Revel Year In Review 2021-2022

Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies Year In Review

Revel Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies

Year in Review 2021–2022


In our last “Year in Review,” the main focus was how the world had changed in the previous 18 months, given the COVID-19 pandemic that had swept the world. For all of the very real challenges associated with that period, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies emerged as a stronger school with a wider reach and a larger student body. Student numbers continue to grow. Looking at our traditional student body, the combined total of Masters and Doctoral students at Revel has increased dramatically between Fall 2019 and Fall 2022. In addition, this Fall, we welcomed our first intake of South Korean students, with nine students from the Republic of Korea taking courses in Biblical Hebrew and Ancient Judaism.

Revel’s faculty maintain their presence in the most prestigious venues for both presentations and publications, and we continue to hold events with a wide reach. Most notably, Revel hosted a conference marking the 25th yahrzeit of Rabbi Professor Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky in September, about which you can find out more in the following pages. Finally, I wish note Revel’s gratitude to its many supporters, and while ordinarily we would not single out individuals, it seems only right for me to publicly express my gratitude to the Katz family, longtime supporters of Revel, and announce that It is my great honor to now represent Revel as the Dr Mordecai D. Katz Dean. יהי זיכרו ברוך This “Year in Review” newsletter contains many of the highlights from the past eighteen months, as we continue to provide the best there is to offer in academic achievement and communal engagement. 2023 promises further exciting developments, which I hope to be able to share with you in next year’s newsletter.

With all best wishes,

Daniel Rynhold, PhD Dr. Mordecai D. Katz Dean


I am pleased to share several developments at the BRGS PhD program, which made 2022 a successful and exciting year. Last August, thanks to the support and initiative of YU’s Center for Israel Studies led by Dr. Steven Fine, a group of PhD students traveled to the World Congress of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. Students were able to learn from and interact with scholars whose works are taught in many of our classes. In the Fall 22 semester, we launched “Methods in Jewish Studies,” a new team-taught course exclusively for PhD students. Each session of the course was taught by a different BRGS faculty member, such that our PhD students were exposed to the full range of the subfields of Jewish studies. We also hosted a series of “PhD Lunches,” in which PhD students had the opportunity to study with leading scholars from various fields. The guest lecturers included Dr. Jeong Mun. Heo, Dr. Rebecca Jefferson, Dr. Yair Lorberbaum, and Rabbi Dr. Michael Harris. Finally, it is a distinct honor

to congratulate our most recent PhD graduates: Dr. Tzvi Sinensky, Dr. Meira Wolkenfeld, Dr. Meir Rosensweig, and Dr. Elliot Resnick. We wish them the greatest success in their future scholarly endeavors. We are looking forward to continued success in the year to come.

Jonathan V. Dauber, PhD Associate Professor of Jewish Mysticism Director of the PhD Program

Prof. Dauber gives a book talk on his new Secrecy and Esoteric Writing in Kabbalistic Literature.



NOV 28 2022 The Jewish Eighteenth-Century and the Transformative Year 1782 Presented by Prof. Shmuel Feiner WATCH HERE

MAY 24 2022 Power and Emotion in Ancient Judaism Presented by Prof. Ari Mermelstein celebrating the publica- tion of his new book. READ MORE

Chinese–Jewish Conversation

SEP 11 2022

Understanding Halakhah, History, and Spirituality: A conference marking the 25th Yahrtzeit of Rabbi Prof. Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky and the publication of his

The Chinese-Jewish Conversation (CJC) at Yeshiva University continues to expand its presence on Chinese social media and in the Chinese academic community, creating a cultural bridge between these two ancient traditions. The expanding CJC Chinese-language blog introduces a range of topics on Jewish culture and history. We are also publishing a new video series on BiliBili (the Chinese equivalent of YouTube) with interviews that answer questions Chinese people have about Jews and Judaism. On April 6, 2022, the CJC held its first in-person event on campus since the pandemic: a commemorative gathering to mark the first Yahrzeit of Dr. Mordecai D Katz, a key benefactor of both Revel and the Katz school, which is attracting a growing population of Chinese students.

collected writings Ke-Ma’ayan ha-Mitgabber: Law and Spirit in Medieval Jewish Thought Chaired by Prof. Carmi Horowitz, Prof. Ephraim Karnafogel,

and Prof. Michael Shmidman WATCH HERE / READ MORE

SEP 13 2022 The Rise of Halakhic Religiosity of Mystery and Transcendence Presented by Prof. Yair Lorberbaum


OCT 25 2022

Secrecy and Esoteric Writing in Kabbalistic Literature Presented by Prof. Jonathan Dauber in celebration of the publication of his new book.

