Faculty and Staff

Jehuda Reinharz returned to the directorship of the Tauber Institute in 2011, after serving as president of Brandeis University from 1994 to 2010. He continues to serve as general editor of the Tauber Institute publication series and Richard Koret Professor of Modern Jewish History. In January 2011 he became president of the Mandel Foundation.

Reinharz has edited, authored and co-authored many articles and books, including: Glorious, Accursed Europe;  The Scientific God: Popular Science in Hebrew in Eastern Europe in the Second Half of the 19th Century (with Yaacov Shavit); Anti-Semitism in Germany Today: A Mainstream Phenomenon (German), coedited with Monika Schwarz-Friesel; and The Road to September 1939: The Yishuv, the Jews of Poland and the Zionist Movement (Hebrew).

The third and final volume of his biography of Chaim Weizmann is forthcoming.


Sylvia Fuks Fried is executive director of the Tauber Institute. She is associate editor of the Tauber Institute publication series and in 2015 coedited The Individual in History: Essays in Honor of Jehuda Reinharz with ChaeRan Y. Freeze and Eugene R. Sheppard.  Fried serves on the executive committee of the Center for German and European Studies and is the Brandeis University Press representative to the editorial committee of the University Press of New England. In July 2013, Fried was appointed director of Brandeis University Press.


Eugene R. Sheppard is associate director of the Tauber Institute and associate professor of modern Jewish history and thought in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis.  His interests include modern German Jewish thought and the influence of European Jewish refugees on public life and academia in the United States.

He is the author of Leo Strauss and the Politics of Exile: The Making of a Political Philosopher (2006) and co-editor with D. Myers of Babylon and Jerusalem: Engaging the Thought and Legacy of Simon Rawidowicz.

Sheppard is associate editor of the Tauber Institute series and managing co-editor with Samuel Moyn of the Brandeis Library of Modern Jewish Thought published by Brandeis University Press.


ChaeRan Y. Freeze is associate editor of the Tauber Institute series and a faculty associate of the institute.  A professor in the Department of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and the Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies program, she has focused her research on the history and culture of the Jews in Russia, Jewish family history, and women’s and gender studies.

Freeze is co-editor with Jay M. Harris of Everyday Jewish Life in Imperial Russia: Select Documents, 1772–1914 (2013) and author of Jewish Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia (2001).


Jonathan Decter is the Edmond J. Safra Professor of Sephardic studies at Brandeis University, as well as a faculty associate of the Tauber Institute. His research focuses on Jewish literature in the Islamic World during the medieval period, and in Sephardic Studies more generally. Professor Decter's most recent course offerings include Jews in the World of Islam; Introduction to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam; and Judeo-Arabic literature. 


Laura Jockusch is a faculty associate of the institute whose research and teaching focus on the social, political, cultural, and legal histories of European Jews before, during, and after the Holocaust and engage in comparative, transnational, and cross-disciplinary perspectives. Her first book studied the beginnings of Holocaust research by Jews and from a Jewish perspective immediately after the liberation from Nazi rule. 

Jockusch’s ongoing research project investigates how Jews conceptualized legal redress after the unprecedented crime of the Nazi genocide of European Jews. It explores how Jewish individuals and organizations related to the Nuremberg trials and other Allied war crime trials in occupied Germany, and examines the multifaceted ways in which Jews sought to implement their ideas of justice in and outside of the Allied tribunals.

Moreover, Jockusch is working on a monograph on the controversial postwar trials of Stella Goldschlag, a German Jewish Holocaust survivor accused of having been a Gestapo informer.


David Briand is assistant director at the Tauber Institute. He was previously coordinator of the program in Peacebuilding and the Arts at the International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life, project manager for the Ethics Center's Ad Hoc Tribunals Oral History Project, and the lead researcher and coordinator of the Columbia Center for Oral History's Rule of Law Oral History Project. He holds a BA in History from Boston College and an MA in American Studies from Columbia University, where his research concerned the roots and consequences of the extension of state power in the United States, most notably in the dramatic rise in mass incarceration of people of color during the “War on Drugs” and in the U.S. government’s foreign and domestic policies of detainment during the “War on Terror.”


Irina Astashkevich, a visiting research associate of the Tauber Institute, holds a PhD from Brandeis University.  Her dissertation is titled “Pogroms in Ukraine 1917-1920: An Alternate Universe.”  Astashkevich received her MA in History, Jewish History and Archives from the Project Judaica – a joint project of the Russian State University of Humanities, Historical Archival Institute, Jewish Theological Seminary of America, and the YIVO Institute of Jewish Research in New York. She has worked in various archives in Russia, Lithuania, and the US, as well as in Jewish philanthropic organizations, such as the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee in Moscow. She is the author of Gendered Violence: Jewish Women in the Pogroms of 1917 to 1921 (Academic Studies Press, 2018).


David B. Starr is a research associate at the Tauber Institute.  Holding rabbinic ordination from the Jewish Theological Seminary of America and a PhD in Jewish Studies from Columbia University, Starr has published widely in both academic and popular venues. He has studied historical, philosophical and educational issues in adult learning and served as dean of the Me'ah adult education program at Hebrew College in Brookline, MA.  Starr teaches at Gann Academy and is the founder of Tzion: A Program for Israel Literacy.  He is currently writing a biography of Solomon Schechter.


Lydia Begag is a research institute assistant at the Tauber Institute. She is currently in her second year of undergraduate studies at Brandeis University, pursuing majors in Politics and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies with a minor in Legal Studies. Begag has studied in Istanbul, Turkey and London, United Kingdom, taking courses in Arabic, sociology, politics, and history. Fluent in Arabic, she has worked as a research assistant for the Crown Center of Middle Eastern Studies, where her work focused on tracking economic, political, and social reforms and their implications in Saudi Arabia through social media posts and Saudi media, and the Women's Studies Research Center. Begag has just published a joint article with Professor Nader Habibi on women’s rights reforms in Saudi Arabia.