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Faculty News

Blumenthal Receives Honorary Degree

Blumenthal Receives Honorary Degree
RRC President Rabbi Deborah Waxman presents David Blumenthal with the honorary degree while RRC Board Chair David Roberts looks on. Photo by Jordan Cassway, RRC

David R. Blumenthal, Jay and Leslie Cohen Professor of Judaic Studies and a core faculty member of TIJS, received an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from the Reconstructionist Rabbinical College (RRC) at its commencement on June 1 at Temple Sinai in Dresher, Pennsylvania. RRC awards the degree to scholars and organizational leaders who have distinguished themselves in the pursuit of Reconstructionist ideals and who have made outstanding contributions to the Jewish community or to religious life in North America or Israel. Blumenthal was honored for his contributions in the field of medieval Jewish philosophy and modern Jewish theology. In awardingthe honorary degree, the RRC said:

"His subtle and empathetic approaches to history, theology, liturgy, and trauma have yielded powerful insights and devoted readers, colleagues, and students. Throughout his work, he avoids the easy interpretation, instead displaying uncommon nuance, intelligence, and poetry. His books do the groundbreaking work of articulating what it means to be in a real and honest relationship with God in the contemporary world."

Lipstadt Is Keynote at Genocide Conference

Lipstadt is Keynote at Genocide Conference
Deborah Lipstadt with a genocide survivor in Rwanda

April 2014 marked the twentieth anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Deborah Lipstadt--Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish History and Holocaust Studies--was part of a small delegation from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum that participated in the commemoration activities. The genocide in Rwanda, which lasted 100 days in 1984, resulted in the death of approximately 600,000 to 800,000 people, primarily Tutsis.

While in Rwanda, Lipstadt met with survivors as well as perpetrators of the genocide. She presented a paper at a conference held at the Parliament in commemoration of the genocide, analyzing the tactics, objectives, and strategies of genocide deniers, particularly in the cases of the Armenian genocide, the Holocaust, and the genocide of the Tutsis. One of the objectives shared by most deniers, she explained, is the desire to be thought of as an "other side" of a so-called "debate" about the particular genocide they address, wishing to be part of the "conversation" and to be seen as having something to contribute to it.

TIJS Welcomes Visiting Scholars for 2014–2015

Shlomo Guzmen-Carmeli is a recent graduate of Bar Ilan University whose dissertation is titled "Encounters around the Text: An Anthropological Examination of Jewish Textuality." His research interests are in ethnography, anthropology, and sociology of religion and Judaism, with a specialty in texts as cultural elements in ultra-orthodox communities and research sites in such diverse arenas as a Lithuanian yeshiva, a secular yeshiva, and a Kabbalistic yeshiva. With a postdoctoral fellowship from Bar Ilan University, he will do research at Emory in spring 2015, and, with Don Seeman, will help coordinate the conference "Jews, Text, and Ethnography" planned for March 2015.

Adam Zachary Newton
Adam Zachary Newton

Adam Zachary Newton is university professor and the Ronald P. Stanton Chair in Literature and Humanities at Yeshiva University. He did his graduate work in literary studies and philosophy at Harvard University, focusing on the novel in various national traditions, theory and criticism, hermeneutics, and philosophy of language. His research interests cluster under the general rubric of the ethics of reading; his work in Jewish studies engages Jewish literatures and thought in several constellations.

From 1992 to 2007, he taught at the University of Texas–Austin, where he was the Blumberg Centennial Professor and directed the Jewish studies program (since expanded to the Shusterman Center for Jewish Studies). Newton has held visiting appointments at Harvard's W. E. B. Du Bois Institute, at the Sorbonne Nouvelle, Institute de Monde Anglophone, Université Paris III, and here at TIJS in fall 2011. He has published five books, the most recent of which is "To Make the Hands Impure": Art, Ethical Adventure, the Difficult and the Holy (Fordham University Press, 2014).

