Doctoral Alumni

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, PhD '13, Politics

Ofir Abu teaches at Kinneret Academic College and at Tel-Hai Academic College. He is also affiliated with the Azrieli Center for Israel Studies of the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His articles have been published in peer-reviewed journals, including "Ethnic and Racial Studies," "Citizenship Studies," "Ethnicities," "Israel Studies," and "Israeli Sociology" as well as 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 images and representations of Diaspora Jews in Israel reflect conflicts over Israel’s collective identity.

Guy Abutbul-Selinger, PhD '11, Sociology

Dr. Guy Abutbul-Selinger is a senior lecturer (equivalent to a 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 doctorate 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 and the Israeli periphery. He has published extensively.

Among his most recent publications are "'Subordinate' by Choice? Minority Ethnic Identity as Cultural Resource in the Israeli Middle Class,” 2022, in “The American Sociologist" journal; "The stratified middle class and the formation of ethnic identities" with Avraham Shnider, 2021 in the journal "Ethnicities"; 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.” Following the release of his book, Dr. Abutbul-Selinger was interviewed for a cover story in "Haaretz" magazine and on several major television and radio programs, and led to a lively discussion in the national public discourse about ethnicity in Israel. 

Yair Bar-Zuri, PhD'22, NEJS

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 Ben-Or, PhD '17, NEJS

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. He subsequently worked at Google on the Trust & Safety Risk and Compliance team, where he led research and analysis on systemic risks related to harmful content online. In 2023 he became a senior analyst at Mandiant Intelligence (now part of Google Cloud).

Zeynep Civcik, PhD '14, NEJS

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. 

Shirah Malka Cohen, PhD '23, NEJS

Shirah successfully defended her dissertation, "Weaving Sounds into Words: Classical Music in Early 20th Century Modern Japanese and Modern Hebrew Literatures," in March 2023. Born in Israel and raised in Japan, her dissertation explores a new sphere of interdisciplinary and intercultural studies by examining the relationship between music and literature in the works of early 20th century Japanese and Hebrew writers. Through the combination of close readings of texts from the first few decades of the 20th century, analysis of musical works, and historical research, her dissertation aims to elucidate the way in which Japanese and Hebrew writers used Western classical music to negotiate their literary and cultural identity while also exploring the artistic vision these writers created by combining music and literature.

Robert DeBoard, PhD '23, NEJS

Robert successfully defended his dissertation, "Empire, War, and Withdrawal: The End of the British Mandate for Palestine and the 1948 War, August 1947 - May 1948," in March 2023. The British role in the 1948 War is often overlooked and misunderstood. His dissertation demystifies the British role in the first stage of the conflict, the civil war which emerged in late 1948 through the end of the Mandate in mid-May 1948. Robert was a visiting assistant professor at Binghamton University for the 2021-2022 academic year. In the 2023-2024 academic yeear, he is visiting lecturer in Jewish Studies at UMass Amherst.

Maya Dworsky-Rocha, PhD '22, Anthropology

Dr. Dworsky-Rocha successfully defended her dissertation, “It Takes a Nation; Telescopic Temporality and Childhood in Israel" in November, 2022. 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. She is an adjunct lecturer in anthropology at Babson College and a visiting lecturer in anthropology at Brandeis University.

Ehud (Udi) Eiran, PhD '10, Politics

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 recent publications include:  “US Recognition of Israeli Territorial Claims in the Golan and Jerusalem: Implications for the Norm against the Acquisition of Territory by Force,” Middle East Journal, (Co-authored with Jeremey Pressman, forthcoming);  Israel and American-Chinese Rivalry, National University of Singapore, Middle East Institute (2023); “Between Identities in East-Jerusalem: Palestinian approaches regarding Israeli permanent Status and Citizenship,” Politika (Co-authored with Mary Nagar-Abud, 2023); and “Israel: Internal, Regional, and International Issues and Challenges”, in the Routledge Handbook of Judaism in the 21st Century (Edited by Keren Eva Fraiman, and Dean Phillip Bell, 2023).

Eiran has held research appointments 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 Department of Political Science at UC Berkeley (2020). 

