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Professor GurockAs a social historian and scholar of religion in America, Revel Professor Jeffrey Gurock investigates how secular cultural phenomena entered into the lives of Jewish men and women in America and the conflicts that ensued as Jews attempted to be part of American environments while maintaining connections to their faith.

The Jewish encounter with American sports—a robust example of what Professor Gurock calls “cultural clamor and religious conflict”—is the subject of his new article, “The Clothes They Wear and the Time They Keep: The Orthodox Athletes’ Tests of Tolerance in Contemporary America,” which appeared in Muscling in on New Worlds: Jews, Sport, and the Making of the Americas, ed. Raanan Rein and David M.K. Sheinin (Leiden and Boston: Brill Academic Publishers, 2014), pp. 68-84. This study looks closely at the challenges traditional Jewish men and women faced over several generations in entering the arenas of sports. It also points out how changing American attitudes towards minority religions have generally facilitated religious Jews—and others of deep faith commitment—participating in sports without violating their religious scruples.

For the full text of Professor Gurock’s new article, click here.


10 Elisheva Carlebach, Jewish historyRevel extends an enthusiastic congratulations to Elisheva Carlebach, Salo Baron Professor of Jewish History, Culture and Society in the Department of History, Columbia University, and adjunct Professor of Jewish History, Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies, who is the recipient of the Association for Jewish Studies’ (AJS) 2014 Jordan Schnitzer Book Award in the category of Medieval and Early Modern Jewish History for her book, Palaces of Time: Jewish Calendar and Culture in Early Modern Europe (Harvard University Press).

Publication Palaces-of-TimeAccording to the AJS, the prize “recognizes and promotes outstanding scholarship in the field of Jewish Studies and honors scholars whose work embodies the best in the field: rigorous research, theoretical sophistication, innovative methodology, and excellent writing.” The prize, awarded once in three years per category, will be presented on Sunday night December 14, 2014 at the AJS Conference in Baltimore.

Upon receiving notification of this award, Dean David Berger reacted as follows: Prof. Carlebach is a scholar of international renown and is also a figure of great stature in the professional leadership of the field of Jewish Studies.  There is no higher compliment than to say that this book is worthy of her.  Prof Carlebach’s position as Senior Adjunct Professor in the Bernard Revel Graduate School adds luster to our institution and affords our students a treasured opportunity to benefit from her instruction and her guidance.


rsz_20140129_revel_symposium_059Haifa Professor Yeshayahu Maori, a many-time visiting professor at Revel, just published an article on Rashi based on his talk at the Revel Symposium on Parshanut ha-Miqra this past January. Appearing in the Israeli academic journal Sha’anan, this study focuses on Sefer ha-Zikkaron, a supercommentary on Rashi by R. Avraham Bakrat, who settled in Algiers after the 1492 expulsion from Spain. Maori presents Bakrat’s theory regarding Rashi’s motives in incorporating midrash into his commentaries—notwithstanding his stated peshat agenda.

Click here to download the full article.


mitokh-haohel-coverA third book in the Mitokh Ha-Ohel series featuring collections of essays by Yeshiva University faculty is being released this week. The first of a three-volume series on prayer, From Within the Tent: Essays on the Weekday Prayers from the Rabbis and Professors of Yeshiva University (The Michael Scharf Publication Trust of RIETS/Yeshiva University Press and Koren Publishers, 2014) is a compilation of writings from over three dozen YU faculty members — including Roshei Yeshiva, deans and professors — who draw upon a range of diverse sources to help readers gain a better understanding of the weekday prayers.

The book was edited by YU Rosh Yeshiva Rabbi Daniel Z. Feldman, who is also a professor at Sy Syms School of Business and executive editor of YU Press, and Dr. Stuart W. Halpern, who serves as an academic advisor on YU’s Wilf campus, assistant director of the Straus Center for Torah and Western Thought and assistant director of Student Programming and Community Outreach at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. For Halpern, the release marks a personal milestone, as this is the 10th book he has edited for YU Press over the last five years.

