Hadassah-Brandeis Institute

Research Associate Program

Research Associates are HBI affiliates who carry out projects that support the institute’s mission. HBI provides RAs with academic oversight, access to HBI and the resources of Brandeis University. RAs are expected to play an active part in the intellectual life of the institute and the university. This includes attending and presenting in the Institute Seminar, attending other lectures and workshops as appropriate, and giving a public talk. Scholars may also be asked to contribute a discussion of their work  to the HBI blog Fresh Ideas from HBI.

HBI does not provide RAs with assigned work space at the institute or with financial support. Individuals may, however, apply for funding through any of the HBI programs. Applications to the Research Associate program are by invitation only and may be renewed annually upon submission of an annual report describing the research associate's contributions to the life of the institute and progress on their own research.

2024 Research Associates

Ornit Barkai
Ornit Barkai
Laid to Rest: Buried Stories of the Jewish Sex Trade

Ornit Barkai is a documentary filmmaker whose areas of research cover gender, culture, identity, and memory. Her cinematographic work offers intergenerational, multicultural perspectives on narratives of social memory and memorialization, identifying gaps between historical events and memory. As a digital storyteller, she utilizes new media platforms and emerging technologies to create interactive and dynamic content.

Barkai is a research associate and former scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute and Affiliated Scholar at the Women’s Studies Research Center at Brandeis University. She presents internationally at academic conferences and educational settings. Her review of the book, “Tme'im, the Trade in Women in Argentina and in Israel,” was published by the Latin American Jewish Studies Association. Barkai holds a master’s degree in media and mass communication from Emerson College.

Edna Barromi-Perlman
Edna Barromi-Perlman
Analysis of Visual Documentation of Women on Kibbutz From the 1940s to 1960s

Edna Barromi-Perlman is a senior lecturer at the Department of Visual Literacy at Kibbutzim College of Education in Israel. Barromi-Perlman is a Research Fellow of the Institute for Research of the Kibbutz and the cooperative idea in the University of Haifa, and Research Associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Her research focuses on archival photographs in Palestine and Israel, personal albums and the use of photography in education. Her work appears in academic journals such as "Social Semiotics," "Journal of Israeli History," "Journal of Visual Literacy," "Journal of Landscape Ecology," "Journal of Media and Religion",  "International Journal of Qualitative Methods" and "Photography and Culture." Her paper on "Images of Italian Jewish Emancipation: An Analysis of Family Photographs after the Opening of   Roman Ghetto in 1870" will be published in 2024 in "Journal of Jewish Sociology". She received her doctorate at the University of Sussex, and her MFA at Goldsmiths College in the UK. The book Barromi-Perlman co-edited, Visual Pedagogies, Concepts, Cases and Practices was published in 2023.

Tamar Biala
Tamar Biala
Dirshuni: Israeli Women Writing Midrash — English edition

Tamar Biala is engaged with Jewish feminism as a writer and lecturer. She received her BA in Jewish thought at Hebrew University and MA in women's studies at the Schechter Institute/Jewish Theological Seminary, where she wrote a thesis on feminist theology's critique of divine transcendence under the direction of Professor Tamar Ross.

Biala taught at Jerusalem's IASA (a high school for gifted children from all over Israel), and taught for a number of years at the Hartman Institute's teacher training program and seminars for the officer corps of the Israel Defence Forces. She also studied and taught in a number of pluralistic batei midrash in Israel.

Biala served for several years on the board of Kolech, the Religious Women's Forum, under whose auspices she developed high school curricula on gender and religion. Over the last decade she has published two volumes of midrashim written by contemporary Israeli women, “Dirshuni — Midreshei Nashim” (Yediot Acharonot, 2009, 2018); Volume 1 was co-edited with Nehama Weingarten-Mintz. The English edition of “Dirshuni” was published in June 2022.

Judy Bolton-Fasman
Judy Bolton-Fasman
The Book of Matilde: A Sephardic Daughter-Mother Memoir

Judy Bolton-Fasman is the author of Asylum: A Memoir of Family Secrets from Mandel Vilar Press (2021). "Hadassah Magazine" praised the book as a "tender, poetic and suspense-filled memoir." "The Forward" called Asylum "a beautifully written family memoir." 

