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Faculty News - Fall 2011


MICHAEL BERGER served as Director of Undergraduate Studies for the Department of Religion during the 2010-11 academic year, serving as primary advisor to many departmental majors and chair of the departmental curriculum committee.  His article “The Centrality of Talmud” was published in The Cambridge Guide to Jewish History, Religion and Culture (Baskin and Seeskin, editors), and he presented the talk “American Religion and American Judaism:  Natural and Intentional Communities” at the Southeast Conference of the Study of Religion in Louisville in March.


MATTHEW BERNSTEIN, professor and chair of the Department of Film Studies and an affiliated faculty member of TIJS, was a finalist in the Theatre Library Association’s 2010 competition for the Richard Wall Memorial Award for his book Screening a Lynching: The Leo Frank Case on Film and Television.


Ursula and David Blumenthal at Dalí exhibit at Hillels of Georgia (Photo by Kay Hinton)


DAVID BLUMENTHAL organized, arranged funding for, curated, and wrote extensive introductory materials and a podcast for “Aliyah, the Rebirth of Israel,” an exhibit at Marcus Hillel Center on the Emory campus of Salvador Dalí’s series of prints portraying the history of the Jewish diaspora and the return to the homeland.  See for the Emory Magazine article on the exhibit.  His book Maimonides’ Philosophic Mysticism was published as an e-book by Bar Ilan University. 


ODED BOROWSKI led fieldwork at the Tell Halif in Israel during the summer of 2010 and was on leave during 2010-11 analyzing the results of the last few years of work there.  He received grants from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture and the University Research Committee to support this work and the preparation of the data for publication.  His article “Agriculture in Palestine” was published in The Eerdmans Dictionary of Early Judaism (edited by Collins and Harlow).  He presented talks on the Lahav Research Project at Emory University, the University of the Holy Land, the University of Haifa, and Al-Quds University, and he presented the paper “Life and Death at Tell Halif, Israel:  Lahav Research Project, Phase IV Excavations 2007-2009” at the American Society of Religion’s annual meeting in November, and the paper “Sennacherib in Judah:  The Devastating Consequences of an Assyrian Military Campaign” at the Society of Biblical Literature annual meeting also in November.


MICHAEL BROYDE, Professor of Law and core faculty member in TIJS, published his new edited book Contending With Catastrophe: Jewish Perspectives on September 11th.  The book is a collection of essays on Jewish law, ethics and theology by Jewish scholars and rabbis of the Beth Din of America dealing with questions brought forth from the tragedy. 
More info


CATHERINE DANA of the Department of French and Italian, and a core faculty member in TIJS, has been promoted to Senior Lecturer.  She is working on a novel about a Tunisian Jewish family leaving Tunisia after decolonization and their experiences in France, the US, and Israel.


WILLIAM GILDERS successfully inaugurated the new JS 101, Introduction to Jewish Studies course in fall 2010 with 29 students.  The course is designed to orient students to the many disciplinary approaches utilized in studying Jewish societies and cultures and is the core of the newly redesigned JS major.  He presented the paper “The Day of Atonement in Qumran Literature” at the conference Themes in Biblical Narrative:  The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16 & 23) in Mainz, Germany, in July 2010, and the paper will be published in an edited conference volume.  He serves as an editorial board member of the Journal of Hebrew Scriptures.


ERIC GOLDSTEIN served as interim director for TIJS during 2010-11.  His article “The Struggle Over Yiddish in Post-Immigrant America” will appear in the volume 1929:  Mapping the Jewish World (edited by Diner and Estraikh).  Talks and papers presented over the past year include “Chasing Relevance:  American Jewish History, Jewish Studies, and the American Historical Profession, 1893-2010” at the conference on “Journals and Jewish Intellectual Life:  The Jewish Quarterly Review at 100” at the University of Pennsylvania and National Museum of American Jewish History in Philadelphia in December; the keynote lecture “The Horrors of Kishinev, The Shame of Springfield:  Intersecting Images of Racial Violence Against Jews and African Americans at the Opening of the Twentieth Century” at the Conference on Jews and Africans in the Modern Imagination at the University of Toronto in March; “Revisiting Whiteness Twenty Years after ‘The Wages of Whiteness’” at the Organization of American Historians in Houston in March.  He continues to serve as a Fellow of the Sami Rohr Institute for Jewish Literature and as editor of the journal American Jewish History.


BENJAMIN HARY has been named Winship Distinguished Research Professor in the Humanities at Emory for 2010-13.  He directed and taught in the Emory Summer Program in Israel in summer 2010.  During spring 2011, he was a Fellow at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Jewish Studies at the University Michigan, one of 12 fellows researching topics related to this year’s theme of Jewish languages.  His article (with Martin Wein) “Religiolinguistics:  On Jewish-, Christian-, and Muslim-Defined Languages” will appear in the International Journal for the Sociology of Languages.  His numerous talks and presented papers included “Hebrew Components in Arabic Language” at the North American Conference on AfroAsiatic Linguistics in Austin in February; “Jewish Languages and Migration:  On the Linguistic Connection between religiolects and Migration” at the European Association of Jewish Studies in Ravena, Italy, in July, 2010; “Calque Translations in Egyptian Judeo-Arabic” at the Fourth International Conference of the Center for the Study of Jewish Languages and Literatures in Jerusalem in July, 2010; and “Not Just Yiddish and Ladino:  On the Jewish Linguistics Spectrum” at Hebrew University in Jerusalem in May, 2010.  During summer 2011, he again led the popular European Sephardi Study Abroad program, and the six-week tour was written up in The Forward (see ).


