Israel is headed to Ann Arbor this fall, when scholars at the Frankel Institute for Advanced Judaic Studies will conduct research around the theme “Israeli Histories, Societies, and Cultures: Comparative Approaches.” The fellows will present lectures, symposia, and other events to the public and will be led by head fellow Shachar Pinsker.

“I hope that the interaction between the fellows will create an atmosphere of mutual learning and intense, open, and meaningful dialogue,” said Pinsker. “I am confident that the commonalities emerging from the various research projects of the fellows will chart new ways to study and understand the histories, cultures, and societies of Israel and the yishuv in comparative ways, and will point to the future of this field.”

We are thrilled to welcome our new fellows.

Naomi Brenner, Ohio State University

“Best-Sellers and the Boundaries of Hebrew Literature”

Brenner is associate professor of Hebrew and Jewish culture at Ohio State University. Her work focuses on issues of multilingualism and translation in modern Jewish literature and culture. Her book, Lingering Bilingualism: Modern Hebrew and Yiddish Literatures in Contact, was published this year. She has also published articles in a variety of different journals on translation, Jewish women's writing, and intersections between Hebrew and Yiddish. Brenner's newest project examines popularity and celebrity in Hebrew and Yiddish literatures.

“I'm intrigued by the different comparative approaches to studying Israel, so I'm looking forward to getting to know the other fellows and studying texts together.”

Liora Halperin, University of Colorado-Boulder
“Memories of Violence: The First Aliyah and its After-Images”

Halperin is an assistant professor of history and Jewish Studies and the endowed professor of Israel/Palestine studies at the University of Colorado-Boulder. She specializes in the history of Palestine in the years before Israeli statehood, with a particular interest in Jewish cultural history, collective memory, the politics of language, and the evolution of Jewish-Arab relations. Her book, Babel in Zion: Jews, Language, and Nationalism in Palestine, 1920–1948, received the 2015 Shapiro Award for Best Book in Israel Studies. She received her PhD in history from UCLA and has held teaching appointments at Yale and Princeton.

“My project deals with the highly ambivalent place that the first Jewish agricultural colonies in Palestine in the late 19th century occupied in Zionist history and memory over the course of much of the 20th century.”

Mostafa Hussein, Brandeis University
“The Refraction of Arabo-Islamic Civilization in Hebrew and Israeli Cultures”

Hussein received his BA and MA in Hebrew language and literature at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, and an additional MA in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies from Brandeis University. His scholarly interests center on Judeo-Islamic relations in modern times as they are manifested in the intellectual literary corpus of both sides. Currently, he is working on exploring Jewish intellectuals' contributions to Arabo-Islamic civilization in the late Ottoman period through Mandate Palestine and during the early years of the State of Israel.

“My aspiration is to examine the multiplicity of Jewish/Israeli culture, history, and society from late 19th through 20th centuries from a comparative perspective.”

Noah Hysler-Rubin, Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design

“Planning Palestine: A Comprehensive Approach for the Study of Israel’s Urban History”

Hysler-Rubin is a geographer who teaches at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design. She received her PhD from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and has taught at various institutions in Israel and at Queen Mary, University of London. She is also a practicing town planner, writing reports for UNESCO regarding the state of conservation of the Old City of Jerusalem, and participating in the preparation of urban master plans. Her main research interests include the history and theory of modern town planning, the origins of the Israeli city, cultural aspects of urban heritage, and minority urban communities.

“During my year at the Frankel Institute, I plan on writing up my current research and preparing a book for publication.”

Lior Libman, State University of New York-Binghamton

“ʽJews in a Harness’: The Socialist-Zionist Labor Movement and Hasidism”

Libman is assistant professor of Israel studies at the State University of New York at Binghamton. She received her PhD in Hebrew literature from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she also earned her BA in history and MA in cultural studies. Libman's research focuses on the literature and cultural history of the kibbutz and socialist Zionism. In her forthcoming book, State of Shock: The Kibbutz Traumatized, 1948–1954, she examines the kibbutz and its imagery in the formative years of Israeli statehood. She is also a co-editor of the forthcoming volume Visioning Israel-Palestine: Encounters at the Cultural Boundaries of Conflict.

“During my time in the Frankel Institute, I hope to make significant progress on my book project, which explores the structures of thought that constituted the Zionist Labor Movement, and for the first time critically and comprehensively compares them to those of Hasidism.”

Aviad Moreno, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

“From Morocco, in Another Way: Aliyah and Other Jewish Migrations from Northern Morocco, 1860–2010”

Moreno earned his PhD in Middle Eastern studies from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and just completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Department of Jewish History at Tel Aviv University. His research straddles the fields of Jewish and Israel studies, Middle Eastern studies, and global migration, and he serves as a scientific development director, in charge of developing surveys at the Historical Jewish Press (JPress) digitization project. He is also the author of Europe from Morocco: the Minutes of the Leadership of Tangier’s Jewish Community (the Junta), 1860–1864.

“My research seeks to strike a new balance between common politically oriented accounts on the immigration of Jews from Muslim lands to Israel, and the more socially oriented global perspectives on migration.”

Shachar Pinsker, University of Michigan

“A Silent Language? Yiddish in Israeli Literature”

Pinsker is associate professor of Hebrew literature and culture at the University of Michigan, and this year’s head fellow. He is the author of the award-winning Literary Passports: The Making of Modernist Hebrew Fiction in Europe, editor of Women’s Hebrew Poetry on American Shores, and co-editor of Hebrew, Gender, and Modernity. He has published numerous articles dealing with Hebrew, Jewish, and Israeli literature and culture. His forthcoming book is A Rich Brew: Urban Cafés and Modern Jewish Culture; he is also editing a volume of Yiddish Israeli stories and a book on the place of Yiddish in Israeli literature.

“I plan to complete chapters in my forthcoming book on urban cafés and modern Jewish culture and submit the final manuscript for publication. I also plan to oversee the Israeli publication of my edited volume of Yiddish Israeli stories, and make good progress with my next book project on Yiddish in Israeli literature and culture.”

Bryan Roby, University of Manchester

“Blackness and the Double-Consciousness of Arab Jews: A Comparative History of the Mizrahi and African American Experience”

Roby received his PhD in Middle Eastern studies from the University of Manchester. He completed a postdoctoral research fellowship at New York University and recently published a book, The Mizrahi Era of Rebellion: Israel’s Forgotten Civil Rights Struggle 1948–1966. His current research focuses on connections made between the African-American community and Mizrahi Jews in the fight for social equality and rights during the 1960s and 1970s. He has lectured on Israeli and Middle Eastern history throughout Europe, England, Israel, and the United States.

“I hope to spark a conversation concerning the place of Mizrahi Jews within the global community of color and publish a peer-reviewed article regarding the comparative history of the experience of migration among the African American community, from the South to the North, and the Mizrahi community, from their countries of origin to the State of Israel.”

Gavin Schaffer, University of Birmingham

“Where Is Home? Aliyah and British Jews since 1967”

Schaffer is professor of modern history and director of postgraduate studies at the University of Birmingham in the UK, and is a specialist in race and immigration history. He earned his BA and MPhil from the University of Birmingham, and his PhD in history from the University of Southampton. His many published works include The Vision of a Nation: Making Multiculturalism on British Television, and Racial Science and British Society 1930–62. His present research focuses on constructions of Jewish and Irish history in postwar Britain.

“I am hoping to use my time at the Institute to explore and discuss the key intellectual and methodological issues which will underpin my new study of British Jews and aliyah.”

Rachel Seelig, University of Chicago

“Motherless Tongues: German-Hebrew Literary Exchange”

Since receiving her PhD from the University of Chicago, Seelig has served as the Ray D. Wolfe Postdoctoral Fellow in Jewish Studies at the University of Toronto and as a Mandel Fellow at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her forthcoming monograph is Strangers in Berlin: Modern Jewish Literature between East and West, 1919–1933, and her articles on 20th-century German-Jewish, Yiddish, and Hebrew poetry have appeared in publications such as Prooftexts and The Jewish Quarterly Review. She is currently co-editing a volume entitled The German-Hebrew Dialogue: Studies of Encounter and Exchange.

“In addition to co-editing my volume, I have prepared an essay to be published in it on the bilingual German-Hebrew poet Tuvia Rübner, which I plan to develop into a chapter of my second monograph, my primary focus for this academic year.”

Shayna Zamkanei, University of Chicago

“The Arabized Jewish Diaspora”

Zamkanei earned a PhD in the Department of Political Science at the University of Chicago. She also holds MA degrees from Chicago and the University of Windsor, and a BA from McGill University. Her research and teaching interests cover many areas, including Sephardic/Mizrahi Studies, diaspora, religion and politics, and gender. Her current research project explores the emergence of diaspora among Jews from Arab countries. Zamkanei has also worked as a research associate for the Jerusalem Old City Initiative, and is a contributor to Ha'aretz, The Forward, and the Jerusalem Post.

Yael Zerubavel, Rutgers University

“Biblical Reenactments: The Performance of Antiquity in Modern Israeli Culture”

Zerubavel is founding director of the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life and professor of Jewish Studies and history at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is a leading scholar in the study of Israeli national memory and culture, and has published extensively on national myths, cultural representations of war and trauma, and space and symbolic landscapes. Zerubavel authored the award-winning Recovered Roots: Collective Memory and the Making of Israeli National Tradition. She is currently working on two books: Desert in the Promised Land: Nationalism, Politics, and Symbolic Landscapes, and Biblical Reenactments: The Performance of Antiquity in Modern Israeli Culture.

“I am looking forward to continuing research on my project exploring biblical reenactments in contemporary Israeli culture.”