Bolton-Fasman's essays and reviews have appeared in major newspapers, including the "New York Times" and "Boston Globe," essay anthologies, and myriad literary magazines. A graduate of Grub Street's Memoir Incubator, Bolton-Fasman is the recipient of writing fellowships from Hedgebrook, the Mineral School in Washington state, the Vermont Studio Center, and was awarded the Alonzo G. Davis Fellowship for Latinx writers at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. She has an MFA from Columbia University. 

Bolton-Fasman was a long-time arts and culture writer for JewishBoston.com. She is a five-time winner of the Rockower Award from the American Jewish Press Association and a two-time Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee. Her work has been recognized in literary essay contests sponsored by "Tiferet" and "Hypertext Magazines."

At HBI, Bolton-Fasman will be working on her second memoir, The Book of Matilde: A Sephardic Daughter-Mother Memoir, in which she portrays her complicated Cuban mother, Matilde. The book explores the influence of Matilde's Sephardic heritage and Cuban identity on Bolton-Fasman's life. She will also explore how gender expectations in mid-century Cuba contributed to her mother's emotional challenges. The memoir will incorporate genealogical research, Cuban and Sephardic-Jewish history, and showcase Judy's mother's attempts to work around her strict Sephardic upbringing.

Jonathan Branfman

Passing Fancies: Jewish Specters and Chimeric Liberation in U.S. Passing Films

Dr. Jonathan Branfman (he/him) is a scholar of media, race, gender, and Jewish identity who analyzes how an eight-century lineage of antisemitic bodily stigmas intersects today with America's color-based racial categories. His forthcoming book, Millennial Jewish Stars: Navigating Racial Antisemitism, Masculinity, and White Supremacy (June 2024), asks what makes millennial Jewish stars so unexpectedly appealing after Jewish stars have long faced pressure to downplay Jewish identity for fear of alienating wider audiences, and what can their surprising success tell us about race, gender, and antisemitism in America?

Branfman received his Ph.D. in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at The Ohio State University in 2019 and has most recently been the Eli Reinhard Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at Stanford University. From 2020 to 2022, Branfman was Visiting Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Jewish Studies and English, at Cornell University, and from 2019 to 2020, Visiting Assistant Professor, jointly appointed in Film & Media Studies and Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies at the College of William & Mary.

A past HBI Scholar in Residence, Branfman will be working on his second book, Passing Fancies: Jewish Specters & Chimeric Liberation in U.S. Passing Films, which reveals an unstudied synergy between films about Jewish, racial, gendered, sexual, and classed “passing,” such as Mrs. Doubtfire (1993), Blackkklansman (2018), Yentl (1983), and  Gentleman’s Agreement (1947). Spanning from the classical Hollywood era to the present, this research newly clarifies how such disparate films cohere into one passing genre that performs one persistent ideological service: to help dominant audiences feel pleasurably enlightened while actually renewing their own privilege over multiple outgroups. By deciphering these ideological mechanisms, Passing Fancies opens new dialogues between Jewish studies, gender studies, critical race studies, and film studies.

Rachel G. Gross
Rachel B. Gross
Preaching the Promised Land: Mary Antin’s American Religions

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 will be working on "Preaching the Promised Land: Mary Antin’s American Religions," a religious biography of the twentieth-century American Jewish writer Mary Antin. Once the most famous Jewish women in the United States, Antin shaped American conversations about immigration and religious identity with her 1912 autobiography "The Promised Land," which depicted her immigration from Russia to the United States as a religious experience. "Preaching the Promised Land" will use Antin’s celebrity and her spiritual journeys to explore her religious worlds. Antin’s wide-ranging spiritual explorations tell us about the possibilities of twentieth-century American Jewish women’s identities and the boundaries of religious communities.

Rabbi Avigayil Halpern
Rabbi Avigayil Halpern

Queer Niddah: Theory and Practice

Avigayil Halpern (she/her) is a rabbi and writer whose work focuses on feminist and queer Torah, most recently through her newsletter project, Approaching. Halpern has taught in Torah institutions, synagogues, and served as the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Pastoral and Educational Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 2023. Halpern holds rabbinic ordination from the Hadar Institute, and a BA in Judaic Studies from Yale University. She served as the Cooperberg-Rittmaster Pastoral and Educational Intern at Congregation Beit Simchat Torah in 2023. Halpern has completed a unit of Clinical Pastoral Education at New York Presbyterian/Columbia, is trained as a Mikveh Guide through Rising Tide, the national network of community mikvaot, and has participated in Faith Matters' Movement Chaplaincy Training. Halpern was selected as one of the New York Jewish Week's "36 Under 36" in 2021, and as a Vatichtov: She Writes fellow in 2022.

A spring 2024 HBI Scholar in Residence, Halpern is continuing her work on “Queer Niddah: Theology and Halacha.” This book will serve as a guide for queer Jewish people who want to bring traditional Jewish laws around sex and menstruation into their lives, an entry point for niddah-curious progressive Jews of all genders, and a feminist and queer-theory-informed exploration of the role of embodied practices in shaping our relationships with ourselves, one another, and God. Informed by in-depth, traditional study of the laws of niddah, experience counseling both queer and straight couples in how to observe these laws, and many years of engagement with Jewish feminist thought, the book will delve into the nature of what niddah is – what is the nature of this web of practices, which touches on issues of relationships, covenant, purity and more? – and who it is for.

Viva Hammer
Viva Hammer
Family Size Among Orthodox Jewish Women

Viva Hammer has had an illustrious career in tax policy, at the Treasury Department's Office of Tax Policy as well as advising Congress as legislation counsel during the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. She has been partner in both a major DC law firm and a Big Four accounting firm.

Viva has been researching human fertility for 20 years. The question that drives her work is why Orthodox Jewish family sizes have grown in the last 50 years, while non-Orthodox family sizes have fallen. She is interested in what high Orthodox fertility can teach us about the global decline in fertility in the last 200 years.

Viva has written extensively in both professional and popular forums, including as regular columnist for the Jerusalem Post.

Celene Ibrahim

Muslim Attitudes on Reproductive Justice

Dr. Celene Ibrahim is a scholar of Islamic intellectual history and applied ethics. Her articles on theology, Islamic jurisprudence, spiritual care, and religion in public life have appeared in dozens of academic and popular publications. She is the author of “Islam and Monotheism” (Cambridge University Press, 2022) and “Women and Gender in the Qur'an” (Oxford University Press, 2020), which won the Association of Middle East Women's Studies Book Award and was a featured title for Women's History Month by the American Academy of Religion. She is the editor of the anthology “One Nation, Indivisible: Seeking Liberty and Justice from the Pulpit to the Streets” (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2019). 

Ibrahim currently serves as a faculty member in Groton School’s Department of Religious Studies. She studied Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University and pursued leadership training in Islamic studies at Harvard Divinity School. She earned a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic Civilizations at Brandeis University and is particularly honored to be returning to the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute to conduct research on Islamic reproductive ethics for the Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law.

Layah Kranz Lipsker is a White woman.
Layah Kranz Lipsker
Get Your Get

Layah Kranz Lipsker is the director of HBI's Boston Agunah Taskforce and creator of getyourget.com. A seasoned Jewish educator and mother of six, Layah is passionate about inclusive and spiritual engagement with Jewish text. Her journey as a Hasidic feminist led her to her current position as a research associate for the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Layah teaches for Hebrew College's Learning Circles and lectures widely on kabbalah, Biblical narrative, and gender in Jewish thought. Lipsker is splits her time between Swampscott, Massachusetts and Brooklyn, New York.

Bindu Malieckal
Bindu Malieckal
The Writings of India's Jewish Women

Dr. Bindu Malieckal is a professor and chairperson of the English Department at Saint Anselm College, New Hampshire. Dr. Malieckal’s areas of specialty include Anglophone and Lusophone literatures, with a focus on examinations of Jews, Muslims, Africans, peoples from India and women within all these groups. With regard to early modern Jewry and literature, she has published pieces on Jews in English drama and Jews in histories of Portugal and India, and her work has addressed Jews in postcolonial texts. Of the last, Dr. Malieckal’s current project is on the writings of India’s Jewish women, from memoirs and ethnographies to fiction and art.

