Where are they now?Alumni of our Schusterman Doctoral Fellowship program have gone on to work in many fascinating areas, from teaching and research to government and beyond.
Ofir Abu teaches at Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee and Tel-Hai College. After earning his PhD, he was a postdoctoral fellow at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, first at the Department of Administration and Public Policy and then at the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the study of Israel and Zionism. Dr. Abu's post-doctoral work was supported by prestigious scholarships and grants, such as the Kreitman Scholarship and the Israel Institute research grant. He continues to serve as a research fellow at the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the study of Israel and Zionism. He has published articles in journals, such as Citizenship Studies, Ethnicities, and Israel Studies, as well as chapters in collected volumes. The book "Through Israeli Eyes: Images, Representations, and Boundaries of the Jewish World" (in Hebrew), which he co-edited with Dr. Tanya Zion-Waldoks, was published in 2020 by the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism. Dr. Abu's current research focuses on how Israeli images and representations of Diaspora Jews affect the political and policy discourse in Israel. Ofir lives in Haifa with his wife, Dana, and their two daughters.
Dr. Guy Abutbul-Selinger is a senior lecturer (equivalent to a tenured US associate professor), the Dean of the Bnei-Brak Campus at the College of Management in Israel and a board member of the Israeli Sociological Association. He completed his PhD at the Sociology Department at Brandeis University and his post-doctoral studies at the sociology department at Tel Aviv University. His research deals with everyday ethnicity in the Israeli middle class, multi-ethnic families in Israel, the Israeli periphery and everyday dimensions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has published extensively. Among his most recent publications are “The stratified middle class and the formation of ethnic identities" with Avraham Shnider, 2021 in Ethnicities doi/10.1177/14687968211025318; and “The Ethnic Echo in the Israeli Center,” Carmel Academic Press, Jerusalem 2021, which he edited and to which he contributed several chapters, including "The Influence of Spatial boundaries on the Construction of Ethnic Identities in Israel" with Avraham Shnider, and "Deconstructing the Liberal Perspective: Understanding the Communitarian Resistance of Betar Jerusalem fans”; and “'Subordinate' by Choice? Minority Ethnic Identity as Cultural Resource in the Israeli Middle Class,” (forthcoming) “The American Sociologist.”
In July 2022, Yair Bar-Zuri successfully defended his dissertation, "Embracing Contradiction in the Writings of Aharon David Gordon and Yosef Haim Brenner." It examines the writings of Yosef Chaim Brenner and Aharon David Gordon, two of the most charismatic and influencing figures in Zionist thought and modern Hebrew litarture. Dr. Bar-Zuri explores the usage of the notion of contradiction in their writings as expressing the challenge of Jewish existence in the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The dissertation shows how Gordon's and Brenner's thoughts illuminate not only the cultural and existential questions of the time, but also offer unique perspectives of Jewish nationalism highly relevant to explore the development of Zionism from its outset to our days.
Aviv completed his doctorate in 2017 with the generous support of the Dissertation Completion Fellowship awarded by the Association of Jewish Studies. His dissertation explores the works of Iraqi-born Israeli authors Shimon Ballas and Sami Mikhael, both of whom wrote in their native Arabic before switching to Hebrew. Specifically, he explored the construction of Arab-Jewish subjectivity in the context of transition from Arabic to Hebrew, as well as the implications of translingual writing for our understanding of the literary landscape in 20th century Israel. Awarded a University Prize Instructorship, Aviv taught a course at Brandeis in Fall 2015 entitled "Modern Arab-Jewish Literature." After completing his doctorate Aviv spent four years working in cyber security for the U.S. government and in the private sector. Aviv currently works at Google on the Trust & Safety Risk and Compliance team where he leads research and analysis on systemic risks related to harmful content online.
Zeynep successfully defended her dissertation in November 2014, entitled: "Civil-Military Relations in Israel and Turkey: A Comparative Study on Military Interventions." Part of her research was conducted at the Moshe Dayan Center at Tel Aviv University where she investigated the changes and continuities of Israeli security policy. Following graduation, she taught a course on Israeli politics and society at the Middle East Technical University in Ankara, Turkey. From 2016 to 2017 she was a visiting scholar at the Berkeley Institute for Jewish Law and Israel Studies at UC Berkeley School of Law.
Dr. Dworsky-Rocha successfully defended her dissertation, “It Takes a Nation; Telescopic Temporality and Childhood in Israel" in November, 2022. She is an adjunct Lecturer in Anthropology at Babson College. She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Oregon and an MA in Comparative Humanities from Brandeis University. Her research focuses on childhood, whiteness, and militarism in Israeli education.
