We are pleased to welcome Alexandra Herzog as our first post-doctoral fellow in Jewish Studies and lecturer in the CAS Core Curriculum. Alexandra Tali Herzog, a doctoral candidate in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies at Brandeis University, is scheduled to defend her dissertation this June and will join BU in September. Alexandra specializes in modern Jewish literature and culture, with an emphasis on Yiddish literature in America (Isaac Bashevis Singer).
Jenn Lindsay is an anthropologist and PhD student in the Religion and Society track in the GDRS. She holds a Master of Divinity (’11) in Interfaith Relations and Ecumenics from Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where she was co-chair of the Interfaith Caucus and the Minister of Fun. At BU, Jenn pursues the question of how religion affects personal relationships, particularly interreligious relationships, and how ideals of pluralism translate into social action. Her research has been based in Italy and Indonesia–studying personal relationships between people of different religions, particularly between Muslims and Catholics–and in Peru, where she studied how local spiritualities and Catholicism shape people’s interactions with the environment. In Italy she conducts ethnographic research in a number of ecumenical and interfaith organizations, profiling the individuals who work there and the collectives they have forged. Her documentary film projects on secular humanist Jews, Muslim headscarves in Indonesia, ecumenical eco-activism, and the role of religion in the Occupy Wall Street movement have screened at film festivals, conferences, and in plenty of classrooms! At BU, Jenn is the Coordinator of the Social Science and Religion Network which was started by her advisor Nancy Ammerman. Jenn hails from San Diego, CA, raised by a religiously eclectic family whose members draw from progressive Jewish, Christian Scientist, Presbyterian, Unitarian Universalist, Hindu and secular humanist traditions. For a decade prior to attending Union Theological Seminary, Jenn worked in the film and music industries as a composer, film editor, performer and documentary filmmaker. Jenn focused on playwriting at Stanford University (’01) and on arts management at the Yale University School of Drama (’05).
Yair Lior is a Ph.D candidate at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies specializing in Chinese and Jewish spirituality. Some of his particular interests include traditional metaphysical outlooks, typologies of religion and culture and theory of religion. Yair’s dissertation work examines the evolution of cultures through diverse angles such as comparative religion, philosophy of history, and theology. Before arriving at Boston in 2008 he spent 7 years in China where he studied Chinese and completed his Master’s degree in traditional Chinese aesthetics.
Dorie Mansen is a PhD student in Judaic Studies (Hebrew Bible) under the direction of Dr. Kathe P. Darr. Her dissertation (“Desecrated Covenant, Deprived Burial: Threats of Non-Burial in the Hebrew Bible”) focuses on non-burial and post-mortem abuse in the Hebrew Bible. The project examines the rhetorical purpose of references to non-burial and the implications of post-mortem abuse in ancient Israelite death and burial ideology. Dorie’s current research interests include diversity of religious practice in ancient Israel, nature-oriented imagery in biblical literature, identity construction in religious literature, and the intersection of political and religious dialogue in the exilic period. Dorie holds a MTS in Hebrew Bible from Boston University School of Theology, and a BA in Theology from Boston College. In 2012, Dorie received the Edwin S. and Ruth M. White Prize and Angela J. and James J. Rallis Memorial Award from the Boston University Center for the Humanities. Dorie currently teaches Biblical Hebrew at Boston University, and previously has taught at Bangor Theological Seminary in Portland, ME.
Benjamin J. Samuels
Benjamin J. Samuels is a doctoral student in the Science, Philosophy and Religion program. He holds a BA in English Literature, a MA in Bible and Medieval Jewish Studies, and rabbinical ordination, all of which he earned at Yeshiva University. Benjamin is primarily interested in how changes in scientific understanding and awareness impact upon the development of Jewish law and theology. He has explored this interest in the context of astronomy and cosmology, as well as regarding Jewish receptions of evolutionary theory. For his doctoral research, he plans to investigate Jewish legal and theological responses to advances in medical theory and technology.
Brandon J. Simonson
Brandon J. Simonson is a Ph.D. student in Judaic Studies studying Hebrew Bible and Ancient Near Eastern Languages under the direction of Alejandro F. Botta. His research interests surround the corpus of legal documents from the Jewish community at Elephantine and the influence of law on life in ancient Israel, Egypt, and Mesopotamia. He received a master’s degree in Hebrew Bible from Vanderbilt University, and a bachelor’s degree in Biblical Languages, Religion, and Classics from Luther College. At Vanderbilt University, Brandon received the W. Kendrick Grobel Award for outstanding achievement in biblical studies.
