged with Jewish feminism as a writer and lecturer. She received her BA in Jewish studies and in literature at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and her MA in Women’s Studies and Jewish Studies at the Schechter Institute. Her MA thesis, directed by professor Tamar Ross, was on “Feminist Theology’s Critique of Divine Transcendence as a Means of Changing Conceptions of the ‘Self’”. Ms. Biala has taught at IASA, Jerusalem’s high school for gifted students, at the Hartman Institute’s teacher training program, in pluralistic batei midrash in Israel and for the Israel Defence Forces. She also served for several years on the board of Kolech, the Religious Women’s Forum, under whose auspices she developed high school curricula for the empowerment of young women in which she trained teachers, and curricula for sex and family education for both young men and young women. She is the co-editor of “Dirshuni: Midrashei Nashim” (Yediot Acharonot and the Jewish Agency for Israel, 2009), the first-ever collection of Midrashim written by contemporary Israeli women. While at the HBI, Biala edited the second volume of Dirshuni and is working on the English version.
Debra Reed Blank, Fall 2009
Professor of Liturgy, Jewish Theological Seminary
Debra Reed Blank is the Rabbi Philip R. Alstat Assistant Professor of Jewish Liturgy at The Jewish Theological Seminary, where she teaches a variety of courses related to the topic of liturgy. Her portfolio includes classes on the liturgy of the High Holy Days and Shabbat, as well as the Passover Haggadah and Weekday Siddur. She also lectures widely and conducts adult education classes on the topic of liturgy. Debra graduated from Indiana University and earned her master’s degree, rabbinical ordination and a doctorate in Liturgy and Rabbinics at JTS. She was a member of the first class of women to enter the Rabbinical School at JTS in 1984. She also has a master’s degree in library science from Columbia University and has worked as a Judaica librarian. Debra has a long-standing interest in the role of ritual in Judaism. While in residence, she devoted her time to a systematic analysis of the ritual of /Simhat Bat/ for an upcoming book on the subject. The book’s underlying theoretical considerations will be whether self-consciously crafted women’s ritual (such as Simhat Bat) differs from men’s ritual (e.g., the circumcision ceremony) and whether there are any implications for the general study of emergent ritual.
Jonathan Branfman, Summer 2020
Linking Jewish, Gender, and Media Studies, Jonathan researches millennial Jewish stars in U.S. pop culture. For instance, he writes on Drake, Zac Efron, Rachel Bloom, Abbi Jacobson, and Ilana Glazer. Jonathan's Jewish feminist scholarship also aims to improve progressive pedagogy about anti-Semitism. To advance gender and sexuality equity beyond the academy, Jonathan has also co-founded a feminist sex-education program at the Ohio State University. Likewise, he has published the award-winning LGBTQ children's book, You Be You! The Kid's Guide to Gender, Sexuality, & Family, now translated into 23 languages. Jonathan's full website and CV can be found here.
Marla Brettschneider, Fall 2021
Dr. Marla Brettschneider is Professor of Political Theory with a joint appointment at the University of New Hampshire in Women’s Studies and Political Science where she has chaired both of her departments. A builder of Women’s Studies Programs, she is a founder at UNH of Queer Studies and the Social Justice Leadership Minor, and is active in the Race, Culture, and Power Program. Brettschneider teaches, lectures, and publishes widely in Jewish feminist diversity political theory, looking at issues of contemporary Jewish politics through the co-constructed analytic paradigms of feminist, queer, critical race, class-based, and de-colonial studies. At HBI, Brettschneider worked on her manuscript, Revolutionary Legacies: Jewish Feminist Political Thinking. This work explores the lives, politics, work, and art of six twentieth-century women: Jamaica Kincaid, Golda Meir, Hannah Arendt, Frida Kahlo, Gertrude Stein, and Emma Goldman. She approaches this study as a political theorist using Jewish, feminist, queer, critical race, class-based, and decolonial co-constructed theories. Brettschneider thinks together with these historical figures to understand them and to imagine new possibilities for Jewish feminist lives, communities, and futures.
Ayelet Brinn, Spring 2022
University of Pennsylvania
Ayelet Brinn is an American Jewish historian with an expertise in gender and popular culture. She received her PhD in History from the University of Pennsylvania in 2019 and has served as the Rabin Shvidler Joint Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Fordham University and Columbia University and as the Ivan and Nina Ross Family Fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been supported with research fellowships from organizations including the Association for Jewish Studies, the Center for Jewish History, and the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.
At HBI, Brinn worked on research to demonstrate how placing gender at the center of analysis rewrites the history of the American Yiddish Press in its period of peak influence, between the 1880s and 1920s. Unlike previous histories concentrating on more overtly political content, this project analyzed the role of “womenʼs content,” including advice columns, advertising, and womenʼs columns, in the development of the Yiddish press.
Esther Brownsmith, Spring 2020
Esther Brownsmith is a PhD candidate at Brandeis University in Bible and Ancient Near East; her interests include intersectionality, intertextuality, and interpretive techniques. Her dissertation, "Inconspicuous Consumption: Conceptual Metaphors of Women as Food in the Deuteronomistic History," explores three biblical texts of violence against women as they metaphorically portray the women as food. In her work, Esther draws on Brandeis's rich tradition of philological exegesis, applying it to modern questions of gender and violence.
Jessica Carr, Summer 2015
Jessica Carr is the Philip and Muriel Berman Scholar of Jewish Studies at Lafayette College, where she is an Assistant Professor in the Religious Studies Department. A scholar of American Judaism, visual culture, and Zionism and its representations, she completed her PhD at Indiana University in 2013. She has also studied in Germany and Lithuania, and she conducted research in a variety of archives in Cincinnati, Chicago, and New York. She has presented on her current project, entitled “The Zionization of America: Palestine In Jewish-American Visual Culture, 1901–1948,” at both the American Academy of Religion and the Association for Jewish Studies. She is currently revising her manuscript for publication, and she is planning a future project on the representation of women in Jewish visual culture.
Carr has taught at Lafayette College and Kenyon College, including courses in religion, Judaism, the Hebrew Bible, sex and gender, and Modern Judaism as well as seminars on visual culture and representations of Palestine/Israel in America. During her scholarship-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, she completed research on the printed materials such as pamphlets, brochures, and booklets and public media of Hadassah during the first half of the twentieth century.
Orly Castel-Bloom, Spring 2007
One of Israel’s most celebrated authors of our times, author Orly Castel-Bloom writes about Israeli society from the perspective of the satirist with a strong sense of the absurd. Her novels and stories have been described as an “experiment in a new art form” for their daring use of language and the unusual treatment of their subjects. Recognized as one of the 50 most influential women in Israel, she has twice won the Prime Minister’s Prize as well as various other prestigious awards, and her novel “Dolly City” has been included in UNESCO’s Collection of Representative Works. Castel-Bloom came to the HBI in order to research the Israeli expatriate community for her next novel.
Defne Çizakça, Spring 2019
Defne Çizakça is a writer, editor and lecturer. She has a Ph.D. in Creative Writing from the University of Glasgow and has taught at the universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland, Koç University and Gebze Women’s Prison in Turkey, and Walrus Bookshop in Argentina. She has been a Research Excellence Fellow at the Central European University, a writer in residence at the Hunterian Museums and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and edited the fairy tale journal Unsettling Wonder alongside three books: Tip Tap Flat: A View of Glasgow (Freight), New Fairy Tales: Essays and Stories (Unlocking Press), and Miscellaneous: Writing Inspired by the Hunterian (The Hunterian).
Julia Phillips Cohen, Fall 2021
Julia Phillips Cohen is an Associate Professor in the Department of History and the Program in Jewish Studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of two books: Becoming Ottomans: Sephardi Jews and Imperial Citizenship in the Modern Era (New York: Oxford University Press, 2014), and—together with Sarah Abrevaya Stein—Sephardi Lives: A Documentary History, 1700-1950 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2014). She has published articles in a range of venues, including the American Historical Review, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Jewish Social Studies, Jewish Quarterly Review, and AJS and, most recently, in the volume Jews, Liberalism, Antisemitism: A Global History, edited by Abigail Green and Simon Levis Sullam. At HBI, Cohen worked on a modern history of Ottoman Jewish women’s work. Cohen’s project will explore Ottoman and North African Jewish women’s labor and professional histories in the modern era.Her interest in this projecthas been driven by the realization that much of what we think we know about modern Maghrebi and Levantine Jewish women’s working lives and aspirations has been overdetermined by the normative literature—produced largely, though not exclusively—by men for women throughout this period.
S.J. Crasnow, Fall 2018
S.J. Crasnow, PhD, is Assistant Professor of Theology & Religious Studies at Rockhurst University in Kansas City, Missouri. Their research focuses on the religious lives of contemporary queer and transgender (trans) Jews in the U.S. Dr. Crasnow’s article on innovations to mikveh ritual for trans Jews, “On Transition: Normative Judaism and Trans Innovation,” was published in 2017 by the “Journal of Contemporary Religion.” They are working on an article that covers a variety of topics. This includes what Judaism can offer the secular world in the way of trans-affirming spaces and logics, and the concept of “passing” as gentile or as straight/cisgender and its limitations, the links between racism, anti-semitism, and white supremacy.
Julia Creet, Fall 2010
Julia Creet is an associate professor and chair of the department of English at York University in Toronto, Canada. She recently produced, directed and wrote a documentary called “MUM,” which is the story of her mother’s silence in respect to her history. While at the HBI, Creet worked on a second documentary and book, tentatively titled “The Need to Know” (film) and “A Genealogy of Genealogy” (book), which delves into the question of why she needed to know everything she discovered during her previous project. Specifically, she is curious about why there is such an innate need to know about one’s own past, which has made the genealogy industry one of the largest pastimes (not to mention archive focuses) worldwide. Creet hoped to find a personal answer to this question through this large-scale ethnographic engagement. She would like to present her findings in a way that they are both appropriate for academics and accessible to general audiences.
Julie Cwikel, Summer 2007
Professor Julie Cwikel is the founder and director of the Center for Women’s Health Studies and Promotion, Israel’s only academic center of women’s health studies with a multi-disciplinary approach. In addition to her responsibilities as an associate professor in the department of social work at Ben Gurion University of the Negev, Julie mentors non-traditional women students (minorities, mature students) in their own research through her position as the academic advisor to the continuing education unit. She has recently published a major new textbook, “Social Epidemiology: Strategies for Public Health Activism.” While at the HBI, Cwikel carried out the U.S. portion of her current research project looking at how mothers transmit health information to their daughters. Her research investigated how women learn about critical health behaviors in their lives including menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and maintaining health and mental health.
Sharon DiFino, PhD, Summer 2007
Sharon DiFino is an expert in 18th and 19th century German literature, culture and intellectual history. She is an associate professor at the University of Florida, where she teaches courses in both the Germanic Studies and the Center of Gender and Women Studies. She is also the director of the UF Utrecht summer program. In 2007, Sharon received the 2007 Madelyn Lockhart Faculty Fellowship in Women’s Studies, which is awarded to emerging scholars within their disciplines and advances women and gender studies scholarship. Sharon holds a doctorate in 18th century German literature from the University of Massachusetts.
Sharon DiFino’s project at the HBI explores the parallels between the problems of liberal female Jewish intellectuals and writers in Germany and the Netherlands, as well as their possible mutual influence, from the late 18th century through WWII. The works that she analyzes focus on the cultural understanding of gender and ethnic identity and provide insight into the steps that these women took towards autonomy and emancipation.
Corinne Ducey, Spring 2009
University of Nottingham
Corrine Ducey received her PhD in Russian/Holocaust Studies at the University of Nottingham in July 2007. Previous to her time there, she completed an honors undergraduate degree at Princeton University where she wrote her senior thesis on the “Democratisation of Germany after 1945,” which addressed the role of the memory of the war, the Holocaust and German political culture on the development of German democracy. Corrine Ducey’s proposed book-length project will examine the philosophical, social and political issues that influenced the discourse surrounding both the Holocaust and Anne Frank over the decades, including the need to focus on life-affirming lessons, the universalization of suffering, the role of iconic symbols in the representation of tragedy and the reluctance to directly confront the horrors of the Holocaust. The project will also examine the role of Anne’s gender in her popularity, focusing on the dynamic between victimhood and resistance.
Sarah Eltantawi, 2013
Dr. Eltantawi is a scholar of religion and Islamic studies focused on contemporary Islam and Islamic law in Nigeria and Egypt. Dr. Eltantawi holds a PhD in the Study of Religion from Harvard University (2012) and is Assistant Professor of Comparative Religion and Islamic Studies at Evergreen State College in Olympia, WA, where she teaches classes on classical and contemporary Islamic thought and societies. While at the HBI, Dr. Eltantawi worked on her project, “The Stoning Case of Amina Lawal, Northern Nigeria.”
Yarden Fanta-Vagenshtein, Fall 2013
Dr. Yarden Fanta-Vagenshtein is a Research Associate at the HBI and a Senior Associate Fellow of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. She received her PhD from Tel Aviv University in Science and Technology in Education, and was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research focuses on cross-cultural educational, social, and cultural issues faced by immigrants and refugees from underdeveloped and developing countries. She examines how these populations work within the confines of these issues to adapt to their host countries. She examines how transnationalism and gender differences affect images of self-esteem, academic, and socioeconomic achievement among immigrants. Fanta-Vagenshtein is conducting comparative studies on Upward Mobility and Glass Ceiling as Experienced by immigrant women in Israel and in the United States. She also serves as President of Empower Boston Immigrant Center (EBIC), Boston; committee member at JCRC (CJP) Shiluvim program; Event Chair and committee member of Tel Aviv University’s Alumni Leadership; and member of the World Computer Exchange in Boston.
Sari Fein, Spring 2021
Sari Fein is a PhD candidate in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Department at Brandeis University in Waltham, MA. Her areas of interest include Hebrew Bible, Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity, and women and gender studies. Sari's dissertation is on the reception history of biblical mothers in early Jewish art and literature. During her residency, Sari will be working on chapters on the afterlife of Rachel in Lamentations Rabbah, and the many lives of the "Mother of Seven" in 2 and 4 Maccabees and rabbinic literature. She lives in Newton, MA with her husband and two daughters.
Jan Feldman, Summer 2008
Jan Feldman is an associate professor and researcher of political thought and international politics at the University of Vermont. She received her bachelor’s degree at Swarthmore College, and both her master’s and doctorate degrees at Cornell University. She is widely traveled, fluent in several languages and has published works in the fields of Soviet political theory, the post-Soviet transition to democracy, trade policy and population theory. One such book includes “Lubavitchers as Citizens: A Paradox of Liberal Democracy.” While at the HBI, Dr. Feldman looked at how the women, who as faithful committed members of traditional religions, deploy their civic citizenship rights in attempts to reform their religions. She used theoretical materials and open-ended interviews with the purpose of understanding women who challenge the male-dominated overlay of the interpretation of sacred religious texts.
Janice Fernheimer, Fall 2008
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Janice Fernheimer received her doctorate in rhetoric, writing and American literature from the University of Texas at Austin in 2006. She is currently based at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, where she teaches undergraduate writing courses that investigate how new technologies affect our communication. She also teaches a graduate course that helps graduate students learn about and develop their own pedagogy. She is developing another undergraduate writing course that will focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict. During her residency, Janice worked on her book manuscript, “Steppin’ Into Zion: The Rhetoric of Black Jewish Identity from Civil Rights to Black Power,” which is based on her doctoral thesis. The book tells the rhetorical history of Hatzaad Harishon, a non-profit organization founded by white, liberal Jews to improve relations among Jews of all colors in Manhattan from 1964–1972. Janice took a gendered approach to the reexamination of her research and put particular emphasis on the roles of the exceptional women in leadership positions within the organization.
Carlotta Ferrara degli Uberti, Fall 2013
Carlotta Ferrara degli Uberti received her PhD in Contemporary History at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa and at the University of Paris 1 in 2006. She studies the history of Italian Jews from the end of the nineteenth century to WWI from an institutional and cultural perspective. Among her other research interests are nineteenth century Italian racism and anti-Semitism; the contemporary history of European Jewry in a comparative perspective; nationalization and nationalism in nineteenth century Europe; the history of marriage and divorce in nineteenth and twentieth century Europe. Her publications include, “La «Nazione ebrea» di Livorno dai privilegi all’emancipazione,” (1815–1860), [Le Monnier, 2007], and “Fare gli ebrei italiani. Autorappresentazioni di una minoranza,” (1861–1914), [Il Mulino 2011]. While at the HBI Dr. Ferrara degli Uberti worked on her project, “Civil marriage, religion and dowries in Italy (1866–1915): Jewish women take center stage, in the contrast between Civil and Jewish Law.”
Adam Ferziger, Fall 2021
Adam S. Ferziger is professor in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University, Israel and holds the Rabbi S.R. Hirsch Chair for Research on the Torah and Derekh Erez Movement. He is a senior associate at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford and co-convener of the Oxford Summer Institute on Modern and Contemporary Judaism. His research focuses on the history of religious responses to modern and contemporary life in Western Europe, the United States, and Israel as reflected, among others, in denominational and ideological divides, Jewish law, leadership and gender. At HBI, Ferziger explored the interface between law and gender as related to the Ba'al/Ba'alat Teshuvah phenomenon. From the late 1940s onwards, critical masses of adult Jews reared in nonobservant or moderately committed environments set out to adopt devout Orthodox lifestyles. However, despite the central role of law for Orthodox Jews, negligible attention has been paid to the encounter of halakhah with this phenomenon. Ferziger set out on a pioneering investigation and analysis of the development of a fresh strand of Jewish law that has not received rigorous consideration.
Federica Francesconi, Spring 2007
Trained in the Italian Jewish history and the history of Jewish culture, Federica Francesconi is a doctoral graduate of the University of Haifa and a recent Fellow of the Center of Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania. One of the few scholars researching the numerous Italian archives, Francesconi has uncovered a complete archive of a female sisterhood from the Italian city of Modena. A unique resource for European and Jewish scholars, the archive constituted one of the main sources for Francesconi’s research at the HBI on Jewish women philanthropists in Northern Italy during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Michal Frenkel, Spring 2006
The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Sociologist Michal Frenkel received her doctorate in 2001 from Tel Aviv University. An expert in work/family practices, Frenkel is the recipient of numerous awards and honors including a Fulbright in 1996, the Koret Foundation’s Post Doctoral Fellowship in 2000, and grants from both the Ford Foundation and the Israel Foundation Trustees. During her residency at the HBI, Frenkel focused her research on “Globalization and the Reconstruction of the Jewish-Israeli Gender Contract: Americas in Israel and Israelis in the U.S.”
Harriet Friedenreich, Spring 2006
Harriet Freidenreich is professor of history at Temple University in Philadelphia. A native of Ottawa, Canada, she earned a PhD in Eastern European and Jewish History from Columbia University. She is the author of “The Jews of Yugoslavia,” (JPS, 1979), “Jewish Politics in Vienna,” (Indiana University Press, 1991), and “Female, Jewish, and Educated: The Lives of Central European University Women,” (Indiana University Press, 2002). She is presently working on a project on Jewish women in academia in the mid-20th century.
Brygida Gasztold, Fall 2013, Spring 2014
Dr. Brygida Gasztold is a Fulbright Scholar at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She holds an MA degree and a doctorate degree from Gdańsk University, Poland, and a diploma of postgraduate studies in British Studies from Ruskin College, Oxford, UK and Warsaw University, Poland. She is assistant professor at the Technical University of Koszalin, Poland. Her academic and teaching interests include American literature, American Jewish literature, Canadian Jewish literature, as well as the problems of immigration, women and gender, and ethnic identities in modern American literature. She has published “To the Limits of Experience: Jerzy Kosiński’s Literary Quest for Self-Identity,” (2008), “Negotiating Home and Identity in Early 20th Century Jewish-American Narratives,” (2011) and essays on immigrant literature and ethnicity. As a scholar-in residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Dr. Gasztold will be working on her post-doctoral project about the representations of female characters in recent American Jewish narratives. Her research focuses on the gendered stereotypes, such as the Ghetto Mother, the Ghetto Girl, the Jewish Mother, the Jewish American Princess, as well as contemporary images of American Jewish women. She examines two aspects of their literary representations: religion/spirituality and the body.
Michelle Gewurtz, Spring 2012
Michelle Gewurtz has been teaching modern art history and curatorial practice at both York University and OCAD University in Toronto since returning to her hometown in January 2011, after completing her PhD entitled “3 Women/3 Margins: Political Engagement and the Art of Claude Cahun, Jeanne Mammen, and Paraskeva Clark,” (2011) at the University of Leeds, U.K. In the fall of 2011, she became actively involved as a visiting scholar at the Centre for Feminist Research and as an associate of the Israel and Golda Koschitzky Centre for Jewish Studies, both at York University. Michelle also worked as a curator at the Richmond Art Gallery in British Columbia. She has held curatorial and educational positions in public galleries in Ontario, Canada, including the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, and A Space Gallery. She has maintained an active involvement with A Space, one of the oldest artist-run centers in Canada. She has published curatorial writing including catalogue essays on contemporary Canadian art, as well as review articles on Claude Cahun and Paraskeva Clark. She is also an active member of the Canadian Women Artists History Initiative, which is a collaborative endeavor that brings resources and researchers together to enhance scholarship on historical women artists in Canada.
Shulamit Gilboa, Fall 2008
Independent Poet, Novelist, Journalist
Shulamit Gilboa holds a bachelor’s degree in Hebrew literature and a master’s in philosophy from Tel Aviv University. Since 1984, she has been deputy literary editor and, since 2005, she has been the literary editor-in-chief of the daily “Yedioth Ahronoth.” During those years, she also wrote a weekly book column. She received the Tel Aviv Literature and Art Foundation Award and a writing stipend at Oxford in 1999. Her bestseller, “Four Men and a Woman,” was awarded the Book Publishers Association’s Gold and Platinum Book Prizes (2000). “Alma's Way,” also a bestseller, was awarded the Book Publishers Association’s Gold Book Prizes (2003).
During her residency, Gilboa prepared and wrote her next novel about the lives of four siblings and the complex relationships within a family. The novel narrates the lives of a sister and her three brothers, and describes through their interactions the development of each of them from infancy to adulthood. The events depict the struggles within the family, the different attitudes each of the siblings has towards the parents, and their individual views, beliefs and expressions. The plot, which takes place in Israel and in Boston, focuses on the youngest sister who, while writing a paper about gender and family, projects about her own life, the lives of her brothers and their surroundings, and the events that take place during the 30+ year span of the story.
Stephen Glantz, Spring 2008
Stephen Glantz’s film and theater credits include “Europa Europa” (producer), “Babij Jar” (creator and writer), and “Tanglewood Tale” (co-writer). His most recent film “Der Letzte Zug/The Last Train” (writer) tells the story of three Jewish families and the six days they spent in a cattle car during their “relocation” from Berlin to Auschwitz. The film earned the Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Bavarian Film Awards and also received the imprimatur of the president of the Republic of Germany. At the HBI, Stephen Glantz used his residency to write a novel about the life of the people of a fictional Polish town known as Zolkiew prior to World War II.
Alexander Gogun, Fall 2015
Alexander Gogun is a PhD candidate at the Free University of Berlin. As a scholar of Ukrainian radical nationalism, communist secret services, World War II, Stalin’s partisans, Nazi propaganda and foreign policy of the Soviet Union, he has taught at Potsdam University and held a fellowship at the NIOD Institute for War, Holocaust and Genocide Studies in Amsterdam. He held also a postdoctoral fellowship at the International Institute for the Holocaust Studies Yad Vashem. While at HBI, Gogun researched Jewish women in Soviet partisan groups in the Ukraine during WWII, the continuation of his paper, “Indifference, Suspicion, and Exploitation: Soviet Units Behind the Front Lines of the Wehrmacht and Holocaust in Ukraine, 1941–44.”
Rebecca Goldstein, 1999–2000
Novelist and MacArthur Award winner
Rebecca Goldstein delivered the keynote address at HBI’s Spring 2000 Conference on Gender and Jewish Education and completed her novel “Properties of Light.”
Ellen Golub, Academic Year 2003–2004
Salem State College (Salem, Mass.)
Ellen Golub attended Hebrew College and holds a doctorate in American Literature and Psychoanalysis from SUNY Buffalo. A former professor of English and Jewish Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, she currently serves as professor of communications at Salem State College. In addition to academic articles and journalistic prose, she has written a young adult novel, “Is My Mom OK?” During her residency at HBI, she worked on a short story and a Talmudic style commentary for a “new Jewish reader.”
Rachel Gordan, Fall 2015
Dr. Rachel Gordan is a scholar of American Jewish religion and culture. After receiving her PhD from Harvard, she was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University in religious studies, and at the Centre for Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, where she served as the advisor to the undergraduate program in American Studies. At Harvard, Northwestern, University of Toronto and York University, Dr. Gordan has taught courses in Jewish Studies and American religious history. Her first book (forthcoming from Harvard University Press), is currently titled “How Judaism Became an American Religion.” At HBI, Dr. Gordan worked on a “biography” of the 1947 bestselling novel-turned-Academy Award-winning film, “Gentleman's Agreement,” and its author Laura Z. Hobson, the daughter of Socialist party leaders and Yiddishists. This work has recently been published.
Elizabeth Graver, Fall 2014
Elizabeth Graver’s fourth novel, “The End of the Point,” was long-listed for the 2013 National Book Award in Fiction and selected as a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her other novels are “Awake,” “The Honey Thief,” and “Unraveling.” Her story collection, “Have You Seen Me?,” won the 1991 Drue Heinz Literature Prize. Her work has been anthologized in Best American Short Stories; Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, and Best American Essays. She teaches at Boston College. At the HBI, she will be working on a novel based on the life of her grandmother, a Sephardic Jewish woman who migrated from Turkey to Barcelona to the United States.
Ofra Greenberg, Summer 2014
Dr. Ofra Greenberg is a senior lecturer at the Western Galilee College in Israel. She is a social anthropologist who specializes in medical anthropology. At the HBI, she returns to her PhD research on relations among staff and inmates of a women’s prison, taking a new perspective derived from the concept of “women’s time.” Dr. Greenberg has published the following Hebrew language books: “Wizo: A Voluntary Women's Association in a Society in the Making,” (co-authored with Hanna Herzog), “Women in Jail in Israel, A Development Town Visited,” and “Ness-Ammim: Life Amid Contradiction.”
Gelinada Grinchenko, HBI-BGI Scholar-in-Residence, Spring 2015
Professor Gelinada Grinchenko is professor of history at the Ukrainian studies department at V.N. Karazin National University, Kharkiv, Ukraine. Since 2006, Grinchenko has been head of the Ukrainian Oral History Association. Her main areas of research are oral history, women’s history, the history and memory of World War II, war and post-war politics of memory and border studies. Her authored book is “An Oral History of Forcing to Labour: Method, Contexts, Texts,” (Kharkiv, 2012).
Rachel B. Gross, Spring 2023
San Francisco State University
Rachel B. Gross is Associate Professor and John and Marcia Goldman Chair in American Jewish Studies in the Department of Jewish Studies at San Francisco State University. She is a religious studies scholar who studies twentieth- and twenty-first-century American Jews. Her book, “Beyond the Synagogue: Jewish Nostalgia as Religious Practice,” was a 2021 National Jewish Book Award finalist in American Jewish Studies and received an Honorable Mention for the 2021 Saul Viener Book Prize, given by the American Jewish Historical Society. At HBI, Gross worked on “Preaching the Promised Land: Mary Antin’s American Religions” which will explore Mary Antin’s variable and dynamic approaches to religion.
Ruth Ellen Gruber, Spring 2011
Ruth Ellen Gruber is an award-winning American writer, photographer and independent scholar living in Europe. For more than 20 years, she has chronicled Jewish cultural developments and other contemporary European Jewish issues. Her books include “National Geographic Jewish Heritage Travel: A Guide to Eastern Europe,” (2007), “Virtually Jewish: Reinventing Jewish Culture in Europe,” (2002), and “Upon the Doorposts of Thy House: Jewish Life in East-Central Europe, Yesterday and Today,” (1994). A former foreign correspondent for United Press International, she is the senior correspondent in Europe for JTA, and her articles and photographs have appeared in the New York Times, Business Week, Jewish Quarterly Review, Tablet Magazine, Moment Magazine, Hadassah Magazine and many other publications. Other honors include three Simon Rockower Awards for Excellence in Jewish Journalism, and research grants from the Littauer Foundation and Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, as well as the HBI’s Michael Hammer Tribute Research grant, with which she began work on her (Candle)sticks on Stone project in 2009. While at the HBI, Ruth worked on “(Candle)sticks on Stone: Representing the Woman in Jewish Tombstone Art,” which began in 2009 with an HBI research grant. It centers on a photographic documentation of the often elaborate tombstones of women in the historic Jewish cemeteries in Eastern Europe, mainly in and around the Bucovina region of northern Romania — including the Jewish cemetery in Radauti, where some of Ruth Ellen Gruber’s ancestors are buried. Focusing on the remarkably varied sculptural representation of candlesticks on these tombs, the project fuses visual documentation and photographic art with research, reportage, reflection and memoir. It encompasses issues of gender, identity and tradition and explores how tradition is (or is not) transmitted. The project is centered on a public website and blog, but will also result in more traditionally published works. Visit the Candlesticks website.
Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky, Summer 2015
Dr. Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky is a lecturer at Zefat Academic College and associate researcher at the Herzl Institute, University of Haifa. Dr. Gruweis Kovalsky is a historian of Israeli politics. Her research focuses on the Israeli right wing, Jerusalem, symbols and myths. Dr. Gruweis Kovalsky's book “The Vindicated and the Persecuted – The Mythology and the Symbols of the Herut Movement, 1948–1965,” was published in June 2015 by the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism.
While at HBI Dr. Ofira Gruweis-Kovalsky worked on her current research: “Secular Conservative-Women in the Right-Wing Parties in the State of Israel during the 1950s and 1960s.” The particular goal of this study was to trace female activity in the State of Israel in the frameworks of center-right parties: the General Zionists, the Herut movement and in their associated organizations, the 1950s and 1960.
Geraldine Gudefin, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, Fall 2016
Geraldine Gudefin, a PhD student in History at Brandeis University, is writing a dissertation entitled “Navigating the Civil and Religious Worlds: Jewish Immigrants & Marital Laws in France and the United States, 1881–1939.” Her research interests include modern French and American Jewish history, religion, law, and the state in the period of mass migration; legal pluralism; and the separation of church and state in comparative perspective. She holds an MA in History from Yale University, and a BA in History from Paris-Sorbonne (Paris IV).
Beatriz Guervich, Academic Year 2004–2005
CEIEG-Universidad del CEMA (Buenos Aires, Argentina)
Adviser to the Secretary of Human Rights, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Commerce and Culture (Argentina), professor Beatriz Gurevich is an expert in the fields of social anthropology, political history and human rights. She received a master’s degree in social anthropology from the University of Buenos Aires, where she also received her license in sociology. She is currently project director of the Program CIRSOF at the Universidad del CEMA in the Institute for International and Globalization Studies. The author of several books and numerous articles, Gurevich’s work at HBI focused on transnational terrorism and Jewish women’s political activism following the AMIA bombing in 1994.
Roya Hakakian, Spring 2018
A writer and journalist, Roya Hakakian works in film and print. Her reportage has been featured on network television, including CBS 60 Minutes. Her opinions and essays have appeared in Time, The New York Times, and NPR’s Weekend Edition, among others. Her poetry in Persian has been translated and appear in anthologies, including the “PEN Anthology of Contemporary Iranian Literature.” Her memoir, “Journey from the Land of No: A Girlhood Caught in Revolutionary Iran,” was among Publisher's Weekly's best books and Elle Magazine's Best Nonfiction in 2004. She’s the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in nonfiction for her book, “Assassins of the Turquoise Palace.” Roya is a founding member of Iran Human Rights Documentation Center. While in residence at the HBI, Roya will work on the next installment of her memoir focused on her escape from Iran, her wanderings in Europe, and her eventual arrival at the American Embassy in Vienna where she sought asylum.
Lori Harrison-Kahan, Spring 2016
Lori Harrison-Kahan is a scholar of American literature and culture, specializing in women’s writing and the study of comparative race and ethnicity. A recipient of the American Studies Association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa Award for Independent Scholars and Contingent Faculty, she is the author of “The White Negress: Literature, Minstrelsy, and the Black-Jewish Imaginary,” (Rutgers University Press/American Literatures Initiative, 2011), which received an honorable mention for the Society for the Study of American Women Writers Book Award. She is the book review editor of MELUS: Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States and co-editor of a special issue of the journal on “The Future of Jewish American Literary Studies” (Summer 2012). Her essays and book reviews have been published in American Jewish History, Callaloo, Cinema Journal, Jewish Social Studies, Journal of American History, Legacy, MELUS, Modern Drama, Modern Fiction Studies, Modern Language Studies, Tulsa Studies in Women’s Literature, and The James Joyce Quarterly. Her work also appears in the anthologies “Styling Texts: Dress and Fashion in Literature;” “Cultures of Femininity in Modern Fashion;” “Passing Interest: Racial Passing in U.S. Fiction, Memoirs, Television, and Film, 1990–2010;” “The Race and Media Reader;” “The Edinburgh Companion to Modern Jewish Fiction;” and the MLA’s “Approaches to Teaching the Novels of Nella Larsen.”
Dr. Harrison-Kahan received her AB summa cum laude in English with certificates in Jewish Studies and Women’s Studies from Princeton University and her PhD in English and Comparative Literature from Columbia University. She is currently an Associate Professor of the Practice of English at Boston College, and she has previously taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Harvard University, and Connecticut College. She is in the process of completing “The Superwoman and Other Writings: Fiction and Journalism by Miriam Michelson,” an edited collection of writings by California journalist and bestselling novelist Miriam Michelson, one of the turn-of-the-twentieth-century’s most famous Jewish feminist figures. During her residency at HBI, she worked on a manuscript titled “The Deghettoization of American Jewish Literature: Pioneering Women Writers in the Progressive Era,” which tells the stories of now forgotten late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Jewish women writers from the Western United States.
Kathryn Hellerstein, Spring 2016
Kathryn Hellerstein is Associate Professor of Yiddish at the University of Pennsylvania. Her books include a translation and study of Moyshe-Leyb Halpern's poems, “In New York: A Selection,” (Jewish Publication Society, 1982), “Paper Bridges: Selected Poems of Kadya Molodowsky,” (Wayne State University Press, 1999), “Jewish American Literature: A Norton Anthology,” of which she is co-editor (W.W. Norton, 2001). Her new book, “A Question of Tradition: Women Poets in Yiddish, 1586–1987,” (Stanford University Press, 2014), won the National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies. Hellerstein’s poems and many scholarly articles on Yiddish and Jewish American literature have appeared in journals and anthologies, including “American Yiddish Poetry: A Bilingual Anthology,” (University of California Press, 1986), to which she was a major contributor. Hellerstein has received grants from the NEA, the NEH, and the Guggenheim Foundation, as well as from the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and the Marcus Center at the American Jewish Archives. Her “Women Yiddish Poets: An Anthology,” is forthcoming from Stanford University Press.
Rita Horvath, Spring 2010
Rita Horvath is a literary scholar and a historian. She received her doctorate from Bar-Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel) in 2003. At present, she is a research fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research in Yad Vashem. Her fields of research are the history of the Holocaust in Hungary, Holocaust literature, 20th century American literature and literary theory. She has published numerous studies, articles and conference papers in these fields. Her books include “The History of the National Relief Committee for Deportees, 1944–1952,” “Never Asking Why Build — Only Asking Which Tools: Confessional Poetry and the Construction of the Self,” and “Previously Unexplored Sources on the Holocaust in Hungary.” Currently, Horvath is participating in the “Children’s Holocaust Testimony Project” together with Professor Joel Walters (Bar-Ilan University) and Dr. Boaz Cohen at Bar-Ilan University. She teaches in the Holocaust Studies Program at Eötvös Loránd University (Budapest, Hungary) and English literature at Bar-Ilan University.
Ronit Irshai, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence, Fall 2016
Ronit Irshai is a lecturer in the gender studies program at Bar Ilan University and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. She has been a visiting scholar at Harvard Divinity School during the academic year of 2007–2008.
Her research focuses on gender and Jewish law (halakhah), theology and religious feminism, bioethics, and feminist jurisprudence and its relation to Jewish law. Her first book: “Fertility and Jewish Law — Feminist Perspectives on Orthodox Responsa Literature” was published by Brandeis University Press in 2012 in both the HBI Series on Jewish Women and the Brandeis Series on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.
Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel, Spring 2012
Dr. Ruth Kara-Ivanov Kaniel is a lecturer in the department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute, and an interdisciplinary fellow in the Tel Aviv Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis. Kaniel received her doctorate in Jewish philosophy at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her thesis, “Motherhood and Seduction in the Myth of David’s Messianic Dynasty, the Hebrew Bible, Rabbinic Literature and the Zoharic Corpus,” focuses on the Messianic myth from the perspective of gender theory and psychoanalysis. She was a post doctoral scholar in the Tikvah Center at New York University and was a graduate of the outstanding doctoral student program of the Lafer Center for Women Studies and the Revivim program at the Hebrew University. Kaniel is the recipient of several awards including the 2012 Shlomo Pines Prize for Research by an Outstanding Young Scholar. In addition to her academic research, she is a poet and a translator of Russian poetry. In 2009, Hebrew University presented Kaniel with the “Rachel Negev” literature award for her book “Ein Sheket Baolam Klal.” As an HBI scholar-in-residence, her research explored the meeting points between feminism, gender theory and kabbalistic thought.
Eyal Katvan, Fall 2006, Summer 2012
Bar-Ilan University (Ramat-Gan, Israel)
Eyal Katvan received his doctorate from the Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University, where he produced his thesis, “Compulsory Examinations and Their Connection to the Oppression of Women.” He is both a post-doctoral student at the Faculty of Law, and a doctoral candidate at the Interdisciplinary Program for Science, Technology & Society at Bar-Ilan University (for which he produced his thesis, “The Medical, Physical and Mental Examinations of Jewish Immigrants to Eretz Israel 1919–1938”). Eyal’s academic interests lie in the fields of bioethics, law & medicine, legal history and the history of medicine; however, he specializes in the topics of “Medical, Physical and Mental Examinations,” as well as “Women in the Law.” Having served as a member of the Israeli Bar since May 1998, Katvan has served as a country representative at The International Network on Feminist Approaches to Bioethics (FAB), as well as a visiting scholar in The Center for Clinical Bioethics, Georgetown University, Washington, DC. He is a member of the Ethics Committee and of the Helsinki Committee at Rabin Medical Center. During his residency at the HBI, Katvan explored the topic of “Women’s Entrance into and Integration within the Legal Profession in Eretz Israel and in Israel.”
Judith Katz, Fall 2008
Instructor, Jewish Studies, Creative Writer, University of Minnesota
Judith Katz is the author of two published novels, “The Escape Artist” and “Running Fiercely Toward a High Thin Sound,” which won a Lambda Literary Award for Best Lesbian Fiction. Among her numerous awards and grants she has received Bush Foundation, McKnight Foundation and National Endowment fellowships for fiction, as well as two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants. She teaches cultural studies and literature courses for both the University of Minnesota’s Center for Jewish Studies and the department of Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, as well as creative writing courses for the Hamline University MFA program.
