2018-19 Publications, Lectures and Awards

Publications, Lectures and Awards

Recent Alums Publish in Jewish Quarterly Review

July 15, 2019

Allyson Gonzalez, PhD '15, has a full-length article being published in the Summer 2019 issue of the Jewish Quarterly Review entitled, "A.S. Yahuda and the Politics of Modern Jewish Scholarship (1877 - 1951)."  In that same volume, she organized a forum on Yahuda with Michal Friedman which also features a a piece by NEJS alum, Mostafa Hussein, PhD '17, entitled "The Integration of Arabo-Islamic Culture into the Emergent Hebrew Culture of Late Ottoman Palestine."

See Katz Center Blog, University of Pennsylvania, for further details.

June 25, 2019

Professor Yehudah Mirsky,  professor of Near Eastern and Judaic studies and a faculty member of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, and Rachel Fish, (Brandeis PhD '13) senior advisor and resident scholar of Jewish and Israel philanthropy at the Paul E. Singer Foundation offer their analyses and observations on the upcoming second national Israeli election set for September.

Listen in on their Podcast, The Vibe of the Tribe Podcast - Episode 74:  Israeli Election Redux. 

Hannah Taylor, NEJS UDR, wins 2019 HBI Student Prize

June 3, 2019

Hannah Taylor, B.A. '19, Near Eastern and Judaic Studies Undergraduate Departmental Representative (UDR) for 2018-19, received the 2019 HBI Undergraduate Student Prize for Outstanding Work on Jews and Gender.  Her paper, "Was Tamar's Trickery Against Judah Ethical?" was selected for its thoughtful analysis of Tamar's story.

Taylor, from Boston, MA, graduated this year from Brandeis with majors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Education Studies. She enjoys doing theatre and playing guitar. In August, Taylor will take her talents to Cape Town, South Africa to work at a congregation as their music and youth fellow.
Alumna Susie Tanchel, PhD '06 Named to Hebrew College's New Strategic Leadership Team

May 28, 2019

Susie Tanchel, PhD(Newton Centre, MA)  Hebrew College President, Rabbi Sharon Cohen Anisfeld, is thrilled to announce that two dynamic and prominent Jewish educators, Dr. Susie Tanchel and Rabbi Dr. Jeffrey Summit, will be joining the College's leadership team.  This follows an in-depth College-wide Strategic Planning process and the implementation of recommendations to guide the College forward.  The new strategic direction is centered on both internal and external partnership and collaboration, drawing on the College’s distinctive strengths and enhancing communal impact through its commitments to deep Jewish literacy and creativity, relational learning, mentorship and reflective practice. The vision lays a strong foundation for fiscal responsibility, sustainability, and growth. Dr. Tanchel and Rabbi Dr. Summit will both serve in key leadership roles helping to implement the new strategy.  Dr. Tanchel will join Hebrew College in the summer of 2020.

Dr. Tanchel received her PhD from Brandeis University in 2006.  Her dissertation was entitled "Honoring Voices:  Listening to the Texts and the Teachers, the Scholars, and the Students."  She will be stepping down from her position as Head of School at JCDS, Boston’s Jewish Community Day School. During her 9 year tenure at JCDS, Tanchel has been an accomplished and deeply beloved leader, guiding the school to preeminence as a national model of excellence in pluralistic Jewish education, and creatively embodying its abiding commitments to community, centrality of Hebrew language, and teaching the whole child. She was a recipient of the 2018 Covenant Award for Jewish Educators.

Mostafa Hussein, PhD '17 Receives Fellowship at the University of Michigan

May 22, 2019

Mostafa Hussein, who was awarded his PhD in 2017 and is currently finishing a postdoctoral fellowship at USC's  the Society of Fellows in the Humanities, will start a new position in the fall as LSA Collegiate Fellow in the Judaic Studies Program at the University of Michigan. This position is a wonderfully unique postdoctoral program aimed at "recruiting exceptional early-career scholars in all liberal arts fields who are committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in the academy, and preparing those scholars for possible tenure-track appointments in LSA."    

In addition, Mostafa just signed a book contract for his revised dissertation manuscript on Princeton University Press.  The book, tentatively entitled “Islam and Jewish Culture in Palestine,” explores Hebrew/Jewish scholarship on matters Arab and Islamic in Palestine from the 1890s until just after the birth of the state of Israel.

Retirement Symposium for Bernadette Brooten

May 3, 2019

Bernadette BrootenProfessor Bernadette J. Brooten, Kraft-Hiatt Professor of Christian Studies and Founding Director of The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project at Brandeis was honored at a Retirement Symposium on Friday, May 3, 2019 at 1 p.m. at Brandeis University followed by a 2:30 p.m. reception.

Bernadette J. Brooten researches Jewish and Christian women’s history in the Roman world; female homoeroticism in the ancient Mediterranean; slavery in early Christianity; and sexual violence, currently in collaboration with Laurie Nsiah-Jefferson.  The Feminist Sexual Ethics Project aims to create Jewish, Christian, and Muslim sexual ethics rooted in freedom, mutuality, meaningful consent, responsibility, and the pleasure of each participant, untainted by slave-holding values.

 Publications include: Women Leaders in the Ancient Synagogue: Inscriptional Evidence and Background Issues (1982); Love Between Women: Early Christian Responses to Female Homoeroticism (1996); and, with the editorial assistance of Jacqueline L. Hazelton, editor: Overcoming Its Religious and Sexual Legacies (2010).

 She was a MacArthur Fellow and has held fellowships from the Harvard Law School, the Fulbright Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Israel Institute for Advanced Studies, and many other agencies. In 2014, the University of Bern awarded her a Dr. Theol., h.c.   She previously taught at the School of Theology at Claremont, the Claremont Graduate School, the University of Tübingen, Harvard University, the University of Oslo, and Williams College.

Her courses have been enjoyed by Brandeis students in Women's Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Classical Studies, Religious Studies, and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

HBI Scholar in Residence Announced

April 17, 2019

Esther Brownsmith, NEJS PhD student, will be a Scholar in Residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute for the 2020 spring semester. While in residence she will work on her project, 'Inconspicuous Consumption: Conceptual Metaphors of Women as Food in the Dueteronomistic History.'"

April 17, 2019

The Wexner Graduate Fellowship/Davidson Scholars Program Announces Class 32, which includes 4 of the 20 winners with ties to Brandeis University. 

Wexner Fellows
Hannah Kober graduated 2016 Magna cum Laude with Highest Honors from Brandeis University with a B.A. in Judaic Studies and Linguistics, with an honors thesis on the motivations and experiences of Jewish Israeli university students pursuing Arabic studies. She served as an undergraduate representative for the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and worked as a Research Assistant at the Mandel Center for Studies in Jewish Education. In the fall, she will begin the Ph.D. program in Educational Linguistics with a concentration in Jewish Studies at Stanford Graduate School of Education.

Ezra Cohen graduated 2018 Summa cum Laude with Highest Honors from Brandeis University with a Bachelors' Degrees in Psychology and Near Eastern/Judaic Studies, where he wrote a senior honors thesis on the Jewish legal treatment of depressive disorders and received the Finstein Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement. He is a first-year rabbinical student at Yeshiva University's Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.

Davidson Scholars
Molly Goldmeier and Lauren Luger are both students seeking dual degrees in the Brandeis Hornstein Program---an M.A. in Jewish Professional Leadership and an M.B.A. in Non-Profit Management at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management.

Congratulations to all!

2019 Guggenheim Fellowship Awarded to Glynn Dynner

April 9, 2019

NEJS Alum Glenn Dynner (Sarah Lawrence College), Brandeis B.A. 1993, Brandeis PhD 2002, has been awarded a 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship.  Scholar of East European Jewry, with a focus on the social history of Hasidism and the Haskalah (Jewish Enlightenment). Author of Men of Silk: The Hasidic Conquest of Polish Jewish Society, which received a Koret Publication Award and was a National Jewish Book Awards finalist. Received textual training in several Israeli yeshivas and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Additional interests include Polish-Jewish relations, Jewish economic history, and popular religion. Recipient of the Fulbright Award. 