Ehud (Udi) Eiran – the Center’s first doctoral student - is a senior lecturer (equivalent to a tenured US associate professor) at the School of Political Science at the University of Haifa, Israel. In 2022 he was appointed to head the University’s Politics, Philosophy, and Economics (PPE) program. His second book, “Post-Colonial Settlement Strategy” (Edinburgh University Press) was published in 2019. Eiran has held research appointments at Harvard Law School (2003-2006) and at the Belfer Center at Harvard’s Kennedy School (2005-2010), as well as at Stanford's Department of Political Science (2019-2021) and UC Berkeley’s Center for Middle-Eastern Studies (2020-2021). He also taught at the Departments of Political Science at MIT (2010) and UC Berkeley (2020).
In November 2022, Dr. Farah successfully defended her dissertation, "A Predicament of the National Identity of Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel: 1980-2014." Her primary area of research revolves around the cultural and political history of minorities in the Middle East, with an emphasis on the formation and development of their ethnic and national identities. In 2021, she published an article in the journal Israel Studies titled “The Rise of a Christian Aramaic Nationality in Modern Israel.” While working on her doctorate, she taught Hebrew at Brandeis University and at Middlebury College. She holds an MA in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies from the University of Haifa, the city where she was born and raised, as well as an MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. Having grown up in a multicultural and multilingual society, Farah is fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. We look forwrad to celebrating the next phase in her academic career.
In 2021 Rachel Fish co-founded the nonprofit Boundless, "a think-action tank partnering with community leaders across North America to revitalize Israel education and take bold collective action to combat Jew-hatred." Previously, Dr. Fish was the executive director of the Foundation to Combat anti-Semitism. Rachel also served as senior advisor and resident scholar at the Paul E. Singer Foundation in New York City and executive director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies, where she trained the next generation of academics in the field of Israel Studies.
Her dissertation, “Configurations of Bi-nationalism: The Transformation of Bi-nationalism and Palestine/Israel 1920’s-Present,” examines the history of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel.
Rachel has served on the faculty at Brandeis University, Harvard University, UMass Amherst, has written articles for several publications in the mainstream press and academic journals, and co-edited the book “Essential Israel: Essays for the 21st Century.” She is a frequent speaker in various Jewish community forums and beyond.
Eric successfully defended his dissertation in 2014: "Israeli NGOs and American Jewish Donors: The Structures and Dynamics of Power Sharing in a New Philanthropic Age." In 2014-2015 was a post-doctoral research fellow at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis, conducting research on American Jewry. In Fall 2014, Eric also taught a course on Israeli history in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis. From 2015-2017 he was Visiting Assistant Professor at Lehigh University in the Department of International Relations and the Berman Center for Jewish Studies. He then became an assistant professor in the Jewish Studies Program at Penn State University, where, in 2020, he accepted a tenure track Assistant Professorship in Jewish/Israel Studies. Rutgers University Press will be publishing his book, Checkbook Zionism: Philanthropy and Power in the Israel-Diaspora Relationship.
Randall successfully defended his doctoral dissertation on the Druze and other minorities in the Israel Defense Forces between 1948 and 1957. He held post-doc positions at American University and the University of Texas, Austin. In 2013 he was appointed the inaugural Les and Eva Erdi Lecturer in Israel and Middle East Studies at Monash University in Australia. For the 2014-2015 academic year, Randall was a post-doctoral fellow in Israel Studies at the University of Toronto, followed by a return to Brandeis for the Fall of 2015 as a lecturer in the Hornstein Jewish Professional Leadership Program. He was subsequently a lecturer in history at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and at Emmanuel College. Currently, he is a lecturer in history at Bentley University and at Bridgewater State University. His book "Minorities in the Israeli Military, 1948–58" was published in 2017.
In September 2022, Dr. Haklai successfully defended his dissertation, "'To Hear the Calling Voice of God' - The Religious Thought of the Religious-Zionist Labor Movement in Mandatory Palestine, 1922-1948." He received his BA in Jewish Thought and Political Science and MA in Political Science (both Magna Cum Laude) from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He worked for several years as an instructor at the Hebrew University and an educator at Yad Vashem, Israel’s national holocaust museum. His current research focuses on creative encounters between Jewish religious traditionalism and modern phenomena such as nationalism, secularism, and modern left-wing ideologies. He has written about the religious-Zionist (Orthodox) labor movement in Mandatory Palestine and its theological integration of religious traditionalism, nationalism, and social-democratic idea. He has also written about American Conservative Judaism and its grappling with issues of gender egalitarianism in Jewish ritual. His future research will examine liberal or non-traditionalist Jewish religious engagements with the modern “rise of the immanent frame” in the thought of German-Jewish thinkers such as Martin Buber and Rabbi Leo Baeck.