Currently, Newton is at work on a follow-up project, also with Fordham, tentatively titled Jewish Studies as Counterlife: A Memoir-Manifesto for Academic Humanities. Among his recent journal publications are "Beneficent Incision: Midrash and the Contemporary Critical Moment in Marginalia Review" and "Jews on America's Racial Map" in the forthcoming Cambridge History of Jewish American Literature. In fall 2014 Newton is teaching JS 561, Approaches to Jewish Studies—The (Evolving) Practice of Jewish Studies: Ideas and Methods.

The Department of History is hosting Ziv Rubinovitz for the 2014–2015 academic year. In fall 2014 he is teaching JS 271 (HIST 285/MESAS 270), The Great Powers in the Middle East, focusing on Zionist and Israeli political leadership and the idealistic, realistic, and pragmatic aspects of their policies and actions.

Rubinovitz is a recent graduate (2011) of the University of Haifa, earning a PhD in international relations with his dissertation titled "The Stopping Power of Land: The Geopolitics of American Use of Force in the International Arena since 1898." Since then he has held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Davis Institute for International Relations at Hebrew University of Jerusalem (2011–2012), a research fellowship at the Centre for International Studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science (2012–2013), and an adjunct lectureship at the Program in Peace and Conflict Management Studies at the University of Haifa (2013–2014). His most recent publication is the article "Menachem Begin's Autonomy Plan: Between Political Realism and Ideology," with Gerald Steinberg, in Public Sphere in 2012 (in Hebrew).

Tillie SteinTIJS mourns the passing of Mathilda W. (Tillie) Stein, mother of Ken Stein and a longstanding research associate in TIJS. Born in Germany, Tillie emigrated alone to the US in the 1930s at the age of nineteen, eventually bringing her parents and other relatives here. Along with her late husband Max, she spent twenty years writing The Way It Was, a 400-page, richly detailed history of rural Orthodox Jewish life in the region of Hesse, where her family originated. She will be sadly missed by family, friends, and colleagues.

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About this Publication

Student News:
TIJS Welcomes New Graduate Fellows

Jessica GinsbergThe newest graduate fellows are Rahimjon Abdugafurov, Collin Cornell, Lisa Hoelle, and Justin Pannkuk. 
Laney Graduate School Announces Brickman-Levin fund

Tenenbaum LectureImportant to the university's healing from anti-Semitism at the dental school, the fund ensures that Jewish studies remains permanently part of the graduate curriculum. 
Annual Tenenbaum Lecture is Keynote to Borowski Symposium

Annual Tenenbaum Lecture is Keynote TO Borowski SymposiumA symposium to honor Emory's Oded Borowski was timed to coincide with the Tenenbaum Lecture— delivered this year by William G. Dever, one of Borowski's mentors.
TIJS Hosts 2014 American Jewish Historical Society Conference

TIJS Hosts 2014 American Jewish Historical Society ConferenceWith Emory serving as host, the Biennial Scholars' Conference held in June attracted 100 academics from around the world. 
TIJS Faculty Highlights

TIJS Faculty HighlightsDon Seeman is a Harvard-trained anthropologist and an accomplished textualist, studying classical Jewish legal, philosophical, and mystical texts in their original languages.
Jacob Wright's Coursera Course Brings Biblical Studies to Thousands on the Internet

Jacob Wright's Coursera Course Brings Biblical Studies to Thousands on the InternetRead a Q&A with Jacob Wright describing his first experience with a MOOC when 27,000 students registered for his course The Bible's Prehistory, Purpose, and Political Future.
2014 Blumenthal Awards

2014 Blumenthal AwardsCongrats to Carrie Crawford and Katherine Howard (graduate) and Avi Dobrusin (undergraduate).
Congratulations to New PhDs

Congratulations to New PhDs With every best wish, we congratulate our new PhDs—Ira Bedzoe, Ryan Bonfiglio, Craig Perry, Nehemia Stern, and Anne Stewart—and wish them well in their careers.

Thanks to Our Donors

Thanks to our donorsYou can assist the future growth of the program through endowment giving. To learn more, contact Michelle Clark at



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