2020-2021 Fellows at the Center for Jewish Studies @Fordham

Fordham’s Center for Jewish Studies is delighted to welcome new fellows in 2020-2021. This cohort represents the interdisciplinary depth of Jewish Studies, and its international span. Our fellows will work on medieval and modern history, literature, and social science, covering subjects are diverse as Egyptian coffee houses and modern Egyptian Jewish history; archeology of medieval cities; politics of philanthropy; Jewish emancipation and English literature; religion, race, and immigration; philanthropy and public museums. 

For several years, Fordham has partnered with several institutions to make these fellowships possible–Columbia University’s Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies, the Center for Jewish History, and the New York Public Library.

Center for Jewish History-Fordham Fellowship in Jewish-Christian Relations

  • Anne Blankenship, North Dakota State University, “Race, Religion, and Immigration: How Jews, Catholics, & Protestants Faced Mass Immigration, 1882-1924.” 
Anne Blankenship

The project reconsiders the nation’s current immigration problems by examining how Jewish, Catholic, and Protestant leaders and organizations responded to the mass immigration to the United States at the turn of the twentieth century and subsequent immigration restrictions. Investigating the issues of race, religion, and immigration together provides a rich narrative of activism and conflict as people struggled to define what it meant to be American.

Rabin-Shvidler Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Jewish Studies at Columbia and Fordham

  • Alon Tam, Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, “Cairo’s Coffeehouses in the Late Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Centuries: An Urban and Socio-Political History.”
Alon Tam

Alon Tam’s scholarship lies at the intersection of Jewish Studies and Middle East Studies. His research explores the social, political, and cultural history of Cairo’s coffeehouses, focusing on the late 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. During the fellowship he will teach two classes at Columbia and focus on transforming his dissertation into a book.

The fellowship will be hosted and funded this year by Columbia University. But given that this is a joint fellowship, I request that Dr. Tam be granted affiliation with Fordham with access to campus and the libraries for the duration of the fellowship.

2020 Salo Baron New Voices in Jewish Studies Award

Pratima Gopalakrishnan
  • Pratima Gopalakrishnan, Ph.D. Yale University, “Domestic Labor and Marital Obligations in the Ancient Jewish Household”

Pratima Gopalakrishnan is a scholar of late antique Jewish religion and history, who uses theoretical approaches drawn from feminist and queer theory, and slavery and labor studies. She works primarily with late antique rabbinic Jewish texts, as well as the textual and material artifacts of late antique and early medieval legal cultures and considers how ostensibly economic ancient discussions — of the household, the agricultural field, but also the laboring body itself —were always imbricated with the projects of defining religious, ethnic, and sexual difference.

  • Rebekka Grossman, Ph.D. Hebrew University in Jerusalem

“Visions of Belonging: Photography, Mobility, and Nation in Mandate Palestine”

Rebekka Grossman

Rebekka Grossman’s work illuminates Jewish formulations of national belonging in Palestine through the prism of photography. By taking a transnational history approach, Grossman follows the paths of European Jewish migrants to Mandate Palestine to ask how they used photography to negotiate forms of Jewish sovereignty in dialogue with their non-Jewish neighbors. In analyzing their works, she shows that émigré photographers and photo agents concentrated on the similarities of Palestine’s inhabitants beyond ethnic boundaries creating visions of alternative forms of citizenship.

  • Roy Holler, Ph.D. Indiana University

“This Too Shall Pass: Negotiating Identity/Difference in Modern Hebrew Literature,”

Roy Holler

Roy Holler’s research introduces the concept of passing to the literary criticism of Israeli fiction, rethinking the identity shifts of Jewish immigrants, Holocaust survivors, and minority groups, in relation to integrationist demands of the Zionist narrative. The resettlement of the diaspora in Israel did more than move physical bodies in and out of the land: it also called for an erasure and restructuring of one’s identity. The term “passing” originally describes a similar phenomenon in African American studies, and while scholars in Jewish Studies have explored how passing shapes Jewish Diaspora life, scholars have yet to address the central role of passing within inter-Jewish relations, as a signifier of contingent identity structures.

Fordham-NYPL Fellowships in Jewish Studies

Fordham-NYPL Mid-Term Fellow for Spring 2020:

  • Ephraim Shoham-Steiner, Ben Gurion University, “The ‘Holy Community of Cologne’: New Perspectives on the Medieval Jewish Community”
Ephraim Shoham-Steiner

Cologne is one of the only Jewish communities in medieval Europe that received serious and meticulous archeological attention. The Cologne Judenviertel (Jewish quarter) located at the heart of the city’s historical center in close proximity to the city hall (Rathaus) was excavated twice over the past 60 years. One of the earliest scholars studying Cologne was Adolf Kober (1879-1958), pertinent materials relating to him and by him are the NYPL and in the CJH in NYC.

Short-Term Fordham-NYPL Fellows:

  • Ariel Cohen, University of Virginia, “Displaying Art and Exhibiting Philanthropy: Jews, Genders, and Museums in the United States, 1888-1958”
Ariel Cohen

The project examines American Jewish museums as testing grounds–and breeding grounds–for female Jewish self-reinvention through philanthropic acts. In late 19th and early 20th century America Jewish immigrant men and women making their homes here struggled to become equal and accepted, but also to retain distinctiveness and create new kinds of community. The master narrative of this period is one in which American Jews gravitated toward and invented new kinds of cultural, social, and economic institutions to secure places for themselves in America. Jews have been studied as creators of Hollywood, Tin Pan Alley, Wall Street, comedy, the liquor industry, journalism, and many other areas of American society. Museums provide unique avenues of inquiry into the American Jewish experience because they are different from other arenas of Jewish cultural expression of the time in two keyways. Firstly, women played an outsized (relatively speaking) role as donors (and agents) in museums whereas other fields of Jewish life were more male dominated; secondly, most museum institutions were not-for-profit whereas other Jewish institutions sold culture to make a profit. Museums therefore here act as windows into gendered worlds of American Jewish philanthropy.

  • Zohar Segev, University of Haifa, “Philanthropy, Politics, and the Shaping of a Nation: The Nathan Straus Papers in the NYPL”
Zohar Segev

Zohar Segev will explore the papers of Nathan Straus, kept in the New York Public Library. Strauss is most known for his co-ownership of Macy’s and his promotion of the pasteurization of milk in the USA and in Palestine. The projects Straus initiated and funded in Palestine exemplify the dramatic transformation in the reciprocal relations between US Jews and Jewish communities in Europe and Palestine during the interwar period. The proposed research is to examine a fuller scope of Straus’ philanthropic work in Palestine. 

  • Sharon Weltman, Louisiana State University, “Elizabeth Polack: British Melodrama and Jewish Emancipation”
Sharon Weltman

The first Anglo-Jewish woman playwright—perhaps the first Jewish woman dramatist in any language—was Elizabeth Polack. Her melodramas appeared in print and on the London stage from 1835 to 1838. Very little is known about her. The project, “Elizabeth Polack: British Melodrama and Jewish Emancipation,” aims to fill that gap, recovering forgotten plays and investigating how a Jewish woman found an audience in London’s theater scene when Jews had almost no civil rights, were typically reduced to antisemitic stereotypes on stage, and when women playwrights faced serious obstacles to production and publication. Polack’s use of melodrama in the context of a decades-long fight for Jewish emancipation helped bring Britain to the condition of a modern state where all adults hold equal rights under the law.

2020 Fellow in Jewish Studies at Fordham

  • Dana Fishkin, Touro College
Dana Fishkin

“Between Rome and the Adriatic: Imannuel of Rome and The Relationship Between Jews of Rome and the Marches in Medieval Italy”

Dana Fishkin’s work examines the work and life of Immanuel of Rome, a well known polymath, poet, exegetist, best known for Mahbarot Immanuel (Immanuel’s Compositions), a miscellany of rhymed prose tales interspersed with metric poetry. The Mahbarot contains an encyclopedic range of content, including the earliest known Hebrew sonnets and a Hebrew version of Dante’s Divine Comedy.