Guggenheim Fellowships are intended for individuals who have already demonstrated exceptional capacity for productive scholarship or exceptional creative ability in the arts. On April 9, 2019, the Board of Trustees of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation approved the awarding of Guggenheim Fellowships to a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers. Appointed on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise, the successful candidates were chosen from a group of almost 3,000 applicants in the Foundation’s ninety-fifth competition.

Two University Prize Instructorships Awarded

April 1, 2019

The Brandeis Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has awarded two 2019 University Prize Instructorships to NEJS Students.

Sarah Fein, NEJS PhD student, received an award for her course, "Gender, Sex and the Family in the Ancient Near East and Beyond," which has been assigned NEJS 129a and will be offered Spring 2020.

Maham Ayaz, NEJS PhD student, received an award for her course, "The State and the Individual" which is planned to be offered Fall 2020.

March 26, 2019

Yehudah Mirsky participated in a panel discussion at the UN Headquarters, "The Genocide Convention at 70:  From Definition to Implementation" with the Raphael Lemkin Award for exemplary work in the fight against genocide recipient:  Father Patrick Desbois. This event was organized by the Permanent Mission of Rwanda to the United Nations and the World Jewish Congress marking the 25th anniversary of the genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda where more than 800,000 people were systematically killed, overwhelmingly Tutsi but also moderate Hutu, Twa and others. On this Day, we honor those who were murdered and reflect on the suffering of those who survived.

March 26, 2019

Benjamin Ravid, Professor Emeritus of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, publishes "The Ghetto" in The Tablet as he concludes his history of the Jews of the Venetian Republic.   503 years after the first Jewish enclave was instituted in Venice, what does the word 'ghetto' mean today?
2019 Best Student Paper Awarded to Ji Min Bang

March 22, 2019

Ji Min Bang, NEJS PhD student, received the 2019 Best Student Paper Award at the 2019 New England/Eastern Canada Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature, for his paper "Judah’s Two Bodies: The Body Politic and the Gendered Representation of the Exile in Jeremiah and Ezekiel."

March 15, 2019

One Nation, IndivisibleCelene Ibrahim's, PhD '18, first book is now available for sale.  It is an edited anthology born of the conviction that open-hearted engagement across our differences is a prerequisite for healthy civic life today.  From the publisher, "The collection offers inspiration to faith leaders, social-justice activists, and secular readers alike, while simultaneously providing an accessible window onto lived Islam. Taken as a whole, One Nation, Indivisible highlights principles and practices of anti-racism work, and its contributors argue for a robust vision of American pluralism. While most of the contributors reside in the United States, through their stories of encounter, they bring a global perspective and encourage us all, wherever we may be, to find ways of traversing our otherwise isolating enclaves."

Celene has also accepted a position for the fall on the faculty of Groton School teaching religious studies and ethics. 

Amber C. Taylor Dissertation Defense

February 26, 2019

Amber TaylorAmber C. Taylor successfully defended her dissertation entitled, "Contest and Controversy in the Creation of the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, 1984 - 1987." Her faculty advisors included Professors Ilan Troen, Jonathan Sarna, and David Holland from the Harvard University Divinity School.  She is expected to receive her PhD in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies in May.

Amber will start her position as Historian/Writer at the History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. 

February 17, 2019

"What's a Nation-State for?"  Yehudah Mirsky delivers Myer Lecture in Jewish Law at Cardoza Law School.

February 1, 2019

Book coverMalka Z. Simkovich, PhD 2015 Brandeis, is the Crown-Ryan Chair of Jewish Studies and director of the Catholic-Jewish Studies program at Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. 

Discovering Second Temple Literature:  The Scriptures and Stories That Shaped Early Judaism is her second book.  Exploring the world of the Second Temple period (539 BCE–70 CE), in particular the vastly diverse stories, commentaries, and other documents written by Jews during the last three centuries of this period, Malka Z. Simkovich takes us to Jerusalem, Alexandria, and Antioch, to the Jewish sectarians and the Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, to the genizah in Cairo and the ancient caves that for centuries kept the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls. As she recounts the history of Judaism during this vibrant time, she presents samplings of some of the period’s most important works and analyzes them for both known and possible meanings—illuminating the perspectives of Jewish writers, leaders, and readers in this formative era.