Michal Gera Margaliot
Michal Gera Margaliot

Widening the Feminist and Social Lens in Examining Israel's Current Political Situation, and in Re-Building its Future

Michal Gera Margaliot is an Israeli specialist in policy and gender. Gera Margaliot is the host of a weekly podcast named "The day after the protest" (in Hebrew), and has conversations with activists who deal with various aspects of correction within Israeli society, and examine together how to promote the goal of a better and more just Israel. In addition, Gera Margaliot writes regular op-eds for a women’s magazine in Israel named “At Magazine” regarding current feminist issues (in Hebrew). 

Over the past 15 years, Gera Margaliot has been active in promoting women's rights and raising awareness to the issue. In her last role (2016-2020) Gera Margaliot was the Executive Director of the Israel Women's Network, the largest lobby organization in Israel regarding women's rights and gender equality. Prior to that (2013-2016), Margaliot served as a parliamentary advisor and chief of staff of the MK opposition whip. Gera Margaliot completed her pre-internship and internship at the Orna Lin & Co. law firm, which specializes in labor law. Gera Margaliot has a BA in philosophy, economics and political science (PPE), and an additional bachelor's degree and master’s degree in law, specializing in gender studies. Gera Margaliot was awarded the Hadassah Foundation’s Bernice S. Tannenbaum prize as Israeli feminist leader for the year 2018, and is a member of the Elluminate collective for the past 3 years.

At HBI, Gera Margaliot will be working on op-eds, giving lectures and developing her podcast - widening the feminist and social lens in examining Israel's current political situation, and in re-building its future.

Keren McGinity
Keren McGinity
Un-partnered: The Meaning of Being Single Jewish Women in America, 1976-Present

Dr. Keren R. McGinity is the interfaith specialist at United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism. Before coming to USCJ in 2020, Dr. McGinity was the inaugural director of the Interfaith Families Jewish Engagement graduate program at Hebrew College. Her books, “Still Jewish: A History of Women & Intermarriage in America” (NYU Press 2009), a National Jewish Book Award Finalist, and “Marrying Out: Jewish Men, Intermarriage, and Fatherhood” (Indiana University Press 2014), provided groundbreaking analyses about Jewish continuity by focusing on gender and change over time. Her third book project is titled “#UsToo: How Jewish, Muslim and Christian Women Changed Our Faith Communities” (Routledge, under contract).

Dr. McGinity’s advice and opinions have appeared in the “Forward,” “Lilith” and “Moment” magazines, the “New York Jewish Week,” “RitualWell," “Sh’ma,” the “Times of Israel'' and “eJewishPhilanthropy.” She earned her PhD in history from Brown University, where she was appointed as visiting assistant professor. Dr. McGinity was the Mandell L. Berman Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Contemporary American Jewish Life at the University of Michigan’s Frankel Center for Judaic Studies. She is a 2018 Forward 50 honoree for her clarion call for a Jewish response to the #MeToo movement, named on “Lilith" magazine's “7 Jewish Feminist Highlights of 2018” list and was a “JewishBoston” “Top Pick.”

Joanna Michlic
Joanna Michlic
More Than the Milk of Human Kindness: Jewish Survivors and Their Polish Rescuers Recount Their Tales

Professor Joanna Beata Michlic is a social and cultural historian, and founder and first director of HBI (Hadassah-Brandeis Institute) Project on Families, Children and the Holocaust at Brandeis University. Currently, she is an honorary senior research associate at the UCL Centre for the Study of Collective Violence, the Holocaust and Genocide, UCL Institute for Advances Studies, and in January 2023, she started her appointment as a visiting professor in Holocaust and Contemporary History at Lund University.

She is also a co-editor in chief of "Genealogy Journal." Her research focuses on social and cultural history of Poland and East European Jews, the Holocaust and its memory in Europe, East European Jewish childhood, antisemitism and nationalism in Europe and European Jewish heritage and education for civil society and against racism and antisemitism. She is a recipient of many prestigious academic awards and fellowships, most recently Gerda Henkel Fellowship, 2017-21. 