At the HBI, Judith worked on her novel, “Atomic Age,” which looks at the lives of two Worcester Jewish families during the 1940s, 1950s and 1960s. Set against a backdrop of the development of the atomic bomb, the creation of the new state of Israel, and the arrests and executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, “Atomic Age” asks the following questions: How does the unfolding of community histories impact and influence the history of a family and its individual members? How does a family outsider experience that history? How does she contribute to the family narrative? Understand it? Repair it?
Sheila Katz, Academic Year 2002–2003
Professor of World Civilizations, Berklee College of Music (Boston)
Professor Katz completed her book on Jewish and Palestinian women peace activists, “Women and Gender in Early Jewish and Palestinian Nationalis,” and began research on a new project on the history of grassroots contact between Arabs and Jews in Israel and Palestine.
Gwynn Kessler, Spring 2021
Gwynn Kessler is an Associate Professor in the Department of Religion and the Director of the Beit Midrash at Swarthmore College. She received her Ph.D. in Talmud and Rabbinics, with a specialization in Midrash, from the Jewish Theological Seminary. She has taught at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro and the University of Florida in Gainesville. She has also taught at the Harvard Divinity School as a Women’s Studies in Religion Program Research Associate. She is the author of Conceiving Israel: The Fetus in Rabbinic Narratives (UPenn, 2009) and co-editor with Naomi Koltun-Fromm of A Companion to Late Ancient Jews and Judaism (Wiley Blackwell, 2020). She is currently working on her second monograph that uses queer theory to examine rabbinic constructions of gender and the body. She lives in Mt. Airy, Philadelphia with her partner and two children.
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, Spring 2015
Rabbi Aryeh Klapper is dean of the Center for Modern Torah Leadership and a member of the Boston Beit Din. He previously served as Orthodox rabbinic adviser and associate director for education at Harvard Hillel, Talmud curriculum chair at Maimonides High School and instructor of rabbinics and bio-ethics at Gann Academy. Rabbi Klapper lectures and publishes widely in both popular and academic settings, and consults internationally on issues of Jewish law. Much of his Torah commentary and writings can be found online. At HBI, he will be researching and drafting papers that accomplish the full development and presentation of R. David Bigman’s and Dr. Berachyahu Lifshitz’s suggested creative methods of preventing husbands from using Jewish divorce law for the purposes of financial blackmail or simple cruelty. He will also work to build support within the community of rabbinic judges so the ideas receive a fair hearing.
Melissa Klapper, Fall 2007
Melissa R. Klapper is an associate professor of American and women’s history at Rowan University. She has a bachelor’s degree from Goucher College and a doctorate from Rutgers University and is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. She is the author of two books, “Jewish Girls Coming of Age in America, 1860–1920,” (NYU Press, 2005) and “Small Strangers: The Experiences of Immigrant Children in the United States, 1880–1925,” (Ivan R. Dee, Publisher, 2007). At the HBI, Professor Klapper’s work focused on American Jewish women’s pre-World War II activism in the suffrage, birth control and peace movements. She has been awarded numerous fellowships for this work from sources as varied as the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and the Schlesinger Library on the History of American Women at Harvard. Professor Klapper is interested in the ways Jewish identity historically motivated Jewish women’s significant activism in social movements.
Hikmet Kocamaner, Spring 2017
Hikmet Kocamaner is a cultural anthropologist who specializes in secularism, political Islam, mass media, gender, and the politics of the family in Turkey. Currently, he is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Boston University and a visiting postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Previously, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis and a lecturer in the Anthropology department at Brandeis University. He received a dual PhD in Anthropology and Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Arizona. He received numerous grants and fellowships including a dissertation fieldwork grant by the Wenner-Gren Foundation, a dissertation proposal development grant by the Social Science Research Council, and a foreign language teaching fellowship by Fulbright IIE.
Dr. Kocamaner is currently working on his book manuscript, provisionally entitled “Governing the Family through Religion in a Secular State: Islam, Gender, and the Politics of the Family in the New Turkey.” Expanding on his dissertation research, the book examines the involvement of Islamic groups in the politics of the family and the recent proliferation of faith-based initiatives aimed at strengthening so-called “family values.” It explores the implications of this unprecedented phenomenon for state-Islam relations and emerging forms of governance in Turkey, which is often considered the paradigmatic example of secularism in the Muslim world. His article, titled “Strengthening the Family through Television: Islamic Broadcasting, Secularism, and the Politics of Responsibility in Turkey,” is forthcoming in Anthropological Quarterly.
Stanislav Kolář, PhD, Summer 2011
Stanislav Kolář is an associate professor at the University of Ostrava, Czech Republic. He teaches American literature and American studies at the department of English and American studies. In 1988, he published a book of poetry “Tenisový sen” (Tennis Dream). The outcome of his long-time interest in Jewish American literature was the publication of his book, “Evropské kořeny americké židovské literatury,” (“European Roots of Jewish American Literature”) in 1998. In 2004, he published a book in English, “Seven Responses to the Holocaust in American Fiction.” His latest book is “Reflections of Trauma in Selected Works of Postwar American and British Literature,” which he published together with his co-authors Zuzana Buráková and Katarína Šandorová in 2010. He studied and lectured at various universities, including Brandeis University in 1994; in 2000, he was a Fulbright scholar at the University of California, Berkeley. The subject of his HBI research project was “Transformations of Contemporary Jewish American Fiction.”
Tally Kritzman-Amir z"l, Spring 2018
HBI is deeply saddened to share the loss of our cherished colleague Tally Kritzman-Amir, a talented scholar of immigration and human rights law who made an enormous contribution to the field and to defending the rights of immigrants in Israel.
Kritzman-Amir received her LLB from Tel Aviv University (2002). She clerked for Justice Mishael Cheshin in the Israeli Supreme Court, and she was a member of the Israeli bar since 2004. Kritzman-Amir received her PhD from Tel Aviv University after graduating from the direct PhD program, and wrote her thesis on “Socio-economic refugees” (2008). A 2018 HBI Scholar-in-residence, an HBI Research Associate and a frequent HBI blogger, who focused her research on the gender-specific obstacles that confront asylum-seeking women in Israel, Kritzman-Amir shared her work with many of our students and interns. May her memory be a blessing.
Gail Labovitz, Spring 2017
Dr. Gail Labovitz is Associate Professor of Rabbinic Literature at the American Jewish University, where she teaches rabbinic texts and Jewish law for the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies. She is the author of “Marriage and Metaphor: Constructions of Gender in Rabbinic Literature,” (Lexington Books, 2009), a forthcoming volume of the Feminist Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud (Moed Qatan), and numerous articles on topics including rabbinic literature and culture, Jewish law, and gender and sexuality. Prior to joining the faculty of ZSRS, she also served as a senior research analyst for the Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis University and as the coordinator of the Jewish Feminist Research Group, a project of the Jewish Women's Studies Program at the Jewish Theological Seminary, and was a 2002 recipient of a research award from the Hadassah International Research Institute on Jewish Women at Brandeis (now the HBI). She is a past chair of the Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies, and is the founder and coordinator of the Dr. Elka Klein Memorial Travel Grant. In addition, she is an ordained Conservative rabbi, and currently serves on the Committee for Jewish Law and Standards, the body that debates and sets halahkic rulings and standards for the movement.
Dr. Labovitz participated in HBI’s spring seminar, “Female Interpreters of Religious Law: Women’s Leadership as Clergy, Educators, Advisors and Judges.” While serving as Scholar-in-Residence at HBI, Labovitz worked on a project relating to the legal underpinnings of Jewish marriage in current Jewish law, and options for setting marriage and divorce on a more egalitarian footing.
Hagar Lahav, Spring 2009
Sapir Academic College
Hagar Lahav is the head of the journalism program in the School of Communication at Sapir Academic College in Israel. She specializes in feminist politics, journalism studies and feminist media studies. she has recently become increasingly engrossed in feminist theology and Jewish studies. In her work in this field she combines post-secular theories with political theology. Prior to completing her doctorate, Lahav was the deputy head of the news division of the Israeli daily newspaper Ha’aretz. She received her doctorate from Tel Aviv University in 2006. Lahav will examine the idea that perceptions of God, which appear in several Jewish theological writings, can empower secular women’s self-autonomy. She aims to answer two major questions: How can she, as an atheist, bring God into her life, so that she can use this force? And which kind of God should it be, so that it will meet her feminist perspective and goals? Her study will focus on the writings of 20th century Jewish thinkers that were inspired by Hassidic and Psycho-Kabbalh mysticism, such as Rabbi Yehuda Ashlag and the philosophers Martin Buber and A.D. Gordon.
Uta Larkey, Spring 2010
Associate Professor of German and Holocaust Studies (Goucher College)
Uta Larkey is an associate professor of German and Holocaust studies at Goucher College in Baltimore, Md. Her current course offerings include Jews in Germany from the Haskalah to the Rise of Nazi Regime and Literature and Film on the Holocaust. She co-teaches an Oral History on the Holocaust course in which the students interview local Holocaust survivors and retell parts of their life stories in schools and synagogues. She has also organized several public events on and off campus with Holocaust survivors and their families.
Larkey's co-authored book project, “Life and Loss in the Shadow of the Holocaust: A Jewish Family’s Untold Story,” was recently published (2011) with Cambridge University Press. Through letters and interviews the book narrates a family history of emigration, immigration and deportation. While in residence, Larkey conducted her project “Past Forward: the Holocaust in Family Memory,” which explores the role of generational shifts in addressing and narrating the events of the Holocaust and investigates the role of the third generation as the facilitator for Holocaust memory.
Nelly Las, Fall 2014
Dr. Nelly Las is a researcher in Jewish History and Women’s Studies, affiliated with the Vidal Sassoon International Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her fields of research include Contemporary Jewish history (Zionism, anti-Semitism, history of French Jewry, Jewish NGOs) and gender studies (women in Jewish history, Jewish women in feminist movements, analysis of contemporary Jewry through the prism of gender).
Anne Lapidus Lerner, Fall 2011
A popular lecturer and scholar-in-residence, Anne Lapidus Lerner teaches courses in the portrayal of women in Jewish literature and Judaism, religious issues in modern Jewish literature, and modern biblical rewriting. She is the first woman to hold the post of vice chancellor at JTS (Jewish Theological Seminary) and, as such, was one of the highest-ranking women in American Jewish institutional life. She earned her bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorate degrees from Harvard University and her BJEd (scl) and MHL from Hebrew College, Boston.
“Revealing Sarah,” Anne’s project at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, brings together her interests in both Jewish women’s studies and the ways in which classic Jewish texts and traditions relate to Jews today. It develops the approach she used in her most recent book, “Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry,” (HBI Series on Jewish Women through Brandeis University Press, 2007). As both a scholar and an activist, Anne has been a pioneer in the field of Jewish Women’s Studies and a leader in the struggle for women’s rights in Judaism.
Renana Leviani, Fall 2009
Doctoral candidate, Bar Ilan University
Renana Leviani is a student in the department of philosophy at Bar-Ilan University in the Doctoral Fellowship of Excellence program where she works on her dissertation. Using a feminist perspective, she examines the moral status of prostitution — particularly claims that would allow the practice on the basis of women’s autonomy. Leviani received her master’s in educational administration and leadership from Tel Aviv University. An advocate for human rights, she produces, edits and hosts a radio program devoted to the topic for Kol HaShalom station in Jerusalem. The HBI was thrilled to welcome Leviani as our first Fulbright-HBI Doctoral Dissertation Research Fellowship scholar.
Tobe Levin, Spring 2009
University of Maryland in Europe, University of Frankfurt
Tobe Levin is professor of English and women’s studies at the University of Maryland in Europe and adjunct at the University of Frankfurt. She has a doctorate in comparative literature from Cornell University and has studied and taught at numerous institutions in Europe. Levin is the editor of Feminist Europa, and the chair of FORWARD — Germany against FGM (female genital mutilation). She spent her time at HBI editing a collection of articles on the work of the controversial Austrian writer, Nobel Prize winner Elfried Jelinek.
Judith Lewin, Spring 2008
Judith Lewin is an assistant professor at Union College in New York where she teaches courses on European and American Jewish literature; comparative literature; women’s studies; and 18th and 20th century French, German and British literatures. She has written numerous articles and is the author of “Literary Jewesses” and “Nineteenth-Century Jewish Women: A Dynamics of Identification.” She received her doctorate in comparative literature from Princeton University. At the HBI, Judith Lewin developed the manuscript of her next book devoted to Jewish women writers.