DAVID BERGER BOOK CHAPTER “Rashi on Isaiah 53: Exegetical Judgment or Response to the Crusade?” In: E. Krinis, N. Bashir, S. Offenberg, & S. Sadik (eds.). Polemical and Exegetical Polarities in Medieval Jewish Cultures: Studies in Honour of Daniel J. Lasker (pp. 301–316). De Gruyter. (2021). JOURNAL ARTICLE “Rashi’s Commentary on the Torah: Canonization and Resistance in the Reception of a Jewish Classic [Review of the book by Eric Lawee].” In: Tradition 53(2) (2021), 157–16.

NOV 21 2022

Jozef Pilsudski. Founding Father of Modern Poland

Presented by Prof. Joshua Zimmerman in celebration of the publication of his new book. WATCH HERE / READ MORE


BOOK Rashi, Biblical Interpretation, and Latin Learning in Medieval Europe: A New Perspective on an Exegetical Revolution . Cambridge University Press. (2021).


DANIEL RYNHOLD BOOK CHAPTER “Foreword.” In: Samuel Lebens, A Guide for the Jewish Undecided (pp. ix-xvi). Maggid Press (2022) JOURNAL ARTICLES “Approaching God Aesthetically in Modern Jewish Thought.” In” Modern Theology , Special Issue. First published October 11, 2022. “’Philosophical Training of Paramount Importance’: The Rav’s Mission at Revel.” In: Tradition, Special Digital Issue (2023), 47-51.

STEVEN FINE EDITOR The Samaritans: A Biblical People. Brill (2022). BOOK CHAPTER “Foreword.” In: Saks, J., & Carmy, S. (Eds.), Agnon’s Tales of the Land of Israel (pp. ix–x). Wipf and Stock Publishers. (2022). SHALOM HOLTZ BOOK CHAPTER “God’s Ambiguous Oaths in Amos 4:2 and Psalm 89:36 (and Psalm 60:8//108:8?).” In: P. Machinist, R. A. Harris, J. A. Berman, N. Samet, & N. Ayali-Darshan (Eds.), Ve-’Ed Ya‘aleh (Gen 2:6): Essays in Biblical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies Presented to Edward L. Greenstein, 2 , (pp. 809–824). (2021). The Society of Biblical Literature. READ MORE JOURNAL ARTICLE “Tero Alstola, Judeans in Babylonia: A Study of Deportees in the Sixth and Fifth Centuries BCE [Review].” In: Review of Biblical Literature . (2021, February 22). Letter 34. American Values Religious Voices. READ MORE EPHRAIM KANARFOGEL BOOK CHAPTERS “Audiences of the Jewish Book during the Medieval Period.” In: E. Schrijver (Ed.), Encyclopedia of Jewish Book Cultures Online . Brill. (2021). “Discourses of Ta’ame ha-misvot: Tosafism, Rhineland Pietism, Egyptian Pietism, Kabbalah, Sabbatianism” In: J. P. Brown & M. Herman (Eds.), Accounting for the Commandments in Medieval Judaism: Studies in Law, Philosophy, Pietism, and Kabbalah , 177–190. Brill. (2021). “The Role of the Tosafists in Jewish-Christian Polemics.” In: C. Cluse & J. R. Müller (Eds.), Medieval Ashkenaz: Papers in Honour of Alfred Haverkamp Presented at the 17th World Congress of Jewish Studies, Jerusalem 2017 , 241–253. Harrassowitz Verlag. (2021). “Torah Comments of Yehiel of Paris: Mediating between Peshat and Derash” In: C. Goodblatt & H. Kreisel (Eds.), Reading the Bible in the Pre-Modern World: Interpretation, Performance and Image , 223–255. Ben-Gurion University. (2021). “Understanding the Uneven Reception of Rabbenu Tam’s Taqqanot.” In: E. Krinis, N. Bashir, S. Offenberg, & S. Sadik (Eds.), Polemical and Exegetical Polarities in Medieval Jewish Cultures: Studies in Honour of Daniel J. Lasker (pp. 437–466). Walter de Gruyter. (2021).


