Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies

2020-21 Publications, Lectures and Awards

August 3, 2021

Deborah E. Lipstadt, MA’72, PhD’76, H’19 will serve as a special envoy to monitor and combat anti-semitism.

July 16, 2021

"By identifying biblical intertexts and parallel phrases, we can better understand the flow, the imagery, and even the core message of Eichah, Lamentations."

July 1, 2021

Szobel's Flesh of My Flesh: Sexual Violence in Hebrew Literature and Israeli Culture explores the literary history of sexual assault in Hebrew literature.

July 1, 2021


"This article argues that medieval Arabic-speaking Jews, unlike the rabbis of Late Antiquity, adopted a comparative framework for analyzing their beliefs, practices, laws, exegetical methods, and so on as analogous to those possessed by other groups. The paradigm shift is reflected in Judeo-Arabic writings that adopt al-yahūdiyya as the name of an independent entity that is a species of a broader genus. While it might be anachronistic to call this species “Judaism” and its genus “Religion,” the Jewish adoption of an entity that enfolds many of the elements scholars identify with the category Religion marks a milestone in Jewish thought. In the context of Islamic and Christian writing in Arabic, this article focuses on Judeo-Arabic sources composed between the tenth and twelfth centuries that present al-yahūdiyya as an emic term and then turns to Hebrew sources through the fifteenth century that also reflect a comparative framework."

Within the same journal (The Journal of Religion, Vol. 101, Number 3) is a transcription of a lecture on faith and reason that was delivered by Alexander Altmann at the University of Chicago in 1961 titled, "The Encounter of Faith and Reason in the Western Tradition and Its Significance Today."

June 21, 2021

Arlene and Antony Polonsky on Zoom during the tribute.A special Tribute to Professor Emeritus Antony Polonsky was held on Monday, June 21, 2021 on Zoom. Antony Polonsky made a speech at the event and we would like to share his remarks.

June 7, 2021

"After a rigorous nationwide search, the Board of Governors of Gratz College has unanimously selected Dr. Zev Eleff as the college’s new president. He will succeed Dr. Paul Finkelman, who served as president of Gratz College for four years..."

Read full Press Release.

June 4, 2021

NEJS faculty are contributing to a forum on Alexander Kaye's The Invention of Jewish Theocracy. 
David Katz publishes The Shaping of Turkey In The British Imagination, 1776-1923

June 1, 2021

"This book is about the principal writings that shaped the perception of Turkey for informed readers in English, from Edward Gibbon’s positing of imperial Decline and Fall to the proclamation of the Turkish Republic (1923), illustrating how Turkey has always been a part of the modern British and European experience.  It is a great sweep of a story: from Gibbon as standard textbook, through Lord Bryon the pro-Turkish poet, and Benjamin Disraeli the Romantic novelist of all things Eastern, followed by John Buchan's Greenmantle First World War espionage fantasies, and then Manchester Guardian reporter Arnold Toynbee narrating the fight for Turkish independence."

May 25, 2021

Jonathan Sarna publishes, "Marriage trends, political views undermining the notion of a unified American Jewish identity" in The Conversation.

Alexander Kaye is a co-winner of the 2020 Association of Israel Studies Young Scholar Award

May 24, 2021

Professor Amnon Cavari and Professor Alexander Kaye are the co-winners of the AIS Young Scholar Award:

"'Prof. Cavari’s research focuses on both on Israeli Politics, as well as American Politics, its longstanding relationship with Israel, and the ties between both. Prof. Cavari has established himself as one of the most prominent scholars in these fields. In his works, Prof, Cavari challenges existing theories and alters conventional research agendas. He examines multiple issues (such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, support for Israel among members of the US Congress) and perspectives (including the role of the media), as well as policy agendas in Israel. He has also drawn on his extensive knowledge of these critical questions to publish several policy papers.'"

