Professor Joshua D. Zimmerman, the Eli and Diana Zborowski Chair in Holocaust Studies and East European Jewish History recently published a years-long work on Jozef Pilsudski, the founding father of modern Poland who, when Poland emerged on the map of Europe in November 1918, served as commander-in-chief and head of state.

Zimmerman’s biography of Jozef Pilsudski: Founding Father of Modern Poland, explores Pilsudski’s vision of a democratic Poland, his support for Ukraine’s independence, and the lessons that can be learned from Pilsudski’s understanding of European power dynamics. The biography is in part a product of a generous grant awarded to Professor Zimmerman in 2021 by Drs. Kenneth Chelst, Bertram Schreiber, and Fred Zwas.

Professor Zimmerman provided some of his key findings on the life and legacy of Poland’s first democratic leader with the YU community on November 21st. The book talk explored the complex and at times complicated reputation of the 20th Century leader who supported an independent Ukraine from Russia, advocated for the protection of Jewish and other minorities, while at the same time was a patriotic social democrat who was labeled as an imperialist agitator on the international stage.

According to Zimmerman, “Pilsudski’s bold position against communism, advocacy for both Poland’s and Ukraine’s independent territorial integrity, and conception of equality for all anticipated many of today’s debates ruminating across the European continent.”

Jozef Pilsudski (1867-1935) is considered to be modern Poland’s founding father and was the commander of the Polish Legions during World War I, a military formation whose soldiers were 10% Jewish. After achieving statehood, Pilsudski, a military tactician at his core, led his forces into Ukraine in the spring of 1920 and commandeered Kyiv from the Russians. But when the Russian forces repelled Polish forces back to Warsaw, Pilsudski’s successful counter-offensive led to victory in a battle dubbed “Miracle on the Vistula”.  This battle cemented Pilsudski’s legacy as the savior of Europe from a Bolshevik-Russian takeover.  Later, in 1933, Pilsudski successfully defended Polish territory against Hitler’s expansionist ambitions through a combination of military strength and a clear national security doctrine.

Professor Zimmerman shared his opinion that “the contemporary lessons of Pilsudski’s legacy are relevant to anybody concerned with the geopolitical trends grappling Europe and beyond.” Zimmerman concluded, “Pilsudski recognized the grave necessity of preserving Ukraine’s territorial independence as the best way to maintain an independent Poland and by extension Europe. Around 100 years later the global implications of this imperative have only magnified as a result of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. In my work, I hope to bring to life the foresight of this seminal figure in this first comprehensive biography in English.”

The video of the book talk in which Prof. Zimmerman spoke about Jozef Pilsudski in the Jewish collective memory can be found here:

Jozef Pilsudski. Founding Father of Modern Poland can be purchased here.

Jozef Pilsudski. Founding Father of Modern Poland (Harvard University Press) By: Joshua D. Zimmerman
Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Twersky
Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak Twersky

On Sept. 11, 2022, the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies hosted a conference marking the 25th yahrtzeit of Rabbi Dr. Yitzchak (Isadore) Twersky and the publication of his collected writings Ke-Ma’ayan ha-Mitgabber: Law and Spirit in Medieval Jewish Thought. Rabbi Dr. Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University; Dr. Daniel Rynhold, dean of Revel; and Rabbi Dr. Carmi Horowitz, professor of Jewish Thought and Intellectual History at Michalalah Yerushalayim in Jerusalem and editor of this recently published work, introduced the conference with thoughts on Rabbi Twersky’s unique character.

(l-r) Rabbi Menachem Genack and Prof. Carmi Horowitz at the conference

             Rabbi Twersky (1930-1997) was the Nathan Littauer Professor of Hebrew Literature and Philosophy at Harvard University and also the Talner Rebbe in Boston, serving as the spiritual leader of Congregation Beth David, or the Talner Beis Midrash.  He was renowned both as an academic scholar with groundbreaking insights into Jewish intellectual history and as well as an inspiring and loving rabbi, wholly dedicated to his constituents’ well-being.  

           The two morning sessions of the conference, “Halakhic Scholars and Their Impact,” and “Jewish Intellectual History, Medieval and Modern,” were meant to reflect Prof. Twersky’s breadth of scholastic inquiry and impact. Six professors presented papers on topics ranging froom “The Intellectual History and Literary Corpus of R. Isaiah di Trani” (Prof. Ephraim Kanarfogel), “Intellectual Humility in the thought of the Rambam” (Prof. Elisha Russ- Fishbane, NYU), to “Rationalizing Qeri u-Ketiv: Radak’s Methodology in his Biblical Commentaries” (Prof. Naomi Grunhaus). Prof. Jacob J. Schacter reflected on his experience as a student of Prof. Twersky and Prof. Tamara Morsel-Eisenberg (NYU) responded to aspects of Prof. Twersky’s essay about the Shulkhan Arukh. Prof. Ira Robinson (Concordia) presented a snapshot of Yehuda Kaufman Even Shmuel, a modern-day commentator of the Moreh Nevukhim. Many of the speakers made reference to Prof. Twersky’s scholarly attention to the works of Maimonides and his seminal assertion of unity between the Mishneh Torah and Moreh Nevukhim, at the same time notimg that his academic influence was felt in the entire field of Jewish Intellectual History.  


The afternoon sessions of the conference were dedicated more specifically to Prof. Twersky’s own work and life. Profs. Bernard Septimus (Harvard) and Michael Shmidman (Touro), who both studied for their doctoral degrees at Harvard with Prof. Twersky, presented different aspects of Maimonidean scholarship. Professor Shnayer Leiman (Touro) spoke about his interaction with Prof. Twersky as an academic colleague and highlighted the sincere respect he accorded his colleagues as well as his deep dedication to improving Jewish education.  Lastly, Dr. Kalman Stein (Hebrew Academy, Miami) described his interaction with Rabbi Twersky as a member of his congregation and spoke movingly about the close relationships that Rabbi Twersky formed with his family and children and the formative influence this had upon his family’s spiritual development.  

            Video of this conference can be found here:


Shaul Seidler-Feller ’14YC, ’14BR, ’17R works as a Judaica consultant and cataloger for Sotheby’s Books and Manuscripts Department and is also a freelance writer, editor, and translator from Hebrew and Yiddish to English.


In addition to earning a bachelor’s in Jewish studies at Yeshiva College and a master’s in medieval Jewish history at Revel Graduate School, he also pursued semikhah (rabbinic ordination) at the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary.


Revel News had a chance to catch up with him to discuss his career and how his education at Yeshiva University influenced his professional and personal lives.


Thank you for taking the time to speak with us.

My pleasure! Thanks so much for reaching out and taking an interest.


Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Westwood, near UCLA, in Los Angeles.


What was your Jewish education like as you grew up?

I attended Maimonides Academy (not to be confused with Maimonides School in Boston) for elementary and middle school, YULA for high school, and Yeshivat Har Etzion (Gush) for my gap year in Israel. In addition, my father is a rabbi and so I was, thank God, exposed to Jewish learning both in school and out.


What convinced you to attend Yeshiva College?

To begin with, YULA’s administrators and rebbeim were big proponents of YC, but more importantly, I knew by the time I graduated high school that I wanted to continue learning Torah in a serious way and that I wanted to go to college in an intensely Jewish environment that would not only nurture me academically but also foster my religious and personal growth. And what better place to do that, I thought, than YC?


What led you to continue your studies both with Revel and RIETS? Why both and not one or the other?

My interest in Jewish studies as an academic discipline was sparked by some of my first courses at YC, given by amazing faculty who knew how to get their students excited about the material they taught, and those early experiences inspired me to pursue Jewish studies as a major. As I neared graduation, I began taking classes at Revel as part of YC’s joint BA/MA program with BRGS, and it was around the same time that I decided that I wanted to continue learning Torah for several more years in YU’s semikhah program. (It must also be mentioned that in those days semikhah students were given a scholarship to attend Revel for free.) I briefly flirted with the idea of making my career in Jewish high school education but ultimately decided that my interests and skills lay elsewhere. Still, it was important to me, both personally and professionally, to learn lishmah—even if I did not have any real plans of taking a rabbinic position once I completed the semikhah program.


Can you recollect one or two experiences that would give readers a feel for the essence of your Revel experience?

I recall being consistently impressed by the course offerings at Revel, in terms of both their range and the quality of the faculty teaching them. I tried to take or audit as many classes as my schedule would permit, and there were several semesters when I found myself lamenting that I could not accommodate more. The other memory I have is of the sense of community created by Revel. The small class sizes and the extracurricular learning opportunities offered (lectures by visiting scholars, conferences, Shabbatons) helped us, the students and faculty, form professional connections and lasting friendships anchored by our shared intellectual interests. Those bonds, together with the education itself, are the most important outcomes of my time at Revel.


What led you to do your work as a writer, editor, translator, and Judaica consultant for Sotheby’s?

I first got involved in editing and translating during my years at YC while working for Kol Hamevaser, the Jewish thought magazine of the Yeshiva University student body. This work allowed me to hone my skills while publishing material in a subject area that was close to my heart. With time, I started editing for pay for some of my professors, and from there I began getting freelance jobs mostly by word of mouth. One person who deserves special recognition for his role in connecting me with Sotheby’s (and also with freelance work) is my dear friend and fellow Revel alumnus Menachem Butler. He introduced me to two of the key figures on the Sotheby’s Judaica team, Sharon Liberman Mintz and David Wachtel, both of whom have become valued mentors, colleagues, and friends in the intervening years. I began non-contractual cataloging work for Sotheby’s in 2015, ahead of the sale of twelve lots from the Valmadonna Trust Library, and started to formally serve as a consultant in 2017. In the end, then, much of what I do professionally today has its roots in the education I received and experiences I had during my time at YU.


What is the most satisfying thing you do in your line of work?

I feel lucky to be able to use my Jewish history training and language skills in my day-to-day professional life. The process of learning about the items we sell at Sotheby’s and then transmitting that knowledge to others, both in written (catalog) form and by putting on an exhibition of those items prior to the auction, is very satisfying. There are plenty of people who walk into Sotheby’s off the street, not knowing that there is a Judaica sale coming up, and when they wander into our galleries I get to introduce them to artifacts of Jewish history usually kept behind glass in museum cases or else tucked away in rare book rooms in university research libraries. Moreover, not only do I teach but I also learn, whether from a curious layperson’s questions, a knowledgeable librarian’s or scholar’s observations, a seasoned dealer’s valuable intel, or a collector-connoisseur’s keen eye. In the course of my work, in other words, I interact with both material and people that/who teach me so much about the past and, through the past, about the present and the future as well. And if, in the process, I am able to play some small part in creating knowledge and conveying it to members of the public, “such shall be my reward” (Gen. 30:32).


Revel graduate Rabbi Chaim Strauchler ‘99YC, ‘06R, ‘06BR is the Senior Rabbi at Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, New Jersey. He grew up in West Orange, New Jersey and is a proud graduate of YU and the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary (RIETS), following in the footsteps of his mother’s father, Rabbi Gershon Romanoff, a rabbi in Hudson, NY, Chelsea, MA and Bronx, NY. His father’s parents were Holocaust survivors who moved to Minneapolis, MN after the war.

Revel News had a chance to catch up with Rabbi Strauchler to discuss his career as a shul rabbi and how his education at Revel influenced his professional and personal lives.

What was your Jewish education like as you grew up?
Throughout my childhood, I attended Congregation Ahawas Achim B’nai Jacob & David (AABJ&D) under the leadership of Rabbi Alvin Marcus. I studied at The JEC in Elizabeth, New Jersey from kindergarten through eleventh grade which was a wonderful experience with great teachers and friends. Following that, I studied at YU early admissions and then at Yeshivat Har Etzion in Israel.

What convinced you to attend Yeshiva University?
The opportunity to expand my knowledge and skills in Torah and secular studies. Both my parents are graduates of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine.

What led you to continue your studies at Revel?
The opportunity to study Torah with Revel faculty whom I was exposed to as an undergraduate at YU.

How do you take what you’ve learned from your studies at Revel and apply it to your role as the rabbi at Rinat?
So much of my thinking is a function of the skills and traditions that have been passed on to me. When I teach Tanach [bible] or history, it is with the frame of thinking and many of the insights that I imbibed from professors such as
Rabbi Dr. Shnayer Leiman, Dr. Barry Eichler, Rabbi Dr. Mordechai Cohen, Dr. Elisheva Carlebach, Dr. Richard Steiner, Dr. Jeffrey Gurock and Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Elman.

Can you recollect one or two experiences that would give readers a feel for the essence of your Revel experience?
As much as the classroom was critical to my Revel experience, the chance to “talk in learning” in the 5th Floor Library with fellow students in my courses as well as students who were not, was the essence of the Revel experience for me. We were a community of learners – all engaging in ideas, scholarship and a lived Jewish life on and beyond the YU campus.

What would you like to say to students considering pursuing Jewish studies at Revel?
The advanced Torah learning available only at Revel will deeply enrich your thinking and living for long into your future.


Ayelet Mael Rosenberg ‘08S, ‘10R is currently corporate counsel at Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud computing business of Amazon. In her work as a products attorney for different AWS products, she helps the business teams and computer engineers navigate the legal issues related to the development of new products.

Her intellectual journey has been an interesting one, beginning with a major in Studio Art at Stern College for Women with a concentration in graphic design and moving on to a degree in medieval Jewish History from the Bernard Revel School of Jewish Studies.


After Revel, she went to the University of Pennsylvania Law School for one year before transferring to New York University Law School, going on to work at Sidley Austin LLP as a transactional attorney in the Global Finance group for six years and then AWS.


Revel News had a chance to catch up with her to discuss her career as a lawyer and how her education at Yeshiva University influenced her professional and personal lives.


Where did you grow up? Also, please tell me about your background. 

I grew up in Lawrence, New York, in a wonderful Modern Orthodox home. My parents imbued within us a strong sense of Torah U’madda (which isn’t surprising since my dad grew up in Boston with the Rav), where we were encouraged to grow in our Torah knowledge and connection to Judaism while developing other interests and a strong work ethic for any future profession.


 What was your Jewish education like? 


In terms of my formal Jewish education, I went to Hebrew Academy of Long Beach, Stella K. Abraham High School for Girls, Sha’alvim for Women, Stern College and then Revel. In terms of my informal Jewish education, I learned a tremendous amount from my parents and grandparents (some of whom grew up without a strong Jewish community and nevertheless, remained incredibly committed in their observance). I also participated in summer programs such as JOLT, in which we taught unaffiliated Ukrainian children about Judaism and attended Gateways shabbatons that exposed me to discussions about how we know G-d exists and that the Torah is from Sinai.

What convinced you to attend Stern College? 


Beginning around 7th grade, I thought I would be a high school Tanach [bible] teacher (and I’m embarrassed to admit that I began saving my school notes, thinking they would be useful when I’d be teaching those subjects). I therefore thought that there was no better place than Stern College to continue learning Judaic studies and getting involved in extracurricular programs related to Jewish education. If someone would have told me then that I would end up in law school, becoming a corporate finance lawyer, and ultimately working in Amazon’s cloud computing business, I would have just laughed.


What led you to continue your studies with Revel? 


When I graduated from Stern College, I understood that getting a master’s degree in either Jewish studies (at Revel) or Jewish education (at Azrieli Graduate School) would be helpful in pursuing a career in Jewish education. Between the two, I thought I would enjoy learning the subject matter of Jewish studies over educational theory… so I ended up at Revel.


How do you take what youve learned from your studies at Revel and apply it to your role as a lawyer? 

My classes at Revel were probably the most rigorous, intellectually challenging classes that I have taken in my life. I vividly recall a Jewish philosophy class with Dr. Daniel Rynhold where we delved into a Spinoza piece, and I left feeling mentally drained, as if my brain had done advanced gymnastics for an hour. Learning in Revel how to think critically and analytically, in a way that I had not done in any prior educational setting, was immediately applicable and incredibly helpful throughout my time in law school and in my role as a lawyer.

Can you recollect one or two experiences that would give readers a feel for the essence of your Revel experience? 

Sure! While I was student at Revel, I had the opportunity to visit Chicago one Shavuot as an “up-and-coming Torah educator.” I gave shiurim [lectures] at three different shuls and ran one session for teenagers, over the two-day yuntif [holiday]. I developed some of my shiur content based on theses I had written for my Revel classes, morphing my scholarly materials into a digestible and inspiring format. I even remember that Revel connected me with Rabbi J.J. Schacter to review and give me feedback on my materials. Each shiur over the yuntif was really well received, and the entire experience showed me that my Revel education was providing amazing tools to develop content, give shiurim and be involved in communal Jewish education, even if I didn’t end pursuing a career in formal Jewish education.

What is the most satisfying work you do as a lawyer?


Pro bono work. Throughout my time practicing as a lawyer, I have taken on a handful of pro bono cases ranging from helping veterans get governmental rights and underprivileged women file for uncontested divorces to assisting nonprofits in setting up their legal entities and registering as a 501(c)(3) to helping organizations that do amazing work in third-world countries with employment issues. I’ve always felt the importance of doing chesed [charity work] and volunteering, and I love that my day job provides opportunities to use my legal skills and “give back.”

What would you like to say to students considering Jewish studies at Revel? 

If you are someone who likes to learn and appreciates your Judaism and/or Jewish heritage, you should definitely go for it! The classes were wonderful, and no matter what you end up doing professionally, the skills that you gain by studying at Revel will most certainly be helpful for your personal and professional life going forward.

If anyone reading this is on the fence and wants to talk about it further, feel free to connect with me on Facebook or LinkedIn – I’d be happy to talk about it more!