Rima Farah, PhD '22, NEJS

Dr. Farah’s areas of specialization are political and cultural histories of modern Israel and the contemporary Middle East, with an emphasis on ethnic and national identities of minorities and their political thought. Her study also focuses on ethnic and political conflicts within Israel, and between Israel and the states in the region. She analyzed the connection between ethnic conflicts within Israel and regional conflicts in her article, “The Rise of a Christian Aramaic Nationality in Israel,” published in Israel Studies, on the Arabic-speaking Christians in Israel, as well as in her dissertation, which she completed at Brandeis University, titled, “The Predicament of the National Identity of Arabic Speaking Christians in Israel: 1982-2014.” Farah’s field of specialty also includes a study about teaching Hebrew culture in Israel and the United States. Currently, she is writing her article about the role of the “other” in the development of Israeli culture and in teaching about Hebrew culture, which will be published in a book with a collection of articles by The Consortium for the Teaching of Hebrew Language and Culture, and Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education at Brandeis University. Farah is multilingual; she is fluent in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, and she has a good knowledge of French. Farah received a fellowship from The Israel Institute and in Fall 2023 she joined the Jewish Studies Program at Northeastern University to teach courses about modern Israel and the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Rachel Fish, PhD '13, NEJS

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." Dr. Fish also serves as Special Advisor to the President of Brandeis University on Antisemitism and the Program on Higher Education and K-12 Leadership. She is also an associate research professor at the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies. In addition, Dr. Fish teaches Israeli history and society  at The George Washington University as Visiting Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership in the Graduate School of Education and Human Development.

Previously, Dr. Fish was the executive director of the Foundation to Combat Antisemitism. 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, and The George Washington University. She 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 Fleisch PhD '14, NEJS

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. His book "Checkbook Zionism: Philanthropy and Power in the Israel-Diaspora Relationship" will be be published by Rutgers University Press in January 2024.

Randall Geller, PhD '11, NEJS

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 has taught history at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Emmanuel College, Bentley University, and Bridgewater State University. His book "Minorities in the Israeli Military, 1948–58" was published in 2017. North Shore Hebrew Academy High School. Currently, Dr. Geller teaches history (onsite) at the  

Eva Gurevich, PhD '23, NEJS

In March 2023, Eva successfully defended her dissertation, "Israel Resurrected: The Six Day War in the Political Thought of the Land of Israel Movement (Hatenuah Lemaan Eretz Yisrael Hashlemah)." Working at the intersection of cultural history and political theology, her dissertation examines a group of hegemonic Israeli literary and public figures who converted from 'left' to 'right' wing in the aftermath of the 1967 war, paving the way for the Israeli right wing and the settlement movement as we know it today. 

Mika Hackner, PhD '23, Politics

Mika successfully defended her dissertation, "The End of the Party: Party Banning in Multi-Party Democracies," in March 2023. Focusing most particularly on Israel and Germany, Mika’s dissertation explores when and why political parties are banned from running in elections. Mika graduated with her PhD in May 2023. She holds an MA in Politics from Brandeis, an MA in Peace and Conflict Management from Haifa University, an Honour's Degree in Justice and Transformation from the University of Cape Town and a BA in Politics and History from The University of Auckland. She has been published in the Washington Post, the journal Ethnopolitics and recently published a chapter on Militant Democracy in Nicholas A. Seltzer and Steven Lloyd Wilson (eds.) Handbook on Democracy and Security. She is currently Instructor of Government at Tarrant County College in Texas.

Iddo Haklai, PhD'22, NEJS

In September 2022, Dr. Haklai successfully defended his dissertation, "'God is Still Speaking' - 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 ideas. He has also written about American Conservative Judaism and its grappling with issues of gender egalitarianism in Jewish ritual. Dr. Haklai is currently working on turning his doctoral dissertation into a book. 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.  

Mostafa Hussein, PhD '17, NEJS

Dr. Mostafa Hussein has been an assistant professor at the University of Michigan's Frankel Center for Judaic Studies since the fall of 2021. His work focuses on the intellectual and cultural intersections between Jews and Arabs in modern times in modern Israel/Palestine and the Middle East. Dr. Hussein's current research centers around a book project with the working title "Islam and Jewish Culture in Palestine, 1881-1948." The book, which builds on his dissertation, offers a fresh perspective on the influence of Arabo-Islamic civilization on the development of Jewish thought during the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries in Palestine. Dr. Hussein has recently finished working on an a new book, "Refiguring Loss: Jews Remembered in Maghrebi and Middle Eastern Cultural Production" (Penn State University Press, forthcoming) with his colleague Brahim El Guabli. In adopting loss as a conceptual framework for scholarly study of the variety of ways in which Jews have reemerged in literature and film, Refiguring Loss places emphasis on the larger societal and mnemonic implications of the absence of Jews from the daily lives of communities in which they existed for millennia.