"'Prof. Alexander Kaye’s particular interest is the legal thinking of Orthodox Zionists in the twentieth century. His work, and particularly his study about the relationship between law, religion and politics in Mandatory Palestine and Israel, has been uniformly praised and he has provided an original and useful contribution to the field of Israel studies. Prof. Kaye’s books and articles demonstrate his depth, intellectual complexity and ability to highlight new perspectives in a way that only few scholars have done, so early in their careers.'"
Yehudah Mirsky was a speaker at a conference in Jerusalem on Israel-Diaspora relations

May 11, 2021

April 29, 2021

NEJS Majors: 
Gentin, Ariella (Fall 2020 Graduate)
Morris, Lily
NEJS Minors:
Mitzner, Margalit
Scheinberg, Adina
Sussman, Yale
Weinberger, Adina
Yehudah Mirsky's interview with Kann 11

April 27, 2021

Yehudah Mirsky was interviewed by Kann 11, Israel's national public broadcasting station, for a series on the Chief Rabbinate.

Watch the interview.
(Works best to watch the YouTube video if you have a VPN)

April 21, 2021

Yehudah Mirsky's interview with Kan-Moreshet discusses Yehudah's book, Rav Kook: A New Perspective, which is a revised and translated version of his book from 2014 and is geared towards an Israeli readership.
Time in the Babylonian Talmud book cover
Association for Jewish Studies Announces 2020 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Winners

April 6, 2021

Lynn Kaye wins the 2020 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award for Time in the Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge University Press) in the category of Biblical Studies, Rabbinics, and Jewish History & Culture in Antiquity.

April 6, 2021

Alan Brill interviews Alexander Kaye on the Invention of Jewish Theocracy.
Golan Y. Moskowitz, PhD, 18, Book Launch

Golan Moskowitz, Tulane Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, hosted a discussion on illustrator and children's author Maurice Sendak, joined by acclaimed authors Gregory Maguire and Brian Selznik and moderated by Marah Gubar, Associate Professor of Literature at MIT. "Plug In:  Your Virtual Connection to Tulane" and the Stuart and Suzanne Grant Center for the American Jewish Experience sponsored the event.  Professor Moskowitz’s latest book Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context, was published by Stanford University Press in December 2020.  He received his PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University.

March 25, 2021

"UDR for Religious Studies, Jaiden Aerial Kay Gividen ’21 (NEJS major and Religious Studies minor), has interviewed Darlene Brooks Hedstrom (the Myra and Robert Kraft and Jacob Hiatt Associate Professor in Christian Studies in the Departments of NEJS and Classical Studies) for this issue of MUSE. Professor Brooks Hedstrom explains how studying the past can make us face all sorts of issues related to racial inequity, social justice, and diversity, which her work in archaeology and the material culture of past civilizations shows," (Ann Olga Koloski-Ostrow, MUSE, Vol. 10). 

"The Rise of a Christian Aramaic Nationality in Modern Israel"


The article discusses the historical factors behind the rise of a new Christian Aramaic nationality in Israel, and its recognition by the state in 2014. It debunks the traditional claims that this phenomenon is mainly a present-day attempt by Israel to separate Christians from Arab society. Examining the phenomenon through a wide historical perspective demonstrates the link between the rise of national perception among Christians living among Muslims in Middle Eastern countries, and the development of a new national identity among Christians living in the Jewish state of Israel.

February 12, 2021

In "Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context" (Stanford University Press, 2020), Golan Moskowitz investigates the evolution of Sendak’s artistic vision and its appeal for American, Jewish, and queer audiences. The present talk will offer a pointed discussion of Wild Visionary, illuminating how Sendak’s multiple perspectives as a gay, Holocaust-conscious, American-born son of Yiddish-speaking Polish immigrants informed his life and work. It will also explore how the artist’s work interacted dynamically with his cultural surroundings, offering insights into experiences of marginality and emotional resilience that remain relevant and visionary to this day.

February 12, 2021

Cheyenne Paris, a NEJS/COEX student expected to receive her MA in May 2021, and others have been awarded with The Witness Institute's two-year fellowship for emerging leaders!