Nina B. Lichtenstein, Fall 2010
Nina B. Lichtenstein is a visiting assistant professor in Jewish studies at Trinity College where she teaches Sephardic studies. She holds a doctorate in literature from the University of Connecticut, a master’s in French and a bachelor’s in Jewish studies and French, also from the University of Connecticut. She has taught languages, literature and Jewish studies in the U.S. and in Norway at high school and college levels, and she lectures and does research on various topics including Sephardic women’s writing, memory and identity, as well as film and Holocaust studies. While at HBI she worked on developing her dissertation entitled “Maghrebian Memories: Exodus and Marginality in Sephardic Women’s Writing” into a book manuscript, as well as exploring opportunities for a project translating francophone Sephardic women’s novels into English. After attending the Unites States Holocaust Memorial Museum’s summer workshop in 2010, Lichtenstein also began a research project looking at testimonials by francophone Sephardic women’s experiences during WWII. She explored how their experiences differ from that of Ashkenazi women and how their memory can fit into a larger Holocaust narrative. Lichtenstein has served on the Committee for the Hartford Jewish Film Festival and was the co-chair of the festival’s new Tribute Film Competition honoring Holocaust Survivors and the Spirit of Survival. After being part of developing Chai Mitzvah, a pioneering program for Jewish adults, in 2009 to 2010, she is a consultant for the nonprofit as it is launched nationally. Lichtenstein lives in West Hartford, Connecticut, with her three teenage children.
Julia Lieberman, Spring 2008
Saint Louis University
Julia Lieberman is a researcher of early modern western Sephardic Jews, a scholar of Spanish literature, a native Spanish speaker and a fluent Portuguese speaker. She has also completed extensive research of Hebrew and Sephardic writings, and is the editor of the first Spanish-language textbook on Sephardic history written expressively for use in the classroom. She holds a doctorate in Spanish and Latin American Literature from Yale University.
Lieberman’s study at the HBI of the Western Sephardim in the early modern period examined the educational system and the roles of women and children in life cycle events, as well as male attitudes towards education, family life, women and children.
Lilach Lurie, Fall 2014
Lilach Lurie is a lecturer (tenure track) at the Department of Labor Studies in Tel-Aviv University. Lurie researches and teaches the fields of employment law, labor law, pension law and gender equality. While at the HBI, Lurie will devote time to her project “Unequal Pay to Jewish Women: The Historic Origins of the ‘Family Supplement’ in Israel.” Lurie received an LLM and a PhD from the Law Faculty of Tel-Aviv University after receiving an LLB from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She was a visiting researcher at Georgetown University, a Lady-Davis post-doctoral fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a post-doctoral fellow at Bar-Ilan University. Her articles were published in leading international and Israeli journals and won several awards. Her book “Employment and Social Security Laws in the Twenty First Century” was recently published by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Press.
Keren R. McGinity, Fall 2011
Keren R. McGinity is a gender historian who specializes in American Jews and Intermarriage. Prior to being a visiting scholar at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies, McGinity was the inaugural Mandell L. Berman Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary American Jewish Life and a faculty associate in the American Culture Program in Ann Arbor. Earlier in her career, she was a visiting assistant professor of history at Brown University, where she also earned her doctorate. She has taught American history, ethnic studies and literature courses at Brown and at Stonehill College, as well as lectured nationally.
McGinity was the maiden graduate research fellow at the Jewish Women’s Archive, where she currently serves on the Academic Advisory Council. She is also an active board member of the Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry, an advisor to the Jewish Outreach Institute, and served for several years on the Women’s Caucus of the Association for Jewish Studies. The paperback edition of “Still Jewish: A History of Women and Intermarriage in America,” which was Dr. McGinity’s first book and a finalist for the 2009 National Jewish Book Award in Women’s Studies, was published in January 2012 (NYU Press).
While at the HBI, McGinity revised and completed her second book manuscript, “Jewish Men: Reinventing Intermarriage and Fatherhood,” for timely publication. Interweaving ethnography with traditional archival sources, this work will significantly broaden the understanding of intermarried Jewish men by elucidating the meanings behind their choices, the gentile women who marry them, and the influential role of popular culture.
Renée Levine Melammed, Spring 2020
Schechter Institute in Jerusalem
Renée Levine Melammed is a professor of Jewish History at the Schechter Institute in Jerusalem whose fields of research include the lives of conversos and Sephardi and Oriental Jewish women. Her current project deals with women’s lives as reflected in the Cairo Geniza, in particular, through letters. She has published numerous articles in four languages as well as Heretics or Daughters of Israel: The Crypto-Jewish Women of Castile (Oxford, 1999); A Question of Identity: Iberian Conversos in Historical Perspective (Oxford, 2004); and An Ode to Salonika: The Ladino Verses of Bouena Sarfatty (Indiana University Press, 2013). She is also the academic editor of Nashim.
Jolanta Mickute, Summer 2011
A native of Lithuania, Jolanta Mickute received her first master’s degree in Philology from Vilnius University and her second master’s in Jewish Studies from Oxford University. She has studied Yiddish at Oxford in England, the Vilnius Yiddish Institute in Lithuania and the Shalom Foundation in Warsaw, Poland. Mickute is an expert in modern Jewish history, with specializations in east European/Russian history and Jewish studies. She received her doctorate in history from Indiana University in August 2011, having completed her thesis on Jewish women nationalists under the guidance of Jeffrey Veidlinger and Marci Shore. Entitled “Modern, Jewish, and Female: The Politics of Culture, Ethnicity, and Sexuality in Interwar Poland, 1918-1939,” her dissertation is a political, cultural and sexual history of Jewish women in the fledgling democracy of Poland. It incorporates the marginalized historical narrative of Jewish women into modern Jewish historiography, still predominantly a male-oriented field. Focusing on the Polish Jewish minority in the Second Republic of Poland, it shows how Jewish women, a social group subsumed within the Jewish ethnic minority, contended with their status of double marginality. She argues that Polish Zionist women — fractured along class and generational lines — were able, in a gendered fashion, to negotiate their marginality in order to assert their own agendas and autonomy.
Tova Mirvis, Fall 2009
The novelist Tova Mirvis received her MFA in fiction writing from Columbia University’s School of the Arts. Delving into the confrontation between the obligations and limits of traditional, religious life and living in the modern world, Tova’s first two novels, “The Ladies Auxiliary” and “The Outside World,” received glowing reviews and have been translated into many languages. Her upcoming third novel, “Inside Voices,” explores the contemporary landscape of motherhood and looks at the impact of social expectation on female identity. Tova’s fiction has also been included in many anthologies and publications including, “Who We Are: On Being and Not Being a Jewish American Writer,” “Longing: Psychoanalytical Musings on Desire,” and “The Modern Jewish Girls’ Guide to Guilt.” She has written reviews and essays for publications such as The New York Times Book Review, The Forward and Poets and Writers. While in residence at the HBI, Tova began work on her next novel.
Academic Year 2022-2023
Shula Mola was named one of Israel’s 50 most influential women in 2022 by Israel’s leading economic newspaper, "Globes." She received her doctorate from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, with a dissertation focusing on the impact of technology on activist immigrants. Mola's research interests include social stratification, oppression, and structural racism. At HBI, Mola worked on an oral history of the women of Enkash – the Zar and the Mergem Gojo (blood hut) as spaces for resistance and focused on women’s experiences.
Golan Moskowitz works at the intersection of queer and Jewish studies, with specific interests in childhood, the Jewish family, comics and graphic novels, and post-Holocaust literature, art, and culture. He has designed and taught courses on "Queer Jews" and "Jews and American Popular Culture" at Smith College in Northampton, MA. Originally trained as a visual artist, Golan also holds a Ph.D. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and a joint MA in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and Women's & Gender Studies.
Yael Munk, Summer 2015
Yael Munk has been teaching at the Tel-Aviv University since 2001, first at the Gender Studies Department, and then at the Film and Television Department, where she teaches classes in Israeli and French Cinema. Dr. Munk completed her PhD at the Film and Television Department of the Tel-Aviv University in 2004. During these years, she joined the Open University of Israel as a Faculty member and been head of the department since 2013. Dr. Munk manages developing film programs that are taught all over Israel and abroad. Her field of research is defined as part of the Israel studies domain and is concerned mainly with Israeli cinema.
Orly Nathan, Fall 2021
Orly Nathan is an Information professional and a feminist activist. Her current position is in the Samuel Neaman Institute at the Technion where she is the chief information specialist of “She Knows (Yoda'at)." Nathan is involved in the establishment of dedicated databases for the research needs of the Samuel Neaman Institute. She is responsible for information services and knowledge management for faculty and external researchers participating in research projects related to women's promotion in academia and STEM professions. She has worked as an academic librarian and was the editor of “MEIDAAT” – A journal dedicated to Library, Information & Archival Studies. Nathan is a long-time volunteer at Isha L’Isha (woman to woman) – a feminist organization in Haifa. She was a member of the managing board and participated in the steering committee of "HFI - Haifa Feminist Institute". Nathan was also a co-founder of the "Haifa Story Festival," a cultural project that provided a platform and facilitation for mostly excluded or peripheral Palestinian and Jewish populations in Haifa. At HBI, Orly Nathan worked on an archival research case study, which evolved from the work on “She Knows," Israel's Gender Knowledge Center. Her aim was to expand the range of the thesaurus terms by tracing the evolution and transformation of terms expressed by Marcia Freedman, and used in feminist and gender research and practice. This case study will be used to propose in-depth cataloguing of a sample of collection documents using the thesaurus, integrated with the existing LCSH- Library of Congress Subject Headings.
Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, Academic Year 2011–2012 (Fulbright), Spring 2018
Dr. Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar was born in Jerusalem and lives there today with her spouse and three children. She has taught at the Ben Gurion University and the Open University and is currently a lecturer at the Sapir Academic College in Sderot, Israel. Her doctoral thesis at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem was on “Ultra-Orthodox Women and Mass Media in Israel: Exposure Patterns and Reading Strategies.” Neriya-Ben Shahar studied mass media and Internet usage from the perspectives of religion and gender. Her current research project develops an innovative theoretical understanding of the relationship between religion, society and gender. This study will analyze women’s cultural-religious praxes — especially those linked to food: “taking hallah” and “Amens meals.” In 2011 to 2012, Neriya-Ben Shahar was in Boston as a Fulbright Post Doctoral Fellowship recipient and scholar-in-residence, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, at Brandeis University.
Miriam Offer, Fall 2017
Miriam Offer is a senior lecturer at Western Galilee Academic College, Akko, Israel. And an expert researcher on Jewish medical activity during the Holocaust. Her book, “White Coats Inside the Ghetto: Jewish Medicine in Poland During the Holocaust,” was published in Hebrew in April 2015 by Yad Vashem, and the English edition is currently in process. While researching the history of medicine and physicians in the Shavli Ghetto in Lithuania, Miriam exposed previously undiscovered valuable diaries and archival documents. She is currently conducting a series of studies on Jewish medical activity immediately prior to, during, and after the Holocaust. Offer is a partner in research and educational initiatives on the history of medicine during the Holocaust. Inter alia, she is a member of the organizational scientific committee of the Nahariya Conferences on Medicine and the Holocaust, initiated by Prof. Shaul Shasha, and is a scientific committee member and guide for “Witnesses in White” — organized trips to Poland for physicians — under the auspices of the Israel Medical Association. Offer was one of the founders of the Hedva Eibschitz Institute for Holocaust Studies in Haifa, where she served as Director from 1988 to 1993. As scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, Offer is currently devoting her time to researching Jewish women on the frontline of the medical services in the ghettos during the Holocaust.
Vanessa Paloma, Fall 2008
Independent Scholar, Soloist, Performance Artist, Writer and Lecturer
Vanessa Paloma is active as a soloist, performance artist, writer and lecturer. She founded and co-directs Flor de Serena, a Judeo-Spanish ensemble based in Los Angeles, and has toured a solo show, “Sephardic Songs of the Sea,” combining Ladino songs and kabbalistic teachings. She has recently published her first book entitled, “Mystic Siren: Woman’s Voice in the Balance of Creation.” In addition, she leads workshops and gives classes on Jewish mysticism, Sephardic culture and women’s religious expression.
Paloma focuses on the links between women, spirituality and creativity. While at the HBI, she wrote about the formulation of identity through the eyes of women by analyzing secular women’s songs of the Spanish-speaking Jewish population of Morocco. Her project was composed of three components including a book on Sephardic women’s songs of Northern Morocco, a songbook for the public containing historical and societal information on women singers and their lives in the Moroccan ghettos, and a performance incorporating music and cultural information.
“Judeo-Spanish Melodies in the Liturgy of Tangier, Morocco: Feminine Imprints in a Masculine Space” in “Musical Exodus: Al-Andalus and its Jewish Musical Diasporasm,” Ed. Ruth Davis, Rowman & Littlefield. 25-43.
Channa Pinchasi, 2011
Channa Pinchasi is a doctoral student at the gender department at Bar Ilan University and a research fellow at Hartman Institute. Her research focuses on gender construction in Midrash Eicha Rbbah, the sages’ — Chazal’s — exegesis to Lamentations. Besides her academic work, she is writing (mainly in Hebrew) on gender and meaningful Jewish life in different contexts — i.e., YNET, (Israeli news website), journals and newspapers. She also serves as the volunteering spokesperson of Kolech, the Israeli orthodox women's feminist organization. Pinchasi spent three years in Toronto, Canada, serving as the representative of the education department of the Jewish Agency. In the last few years, she has been leading two feminist Beit Midrash programs for women: ‘Isha El Achota’ in Herzog Center and ‘Chader Misheach’ (a room of one’s own) at Hartman Institute in Jerusalem. Pinchasi lives with her husband Gili and their four children in Efrat, Gush Ezion.
Rachel Putterman, Summer 2015
Rachel Putterman is currently a rabbinical student at Hebrew College and a volunteer mikveh guide at Mayyim Hayyim. Previously, she practiced public interest law, representing domestic violence survivors in family law matters. Rachel’s research focuses on how gendered power dynamics play out in the Jewish ritual sphere. At HBI, she researched the widespread practice of the all male Beit Din witnessing a woman immersing in the mikveh (ritual bath) as part of the Orthodox conversion process.
Moria Ran Ben Hai, Fall 2019- Spring 2020
Bar Ilan University
Moria Ran Ben Hai received her PhD from Bar Ilan University in The Land of Israel and Archaeology. Her dissertation was titled “The Individual, the Feminine and the Public: The Portrait of Professor Alice Shalvi and Her Enterprises as a Reflection of the Development of Women’s Status in Israeli Society.” She also studied at Bar Ilan’s seminary for women, The Midrasha for Women and at Midrashet Lindenbaum, focusing on Talmud. She teaches academic writing at the Open University of Israel. Prior to this, she was a coordinator of a workshop titled, “Religious Women and Researchers,” and she taught at Pelech High School for girls in Tel Aviv. She will be at HBI as a scholar in residence for the 2019-2020 academic year, working on research that examines the journey in Orthodox feminism in Israel and the U.S., looking at both Kolech and JOFA.
Michal Raucher, Fall 2022
Dr. Michal Raucher is an associate professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Raucher has degrees from Columbia University, The Jewish Theological Seminary, the University of Pennsylvania, and a Ph.D. from Northwestern University. She taught at The Jewish Theological Seminary and The University of Cincinnati before joining the faculty at Rutgers University. Her research lies at the intersection of the anthropology of women in Judaism, reproductive ethics, and religious authority. As a Fulbright fellow, Raucher conducted research on the reproductive ethics of Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jewish women in Israel. Her first book, which is based on this research, was published by Indiana University Press in 2020. It is titled, "Conceiving Agency: Reproductive Authority among Haredi Women."
At HBI, Raucher focused on her second book, titled “The New Rabbis,” based on five years of interviews and observations with the first generation of women who have been ordained at Yeshivat Maharat, and which unpacks the complexity of being an Orthodox rabbi. Raucher argues that Orthodox women rabbis have entered a changing sphere of what counts as religious authority, and in many ways they contributed to that change.
Inbar Raveh, Fall 2012
Dr. Inbar Raveh is a scholar of rabbinical literature (aggadah) and of modern Hebrew literature, in addition to being a poet. Her recent academic focus has been examining the Legends of the Sages through a gendered lens. Dr. Raveh is a fellow at the Interdisciplinary Program for Gender Studies at Bar Ilan University and a lecturer in the Program for Talmud and Ancient Hebrew Literature at Tel Aviv University. Dr. Raveh completed her latest study, On Their Own: Feminist Readings in Rabbinic Literature (Resling, forthcoming) while a research fellow and participant in the Seder Nashim program for Jewish and Gender Studies at the Hartmann Institute (2009–2011). Her current project applies Irigaray’s conception of femininity as fluidity to rabbinical literature. While at the HBI, she focused on examining instances of weeping as opportunities for rethinking gender distinctions.
Janice Silverman Rebibo, Spring 2014
Janice Silverman Rebibo, a Massachusetts native and native English speaker, is a widely published Hebrew poet. Five books of her original Hebrew poetry and her translations from Hebrew are in print in Israel and the United States. “Zara Betzion,” her collected Hebrew poetry, received awards from the Office of the President of Israel and others. “My Beautiful Ballooning Heart,” her collected English poetry, was published in 2013, and a new English chapbook, “How Many Edens,” is slated for 2014. The title poem of “My Beautiful Ballooning Heart” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She is an accomplished editor in both languages. She holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Jewish Studies from Hebrew College and completed a two-year writing program led by a number of Israel’s legendary editors and poets at Beit Ariela in Tel Aviv. Her expanded Master’s thesis on intertextuality is titled, “Why Quote God? Three Modern Israeli Poets Allude to Sacred Texts.” She has led university and community literary seminars and writing workshops and possesses deep knowledge of criticism in both languages. Professionally, Janice has served as Coordinator, Executive Director and Senior Program Officer of educational non-profits in Israel and the US. In these capacities, she has worked closely with hundreds of teachers in Israel and North America. She is currently SPO and Technology Director of Hebrew at the Center in Newton, MA, part of the Institute for the Advancement of Hebrew at Middlebury College. She brings to the current project her textual and linguistic insight along with her knowledge of school settings and the teacher’s career path and culture.
Irina Rebrova, Spring 2014
Irina Rebrova is a PhD candidate in the Center for Research of Anti-Semitism at Technical University, Berlin, Germany. The working title of her thesis is “Memory about the Holocaust in Soviet and Post-Soviet Russian Discourses on World War II, (the Case of North Caucasus).”
She is also an assistant professor at the department of history, political science and social communications at Kuban State Technological University, Krasnodar, Russia. From 2004 to 2012, she taught courses such as Russian history, the History of the Kuban Region, and Theory and Practice of Mass Communications. She completed her candidate dissertation paper in history at North-West Academy of State Affairs in St. Petersburg, Russia in June 2005. Her thesis discussed the historical and psychological aspects of written memoirs on World War II. Upon completion of her degree she has received a qualification relevant to two areas: Russian History and Historiography, Sources and Methods of History science. She has also received M.A. degree in gender studies (“Gender. Society. Culture”), a program of European University in Vilnius in 2008.
Since 2006, she has studied oral history and social memory of World War II. Rebrova has conducted several research projects on everyday life behind the front line, experience of women at war, children and war, and social memory of war period. She is author of more than 50 articles, one collective monograph on oral history and collective memory on World War II and two edited volumes of articles on social memory.
Reina Reiner, Summer 2007
Reina Reiner’s project is an exploration of the changing nature of orthodox family life in Israeli society as presented in the theater. Building on her recent book, “The Audacity of Holiness: Orthodox Women’s Theatre,” she will now analyze repertoire and fringe plays, as well as study the reactions to them through ethnographic fieldwork. She aims to provide new insights about new emerging Jewish family patterns in orthodox society. A pioneer in the field of anthropological theater studies, Reiner is among the first to study theater within the context of Israeli orthodox society. In addition to her course work, Reiner regularly lectures and holds workshops on the connection between drama and teaching. She has a master’s in Theatre Studies from Tel-Aviv University and a doctorate in sociology and anthropology from Hebrew University.
Larissa I. Remennick, Academic Year 2004–2005
Bar-Ilan University, Ramat-Gan, Israel
Larissa Remennick is associate professor and past chair of the department of sociology and anthropology at Bar-Ilan University in Israel. Born in Russia, she holds a doctorate in sociology and demography of health from the Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow (1988). While at HBI, Remennick completed an article on changing attitudes towards femininity, sexuality and gender roles among former soviet immigrant women in the United States.
“‘Being a Woman is Different Here:’ Changing Attitudes towards Femininity, Sexuality, and Gender Roles among Former Soviet Immigrant Women in the U.S.”
Katka Reszke, Fall 2015
Katka Reszke is a writer, documentary filmmaker, photographer and researcher in Jewish history, culture, and identity. Katka holds a Doctorate in Jewish Education from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and is the author of “Return Of The Jew: Identity Narratives of the Third Post-Holocaust Generation of Jews in Poland,” (2013). Recently, she served as chief screenwriter of the acclaimed film Karski & The Lords of Humanity (2015). During her residency at HBI, Katka developed her research-creation project “The Meshugene Effect” — a book and an experimental documentary featuring personal narratives of several Polish women, who embark on a pursuit of Jewish identity following an irrational feeling, a hunch about having Jewish descent. The project explores cultural and discursive contingencies surrounding religion, gender and authenticity and how they affect the way we make sense of experiences of memory and transition. All of this set against the landscape of troubled Polish-Jewish history and a new curious Polish-Jewish present.
Tania Reytan, Academic Year 2001–2002
Human rights activist and Jewish community organizer (Sofia, Bulgaria)
While in residence at the HBI, Tania Reytan laid the groundwork for research on Jewish women's communal participation in the Balkans (Albania, Bulgaria, Macedonia, Romania and Yugoslavia).
Noya Rimalt, Spring 2022
University of Haifa
Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law Scholar in Residence
Noya Rimalt is a Professor of Law at the University of Haifa. She specializes in gender issues, criminal law and feminist legal theory. Her work analyzes the intersections of gender, law and feminism in both legal theory and practice. She currently serves as the founding co-director of the Forum for Gender, Law and Policy. Rimalt has been a pioneer in promoting clinical legal education in Israel.
At HBI, Rimalt conducted research that aims to compare the situation of American women to that of Israeli women in term of their ability to have full control over their reproductive decisions and particularly the right to terminate an undesired pregnancy.
Chantal Ringuet, Spring 2016
When Chantal Ringuet discovered that her adopted city of Montréal had once been a prominent center of Yiddish culture, she decided to explore that fascinating world. A francophone born in Quebec City, Ringuet’s dissertation in literature focused on women writers from Quebec, but she decided to learn Yiddish and received a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council grant which allowed her to pursue two years of postdoctoral research on Yiddish literature in Montreal. Since then, she has published a cultural essay, “À la découverte du Montréal Yiddish,” (with 150 photographs), an anthology of Yiddish literature in Canada in French translation (“Voix Yiddish de Montréal”), as well as two poetry collections, one that was awarded the Prix littéraire Jacques-Poirier 2009, and many literary translations. Ringuet also created the Facebook page Montréal yiddish en français to circulate research about Yiddish Montreal in her maternal language and to promote cultural interactions in Quebec and North America. She is also the co-editor of a collective work about Leonard Cohen that will be published in April by the Presses de l’Université du Québec.
During her residence at HBI, Ringuet worked on a new project entitled, “On the Other Side of Poetry: Rachel Korn and Kadia Molodowsky, two Yiddish Women Writers in North America.” The first step of this research was undertaken in the Molodowsky-Korn Archives in New York where Ringuet is YIVO Fellow in 2015–2016. A second step led to the publication of a monograph, a comparative study that shed light on the two author’s works while allowing a better comprehension of the connections between Montreal and New York as two major centers of Yiddish culture. At the same time, Ringuet wrote a literary essay about Israel, for which she received a grant from the Canada Council for the Arts in 2015. For more information about her work, visit chantalringuet.com
Sara Ronis, Fall 2022
Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law Scholar in Residence
Dr. Sara Ronis is associate professor of Theology at St. Mary’s University, Texas, where she teaches courses in the Hebrew Bible and its reception, and Jewish Studies and religious studies more broadly. She holds a Ph.D. in ancient Judaism specializing in the Talmud from Yale University, and a B.A. in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Her research interests include rabbinic subjectivity and definitions of personhood, constructions of gender and authority in rabbinic literature, and rabbinic imaginings of and encounters with the other in late antiquity. Her first book, "Demons in the Details: Demonic Discourse and Rabbinic Culture in the Babylonian Talmud" (August 2022), looks at demonic discourse in the Babylonian Talmud in its legal, narrative, and socio-cultural contexts.
At HBI, Ronis worked on her next book project, which explores fetal personhood in the rabbinic world of late antiquity. Using close readings of primary texts from late antiquity together with analyses informed by insights from anthropology, critical animal studies, post-human studies, ethics, and legal history, this project explores how the rabbis use the fetus to think about what it means to be a living being, a human, and a Jew and offers new ways to think about how personhood is socially mediated and culturally constructed.
Lilach Rosenberg, Summer 2007
Lilach Rosenberg earned her doctorate from Bar-Ilan University and is a lecturer in the Martin Szusz Department of Eretz Israel Studies. The focus of her research is historiography, gender and Israeli studies. She has published many works including “Revolutionaries Despite Themselves: Women and Gender in Religious Zionism in the Yishuv Period.” She is also the recipient of the Alon Scholarship. At the HBI, Rosenberg continued her studies of the formation of the female identity in Israel. In particular, she examined the way cultural, religious and social contexts impact the development of the female identity, within a historical perspective, as well as a contemporary perspective. She is currently completing her research concerning Shlihot Aliya from Eretz Israel (envoys for Jewish immigration to Palestine during the British Mandate) by carrying out an integrative analysis of three historical episodes and of the context they took place in.
Riki Shapira-Rosenberg, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence, Fall 2016
Riki Shapira-Rosenberg is an attorney and Israeli feminist Orthodox activist. She holds a LLB from Bar-Ilan University, an LLM from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, as well as a BA in Jewish History and Education from the Hebrew University. She is currently writing her doctoral thesis at the Department of Conflict Management and Resolution at Bar-Ilan University.
Over the past decade, Shapira-Rosenberg has been an active player in the most important legal struggles concerning the interface between religion and state in Israel. She provides a voice not only for an Orthodox and liberal religious feminist agenda, but also for men and women from the Haredi community. The projects she has led — such as the campaign against gender segregation on buses; the campaign against the Kol BaRama radio station, which refused to broadcast women’s voices; and the struggle against the monopoly of the Chief Rabbinate — have been driven by coalitions bringing together Modern Orthodox, Haredi, Reform, Conservative and secular Jews.