Chris is a Ph.D. candidate in Religious Studies specializing in Ancient Christianity (Origins to Late Empire). His dissertation, entitled “Jewish Acts: Christ-followers and Jewishness in Acts of the Apostles,” examines the interconnections of religion, ethnicity, and civic identity in antiquity through the lens of Acts of the Apostles. In it, he argues that Acts presents Christ-following communities as a type of Jewish civic association and categorizes non-Jewish Christ-followers as uncircumcised Jewish proselytes. His current research explores the use of religion, ethnicity, and gender to negotiate identities in first and second century Judaism, Christianity, and other Greco-Roman religions. More broadly, Chris is interested in religion in public discourse, religious literacy, and the role of digital humanities in the study of religion. He has taught courses and lectured on topics ranging from religion and culture, introduction to religion, “Western” religions, “Eastern” religions, New Testament and Christian origins, Second Temple Judaism, civic identity in the Roman world, and New Testament Greek. Chris is currently the Secretary of the Society of Biblical Literature (SBL) Student Advisory Board and a member of the SBL New England and Eastern Canada Region’s Executive Committee. In 2012, Chris was awarded the SBL Regional Scholar Award and the Rallis Memorial and Brennan Humanities Awards by the Center for Humanities at Boston University.
M.I. Rey is a first year PhD student within the Text and Traditions track in the Division of Religious and Theological Studies program. Current research interests include examining archaeological theories on ethnogenesis in the ancient Near East, sociological approaches on intersectionality and how this impacts foreign women within the biblical narrative, and the literary construction of ethnic identity in the ancient Near East. She is also interested in the application of feminist hermeneutics and intercultural criticism. Rey holds an S.T.M. in Hebrew Bible from Boston University School of Theology (2012), an M.A. in Old Testament from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary (2011), and a B.A. in Religious Studies from Virginia Commonwealth University (2009). Rey has presented papers at the New England & Eastern Canada Regional Meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature (2012; 2013), and was a 2012 recipient of The American Schools of Oriental Research Heritage Fellowship at which time she excavated at Kirbet Qeiyafa in Beit Shemesh, Israel. Rey is currently a Hispanic Theological Initiative Fellow, and serves on the Journal of the American Academy of Religion Book Review Staff as a book review assistant editor.
Ekaterina Anderson is a PhD student in the sociocultural track of the Anthropology department. She plans to conduct her research on how Israeli clinicians understand and manage cultural difference in mental health settings. The Ministry of Health directive requiring cultural competence in Israeli medical institutions went into force in February 2013, amidst the ongoing public debate in Israel about the scope and institutionalization of cultural diversity on the political level. Ekaterina will investigate how Israeli clinicians navigate a reality of an increasingly culturally and religiously diverse society that is officially identified as “Jewish and democratic” rather than pluralist or multiculturalist. Her project will combine participant-observation of cultural competence training with an ethnographic study of clinicians as they draw on cultural categories on a daily basis. On a larger scale, the study will shed light on how medical knowledge and clinical practices are produced in heterogeneous societies that do not embrace the liberal discourses of cultural pluralism or multiculturalism. A native of Russia, Ekaterina earned her BA and MA in Middle East Studies at Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod. She received postgraduate training in child and adolescent psychology at Rhode Island College in Providence, RI. She has been awarded Boston University’s Dean’s Fellowship in 2012 and Boston University’s Short-term Graduate Research Abroad Fellowship in 2013.
Chaim Elly Moseson is a Post-B.A. Ph.D. student in the Texts and Traditions track at the Graduate Division of Religious Studies. Elly was raised in a Hasidic community in New York and received a traditional religious education at Yeshivas in both New York and Jerusalem. He received a B.A. (magna cum laude) in English Literature with a Minor in Philosophy from Columbia University in 2010. Elly’s dissertation research will focus on the transmission, transcription and publication of the teachings of Israel Baal Shem Tov, traditionally viewed as the founder of Hasidism, and the impact they had on the emerging Hasidic movement in 18th century Eastern Europe.
Arslan Tazeem is a PhD student in the Department of Religion. He is pursuing Track II: Religious Thought, and is interested in philosophy, religion, and politics.
Visiting Graduate Students
Scott Harrison is a doctoral candidate in the department of history at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a visiting researcher in the Center for Judaic Studies at Boston University. Scott thinks about German history—particularly the history of cultural and ethnic minorities in the former socialist East Germany. He is also interested in global history and the histories of gender and sexuality. Scott was a DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) research fellow in 2012-2013 and lived in Berlin and Leipzig, Germany to undertake dissertation research. In his dissertation he narrates the history of gay and lesbian activism in the German Democratic Republic and state responses to it before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall.