Ellie Schainker received her PhD in Modern Jewish History from the University of Pennsylvania in 2010, and started teaching at Emory in 2011. She received doctoral fellowships from the Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, YIVO Institute, Center for Jewish History, and Hadassah-Brandeis Institute. Her dissertation explored the social and cultural history of converts from Judaism in imperial Russia, with a focus on convert-Jewish relations and the ways in which converts continued to function in Jewish communal life. In 2010-2011, Schainker was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship at the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies, joining an interdisciplinary research group on conversions to and from Judaism from the ancient to modern periods. Aspects of her dissertation work have been published in Jewish Social Studies and a forthcoming peer-reviewed volume, Bastards and Believers: Converts and Conversion between Judaism and Christianity, by University of Pennsylvania Press.
Her current monograph, supported by a University Research Council grant, is titled: Confessions of the Shtetl: Converts from Judaism and the Construction of Jewish Community in Imperial Russia, 1817-1906. The book explores Jewish conversions to Christianity in nineteenth-century imperial Russia in light of the multi-confessional politics of the Russian empire and its impact on imperial sociability and religious toleration. Drawing on models from cultural studies, the book casts the convert from Judaism as a boundary-crosser who allows us to see the construction and negotiation of religious community and how this process both complicated and shaped evolving ideas about modern Jewish nationhood in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Schainker’s research interests include East European Jewish history, imperial Russian history, conversion studies, the history of religious toleration and empire, and indigenous movements for religious reform in imperial Russia and the early Soviet Union. She teaches introductory courses on Jewish Studies, Jewish History, and survey courses on East European Jewish History and Modern European History. Schainker’s seminar and advanced course offerings include: Gender and Sexuality in Modern Jewish History, Conversions to/from Judaism in Historical Perspective, and Jews and Capitalism.