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Area of Concentration

Education

Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania
Rabbinic Ordination, M.A., Hebrew Union College/Jewish Institute of Religion
B.A., Reed College

I love the intersection of teaching and research, helping students articulate the questions they want to pursue, even as I immerse myself in the frustrations and discoveries that real exploration demands, even as it enriches our understanding of the ancient world, and complicates assumptions based on misunderstandings of the past. My research focus has always been on the early rabbis, the Tannaim and Amoraim of the 3rd-6th century C.E. My projects over the years have considered rabbinic institutions, but with a subtly broader focus, looking for aspects of rabbinic Judaism left out of standard presentations, contributions by women and other marginalized participants. I proceed by reading against the grain, examining contemporaneous Christian and Roman practices, and considering any available material culture that might serve as additional evidence.

My early work considered weddings, employing ritual theory to look again at ritual practice around marriage. This led organically to explorations of Jewish meals and mealtime ritual. Most recently the focus on meals and households has led me to explore new questions in rabbinic education, asking what part of education happened in the household? What role did mothers play? With what other educational institutions did the rabbis find themselves in competition? Who studied at the house of study, the beit midrash?

And, of course, I’ve had the pleasure of encouraging and challenging my students as they embarked on their own projects, reveling in research projects done for class as well as Senior Theses exploring topics near and far from my area of expertise. (See the link to my website (above) for Senior Theses sponsored and a complete list of publications).

Recent Courses

Christian Scriptures
Jewish Scriptures
Judaism and Ecology
Religion and Gender
Ritual Theory
Varieties of Judaisms in the Modern World

Selected Publications

“Who Studied at the Beit Midrash?: Funding Palestinian Amoraic Education.”
Journal of Ancient Judaism 12 (2021) 281–312.

“Constructing Gender Bride by Bride: Rabbinic Ideas of Citizenship in Light of Gender,” in Jews and Gender: Tradition and Change, ed. Leonard Greenspoon (West Lafayette, Ind.: Purdue University Press, 2021), 29-40.

“Bayit versus Beit Midrash: Jewish Mother as Teacher,” in Most Reliable Witness: Essays in Honor of Ross Shepard Kraemer, ed. Susan Harvey et. al. (Providence: Brown University Press, 2015) 195-204.

“In the Place of Libation: Birkat Hamazon Navigates New Ground,” in Meals in the Early Judaism: Social Formation at the Table, ed. Susan Marks and Hal Taussig. (New York: Palgrave MacMillan, 2014) 71-97.

“History vs. Ritual in Time and End-time: The Case of Early Rabbinic Weddings in Light of Catherine Bell,” Journal of the American Academy of Religion 79.3 (2011) 587-613.

“Follow that Crown: Rhetoric, Rabbis, and Women Patrons,” The Journal for Feminist Studies in Religion 24.2 (2008) 77-96.