Over the past 13 years, Shapira-Rosenberg has filled senior positions in Kolech — Religious Women’s Forum. She represented Haredi women struggling to secure political representation in student unions, local authorities, and political parties. She is a board member of Women of the Wall and works as an attorney at the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC), active on issues relating to human rights violations and religion and state.
Shapira-Rosenberg is an eighth-generation Jerusalemite. She is married to Dror and the mother of five children.
Moshe Rosman, Spring 2007
Moshe Rosman is a professor of Jewish history at Bar-Ilan University and is the author of numerous books and articles on the history of Eastern European Jews. His publications have received many awards including the 1996 National Jewish Book Award for “Founder of Hasidism: A Quest for the Historical Ba’al Shem Tov,” which also won the Shazar Prize for Best Book in Jewish History in 2000. Considered one of the finest scholars in the world working on the early modern period (1500–1800) of Jewish history in Poland, Rosman is the only male in the field who has done significant history on women. His research while at the HBI focused on gender as a crucial element in understanding the integrated social and economic networks of the Jews in Eastern Europe during this time period.
Hannah Safran, Fall 2007
Hannah Safran teaches at the women’s studies program in Emek Yizrael College in the North of Israel and also in women’s studies and art at the Lesley University extension in Netanya. She has been involved in both feminist activism and academic research on feminism for many years and is one of the co-founders of the organization Women’s Coalition for Just Peace. Her most recent book is titled “Don't Wanna be Nice Girls: The Struggle for Suffrage and the New Feminism in Israel.”
Susan Sered, Academic Year 1998–1999
Professor of Anthropology, Bar-Ilan University
During her period of residence at HBI, Susan Sered researched women’s health issues in Israel and wrote “What Makes Women Sick,” published in the Brandeis Series on Jewish Women. Sered also was the guest editor for “Motherhood,” Volume 3 of Nashim: A Journal of Jewish Women’s Studies and Gender Issues, now published by Indiana University Press in conjunction with HBI and the Schechter Institute for Jewish Studies in Jerusalem.
Lara Silberklang creates experiences that deepen social and cultural engagement. She is interested in understanding the forces that shape (and often constrain) agency and finding new ways of relating and being in the world. Her work spans a variety of industries and organizations – including history, public art, higher education, the United Nations, and community nonprofits – and is united by an approach rooted in empathy. Lara holds a BA in Philosophy from Columbia University, a PhD in European History from University College London, and an MFA in Visual Art from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She teaches interaction and web design at Lesley University, consults on content strategy for Mad*Pow, created and manages a digital archive of Holocaust survivor testimony, and is a Gallery Instructor at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.
Carmel Shalev, Academic Year 2003–2004
Gertner Institute for Epidemiology and Health Policy Research (Tel Hashomer, Israel)
Carmel Shalev is director of the Unit of Health Rights and Ethics at the Gertner Institute for Health Policy Research and teaches health and human rights at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem. She is a member of the Israel Helsinki Committee for Genetic Experiments in Human Beings and of the Scientific and Ethical Review Group (SERG) of the World Health Organization Special Programme of Research, Development and Research Training in Human Reproduction, Geneva. Shalev spent the spring semester at HBI working on a book-length project entitled “Gen-Tech Women,” a gendered exploration of the legal, moral and ethical implications of reproductive and genetic technology.
Susan Shapiro, Spring 2009
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Susan Shapiro is associate professor of Judaic & Near Eastern Studies and director of the Religious Studies Program at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She has also taught at Columbia University, Hebrew University’s Rothberg School, University of Delaware and Syracuse University. She is the author of “Recovering the Sacred: Ethics, Hermeneutics and Theology after the Holocaust (forthcoming).” Until recently, there has been virtually no gender-oriented analysis within Jewish philosophy. Shapiro will begin to remedy this situation with her project, which systematically treats a range of Jewish philosophers and makes a sustained argument about the ways in which these texts/philosophers are interrelated as regards to their treatment of the body, gender and women, forming a specific strand of Jewish philosophy. She focuses on the strand of Jewish philosophy that begins with Moses Maimonides and goes through Emmanuel Levinas. By employing practices she terms “reading for gender,” the genealogy and consequences of the gender-ideologies of these texts are explicated.
Margalit Shilo, Academic Year 2000–2001
Professor, Bar-Ilan University (Ramat Gan, Israel)
Margalit Shilo continued her research on Jewish women in pre-state Palestine and published an article on 19th century Yiddish pamphlets written by women.
Sivan Rajuan Shtang, Spring 2023
Sapir Academic College and Shenkar Academic College, Israel
Sivan Rajuan Shtang is a scholar of visual culture. She is a lecturer in the Department of Communication and the Department of Culture – Creation and Production at Sapir Academic College, Israel, and in the Unit for History and Philosophy of Art, Design, and Technology at Shenkar Academic College, Israel. At HBI, Rajuan Shtang worked on “Mizrahi Feminist Art: A Multicultural Imagination,” a pioneering research book aimed at a multicultural feminist reimagining of the Mizrahi identity and cultural practices. It does so by focusing on a marginalized arena of decolonization: the art of contemporary Mizrahi feminist artists, descendants of Jewish communities who immigrated to Israel\Palestine from Arab and Muslim countries.
Rabbi Sheila Shulman, Academic Year 2002–2003
Finchley Reform Synagogue, Beit Klal Yisrael (gay and lesbian synagogue), Leo Baeck College, (London, UK)
During her residency (coinciding with a well-deserved sabbatical), Rabbi Sheila Shulman wrote an article on the history and construct of Jewish lesbian identity.
Emily Sigalow, Fall 2014
Emily Sigalow is a PhD candidate in the departments of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Sociology (joint program) at Brandeis University, where her focus is on the sociology of religion, ethnicity, gender, and culture, particularly as related to contemporary Jewish life. Emily received her BA from Swarthmore College and a MA from the Ben Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva, Israel. Her dissertation project examines the Jewish encounter with Buddhism in the United States and asks broader questions about how religions adapt and change in relation to one another, historically and in everyday life. Emily’s previous research analyzed how religion affects people’s decisions about career choice, marriage, residency, and number of children; how gendered stereotypes are perpetuated in Jewish children’s books; and how young American leaders construct ideas of “Jewishness.” Her work has been previously supported by the Berman Foundation, Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, Mellon Foundation, E. Rhodes and Leona B. Carpenter Foundation, The Research Circle on Democracy and Pluralism, and the Tauber Institute.
Gila Silverman, Summer 2017
Gila Silverman is a cultural anthropologist working at the intersections of religion, medicine and healing. Her research highlights the ways in which ethnographic methods and anthropological theories can contribute to our understandings of Jews and Judaism, and can shed light on the complex, messy, and often contradictory, lived experiences of American Jewishness. She earned a doctorate in Sociocultural and Medical Anthropology, as well as a Master’s in Public Health, from the University of Arizona, where she is currently affiliated with the Department of Religious Studies and the Arizona Center for Judaic Studies. She has published academic articles on Jewish rituals of healing, the complexity of Jewish belief of God, American Jewish identity, and ethnographic fieldwork. Her personal essays have won awards from the American Jewish Press Association and the Arizona Press Club.
In addition, she has worked for over 25 years on issues of community development and social justice in both Israel and the United States. She has experience in qualitative research, program development and evaluation, and grants management, including previously serving as project coordinator for the Bat Mitzvah Project at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. She was a founding member of Anthropologists for Dialogue on Israel and Palestine, and helped lead the successful fight against BDS at the American Anthropological Association. While at HBI, she conducted research on women and kaddish. This project brings together psychosocial theories of grief, social history, ethnography, and personal experiences, to examine the gendered nature of Jewish citizenship and the relationship between individual and social memory.
Maina Chawla Singh, Fall 2008
University of Delhi (India)
Maina Chawla Singh teaches at the College of Vocational Studies (University of Delhi). From 2005 to 2008, she researched and lectured in Israel at Bar-Ilan, Haifa and Tel Aviv universities. Her previous research focused on gender and colonialism and in addition to numerous essays and articles, Singh is the author of “Gender, Religion, and ‘Heathen Lands’: American Missionary Women in South Asia” (1860s to 1940s), (New York: 2000). She has lectured at universities in the United States, United Kingdom and elsewhere.
During her residency, Maina Chawla Singh’s research focused on the community of Indian Jews in Israel. Based on field work done in Israel (2005 to 2008), the study examined issues of ethnicity, migration and diasporic identities. Within the wider research, a special project focused on the narratives of first-generation Indian-Jewish women who came from Bombay, Calcutta and Cochin in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and were settled in moshavs, ‘development towns’ and elsewhere in Israel. Singh examined ‘Profiles’ of women to show how ethnicity and religion intersect with gender to shape women’s lives both in matters of home and family, as well as in the ‘public sphere’ of work and professions. Her research was completed as an edited volume.
Haim Sperber, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-Residence, Summer 2013, Sylvia Neil and Dan Fischel Scholar-in-Residence, Spring 2015
Dr. Haim Sperber is a senior lecturer at the Western Galilee College in Israel where he chairs the Interdisciplinary Studies department. Dr. Sperber is a historian who has investigated various topics including: 19th century Jewish deserted women (agunot), 19th century English chief rabbinate, 19th century Anglo-Jewish philanthropy and Anglo-Jewish leadership. Dr. Sperber is also a member of the Haifa University forum of researchers of immigration.
Nina S. Spiegel, Spring 2012
Nina S. Spiegel specializes in Jewish public culture in Israel and America, Jewish dance, and museums and the construction of memory. She holds a doctorate in history from Stanford University and has taught at American University, the University of Maryland and Stanford University, as well as served as curator at the National Museum of American Jewish History. Her book, “Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics and Dance in the Jewish Community of Mandate Palestine,” is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press. The manuscript examines the evolution of Israeli culture while uncovering its connection to the country's social and political dynamics. It received honorable mention for the Cashmere Subvention Prize, an award for work that demonstrates innovation in Jewish and gender studies. Her article on the 1937 National Dance Competition in Mandate Palestine received honorable mention for the Raphael Patai Prize in Jewish Folklore and Ethnology. Spiegel has presented her research at conferences including the American Historical Association, the Association for Jewish Studies, the Association for Israel Studies, the Congress on Research in Dance, and the Society of Dance History Scholars. She served on the board of the Congress on Research in Dance from 2004 to 2007.
Benjamin Steiner, Fall 2019-Spring 2020
Benjamin Steiner is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University. His dissertation focuses on the ketubah as a window into social and cultural change in America and England, among Jews and between Jews and their neighbors. He has also published articles on the history of Conservative Judaism.
Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern, Spring 2022
Prof. Bat-Sheva Margalit Stern is a historian of 20th-century Jewish women. She is the author of several books: Redemption In Bondage: The Women Workers Movement In Eretz Israel 1920-1939 (2006), that won the Hecht Prize in 2009, The Revolutionary: Ada Fishman Maimon-Biography, (2018), winner of the prestigious Yad Ben Zvi Prize for the year 2019, and Women in Jewish Society in Pre-State Israel, 1882-1948 (2014), which offers a comprehensive analysis of the history of women in the Jewish society in modern Eretz Israel.
At HBI, Prof. Margalit Stern worked on new research, which focuses on experiences of imprisonment of Jewish women in the Russian Empire, the United States, and pre-state Israel in the first half of the 20th century. This new research honed in on published women's memoirs and thus far unknown historical documents.
Sachlav Stoler-Liss, Summer 2007
Sachlav Stoler-Liss has completed extensive research in the faculty of Health Sciences, Israeli social history, and Anthropology. Her thesis is the first of its kind to examine the role of health workers in the absorption process of new immigrants during mass migration. She received her master's degree from Tel Aviv University in the field of sociology and anthropology and her doctorate from Ben Gurion University in 2007. She is the recipient of a doctoral grant from the National Institute for Health Service and Health Policy Research. Sachlav is lecturer of Mass Communications and health issues, and has published three papers in scholarly journals in Israel and abroad. At the HBI, Stoler-Liss continued the research she began while recently completing her doctorate, which focused on the medical absorption of immigrants by nurses and doctors during the mass immigration to Israel in the 1950s.
Max Strassfeld, Fall 2022
Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law Scholar in Residence
Dr. Max Strassfeld is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Arizona. They are the author of the book "Trans Talmud: Androgynes and Eunuchs in Rabbinic Literature," which was published by the University of California Press is 2022. Their research interests include rabbinics, late antiquity, gender, and trans studies. Strassfeld has been published in the "Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, Trans Studies Quarterly," and in popular outlets such as "The Forward." In recognition of their work in gender, they were previously awarded the Frankel Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2013-2014. They currently serve on the board of directors for the Association of Jewish Studies. They are an associate editor of the new journal "QTR: A Journal of Queer and Trans Studies in Religion" and previously served on the editorial board of the "Journal for the American Academy of Religion."
While in residence at HBI, Strassfeld worked on a book project entitled "Embodied Law," tracing the way time, the life cycle, and embodiment are constructed in rabbinic literature. The work weaves together trans theory, queer theory, and disability theory, with Jewish legal sources to examine different legal strategies to regulate messy embodiment.