Simon Rawidowicz (1896–1957) was the founder of NEJS and one of the most innovative, if also underappreciated, Jewish thinkers of the twentieth century. He was a partner in conversation with many of the leading Jewish cultural or political figures of the first half of the century including David Ben-Gurion, Chaim Nahman Bialik, Martin Buber, and Simon Dubnow. His distinctive theory of "Babylon and Jerusalem" remains one of the most interesting formulations of Jewish national ideology, as it sought to mediate between the poles of Zionism and Diasporism. This volume captures Rawidowicz’s multiple and overlapping concerns – both scholarly and contemporary – as well as the distinctive rich timbre of his Hebrew style. All those interested in modern Jewish thought, the relationship between Israel and Diaspora, the recurrent "Arab Question" in Zionist and Israeli politics, and the state of Jewish people will find benefit in this collection of new or hardly known texts from the pen of Simon Rawidowicz.

An electronic version of "Between Babylon and Jerusalem" is freely available online.

Our own Jonathan Krasner won the award in Education and Jewish Identity for his Hebrew Infu­sion: Lan­guage and Com­mu­ni­ty at Amer­i­can Jew­ish Sum­mer CampsSarah Bunin Benor, Jonathan Kras­ner, and Sharon Avni.

Webinar: Massachusetts Historical Society Holiday Celebration, featuring Jonathan Sarna

December 14, 2020

The webinar was recorded on 9 December 2020. View video 

"Lights and gatherings are an especially meaningful symbol of hope, celebration, warmth, and remembrance for many at this time of year. In this historic presidential election year, be inspired through an exploration of how the holidays come alive at the White House. Dr. Jonathan Sarna, the Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History at Brandeis University, will discuss the tradition of Hanukkah celebrations at the White House. Stewart McLaurin, President of the White House Historical Association, will discuss the 2020 White House Christmas ornament commemorating President John F. Kennedy." 

"This chapter explores the buildings and artefacts of late antique monastic sites in Egypt and Palestine. It uses household archaeology to examine the daily behaviours of those who lived in monastic settlements. Household archaeology combines methodologies from archaeology, anthropology, geography, and history. Its application enables us to read the archaeology of monasticism with greater sophistication, so that the artefacts and the places of ordinary life can be interpreted alongside other sources, such as liturgy, images, and texts. Archaeological remains offer an additional lens for reading monastic settlements as complex households or homesteads, and they permit us to write a more nuanced history of monastic life."
"The Clutter of Monastic Spaces: Archaeology and Asceticism Revisited."

December 12, 2020

Saturday, Dec. 12, 10:30 a.m. - 12:00 noon (eastern time) on Zoom

Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom gives a lecture for the Providence Patristics Group and Boston Area Patristics Group/Patristica Bostoniensia. 

December 9, 2020

"This is the second piece in a series sponsored by Tevel b’Tzedek that examines the concept of Tikkun Olam through conversations with some of the Jewish world’s best minds. The full videotaped conversation with Yehuda Mirsky, professor of Jewish Thought at Brandeis University and author of the acclaimed “Rav Kook: Mystic in a Time of Revolution,” can be seen here."

Wild Visionary: Maurice Sendak in Queer Jewish Context (Stanford University Press) by recent PhD alum, Golan Moskowitz, was published this month!

This is the first book-length study of Jewishness and queerness in the life and work of Maurice Sendak (creator of Where the Wild Things Are and many other picture-book classics).


"The republication of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad by French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in September 2020 led to protests in several Muslim-majority countries. It also resulted in disturbing acts of violence: In the weeks that followed, two people were stabbed near the former headquarters of the magazine and a teacher was beheaded after he showed the cartoons during a classroom lesson.

Visual depiction of Muhammad is a sensitive issue for a number of reasons: Islam’s early stance against idolatry led to a general disapproval for images of living beings throughout Islamic history. Muslims seldom produced or circulated images of Muhammad or other notable early Muslims. The recent caricatures have offended many Muslims around the world.

This focus on the reactions to the images of Muhammad drowns out an important question: How did Muslims imagine him for centuries in the near total absence of icons and images?"

Full Article

November 27, 2020

Lynn Kaye is the 2020 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award Winner of the wide ranging fields of Biblical Studies, Rabbinics, and Jewish History and Culture in Antiquity for her book, Time in the Babylonian Talmud: Natural and Imagined Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge U. Press). 

December 1, 2020

Michal Shaul’s Holocaust Memory in Ultraorthodox Society in Israel is the most recent publication in our series: Perspectives on Israel Studies (sponsored by the Schusterman Center of Israel Studies of Brandeis University and the Ben-Gurion Research Institute for the Study of Israel and Zionism of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev).

In Holocaust Memory in Ultraorthodox Society in Israel, Michal Shaul highlights the special role that Holocaust survivors played as they rebuilt and consolidated Ultraorthodox society. Although many Haredi were initially theologically opposed to the creation of Israel, they have become a significant force in the contemporary life and politics of the country. Looking at personal and public experiences of Ultraorthodox survivors in the first years of emigration from liberated Europe and breaking down how their memories entered the public domain, Shaul documents how they were incorporated into the collective memories of the Ultraorthodox in Israel.

Holocaust Memory in Ultraorthodox Society in Israel offers a rare mix of empathy and scholarly rigor to understandings of the role that the community's collective memories and survivor mentality have played in creating Israel's national identity.

November 4, 2020

Judaism's Challenge book coverReuven Kimelman's chapter, "Israel’s Election and the Moral Dilemma of Amalek and the Seven Nations of Canaan" is published in Judaism’s Challenge: Election, Divine Love, and Human Enmity edited by Alon Goshen-Gottstein. 

October 28, 2020

Lynn Kaye's article titled "Sacred Time and Rabbinic Literature: New Directions for an Old Question" is published by the Journal of the Academy of Religion.

October 22, 2020

MUSE, the newsletter of the Division of the Humanities, publishes its latest edition.  This month, it features a student interview (carried out by Madeleine Cahn, '21, Lead UDR for the Division of the Humanities) of Professor Jonathan Sarna, the one University Professor in the Division.
Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom published Monastic Landscape of Late Antique Egypt: An Archaeological Reconstruction (Cambridge)

October 7, 2020

Darlene L. Brooks Hedstrom published Monastic Landscape of Late Antique Egypt: An Archaeological Reconstruction (Cambridge), which is the 2019 Best Popular Book in Archaeology from Biblical Archaeology Society. Recent chapters include "The Archaeology of Monastic Households" in The Oxford Handbook of Christian Monasticism (2020); "The Archaeology of Early Monastic Communities" and "Archaeology of early Christianity in Egypt" for The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Archaeology (2019); and "The Archaeology of the Earliest Monasteries" co-authored with Hendrik Dey for The Cambridge History of Medieval Monasticism in the Latin West (2020).

October 2, 2020

Leon Kraiem is a lifelong New Yorker, currently living at home and finishing his senior year at Brandeis University, with a major in philosophy and a minor in Near Eastern and Judaic studies. From 2017-18, he studied at the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem. When he's not birdwatching, or falling down extremist or fundamentalist rabbit holes on the internet, he's a volunteer advocate at the Right to Immigration Institute in Waltham, Massachusetts, a pro bono legal clinic serving mostly asylum seekers. He has a very sweet Tibetan terrier named Terra, who is 11 years old, but more youthful and popular than any person he knows. Leon is a longtime vegan.

September 14, 2020

Lucia Finotto is a 2020-2021 Frankel Institute Fellow! Lucia Finotto received her PhD in May 2016 and the title of her dissertation is "Between Arabic, Hebrew and Latin: Jewish Translators of Islamic Sciences in the Medieval Kingdom of Sicily."
Bar Guzi will be presenting his paper, “The Nonreductive Naturalism of Hans Jonas” at the Mordecai Kaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood conference.

September 13, 2020

Bar Guzi will be presenting his paper, “The Nonreductive Naturalism of Hans Jonas” at the Mordecai Bar GuziKaplan Center for Jewish Peoplehood conference September 13-14, 2020 via Zoom. The conference is entitled, "Do Religious Naturalists Really Believe in God?" Exploring some fundamental issues at the intersection of theology and philosophy. 

This conference is open to the public, but advance registration is required.  

Bar Guzi is PhD student in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies currently writing his dissertation on "Insisting on God:  The Varieties of Naturalistic Jewish Religiosity on Twentieth-Century America." 

July 1, 2020

Released July 2020, The New Jewish Canon offers a conceptual roadmap to make sense of the rapid change that has occurred over the past 35 years. With over eighty excerpts from key primary source texts and insightful corresponding essays by leading scholars, on topics of history and memory, Jewish politics and the public square, religion and religiosity, and identities and communities, The New Jewish Canon promises to start conversations from the seminar room to the dinner table. The New Jewish Canon is both text and textbook of the Jewish intellectual and communal zeitgeist for the contemporary period and the recent past, canonizing our most important ideas and debates of the past two generations; and just as importantly, stimulating debate and scholarship about what is yet to come.  (Academic Studies Press)

It features essays by numerous Brandeis faculty, and alumni, some of whom include:
David Ellenson
Rachel Fish
Sylvia Fishman
Alexander Kaye
Hannah Kober
Yehuda Kurtzer
Jon Levisohn
Shaul Magid
Jonathan Sarna

Yuval Evri publishes a book with Magnes Press

July 21, 2020

Magnes Press publishes Yuval Evri's new book, "The Return to Al-Andalus: Disputes Over Sephardic Culture and Identity Between Arabic and Hebrew." Yuval Evri will be joining us in Mizrahi Studies in August 2021. 

July 5, 2020

Abstract from Article:

"The term “a light unto the nations” is a hallmark of modern Jewish identity but the subtle divergences in the meaning of the expression among its diverse proponents shed light on the continuities and differences among modern Jewish ideologies. David Ben-Gurion, in particular, regarded the calling to be “a light unto the nations” as a central mission of the State of Israel. Before the 1950s, however, almost all Zionists, including Ben-Gurion himself, repudiated the term because they associated it with diasporist ideology. This article explores its shifting meanings in Zionist discourse, with a special focus on Ben-Gurion’s rhetoric. It explains Ben-Gurion’s changing attitudes term and shows how his innovative uses of the term allowed him to navigate between modernity and traditional Judaism, between Zionism and its opponents, and between the various streams within the Zionist movement. It reminds us that the lexical continuity of figurative terms can mask conceptual fluctuation and enhances a picture of Zionism that acknowledges both its revolutionary novelty and its place in the long continuum of Jewish life."

July 2, 2020

Jonathan Sarna publishes "Woodrow Wilson was a hero to Jews. What should we do with his racism?" in Forward.
Tzvi Abusch publishes several books

July 1, 2020

  1. Further Studies on Mesopotamian Witchcraft Beliefs and Literature. (Ancient Magic and Divination 17; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2020).book cover
  2. Corpus of Mesopotamian Anti-witchcraft Rituals, volume 3 (with Daniel Schwemer, Mikko Luukko, and Greta Van Buylaere) (Ancient Magic and Divination 8/3; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2020)
  3. A second edition of Babylonian Witchcraft Literature: Case Studies (Brown Judaic Studies, vol. 132; Atlanta: Scholars Press, 2020 [2nd edition]) with a new preface.  

 The book that will appear in the fall is:

  1. Essays on Babylonian and Biblical Literature and Religion (Harvard Semitic Studies, vol. 65; Leiden/Boston: Brill, 2020.)
Bernadette Brooten publishes two new books

July 1, 2020

Bernadette Brooten's Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue is now freely available in digital form witha new introduction. The volume is currently hosted on JSTOR, Project MUSE and the Brown Digital Repository.

Secondly, a revised German edition of Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism has appeared in print with a new introduction. The book will soon be available as an open access publication through the University of Giessen's library.

Book coverBook cover

June 30, 2020

The Lehrhaus publishes Shalom Carmy's thoughful and substantive review of Alexander Kaye's recent book, The Invention of Jewish Theocracy: The Struggle for Legal Authority in Modern Israel (Oxford University Press, 2020). Prof. Kaye is the Stoll Assistant Professor of Israel Studies and a core Schustman Center faculty member.