Susanna received her BA from the College of William and Mary and has been with the Schusterman Center since 2009. She was awarded the Malkin Fellowship in Israel Studies (2009-2014) and the Israel Institute Doctoral Fellowship (2013-2015). In her dissertation, she examined the historical connection between immigration, chronic illness, and the Land of Israel by exploring how these were informed by an ethos of productivization and immigration control which came to Palestine not only with Zionist activists but with the jurisdiction of Western powers. In 2016-2017, she was a visiting scholar at the University of Virginia, teaching in the Jewish Studies Department. Susanna has been working in digital humanities since June of 2019. She is the Project Designer/Manager at the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia.
Jason received his Ph.D. from Brandeis' Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department in 2016. He turned his dissertation into a book, "America's Road to Jerusalem: The Impact of the Six-Day War on Protestant Politics," which was published by Lexington Books in 2018. From 2014 to 2020, he served as a Navy chaplain and was stationed at an air base in Japan, as command chaplain of a cruiser, and as regimental chaplain forward at 2nd Marine Division. While deployed aboard ship, he served as faculty for Central Texas College, teaching 16 of his sailors. Since 2020, he has served as a Navy foreign area officer, a defense diplomat who bridges space between the embassy and the military command. He currently serves as a defense policy officer for U.S. Forces Korea, where he manages the U.S.-ROK alliance and works to expand multilateral cooperation with U.S. allies and partners in the region. He recently released a scholarly memoir, "The Burning Book: A Jewish-Mormon Memoir" (BCC Press, 2022) where he and his co-author explore Jewish-Latter-day Saint relations, Zionism, and religious pluralism in America and Israel.
Shay is Associate Professor of Israel Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Israel Studies at Binghamton University, where he has taught since 2015. He teaches courses on the history of Israel, walking and pilgrimage in the Middle East, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the environmental history of Israel and Palestine. Shay was the Israel Institute Post-Doctoral fellow at the Schusterman Center for 2013-2014 and continued as the Israel Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 2014-2015. His doctoral dissertation, “Marking and Mapping the Nation: The History of Israel’s Hiking Trail Network,” was the first to examine Israel's 10,000-kilometer trail network as a space on which Israelis articulate their relationship to the Land of Israel. In Fall 2015, His book "Walking the Land: A History of Israeli Hiking Trails" is forthcoming from Indiana University Press in January 2023.
Joseph successfully defended his dissertation "The Sephardic Rabbinate, Sephardic Yeshivot and the Shas Educational System" in 2011. He taught at Drew University in 2011-2012, and taught Israel studies and Jewish studies at the University of Maryland in College Park, 2012-2014. From 2014-2016 he was a Fulbright scholar in education at the University of Haifa. The US and Israeli governments sponsored the fellowship for him to conduct research on national religious schools in Jewish settlements across the Green Line. From 2016-2018 he was a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University, teaching courses in Israel studies. Currently, Joseph teaches social studies and Jewish history at Scheck Hillel Community School in Aventura, Florida. He is also a fellow at Yeshiva University's Center for Israel Studies, where he is completing a manuscript for a book on Sephardic (Hispano-Arabic) and just co-edited a volume on Jews in the Islamic world.
Gangzheng is Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. where he has been teaching since he graduated in 2018. Tsinghua ranks 17th around the world - 1st in China and the 3rd in Asia - according to the QS World University Rankings 2019. Dr. She has a degree in Hebrew Language and Culture from Peking University, where he co-founded the Jewish Cultural Research Association. His doctoral dissertation focused on China's involvement in the Arab-Israeli conflict during the Cold War. He has conducted research on the evolution of Israel's national image in mainstream Chinese media from 1949-1992. Prior to Brandeis, Gangzheng worked as a research associate at China Development Research Foundation and the Foreign Affairs office of Guangzhou municipal government.
Karen Spira joined the Crown Center for Middle East Studies at Brandeis in 2016 and is currently the center's assistant director. She holds a PhD and MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. She also holds an MA in religion from the University of Georgia and a dual BA in English and religious studies from the University of Arizona. In July 2022, she successfully defended her dissertation, "Disadvantaged and Orphaned Jewish Children in Palestine, 1881-1939," which examines the development of child welfare systems in the Yishuv. Dr. Spira has taught courses on Jewish and Israeli history at Brandeis and as a community educator in a variety of settings throughout the Greater Boston area and New York.
Amber is the Managing Historian at the History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, focusing on women's history. Amber successfully defended her dissertation, "Contest and Controversy in the Creation of the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, 1984-1987," on February 26, 2019. The dissertation examines the history of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Holy Land, with a particular interest in the way Latter-day Saints - in contradistinction to other Christian groups - have viewed and created a presence in the Land, and how that presence has been perceived by local residents as well as religious and social groups.