Liliane Targownik, Fall 2006
Academy for Television & Film, Munich, Germany
Filmmaker Liliane Targownik was born in Munich. After graduating from the Academy for Television & Film (HFF) in Munich she worked as director, scriptwriter and journalist for television and radio in Germany and Israel. She completed her studies in 2003 with a master’s degree from Tel Aviv University in Jewish Philosophy. Targownik has served as a visiting lecturer for screenwriting at the Baden-Wuerttemberg Film Academy, the Hochschule für Fernsehen und Film in Munich, the Tel Aviv University, Film and Television Department and the Sam Spiegel Film and TV School, Jerusalem. Her films include: “Da schaut man nicht” (1982), “Zwischenspiel” (1988), “Aktion Suehnezeichen” (1989), “Leben im Muell” (1990), “Moving” (1991), and “Rosenzweig’s Freedom” (Rosenzweigs Freiheit, 1998). During her residency at HBI, Targownik finalized the screenplay for her next film, “The Rabbi and the Savior.”
Ornat Turin, Spring 2014
Ornat Turin is the head of the media education department at Gordon College of Education in Haifa, Israel. She teaches courses such as media literacy in a globalized world, teaching — the realistic versus the cinematic experience, and education in a multicultural society. Dr. Turin has completed her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in sociology at Haifa University. Her MA thesis investigated the experience of reading romance novels in Israel. She completed her PhD at Tel Aviv University on the subject of the gendered aspects of teacher’s images in Israeli media. Her book, “The Portrayal of Teachers in Israeli Media,” published in December, 2013. Dr. Turin is a social activist and a member of the managing committee of the non-profit organization, Israeli Social TV and of “Women to Women,” a feminist grass roots organization. At HBI, she will research common ways of portraying female teachers in movies and television through their didactic, stressed, slow and nasalized intonation. The study aims to examine to what extent this stereotype reflects a true representation of reality.
Rivka Tuval-Mashiach, Fall 2017
Rivka Tuval-Mashiach, PhD, is a clinical psychologist and an associate professor of psychology at Bar-Ilan University. Until recently, she served as director of the graduate clinical program and on the steering committee in charge of conferences and special activities. For the last 15 years, she held a joint appointment in the Graduate Program for Gender Studies, where she still teaches courses on the women’s psychology and mental health and women’s development along the life cycle. Tuval-Mashiach is also the academic head of the Community Services Unit of NATAL, the Israel Trauma Center for Victims of Terror and War. Her research fields include coping with trauma and stress, identity challenges and identity re-construction in coping with trauma and illness, emerging adulthood, narratives of gender, and the development of narrative theory and qualitative methodologies. Her clinical work focuses on individual and collective responses to trauma, mainly using narrative approaches to study identity reconstruction processes in the aftermath of traumatic events. More recently, she is focusing on trauma narratives, at both the individual and collective levels, as the main therapeutic tool in her work. Tuval-Mashiach published two books and many peer reviewed papers on these topics including “Narrative Research: Reading, Analysis and Interpretation,” (Sage, 1998, with Professor Amia Lieblich and Dr.Tammar Zilber) and “Narrative Research: Theory, Interpretation and Creation, in Hebrew,” with Dr. Gabriella Spector-Mersel. Her current research project deals with parents of soldiers, and their experiences and attitudes towards their son’s enlistment to combat service.
Miriam Udel, Spring 2022
Miriam Udel is associate professor of German Studies and Jewish Studies at Emory University, where her teaching focuses on Yiddish language, literature, and culture. She holds an AB in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations and a PhD in Comparative Literature, both from Harvard University. She was ordained in 2019 as part of the first cohort of the Executive Ordination Track at Yeshivat Maharat, a program designed to bring qualified mid-career women into the Orthodox rabbinate. Udel’s academic research interests include 20th-century Yiddish literature and culture, Jewish children’s literature, and American-Jewish literature. She is the author of Never Better!: The Modern Jewish Picaresque (University of Michigan Press), winner of the 2017 National Jewish Book Award in Modern Jewish Thought and Experience. She is the editor and translator of Honey on the Page: A Treasury of Yiddish Children’s Literature (NYU Press, 2020), winner of the Reference Award of the Association of Jewish Libraries.
At HBI, Udel worked on a critical study of Yiddish children’s literature. In her talk at HBI, she examined a character type central to the rise of Yiddish children’s literature: the “New Girl.” The granddaughter of the proto-feminist “New Woman” who scandalized the late 19th century, she bursts energetically onto the scene in the late 1920’s and transforms Jewish culture.
Rahel Wasserfall, Spring 2014
Rahel Wasserfall is the Director of Evaluation and Training at CEDAR (Communities Engaging with Difference and Religion) and Resident Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University (WSRC). She has broad experiences in the evaluation of educational programs in complex multilingual and cross cultural settings. Her work in the world of evaluation focuses on the pragmatic approach to knowledge that continually queries: “knowledge for whom and for which purposes.” Previous assignments include: Director of Evaluation and Liaison to Schools of The Center for the Advancement of Hebrew Teaching and Learning Inc (HATC); Senior Research Associate with Education Matters, Inc and the Mandel Center for Jewish Education at Brandeis. At CEDAR, she has conducted the yearly evaluation and is part of the leadership team. In the past year, she has moved into training and leading new program developments and evaluations internationally. She is an anthropologist with a PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, who has wide experience in three different continents. She has published in the area of the anthropology of gender, pluralism and qualitative methods. She is the editor of Women and Water: Menstruation in Jewish Life and Law (UPNE, 1999). She is currently working on a book, “Eating Together with Difference,” based on her 10 years of evaluating the CEDAR network. She is also a committed yoga practitioner and teacher, having completed teacher training in the Iyengar tradition.
Dalia Wassner, Fall 2012
Dalia Wassner earned her doctorate in history at Northeastern University in May 2012. Her dissertation, “Argentine Intellectuals as Harbingers of Modernity: The Democratization Projects of Marcos Aguinis,” studies the multi-faceted civic and literary portfolio of a Jewish Latin American intellectual and his efforts to promote inclusive and participatory democracy in Argentina in the post-dictatorship period. Prior to her doctorate, she earned her AA at the University of Pennsylvania, master’s degrees in both history and Latin American studies at Stanford University, and an MPhil in Jewish studies at The Jewish Theological Seminary in New York.
During her residency at the HBI, Wassner’s research focused on three Argentine Jewish women’s responses to national moments of violence through literature, film and satirical journals that are noteworthy as both historical products and as cultural and political agents of change.
Susan Weiss, Estanne Fawer Scholar-in-Residence, Spring 2015
Dr. Susan Weiss is the founder and executive director of the Center for Women’s Justice (CWJ). Weiss has been actively working to find solutions for divorce issues confronting Jewish women, first as a private attorney, then as the founder and director of Yad L’Isha from 1997–2004, and now as the founder and executive director of CWJ. Weiss is the co-author, with Netty C. Gross-Horowitz of “Marriage and Divorce in the Jewish State: Israel’s Civil War.” During her stay at HBI, she will research why Israel cannot extract itself from its original blunder, repeal the millet system, and write a Constitution that sets its priorities straight as courageous leaders have done in South Africa, India, and Turkey.
Lenore Weitzman, Spring 2008
George Mason University
Sociologist Lenore Weitzman is known in recent years for her many contributions to the field of Holocaust studies, especially for her innovation of carrying out a gendered analysis of the subject. She is the recipient of numerous awards for her work on the Holocaust, and is a co-editor with Dalia Ofer, of the groundbreaking “Women in the Holocaust,” a Jewish Book Award finalist. A professor of history, sociology, gender studies and law, Lenore has also published widely on the social and economic consequences of divorce.
Lenore spent her time at the HBI researching, interviewing and collecting archival materials about the little known Kashariyot — the female couriers who aided the Jewish resistance during the Holocaust. The book that she is now writing is based on her research and will provide a missing chapter in the history of the Holocaust and a new understanding of the wide range of women’s roles and activities in those years.
Avishalom Westreich, Helen Gartner Hammer Scholar-in-residence, Fall 2016
Avishalom Westreich is a Senior Lecturer at the College of Law and Business, Ramat Gan, and a Research Fellow in the Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought at the Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem. From 2007–2008, he was a Research Fellow in the Agunah Research Unit at the University of Manchester, UK.
Dr. Westreich was awarded his PhD on “The Talmudic Theory of Torts” from Bar-Ilan University (2007), and holds degrees in Hermeneutic Studies (MA Summa Cum Laude), Law (LLB), Talmud (BA), and Jewish History (BA Summa Cum Laude). His current main research and teaching areas are Jewish law, family law, and the philosophy of law. His publications include, “No Fault Divorce in the Jewish Tradition,” (Hebrew; 2014) and “Talmud-Based Solutions to the Problem of the Agunah,” (2012).
Shira Wolosky, Spring 2018
Shira Wolosky, PhD, is a full professor in the Department of Hebrew and American Literature at Hebrew University. She is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on American poetry and literature, and her monograph on 19th-century American women’s poetry in the “Cambridge History of American Literature” is regarded as a seminal work on the topic. Shira is now focused on American Jewish women’s literature, and has written several influential articles on Emma Lazarus and Penina Moise. Her analysis combines combines literature and history, but also political theory and discourses of ethnicity, multiculturalism, transnationalism, and “post-identity.”
Asaf Yedidya, Summer 2016
Asaf Yedidya is head of the History department at Efrata College in Jerusalem. He is the author of several books including “Criticized Criticism: Orthodox Alternatives to Wissenschaft des Judentums 1873–1956,” (in Hebrew, Jerusalem: Bialik Institute, 2013), and “‘To Cultivate a Hebrew Culture’: The Life and Thought of Zeev Jawitz,” (in Hebrew, Jerusalem: The Bialik Institute, 2016). He is the editor of “Ashkenazi Batei Midrash: Memoirs of Graduates of German and Austrian Rabbinical Seminaries,” (in Hebrew, Jerusalem: Carmel Press & Schechter Institute, 2010), and “Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Kalischer and the Awakening to Zion,” (Jerusalem: Yad Ben Zvi, 2015).
Prior to coming to HBI, Yedidya held positions as a Kennedy Leigh Fellow at the Oxford Center for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, Oxford University, U.K. a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Advanced Holocaust Studies at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. and a postdoctoral fellow at the International Institute for Holocaust Research at Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. His discipline is intellectual history with primary research interests in Jewish nationalism and Jewish orthodoxy in the 19th century.
At HBI, Yedidya researched, “The Place of the Jewish Woman in Zeev Jawitz’ Writings.” The religious Zionist thinker Zeev Jawitz (1847–1924) was active in all spheres of Jewish culture: history, language, literature and pedagogy while striving for harmonization with the Orthodox outlook. This project dealt with the place of the Jewish woman in Jawitz’ thought in comparison to some of the other contemporary Orthodox thinkers. Jawitz was the first religious Zionist leader and thinker to deal seriously with the place of the Jewish woman in modern society.
Orian Zakai, Fall 2013
Orian Zakai has completed her PhD at the department of Comparative Literature at the University of Michigan in August 2012, and was a post-doctoral fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies in 2012–2013. Her research and teaching interests include women and gender in Modern Hebrew literature, the interrelations between Hebrew literature and nationalism, intersections of gender, nationality and ethnicity in contemporary Israeli culture, and post-colonial and feminist theories. Dr. Zakai has published articles on Hebrew women’s writing in Nashim journal and in the anthology “Creoles, Diasporas, Cosmopolitanisms.” Her collection of short fiction “Hashlem et he-haser” (fill in the blanks) was published in Hebrew in 2010 by Keter Books.
As a scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah Brandeis Institute, Dr. Zakai worked on her manuscript “Zion of Their Own: Hebrew Women’s Ideological Prose,” a critical exploration of Hebrew women’s prose from the pre-state period, tracing the ways in which women writers reclaimed the Zionist project by weaving it with women’s gendered traumas, with their projects of liberation and equality, and with their fraught relations with work, writing and love.
Galina Zelenina, Fall 2017
Galina Zelenina is an associate professor at the Center for Biblical and Jewish Studies at Russian State University of Humanities in Moscow. She has taught courses on medieval, East European and Soviet Jewish history, Judaeo-Christian polemics, Jewish women’s history, gender studies and diasporal studies. Her fields of research have included late medieval Sephardi Jews and Conversos, late Soviet and post-Soviet Jewry, Judaism in contemporary Russia, intersection of Jewish and queer identities and topoi in Soviet and post-Soviet culture. She is the author of “From Scepter of Judah to Buffon’s Club: Court Jews in Medieval Spain,” (in Russian; 2008) and has a new book on Conversos and the Spanish Inquisition in print. Her recent publications include the book “Wissenschaft des Judentums Two: Renaissance in Portraits,” (in Russian; 2015) on the revival of Jewish studies in late Soviet and post-Soviet Russia and the edited volume “Judaism after the USSR: Old and New, Religious and National,” as well as several articles on post-war Soviet Jewish cultural history and Judaism in contemporary Russia. Her current research project deals with baalot teshuva in the Moscow Chabad community, their identity, piety, and social practice.
- About HBI
- Support HBI
- Research Projects
- Arts Programs
- HBI Blog: Fresh Ideas
- Contact Us