Her major publications include "Neighbors Respond: The Controversy about Jedwabne" (2004; co-edited with Antony Polonsky), "Poland's Threatening Other: The Image of the Jew from 1880 to the Present," (translated into Polish in 2015 and nominated for the Best History Book of Kazimierz Moczarski Award 2016 in Poland; Hebrew translation, with new epilogue, published by Yad Vashem Studies, 2021), "Bringing the Dark Past to Light: The Reception of the Holocaust in Postcommunist Europe," co-edited with John-Paul Himka (Lincoln, NUP, 2012), and "Jewish Family 1939 – Present: History, Representation, and Memory," Brandeis University Press/NEUP, January 2017). Her latest book is a collection of essays about child Holocaust survivors, "Piętno Zagłady," (Warsaw, ZIH, December 2020). Her forthcoming new book on child Holocaust survivors from Poland will appear in English and German translation. 

photo of Rachel Munn
Rachel Rapperport Munn

The Last Transport: Motherhood, Family Stories and a Holocaust Inheritance

Rachel Munn is Chair of the HBI Holocaust Research Study Group, with a background in architecture, memorials, and writing.  Her work explores the intersection of place, memory, gender and history through narrative poetry, tracing experiences of motherhood, family, Holocaust stories of survivor family members, and a broader narrative of the Holocaust as inheritance.  

Rachel was a Resident and Affiliated Scholar at the Brandeis University Women’s Studies Research Center and has taught university courses at Brandeis University, the Graduate Consortium in Women’s Studies (Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University), and Wentworth Institute of Technology and guest lectured at other institutions.  As a former Fulbright Fellow in Berlin, Germany, she looked at urban planning, memory and memorials.  Rachel earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Princeton University (Anthropology), with a Certificate in Women’s Studies and concentration in Creative Writing, and a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University.

Rachel Perry is a White woman with dark hair.
Rachel Perry
Who Will Draw Our History? Graphic Witnessing by Jewish Women Holocaust Survivors.

Rachel Perry teaches in the Weiss-Livnat Graduate Program for Holocaust Studies at the University of Haifa. Her research straddles the fields of art history, visual culture, and Holocaust studies, focusing on the representation and memory of the Holocaust in the immediate postwar period and questions of ethics, exhibition design, and cultural diplomacy. She is the recipient of fellowships from EHRI, the Getty, the Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Arts, Yad Vashem, the Dedalus Foundation, the Hadassah Brandeis Institute and the Fondation pour la Mémoire de la Shoah. Her articles have appeared in October, History and Memory, Holocaust Studies: A Journal of Culture and History, French Cultural Studies, RIHA, Art Bulletin, Ars Judaica, MIEJSCE, the Journal of Holocaust Research, Images: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture and Holocaust and Genocide Studies

Perry’s current project examines graphic albums and artwork created by Jewish women survivors of the Holocaust. She is particularly interested in the perspective of gender and how it impacted and shaped early Holocaust research institutions and artistic initiatives. At HBI, Perry will be working on her manuscript which will consist of six chapters, one on each survivor artists: Ágnes Lukács, Edith Bán Kiss, Elżbieta Nadel, Regina Lichter-Liron, Zofia Rosenstrauch, and Luba Krugman Gurdus.

Edith Pick
Edith Pick
Diversity discourse and politics of difference in UK Jewish organizations

Edith Pick is a PhD researcher in the School of Business and Management at Queen Mary University of London. Situated in the field of critical diversity studies, her research explores the politics of difference in nonprofit organizations, as employers and as advocacy groups. Focusing on the UK Jewish charity sector, she traces the construction of gender, race and ethnicity, and social class, and investigates the complex role of Israel-Palestine within the diversity discourse. She explores dilemmas and tensions between home and diaspora, whiteness and otherness, privilege and marginality in the Jewish space. Pick was a teaching associate at Queen Mary University of London, and previously held professional and leadership positions in nonprofit organizations in the UK and Israel.

Samantha Pickette is a White woman wearing a black jacket, standing in front of a corn field
Samantha Pickette
Bridging the JAP: Funny Jewish Women and the Reframing of Jewish Femininity in American Pop Culture

Samantha Pickette is the Assistant Director of Brandeis University Hillel. She has a Ph.D. in American Studies from Boston University, where she was a graduate affiliate with the Elie Wiesel Center for Jewish Studies.  Her research focuses on Jewish-American culture, with a particular emphasis on representations and stereotypes of Jewish women in American literature, film, television and comedy. She has taught courses at BU, Brandeis, Smith College, and UT Austin, where she served as Assistant Director of the Schusterman Center for Jewish Studies.  Her work has been published in "Shofar," "Studies in American Jewish Literature," and "The Journal of Modern Jewish Studies," among others.  Her first monograph, "Peak TV’s Unapologetic Woman: Exploring Jewish Female Representation in Contemporary Television Comedy," was released by Lexington Books in 2022.