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Book--High Resolution PhotoDr. Karlip’s recently published book, The Tragedy of a Generation: The Rise and Fall of Jewish Nationalism in Eastern Europe (Harvard University Press, 2013) examines the “ideal” of Diaspora Nationalism, a pre-WWII movement seeking Jewish national autonomy within Europe, and its complex relationship to other ideologies such as Yiddishism, traditional Judaism, Zionism and socialism. Karlip, Associate Professor of Jewish History at Revel and Yeshiva College, focuses on three Diaspora nationalist leaders—Yisroel Efroikin, Zelig Kalmanovitch and Elias Tcherikower—from the 1905 Russian Revolution through the movement’s ideological demise with the rise of Nazism and the Holocaust.

Karlip’s work has garnered outstanding praise in the AJS Review, Foreign Affairs, and East European Jewish AffairsAccording to one reviewer, Ezra Mendelsohn (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, in East European Jewish Affairs), “Karlip leads us, in some detail, through the permutations, the seemingly endless shifts of opinion, and the bursts of pessimism and optimism that characterised the advocates of the autonomist idea during the period between the two Russian revolutions and during the interwar period.”  

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IS9_HR_proef6 copyWe congratulate Prof. Mahnaz Moazami, who has regularly taught Middle Persian at Revel for many years, on the publication of a major study.   Some of her courses are taught in conjunction with Prof. Yaakov Elman, whose pioneering work on the interface between Talmudic and Middle Persian culture has transformed the academic study of the Talmudic period in Babylonia.  This book deals with a text that is fascinating in itself but also sheds light on the similarities and differences between the  legal and ideological world of Zoroastrian scholars  and that of the Sages of the Babylonian Talmud.  For details about the book, see


rsz_koller-esther (1)Esther in Ancient Jewish Thought (Cambridge University Press, 2014)

On the background of a broad but detailed survey of major trends in Jewish thought during Second Temple times, this book provides a new understanding of the purpose and meaning of Esther.  Focusing on intertextual relationships and the history of ideas, the book shows how controversial Esther was for centuries, and how it became the beloved book known today.


The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian Context, authored by Revel alumnus Dr. Shai Secunda, has been reviewed by Simcha Gross on the blog of the Center for Jewish Law and Contemporary Civilization at Cardozo Law School. 

Review of Shai Secunda, The Iranian Talmud: Reading the Bavli in Its Sasanian ContextPhiladelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013. 272 pp. $55.00.

By Simcha Gross

Nearly forty years ago, after scholars such as Saul Lieberman had thoroughly contextualized Palestinian rabbinic literature within its Greco-Roman cultural and historical environment, Jacob Neusner conducted a similar study for Babylonian Jewry, asking “How much Iranian in Jewish Babylonia?”[1]  His answer: not much.  Neusner argued that the rabbis did not know much about Iranian religion and culture, and therefore could not possibly have consciously incorporated Zoroastrian motifs, themes, or laws into rabbinic texts, and the few that did make it in, Neusner surmised, were due to the rabbis’ ignorance of their origin. The limited Persian material of which the rabbis do seem aware is little more than the commonplaces associated with daily life in a Persian society.  According to this view, as opposed to Palestinian rabbinic literature, the study of the Bavli should turn its focus inwards, contextualizing the Bavli within Jewish and rabbinic history alone. Neusner’s essay marked the start of a thirty year lapse in the comparative study of the Bavli and Persian cultures.

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Shana SchickRevel alumna Dr. Shana Schick’s article, “Negligence and Strict Liability in the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds: Two Competing Systems of Tort Law in the Rulings of Early Amoraim,” was recently published in the Jewish law journal Dine Israel (vol. 29 [2013]). The article explores the differences between the Babylonian and Palestinian Talmuds’ laws holding people responsible for inadvertent property damage.
Schick received her doctorate in Talmudic Studies from Revel in 2011, making her the first woman to graduate from Yeshiva University with a PhD in Talmud. She is currently pursuing post-doctoral work at the University of Haifa’s Department of Jewish History and Thought.
gurock bookDr. Jeffrey S. Gurock’s book, Jews in Gotham: New York Jews in a Changing City, 1920-2010 (NYU Press, 2012), featured in the New York Times Sunday Book Review in November. The book, as the NYT wrote, ”covers the wax and wane of immigration, segregation, suburban flight, anti-Semitism, socialist conviction and Zionism” from the 1920s onward. 
Dr. Gurock is the Libby M. Klaperman Professor of Jewish History at Yeshiva University, and teaches American Jewish History at Revel. Jews in Gotham is the third volume in City of Promises: A History of the Jews of New York edited by Deborah Dash Moore.