Susanna Klosko, PhD '17, NEJS

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 Project Designer/Manager and a web application developper at the Institute of Advanced Technology in the Humanities at the University of Virginia.


Ari Moshkovski, PhD '20, NEJS
Ari successfully defended his dissertation “The National-Religious Party, the Rabbinate, and the Arab-Israeli Peace Process: Principle and Pragmatism in Religious-Zionist Statecraft (1974-1977)” in October, 2020. Ari's fields of specialization include the history of Zionism, contemporary Orthodox Judaism, Israeli foreign policy, and the modern Middle East. His dissertation examines the role of the National Religious Party and the Chief Rabbinate in the Egyptian-Israeli peace process of 1977-1982. He holds a BA (Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and an MA from Queens College, CUNY, where he developed undergraduate and high school curricula on American relations with the Middle East, and the Arab-Israeli conflict for the Center for Ethnic, Racial and Religious Understanding.
Jason Olson, PhD '16, NEJS

Jason received his doctorate 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 most recently served as a defense policy officer for US Forces Korea, where he managed the US-ROK alliance and worked to expand multilateral cooperation with US allies and partners in the region.  He released a scholarly memoir, "The Burning Book: A Jewish-Mormon Memoir" (BCC Press, 2022) in which he and his co-author explore Jewish-Latter-day Saint relations, Zionism, and religious pluralism in America and Israel. 

Jason received the Defense Meritorious Service Medal there for returning a Carrier Strike Group to Korea and restarting US-Japan-Korea trilateral security cooperation — for the first time in five years.  He also pioneered US Forces Korea’s participation in the world’s premier defense dialogue, the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, led by the International Institute for Strategic Studies. In Summer 2023 he was a fellow at the Naval War College. In Fall 2023, he became a foreign policy officer at the Pacific Fleet in Pearl Harbor.
Shay Rabineau, PhD '13, NEJS
Shay Rabineau is Associate Professor of Israel Studies and Associate Director of the Center for Israel Studies at Binghamton University. Prior to his arrival at Binghamton in 2015, Shay was an Israel Institute Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University. His recent book, "Walking the Land: A History of Israeli Hiking Trails" (Indiana University Press, 2023, part of the Perspectives on Israel Studies series), draws from the dissertation he wrote at Brandeis (NEJS, 2013) while he was a doctoral candidate at the Schusterman Center. In 2022, Shay walked through Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank to become the first person since 1934 to circle the Dead Sea on foot. His current book project draws from that experience, and is an environmental history of the Dead Sea region. To whet your appetite for the new book project, read Shay's article, "Dead Sea Walking" in The Jewish Review of Books (Spring 2023).
Joseph Ringel, PhD '11, NEJS

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 Leon Charney Visiting Scholar in Israel Studies at Yeshiva University's Center for Israel Studies, where he is completing a manuscript for a book on Sephardic (Hispano-Arabic). Dr. Ringel also co-edited a volume on Jews in the Islamic world: "Displacements of Jewish Communal Life in Islamic Lands and Cultural Reconstruction in Israel" (Carmel Publishing House, 2021).

Gangzheng She, PhD '18, NEJS
Dr. Gangzheng She is an Associate Professor in the Department of International Relations and Director of the Center for Overseas Security at Tsinghua University in Beijing. He teaches multiple undergraduate- and graduate-level courses, including War and Evolution in the Middle East, Study of Conflict Resolution, and Contemporary History of International Relations.

Dr. She specializes in the Middle East from the beginning of Cold War till now with a special focus on the involvement of China and other great powers in the region. His works have been published by leading academic journals such as "Journal of Cold War Studies," "Chinese Journal of International Politics," and "Mediterranean Politics," as well as by think tanks including Atlantic Council and the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI).
Karen Spira, PhD '22, NEJS

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 Taylor, PhD '19, NEJS

Amber is a Historian Manager at the History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah, focusing on women's and international church 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 and religious and social groups.