Of Note Rabbi Shmuel Reichman , a Revel alumnus, published The Journey to your Ultimate Self: An Inspiring Gateway into Deeper Jewish Thought through the Lens of the Weekly Parshah (Mosaic Press, 2022). Professor Joshua Zimmerman ’s new book, Jozef Pisuldski: Founding Father of Modern Poland (Harvard University Press, 2022). was reviewed in The Jewish Chronicle. READ MORE Miriam Zami , a PhD student published “Laughter in the Face of Tragedy: The Enduring Resistance of Rabbi Akiva,” in Lehrhaus . This essay was the runner up in Hadar’s annual Ateret Zvi Prize in Hiddushei Torah READ MORE Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Schiffman , a Revel alumnus, published Psyched for Torah: Cultivating Character and Well-Being through the Weekly Parsha (Kodesh Press, 2022).

Rabbi Chaim Jachter , a Revel alumnus, co-published The Aggadic Mindset: How Talmudic Tales Shape the Jewish Outlook (2022).

David Selis , a Revel PhD student published ‘”Perhaps the Oldest Piece of Ecclesiastical Furniture in This Country”: The Construction and Destruction of Solomon Schechter’s Cairo Genizah Torah Ark.’ IMAGES: A Journal of Jewish Art and Visual Culture (2022)


together, we can imagine an ancient smellscape and the associations it might have evoked. Scent could be an effica- cious agent in remedies, a pleasurable component of cele- bration, a sign of class, or an indication of disease or impurity. It could waft and diffuse; offend and attract. “At Revel I’ve found supportive librarians, intellectual community, and training in careful scholarship. I’m so grateful for the time I’ve been able to spend here! “


Rachel Fried “I am so grateful to the Revel faculty and administration for their warmth, flexibility, and guidance throughout my academic journey. Studying in a program with such a large professor:student ratio has enabled me to forge personal mentorship relationships with leading scholars and to receive individualized support on my coursework. It is only due to Revel’s accessibility to students with full schedules that I am privileged to pursue multiple masters’ degrees simultaneously.” Isaac Entin “At Revel, I acquired a toolkit of source critical, literary, and historical approaches to illuminate my learning. The small class sizes were ideal for engaging with texts and ideas together with caring and knowledgeable professors and classmates, who facilitated independent research into the marvelous world of Hazal and related fields.”

Itamar Rosensweig The Legal Philosophy and Jurisprudence of

Rabbi Moshe ben Nahman (Ramban) The dissertation is a study of Ramban’s jurisprudence, focusing on his defense of geonic legal precedent, his concep- tual method of talmudic analysis, and his use of the biblical verse to derive novel halakhic conclusions.

“Revel is an exceptional school, and it has provided me with the finest tutelage in the history of halakha. I am fortunate to have been mentored at Revel by the leading scholars in the field—Professors David Berger, Moshe Halbertal, Ephraim Kanarfogel, and Haym Soloveitchik—who have all been so generous with their time and knowledge. It’s especially meaningful for me to be a third generation Revel doctorate. My grandfather Rabbi Bernard Rosensweig received his doctorate from Revel in 1970 under the supervision of Professor Agus. My father, Rabbi Michael Rosensweig, received his doctorate from Revel in 1996 under the super- vision of Professors Soloveitchik and Berger. It’s special for me to continue their tradition and to reflect on a half- century relationship with Revel that continues to enrich our appreciation of halakha and its heroes.”

Lynn Horwitz “Studying at Revel provided the opportunity to enhance my formal Jewish education and engage across generations of Jewish learning.”

Samuel Merkin “I really enjoyed my time at Revel. The professors’ enthusiasm and passion for their subject matter made classes engaging and drove home the relevance of much of the Jewish history we learned.” Yoni Paul Reuven “My time at Revel has been transformative. I have always loved Jewish philosophy, but Revel solidified my passion and gave it academic rigor. It gave me the necessary training, background, and confidence to approach any Jewish philosophical text. I am incredibly grateful for my time here.”

Tzvi Sinensky Lo Yilbash as a Case Study in Halakhic Conceptions of Masculinity

Daniel Nugent “My time at Revel has given me new perspec- tives in my learning and life.”

“Whether it was allowing me to pilot the Revel Global program, pursue a certificate degree from Utah State University, or arranging for the leading scholar in my field to sit on my dissertation committee, the administration and teachers have


Meira Wolkenfeld Putrid Fish and Citrons in the Garbage Heaps of Mata Mehasia: Scent and Smelling in the Babylonian Talmud)

had only one goal in mind throughout: to help me succeed in my studies Revel gifted me the opportunity to explore my area of interest without being beholden in any way to a professor’s individual research interests. While this is un- usual in academia, it is very much the norm at Revel. That academic independence enabled me to thrive.

The dissertation is about attitudes towards scent and smelling in the Babylonian Talmud. I also consider how the world might have smelled. The Talmud records anecdotes about walking through reeking alleyways and fragrant banqueting gardens. Putting these sources


Stephanie Idy


From: Brooklyn, NY Concentration: Talmud

From: Columbus, Ohio. Concentration: Talmud. Currently: Congregational Rabbi at Beth Jacob Congregation Degrees: Masters in Counseling from Johns Hopkins, MA and BA in Talmudic Law from Ner Israel Rabbinical College in Baltimore, Semicha from Ner Israel

Currently: Director of Profession- al Development for Allegra Franco Women’s Bet Midrash and Teaching Fellowship. Degrees: BA in Mathematics and an MA in Mathematics Education 7–12 from Brooklyn College.

“I chose Revel as I have a deep love and passion for Judaic Studies and a strong desire to advance my education. I’ve loved Talmud since I was first exposed to it in High School and knew that I wanted to learn it on a higher level and in an academic setting. “

“I was always interested in obtaining an advanced degree in Jewish Studies. Revel’s stellar reputation and incredible team of scholars made it a very appealing choice. The availability of a completely online option made this dream a reality.”

Neti Linzer

Yonatan Kurz

From: Bergenfield, NJ Concentration: Jewish Philosophy Currently: Fellow at Yeshiva Universi- ty’s Graduate Program for Advanced Talmudic Studies for Women Degrees: BA in philosophy from Princeton University.

From: Teaneck, NJ. Concentration: Jewish Philosophy or Modern Jewish History Currently: student at Yeshiva College. Fun Fact: I am a fourth generation student at Yeshiva College. My father, grandfather, and great-grandfather all attended Yeshiva College. “Revel provides an opportunity for

“So many of the professors at Revel are scholars whose work I have enjoyed from a distance–I am looking forward to

not only incredible intellectual growth and understanding with some of the most prominent Jewish thinkers but also a unique chance to interact with other students who unified by the desire to flourish in an invigorating environment that is imbued with an intense belief in the importance in enhanced learning about authentic Judaism and the rich history and philosophy that it contains. ”

the opportunity to learn from them directly! “ Fun Fact: I always appreciate a good hike.

Elior Garfinkel

From: Riverdale, NY Concentration: Bible with a focus on the Ancient Near East Currently: Chief Knowledge Officer at Verae, LLC Degrees: BA in Psychology from Touro University

Stephen Michael Berk

From: San Francisco, California Concentration: Modern Jewish History (focus on Zionism and antisemitism) Currently: Teacher/Tutor Degrees: BA in History from the University of Oregon, MA in History (with a focus on Jewish and Zionist History) from San

Fun Fact: I enjoy hiking, going to museums, and exploring the city. “I chose Revel for its excellent Bible and Ancient Jewish History departments, and for its wonderful faculty.”

Francisco State University Fun fact: For other hobbies I listen to music and write poetry. While I haven’t done it in a while I like to share my poetry at open mics. “I chose the Jewish Studies program at Yeshiva University because I believe its faculty are among the best Jewish studies scholars in the United States and maybe the world.”

Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies Furst Hall, 500 West 185th Street New York, NY 10033 646.592.4270

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