Pickette is currently working on a book manuscript tentatively titled "Bridging the JAP: Funny Jewish Women and the Reframing of Jewish Femininity in American Pop Culture," which explores the 1970s as a critical turning point for the self-representation of young Jewish women in American literature, film, television and comedy.

Moria Ran
Moria Ran
From Orthodox and Feminist to Orthodox Feminist: Kolech, JOFA, and Orthodox Feminist Activism in Israel and the US

Moria Ran 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. Before 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 was at HBI as a scholar in residence for the 2019-2020 academic year, working on research that examined the journey in Orthodox feminism in Israel and the United States, looking at both Kolech and JOFA.

Michal Raucher
Michal Raucher

Michal Raucher is an associate professor of Jewish Studies at Rutgers University. Her research lies at the intersection of the anthropology of women in Judaism, reproductive ethics and religious authority. Raucher has a background in religion, gender studies, anthropology and bioethics. As a Fulbright Fellow, Dr. 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." Dr. Raucher’s second book, titled “The New Rabbis,” is based on five years of research with women who have been ordained as Orthodox rabbis in America. She was an HBI Scholar in Residence during the Fall of 2022 as she worked on this book project. 

Dr. Raucher is currently conducting research on abortion and religion in America. In the summer of 2023 she launched the first ever study of Jews who have had abortions in the United States. Through mixed methods research, she is documenting the experiences of Jews who have had abortions since 1973 in the United States. This study explores how people interpret their pregnancy terminations within their Jewish identities.The publications that come out of this study—both academic and public-facing—will be aimed at nuancing the narrative around abortion and religion in the United States. You can learn more about the research here. 

Anita Robboy
Anita Robboy
Gisela Warburg Wyzanski: A Life Dedicated to Rescuing Children

Anita Robboy is an attorney who has spent the last 46 years practicing law, primarily in medium and large size Boston law firms. Robboy’s legal research is focused on the complex issues and laws relating to assisted reproductive technology in Britain, Germany, France, Italy and Sweden. Robboy has written “Aftermarriage: the Myth of Divorce,” authored one historical article and written numerous legal articles on aspects of family law. In addition to practicing law and engaging in professional writing, Robboy participates in volunteer legal opportunities with Volunteer Lawyers Project in Boston and Senior Partners for Justice.

Robboy’s current project is the biography of her mother, Gisela Warburg Wyzanski, a German-born Jew who used her privileged position and passionate commitment to both children and Zionism to rescue thousands of Jewish youth during and immediately after World War II.

Sara Ronis

Fetal Positions: The Talmud Construction of Personhood

Dr. Sara Ronis (she, her, hers) 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 with specialization 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 (University of California Press, 2022), looks at demonic discourse in the Babylonian Talmud in its legal, narrative, and socio-cultural contexts. She has been a Harvard Center for Jewish Studies Visiting Research Scholar, and was a Fall 2022 scholar-in-residence at HBI. 

Ronis is currently working on her next book project, Fetal Positions: The Talmud Construction of Personhood, 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.
Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar
Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar
From Jerusalem to Lancaster County: Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Women in the Modern World

Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar is a senior lecturer at Sapir Academic College in Sderot, Israel, teaching courses in research methods, communications, religion and gender. She was a Fulbright post-doctoral Fellow from 2011-12 and a scholar-in-residence at HBI from 2011-12 and in 2018. She also received an HBI Research Award in 2013 and 2020 for her projects about Jewish women rituals and Ultra-Orthodox women and new media (respectively). Her research focuses on gender, religion and media. Her most recent research project addresses the tension between religious values and new technologies among Old Order Amish women and Jewish ultra-Orthodox women.

Neriya-Ben Shahar is currently working on her book, which will be published by Rutgers University Press, tentatively titled “From Jerusalem to Lancaster County: Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Women in the Modern World.” She has presented her research at more than 50 academic conferences and seminars in the United States and Israel and has published more than 20 papers. Several of her articles were published by "New Media and Society," "The Journal of Media and Religion," "Nashim" and "The Routledge Handbook of Jewish Ritual and Practice."

Neriya-Ben Shahar’s recent articles include: Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, Avi Marciano & Amit M. Schejter “There are only a few things that you cannot manage without internet”: Realization of capabilities through internet (non)use by ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, The Information Society (2023), Rivka Neriya-Ben Shahar, “Mobile internet is worse than the internet; it can destroy our community”: Old Order Amish and Ultra-Orthodox Jewish women’s responses to cellphone and smartphone use, The Information Society, 36:1, 1-18 (2020), and “We Need to Worship Outside of Conventional Boundaries”: Jewish Orthodox Women Negotiating Time, Space and Halachic Hegemony Through New Ritual, Contemporary Jewry 39:473–495 (2019).

Sarah Silberstein Swartz
Sarah Silberstein Swartz
Contradictions of a Migrant Daughter: Bridging Borders and Barriers

Sarah Silberstein Swartz is an award-winning editor, writer and translator. Her work has been published internationally and she has contributed translations from Yiddish to English to the Berlin Jewish Museum, the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews in Warsaw and the Posen Library of Jewish Culture and Civilization. She has edited an English volume of the Ringelblum Archive for the Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw and is the author of the recently published "Heroines, Rescuers, Rabbis, Spies: Unsung Women of the Holocaust" (Second Story Press, 2022), a feminist book for young adults, profiling nine courageous women written out of history. She is a member of the Holocaust Research Study Group sponsored by HBI.

"Contradictions of a Migrant Daughter: Bridging Borders and Barriers” is based on Sarah’s research and life experiences in Berlin, the United States, Canada and Poland. Born in post-war Berlin to Jewish-Polish Holocaust survivors and a child immigrant to the United States, she returned to West Berlin, epicenter of the Cold War, as an adolescent and had the first Bat Mitzvah in the divided city since World War II. Identifying with the thousands of refugees and asylum seekers of today, she explores an immigrant’s search for belonging, social adaptation and reconciliation with the past. In her writing, she describes her own migratory journey in search of personal identity, lost family history and the integrated gifts of understanding and forgiveness.

Elly Teman

Religious Israeli Surrogates: Negotiating Jewish Law and the Israeli Surrogacy Law

Elly Teman is an associate professor of medical anthropology in the Dept. of Behavioral Sciences at Ruppin Academic Center, Israel. She was a fellow at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania in 2022-23 and has previously held postdoctoral fellowships at UC Berkeley and at the Penn CIGHT Center at the University of Pennsylvania. She is the author of an ethnography on gestational surrogacy in Israel entitled “Birthing a Mother: The Surrogate Body and the Pregnant Self” (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2010) which won three book prizes from the American Anthropological Association, including the Eileen Basker Memorial Prize, Stirling Prize, and Diana Forsythe Prize and was a finalist for the Sociology of Health and Illness book prize from the British Sociological Association. Her publications have appeared in “Social Science and Medicine”, “Medical Anthropology Quarterly”, “Culture Medicine and Psychiatry”, and elsewhere. These publications include articles on surrogacy policy, on the experiences of gestational surrogates and intended mothers, and on ultra-orthodox Haredi women’s experiences of pregnancy, prenatal diagnosis and moral decision-making. Teman has also studied the path of religious “strengthening” among incarcerated Jewish men in Israeli prisons. Her most downloaded article, however, is a cultural history of the “red string”. Teman is currently exploring ways of communicating anthropological research findings through graphic art.

Ornat Turin
Ornat Turin
An Accidental Teacher in America — Teaching Hebrew as a Second Language in Jewish Day Schools

Ornat Turin's current research looks at Jewish women aged 75-90 who have been active members in the Israeli Communist Party for their entire adult lives. The aim is to document how these women describe and explain the choice to link their lives to an excluded political movement. Turin was a scholar-in-residence at HBI, Gender and the Teaching of Hebrew Language seminar in 2014, and received a senior lecturer rank in 2017.