DEBORAH LIPSTADT, Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies, was appointed by President Obama to be a member of the United States Holocaust Memorial Council; as such, she will continue her advisory role to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Last November, she, along with James Lowery, Leah Ward Sears, Andrew Young, and three others, was honored with the 2010 James Weldon Johnson Medal, awarded to individuals “whose achievements and service reflect a deep and unwavering commitment to civil and human rights.”  In May, she was awarded the Doctor of Hebrew Letters, honoris causa, by the Jewish Theological Seminary. Her new book, Eichmann on Trial (2011, Next Books/Schocken), was published in March, and talks connected with the book and with the 50th anniversary of the trial have taken her to many venues, including the U.S. State Department in Washington, D.C., the Topography of Terror Documentation Center in Berlin, and public television studios for an interview by Charlie Rose, which can be viewed at  With Professor Michael Broyde, she developed and taught for the Law School and the Laney Graduate School the new course entitled “The Influence of the Nuremberg and Eichmann Trials on Genocide Law.”


The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies is proud to welcome our newest faculty member Dr. Ellie Schainker, Blank Family Foundation Assistant Professor in History and Jewish Studies.  Dr. Schainker specializes in early modern and modern Russian and Eastern European Jewish history, with a particular interest in issues of conversion and assimilation.  Her dissertation, defended in spring 2010, was entitled “Imperial Hybrids:  Russian-Jewish Converts in the Nineteenth Century,” and in fall 2011 she is teaching JS 371/HIST 385, The History of East European Jewry.


DON SEEMAN was on sabbatical leave during the 2010-11 academic year, doing ethnographic research in Israel.  With Shaul Maggid, he edited the 2010 Prooftexts issue “Mystical Poetics:  The Poetics of Jewish Mystical Literature, and with Sarah Willen (PHD ’06) he edited the 2011 Ethos journal issue “Horizons of Subjectivity:  Phenomenological and Psychoanalytic Anthropology,” based on a 2008 conference at Emory organized by Seeman and Willen.  His article “Pain and the Word:  Apostasy, Grief and Literary Practice in Habad Hasidism” was published in the spring 2010 issue of Prooftexts, and the chapter “Ethnography, Exegesis, and Jewish Ethical Reflection:  The New Reproductive Technologies in Israel” was published in Kin, Gene, Community:  Reproductive Technology Among Jewish Israelis (Birenbaum-Carmelli and Carmelli, editors).  Among the talks and papers he presented are “Demonic Politics:  Ethiopian Jewish Pentecostals in Israel,” at the Association for Jewish Studies annual meeting in Boston in December;  “On a Religion for Adults and the Phenomenology of Modern Judaism,” at Difficult Liberty:  North American/European Levinas Society annual meeting at Toulouse, France, in July 2010; and “One People, One Blood:  The Ethiopian Blood Scandal as a Window Onto Israeli Public Life,” at the Israel Studies Seminar at San Francisco State University in January.


JOSEPH SKIBELL, associate professor of creative writing and an affiliated faculty member of TIJS, has published his third novel, A Curable Romantic, a finalist for the Sami Rohr Prize in Jewish fiction, among the most prestigious prizes in Jewish fiction.  He has also been named Georgia Author of the Year in Fiction for the same book.


MIRIAM UDEL held the prestigious Harry Starr Fellowship at Harvard University’s Center for Jewish Studies for academic year 2010-11, where she presented the paper “When Narration is the Only Salvation:  The Modern Jewish Picaresque.”  She was part of the panel presentation “On the Relevance of Yiddish to the Academy” at the Association for Jewish Studies annual meeting in Boston in December, and she presented the paper “Narration as Salvation in Israel Rabon’s ‘Di gas’,” at the Modern Language Association annual meeting in Los Angeles in January.  She has received a grant from the Piedmont Project at Emory to develop a new course called “Nature and the Jewish Imagination” as part of Emory’s initiative to foster teaching about sustainability across the curriculum.


JACOB WRIGHT has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities Faculty Fellowship for the 2011-12 academic year.  The fellowship will support Wright’s research on the role of war as a catalyst for change in Ancient Israelite society.  This research stems from Wright’s previous work with the excavations at Ramat Rachel, a community outside Jerusalem, and a book project that examines Ancient Israelite military and war.  In December 2010, he presented the talk “Se faire un nom: procreation, prouesses martiales et mort heroïque dans l’ancien Israël” (“Making a Name for Oneself: Procreation, Martial Prowess and Heroic Death”), the 2010-11 Annual Lecture in “Milieux Bibliques” at the Collége de France in Paris.  At the conclusion of the talk, he was presented with the Medallion of the Collège de France, inscribed with his name and the date of the event.  Click here to read a summary of the lecture. 






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