Judaic Studies


Judaic Studies faculty members engage in a wide array of research topics. View highlights of their ongoing projects.

Katharina M. Galor

Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies

Katharina Galor’s current research on Jewish Women: Portraits of Conformity and Agency examines women’s eminence in the shaping of Judaism and Jewish practice with a focus on visual and material culture as carriers of biblical and rabbinic legacies. Her study explores four geographical, chronological, and methodological contexts from antiquity to contemporary times, engaging 1) dress codes in Roman-Byzantine Syria-Palestine; 2) ritual purity in medieval Ashkenaz; 3) sacred space in Papal Avignon and the Comtat Venaissin; 4) marriage and divorce in contemporary Israel. One of her overarching arguments is that despite the persistent and ubiquitous patriarchal structure prevalent in these different historical frameworks, Jewish women’s agency, is not a modern phenomenon and has always found ways to challenge if not disrupt men’s project of shaping women’s bodies, appearances, and performances.

image of synagogue

Jae Han

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies

Jae Han’s current research focuses on the writings of an ancient Christian heretical community known as the “Manichaeans.” Manichaeans were named after their eponymous “founder,” Mani Ḥayya, the “Living Mani,” who declared himself an “Apostle of Jesus Christ” in 3rd century Mesopotamia. Despite persecutions in both the Roman and the Sasanian Empire, the Manichaeans nevertheless produced literature in a wide variety of genres. Jae’s current project seeks to contextualize their literature as normal products of their time and place, especially vis-à-vis both Jewish literature (e.g., rabbinic literature, piyyut) and Christian literature, in both Syriac and Greek. The goal of this project is to push scholars to think about the Manichaean literature less as textualized theology, but as participating in — and at times, even preceding — literary developments in both Jewish and Christian communities.


David C. Jacobson

Professor of Judaic Studies

David C. Jacobson is currently writing a book on contemporary Israeli readings of the tales of the late 18th- early 19th- century Eastern European Hasidic master, Rabbi Nahman of Bratslav. In recent decades, Rabbi Nahman has been embraced throughout Israel as a culture hero whose teachings provide guidance for those who seek psychospiritual healing in a postmodern world. Taking into account the phenomenon of Nahman’s popularity in Israeli society, this book will focus on the discovery of Nahman by a range of writers. A considerable number of rabbis, psychologists, and  academics have engaged in new interpretations of the tales composed by this creative spiritual leader. They discover in these tales a perspective on such human concerns as religious faith, psychological insights, existential issues, social interactions, and ethics that were radical in Nahman’s own day which sheds new light on what preoccupies people in Israeli society and throughout Western culture in the twenty-first century.

Jewish men prayer With Talit and tefillin in sunset

Paul Nahme

Dorot Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies and Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Paul Nahme’s current research focuses on race and affect. His current book project shows how racial formation relies on the flow of affects through discourses and bodies, shaping the attitudes and beliefs we find in secular European modernity and the disavowal of other worlds and beliefs that are ascribed to racialized others. Focusing especially on the racialization of Jewishness, this book asserts the enduring role of race and racial formation in Jewish identity. The project grapples theoretically with affect in psychoanalytic and critical theory and historically traces how the study of religion in the nineteenth century was shaped by feelings of disavowal and anxiety over the specter of other worlds and ways of being. It treats a number of different sources and theoretical conversations, ranging from deconstruction and contemporary psychoanalytic theory, theories of affect and emotion, the anthropology of religion and secularism, to Kabbalistic and Hasidic thought, critical race theory, anti-Semitism and anti-Black racism.


Saul M. Olyan

Samuel Ungerleider, Jr. Professor of Judaic Studies, and Professor of Religious Studies

Saul M. Olyan is writing a new book entitled Animal Rights and the Hebrew Bible, which is under contract with Oxford University Press. In this book, he considers whether there are biblical texts that ascribe an implicit form of legal personhood as well as legal rights to animals and, if so, which rights, to which animals in particular—domesticated, wild, both— and for what purpose? He also explores how the evidence of the Hebrew Bible might contribute to contemporary debate about animal rights in the academy, in the courts, in the public square, and in religious communities. He plans to finish the manuscript in 2022 when he is on sabbatical.

elephants at water's edge

Rachel Rojanski

Associate Professor of Judaic Studies

Rachel Rojanski is currently engaged on a short-term research project on the history of the Bund in Israel. Examining it not just as an immigrant organization seeking to continue the patterns of diasporic Jewish politics in the Jewish nation state, she is also exploring how the Bund as a leftist and vehemently anti-Zionist party tried to find its place within the Israeli left. A second project is a co-edited volume, entitled “New Perspectives on Women in Israeli Society” Her current long-term research project is a monograph on the Yiddish writer, public activist, and Holocaust survivor, Rachel Auerbach. An activist in the field of Yiddish in 1920s Galicia, a participant in the Yiddish literary milieu of interwar Warsaw, a key figure in documenting the Holocaust both in the Warsaw ghetto and on the “Aryan side,” and an important contributor to Israel’s Yiddish cultural life and Holocaust documentation and commemoration, Auerbach’s life thus provides an important prism through which to view the major events of 20th century Jewish history from a female perspective.

Ilustrirter vokhnblat  the first Yiddish weekly in the state of Israel

Ilustrirter vokhnblat  the first Yiddish weekly in the state of Israel.

Michael Satlow

Professor of Religious Studies and Judaic Studies

Michael Satlow is actively working in two areas at the moment. The first is a synthetic study of "lived religion" in Late Antiquity. At the time, in the third to seventh centuries CE, when Jewish and Christian intellectuals were developing their own distinctive religious identities — in conversation and often conflict with each other and the so-called 'pagan' population — most people had a more fluid and shared understanding of their relationship with deities and other invisible beings. He is hoping to finish this book in the next year or two.

His other area is digital humanities. He continues to work on a database, "Inscriptions of Israel/Palestine" and to use network analysis tools to analyze rabbinic literature.

Satlow digital humanities

Adam Teller

Professor of Judaic Studies and History

Adam Teller’s research focuses on the economic, social, and cultural history of eastern European Jews. In recent years, his work has taken two directions. One examines the transregional aspects of their history - the web of connections that joined them with other Jewish centers, creating what we today call, “the Jewish world.” The other focuses on the east European Jews’ experience of catastrophe. It is with these issues that his two current projects deal. The first traces the development of Jewish publishing in eastern Europe. Its goal is to reveal the roles – social, cultural, and economic - played by the Jewish book in connecting different centers in the Jewish world. The second examines the Holocaust through an eastern European lens. By broadening its view beyond just the actions of the Nazis, it shows the importance of the eastern European Jews’ relations with their various non-Jewish neighbors in determining their fates.

painting of Henriette Herz by Anna Dorothea Lisiewska