Elizabeth Imber receives faculty appointment at Clark University

January 15, 2019

Elizabeth Imber, who received her BA in 2009 and MA in 2010 in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis before receiving her PhD at Johns Hopkins University in 2018, has been appointed Assistant Professor of History and the Michael and Lisa Leffell Chair in Modern Jewish History at Clark University.  Elizabeth had been Assistant Professor at the College of Idaho.

Elizabeth will be presenting a Brandeis Schusterman Scholars Seminar on April 16, 2019 on "Empire of uncertainty:  Zionism, British Imperialism, and the Future of the Yishuv."

Jason Lustig awarded Wasserman Prize

January 15, 2019

Jason Lustig who received his BA in 2008 and MA in 2009 at Brandeis before going to UCLA, where he wrote a Ph.D. (2017) with David Myers has been awarded the Wasserman Prize from the American Jewish Historical Society for his article entitled, "Building a Home for the Past: Archives and the Geography of American Jewish History," 102, no. 3 (July 2018): 375-399.  The prize committee wrote:   "The article's creative interrogation into how ideological differences, regional considerations, and administrative practicalities shaped the ways that scholars have and continue to produce American Jewish history speaks to the core goal of this prize. It asks the journal's readers to think about the pillars of the field and the broader materiality of historiography, as it demands all historians to pay attention to the forces that condition how we research the American Jewish past.

He is currently the Harry Starr Fellow in Judaica, Center for Jewish Studies at Harvard University.

Jason will be offering a Brandeis Schusterman lunchtime seminar on January 24, 2019 discussing the development of archives in Israel during the 1950s and 1960s and recent changes regarding digitization.

Golan Moskowitz receives Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellowship for 2019-2021

January 14, 2019

Golan Moskowitz, PhD, '18, has accepted the prestigious Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellowship in Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto, 2019-2021.  He is currently working to transform his PhD thesis entitled, "Wild, Outside, in the Night:  Maurice Sendak, Queer American Jewishness, and the Child" into a book.

January 9, 2019

Jonathan Decter, Edmond J. Safra Professor of Sephardic Studies, was the winner in the category of Sephardic Studies for his Dominion Built of Praise:  Panegyric and Legitimacy Among Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean (University of Pennsylvania Press).

January 9, 2019

Lynn Kaye, Assistant Professor of Rabbinic Literature and Thought, was a finalist in the category of Scholarship for her Time in the Babylonian Talmud:  Natural and Imaged Times in Jewish Law and Narrative (Cambridge University Press).

January 9, 2019

Daniel Judson, Dean of the Rabbinical School at Hebrew College (Newton), was a finalist in the category of American Jewish Studies for Pennies for Heaven: The History of American Synagogues and Money (Brandeis University Press).  He received his PhD in 2015 at Brandeis University, Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies.

December 19, 2018

Professor Yehudah Mirsky participated in a panel on Progressivism, Zionism and Messianism at the Halakhah Conference at Harvard Law School, December 19-20, 2018.  Presentations were made by Don Seeman (“Secular Apostasy and the Limits of Progressive Law: The Case of the Feres Mura Jews in Israel”), Ronit Irshai (“Religious Feminism, Trapped between Halakhah, Essentialism and Nationalism”), Yehudah Mirsky (“Reflections on Teleology, Change, and the Nationalization of Halakhah in the State of Israel”).
Professor Reuven Kimelman Invited to Peace Forum in Abu Dhabi

December 5, 2018

The Fifth Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
Alliance of Virtues: An Opportunity for Global Peace
Dec. 5-7, 2018, Jumeirah Etihad Towers Hotel, Abu Dhabi

by Reuven Kimelman

Some remarkable interfaith initiatives have recently been coming out of the Arab Muslim world – not least of all those led by Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, recently appointed as head of the UAE’s supreme Fatwa Council. This octogenarian Islamic scholar, a former Mauritanian Minister and Professor of Islamic Studies in Saudi Arabia, has emerged as arguably the most authoritative and impressive opponent against violent Islamist ideology in the world today.

Bin Bayyah has gone further and called for interfaith partnership to combat violence and promote peace around the world. Less than a year ago he convened Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Washington D.C. for what he termed an Alliance of Values, and he has promoted an Abrahamic “caravan of dialogue” bringing this message to wider audiences. His peace fora held in the UAE, supported by the royal family, have brought Muslim leaders and thinkers together with representatives from the Christian and Jewish worlds.

Last week’s Muslim-Christian-Jewish gathering, during Hanukah, in Abu Dhabi to deepen interreligious understanding and work together to promote peace, was also remarkable for the broadening of the non-Muslim representation, especially from the Jewish side. Rabbis from Israel, the US, Europe and Australia were given prominent roles on the programme, including yours truly, Reuven Kimelman, who spoke on “The Biblical Meaning of an Alliance of Abrahamic Faiths.”

January 2, 2019

In this Tablet Magazine article, Yehudah Mirsky explores the legacy of key events in the year Israel of Israel's founding and the impact that continues to resonate today.

"2018 was, on top of everything else, one long procession of 70th anniversaries of the raft of monumental events of 1948. Those 70-year-old decisions were critical in creating the historical reality we have been living in for two generations, and, taken together, they comprise a set of ideas about what it takes to make a decent, livable world. Looking at those anniversaries together helps us better understand how and why that world is now coming apart, and what it might take to put at least some of it back together, and maybe even move forward..."

Allyson Gonzalez, PhD '15 (Brandeis, NEJS) receives Fulbright Fellowship

Allyson Gonzalez has won a Fulbright Fellowship to start Fall 2019.  The title of her project, as well as the tentative book title, is "Petitions of Love: Antisemitism and Modern Sephardi Citizenship," which examines the affective practices of modern Sephardi citizenship based on extensive archival research and periodicals from the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Allyson completed her PhD in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis;  her dissertation title was "Finding a Place for the Past: Sephardic Reconfigurations of Spain and Palestine, 1914 - 1968."

October 28, 2018

Professor Yehudah Mirsky's essay in "The American Interest:" The New Jewish Question and the New Jew Hatred.

A new permutation of the oldest hatred manifested itself yesterday (October 27, 2018) in Pittsburgh.

September 28, 2018

Dominion Built of Praise: Panegyric and Legitimacy Among Jews in the Medieval MediterraneanDominion Built of Praise:  Panegyric and Legitimacy Among Jews in the Medieval Mediterranean

Panegyric texts were a constant feature of Jewish culture in the medieval Mediterranean and can tell us as much about the society that produced them as the individuals they portray.  Decter looks at them from several perspectives—social, historical, ethical, poetic, political, and theological—and demonstrates how ideas of Islamic political legitimacy profoundly shaped the ways in which Jews conceptualized and portrayed their own leadership.

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018

Eitan Fishbane, PhD '03

A Poetics of the ZoharThe Art of Mystical Narrative:  A Poetics of the Zohar, available for pre-orders will ship on 10 October 2018.

  • Argues for interpreting the Zohar, a Jewish kabbalistic text, as a literary work
  • Breaks new ground while engaging extensively with traditional kabbalistic scholarship
  • Places the Zohar in the literary context of its origin in the thirteenth century Spain  

Oxford University Press, 2018

Daniel Judson, PhD '15

Pennies for HeavenPennies for Heaven:  The History of American Synagogues and Money, is the first book-length treatment of how synagogues are financed in the United States. 

Delving back from 1728 to the present, Judson examines how synagogues raised funds, financed buildings, and paid clergy.  These records provide an array of new insights into the development of American synagogues and the values of the Jews who worshiped in them.

Brandeis University Press, 2018

Michael Zank, PhD '94

Politics, Religion and Political TheologyBoston Studies in Philosophy, Religion and Public Life, co-authored by Michael Zank (PhD, Brandeis University) and Allen Speight (PhD, University of Chicago) gives shape to several key facets of the relationship among politics, theology and religious thought.  

Springer, 2017