Top of page
Skip to main content
Main content

TIJS Graduate Student Grants in Action


The Tam Institute for Jewish Studies (TIJS) provides awards and grants to graduate students to support activities that enrich the academic experience, such as study abroad, intensive language training, and travel for research or participation in conferences and workshops. The Institute supports a wide range of subject matter and experiences, as evidenced by how recent recipients utilized their respective grant funding.

Bernardo Andrade - Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy

The Schatten Scholarship Fund Grant enabled Andrade to conduct research at Tilburg Universiteit, in the Netherlands, during a three-month visiting fellowship in early 2022. As a guest researcher at that university, Andrade wrote a dissertation chapter on the Jewish thinker Emmanuel Levinas with a particular focus on his philosophy of time as the interpretative key with which to unlock the major problematic of his thought. While writing, he held on-going exchanges with many faculty members who specialize in ethics and continental philosophy, allowing him to develop new ideas and become acquainted with a new bibliography. Overall, Andrade hopes his research will reveal the underlying unity of Levinas’s thought, showing how seemingly disparate works from different periods of his life all address a single perennial concern—the relationship between time and ‘the Other.’

Chava Green - Ph.D. Candidate in the Graduate Division of Religion (GDR)

As part of her dissertation research – which considers the relationship between feminism and Hasidic mystical texts in the formation of gender discourse in Chabad Hasidic communities – Green received grant funding to visit several such communities for herself. Her initial focus was on interviewing and observing shluchos (female emissaries) on college campuses, including the University of Pennsylvania and Middlebury College, where she thought their work would be most significantly informed and challenged by the juxtaposition of contemporary gender concerns and traditional Hasidic philosophy.  As her fieldwork unfolded, however, the realization struck Green that this interplay of influences and concerns is taking place in a broader array of settings—not just on the frontiers of Chabad outreach, but also within some of the movement’s core institutions and communities. This led Green’s scope to widen to consider the roles of shluchos who serve as rebbetzins (rabbis’ wives) in off-campus congregations and Chabad centers, as female educators, and as participants in the activities of Chabad’s hub community in Crown Heights, Brooklyn. As she considers the future contours of her work, Green remains intensely focused on conducting more interviews and completing her dissertation.

Caitlin Hubler - Ph.D. Candidate in the GDR’s Hebrew Bible program

To enhance her study of ancient Israelite religion and the Hebrew Bible, Hubler utilized grant funding to travel to Israel and participate in the archaeological excavation of the “Azekah” site.  There, she helped unearth installations from the Early Bronze Age, which made use of the site’s natural bedrock, as well as a monumental wall, which is hypothesized to be part of a massive Iron Age citadel.  Beyond these larger finds, the sheer amount of ancient pottery found daily particularly excited Hubler.  As someone who spends most of her time studying ancient text, the ability to hold items that met the physical needs of people who lived thousands of years ago was profound.  To that end, the experience of holding together both text and artifact (or, as she put another way, belief and practice) and noting their interdependence represented one of the most significant impacts of Hubler’s experience – one she will carry with her as she continues her doctoral research.

Hyun Woo-Kim - Ph.D. Candidate in the GDR’s Hebrew Bible program

Last summer, grant funding helped Woo-Kim travel to Israel to partake in excavation of Qedesh and immerse himself in the religious sectors of Jerusalem.  As an ancient Canaanite city, Qedesh houses one of the largest biblical mounds in northern Israel and demonstrates a crucial phase of early (Bronze Age) Levantine urbanism.  There, he found himself particularly attracted to the presence of a moderate farming community, domestic residences, tower, and fortress structure which all date to the Bronze Age, shedding light on the socio-economic circumstances of the site as an ancient refuge-border city.  In Jerusalem, he observed dynamics, tensions, and harmonies among the city’s Abrahamic religions, and paid special attention to the ways in which people claimed to espouse biblical views and values to support their beliefs.  Teaching “The Bible in Current Controversies” at Emory this spring, Woo-Kim incorporated his travel experience into the class by talking about “faith” (i.e., a biblical worldview) which he believes has become viewed as the most convincing yet contradictory way to live and make sense of the world. To that end, he hopes to help students recognize the value of discussing diverging perspectives, even if a resolution is not attained.

In addition to summer travel, TIJS grants have supported Woo-Kim’s ability to attend/present at both the 2021 and 2022 Society of Biblical Literature annual conferences.  His 2021 co-presentation – which took place in conversation with Asian American studies, sociology, and practical theology - highlighted how the Jewish lifestyle in exile of Esther and Mordecai are strikingly similar to how Asian Americans experience their lives as bicultural immigrants seeking a sense of belonging.  Particularly poignant following the Atlanta spa mass shooting which targeted Asian individuals earlier that year, the presentation’s contextual re-reading of Esther offered critical insight on how Asian Americans could use their agency and voices as way of protecting and advancing the welfare of their communities in the face of a global pandemic, systemic racism, and xenophobia.

At last fall’s conference, Woo-Kim partook in timely discussions on the eco-critical reading of Gen 26 and the teaching of the Hebrew Bible as well as a panel discussion on Racism, Pedagogy, and Biblical Studies. Seeking to address some climate change-induced conflicts, he turned to the Patriarchal narrative, especially Genesis 26, to explore (1) what it means for the patriarchs of Israel to be displaced due to distress from climate change and (2) how the patriarchs, as environmental migrants, used their moral agency to transform hostile conflicts with the host community over water scarcity and then make reconciliation with them.  Overall, he reflected, “My educational journey and commitment to challenge all the -isms (Euro/andro/anthropocentrism) has profoundly shaped my pedagogical vision to create an inclusive or border-expanding classroom in theological education.”

Ariel Liberman - SJD (Ph.D. in Law) Candidate at Emory University School of Law

Exploring the caretaking function of law and legal system - while, more specifically, looking at how to build community-focused education law policy following the example of different legalistic faith traditions – Liberman leveraged Grant funding to travel to Bologna and attend the European Academy of Religion’s Conference.  There he found some of the most meaningful conference sessions pertaining to the conception of ‘minorities’ in religion. As a Jewish scholar who borrows intellectually from Judaism in my research, the chance to study ‘minority’ and ‘diaspora’ communities in Italy—where Catholicism dominates to where so much intellectual energy comes from the Catholic space—was incredibly fascinating.  To that end, he took extensive notes on how religion scholars from ‘majority’ traditions approached minority community empowerment questions methodologically, historically, and philosophically, and how they figured into larger conversations about the relationship between Church, State, and Individual.  Ultimately, Liberman feels he walked in concerned about his interdisciplinary, ”outsider” background, and walked out feeling like a member of a global community trying to reinvigorate the field of religion, understanding its central importance to modernity and all manner of modern questions.

 Published 5/10/23