David Ellenson to lead the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies

He will begin serving as acting director of the center July 1

Photo/Mike Lovett

From left, David Ellenson, Lisa Lynch and Ilan Troen

David Ellenson, an internationally renowned scholar of modern Judaism, has been appointed acting director of the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University.

“David Ellenson is a distinguished scholar of Jewish religious thought, ethics, and modern Jewish history whose research on modern Judaism has focused on the complexity of the permeable boundary between tradition and modernity,” said Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Lisa Lynch.

Ellenson brings a lifetime of experience to the Schusterman Center. He is a distinguished academic leader, having served from 2001 to 2013 as president at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion (HUC-JIR), the oldest Jewish seminary in the United States, where he is currently chancellor emeritus.

He is also a prolific and award-winning writer on subjects that include American Jewish life, modern Jewish religious movements, religious tolerance in the Jewish State, and many modern social issues. Ellenson will assume his position as director on July 1.

“I am honored to be joining Brandeis University with its unparalleled excellence in the fields of Jewish and Israel studies. Brandeis is known throughout the world for its leadership in these and other areas,” Ellenson said. “The Schusterman Center itself is surely one of the world’s leading institutions in Israel Studies. I am looking forward to being a part of it and building upon its stellar reputation and the work of my esteemed predecessor.”

Ellenson succeeds Ilan Troen ‘63, the Karl, Harry and Helen Stoll Professor of Israel Studies, who served as director of the center since it was founded in 2007.

Under Troen’s leadership, the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies quickly established itself as a pioneer in the field of Israel studies. It trains scholars and teachers who are focused on the modern State of Israel, supports research, publications, and conferences, and has produced students that teach at major institutions around the world.

The center’s Summer Institute for Israel Studies has hosted 250 academics from nearly 200 universities, and the center publishes “Israel Studies,” the leading journal in the field. The center was established thanks to a generous financial commitment from the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation.

“I feel privileged to have overseen the center for the last eight years,” Troen said. "This is the first and most important place in the world for the study of Israel, which is now taking place across the world. Rabbi Ellenson has achieved enormous distinction as both a public intellectual and scholar. I have no doubt he will take the center in new directions and bring it to a new level.”

Ellenson’s six books and over 300 articles and reviews have received numerous recognitions, including the 2005 National Jewish Book Council's Award for the most outstanding book in Jewish thought for "After Emancipation: Jewish Religious Responses to Modernity." He also co-authored, with Daniel Gordis,  "Pledges of Jewish Allegiance: Conversion, Law, and Policymaking in 19th- and 20th-Century Orthodox Responsa," which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Council’s Award in Scholarship in 2012. His most recent book is “Jewish Meaning in a World of Choice,” 2014.

Ellenson was ordained by HUC-JIR in 1977 and received his PhD from Columbia University in 1981. He also holds a master of philosophy from Columbia and a master of arts from HUC-JIR and the University of Virginia. He received his B.A. degree from the College of William and Mary in Virginia in 1969. He has been a Fellow of the Shalom Hartman Institute of Jerusalem and a Fellow and Lecturer at the Institute for Advanced Studies, as a well as a Lady Davis Visiting Professor of the Humanities in the Department of Jewish Thought at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Ellenson also previously served as director of the Jerome H. Louchheim School of Judaic Studies at HUC-JIR in Los Angeles, which serves as the Judaic Studies Department at the University of Southern California.

Categories: General, Humanities and Social Sciences, International Affairs, Research

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage