PhD Students Enrolled at Revel School of Jewish Studies at an All-Time High

Article and Photography by Yeshiva University Office of Communication and Public Affairs

After successfully defending her dissertation on August 4, Shana Strauch Schick, a New Jersey native now living in Detroit, will be awarded a doctorate in Talmud from Yeshiva University’s Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies.

Shana Strauch Schick is the first woman to receive a doctorate in Talmud from Yeshiva University.

Shana Strauch Schick is the first woman to receive a doctorate in Talmud from Yeshiva University.

“Learning has always been very important to me,” said Schick, who will formally graduate in September and spend the coming academic year in Israel conducting postdoctoral studies at Bar-Ilan University. “I enjoy it and it is integral to my religious life.”

Schick initially began studying Talmud after high school because she could not reconcile two conflicting messages: “Talmud is the pinnacle of learning Torah yet it’s not important for women to do so—this is not in consonance with the culture of modern Orthodoxy,” said Schick. “I felt that the lack of Talmud study in my life was both an educational and spiritual deficit. By pursuing a doctorate I could both continue learning and contribute to the understanding of how Talmudic law developed.”

From their first classes together, Yaakov Elman, a professor of Judaic studies at Revel, noticed right away that Schick “knew her stuff” and encouraged her to pursue a doctorate.

“More important than just being a thinker, I saw that she was a mentch [honorable person],” said Elman, who served as Schick’s advisor. “When you’re a caring, thoughtful person you notice things that others tend to overlook and that really helps in scholarship.”

Schick holds a bachelor’s degree in Judaic studies from Stern College for Women and a master’s degree in Bible from Revel. She also spent five years studying in the Graduate Program for Women in Advanced Talmudic Studies at Yeshiva University.

“The fact that she’s been able to do all this while raising a family is impressive,” added Elman. “She exemplifies the best that YU has to offer.”

According to David Berger, dean and Ruth and I. Lewis Gordon Professor of Jewish History at Revel, the completion of Schick’s doctorate comes at a time when Revel has been expanding and strengthening its doctoral studies to complement and build upon its thriving masters program.

“The number of students in the PhD program—40 percent of whom are women—has more than doubled in the last few years,” said Berger. “We have added faculty in fields including Bible, Sephardic studies, modern Jewish philosophy, Jewish mysticism, Second Temple history, medieval Jewry, the Jews of early modern Europe, and modern Central and Eastern European Jewry.  With these steps, Revel has enhanced its position as a premier center for advanced Jewish Studies.”


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