Welcome to the Bildner Center

Avraham Yoskovich

Ron LasriJerome and Lorraine Aresty Visiting Scholar (Spring 2023)

Avraham Yoskovich is a scholar of Talmudic literature, Babylonian Geonic literature of the early-Islamic period, and the history of late antiquity. His interests include apostasy in late antiquity, interreligious interactions, and the history of Jewish law. He has been a post-doctoral fellow in the Literary Lab of the Department of Hebrew Literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, as well as a researcher for ALMA (An Open Atlas of the Jewish World in Antiquity), a project of the digital humanities laboratory in the Department of Israeli History at the University of Haifa. He also leads tours in Israel, which focus on Israeli history and culture.

January/February Mini-Course - "A Stranger to My Brothers": Who and What were Apostates in Ancient Judaism

February Faculty Seminar - Responses to Apostasy: A Comparative Examination of Syriac-Christian and Jewish Babylonian Attitudes in the Early Islamic Period

Adam S. Ferziger

Jonathan Dekel ChenAllen and Joan Bildner Visiting Scholar (Spring 2022)

Adam S. Ferziger is professor in the Department of Jewish History and Contemporary Jewry at Bar-Ilan University, Israel and holds the Rabbi S.R. Hirsch Chair for Research on the Torah and Derekh Erez Movement. He is a senior associate at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Oxford and co-convener of the annual Oxford Summer Institute on Modern and Contemporary Judaism. His research focuses on the history of religious responses to modern and contemporary life in Western Europe, North American, and Israel as reflected, among others, in denominational and ideological divides, Jewish law, leadership and gender. A past of recipient of Bar-Ilan's "Outstanding Lecturer" prize, Ferziger has been as a visiting professor/fellow at University of Oxford, UK (2013), University of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia (2012), and University of Shandong, Jinan, China (2005). In 2017, he was Arnold Distinguished Visiting Chair in Jewish Studies, College of Charleston, South Carolina, and in 2018 he was a visiting scholar at the Kaplan Centre for Jewish Studies and Research, University of Cape Town, South Africa. He is the author or editor of seven books, including Exclusion and Hierarchy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2005), Jewish Denominations (Melton Institute – The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2012), and his monograph, Beyond Sectarianism (Wayne State University Press, 2015), was the winner of the National Jewish Book Award in American Jewish Studies.

February Series - Innovative Orthodoxies

March 22 Faculty Seminar - A Daf (Yomi) of Her Own: Gendered Space, Digital Religion, and Transnational Post-Covid Orthodox Judaism

Michal Aviad

Ron LasriAffiliated Visiting Israeli Filmmaker
(September 2022 - February 2023)

Acclaimed documentary and narrative filmmaker Michal Aviad was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She completed her bachelor of arts in literature and philosophy at Tel Aviv University and her master’s degree at San Francisco State University. Through the 1980s, she lived in San Francisco, where she began making films. Since returning to Israel, she has continued to write, direct, and produce films. Aviad has directed two narrative films and eight documentaries, which tackle issues of ethnicity, class, gender, and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from women’s perspectives. She is a full professor at Tel Aviv University's Steve Tisch School of Cinema and Television.

In 2019, Aviad was awarded the prestigious Landau Award for Arts and Sciences, which cited her as "one of the most important directors in the history of Israeli cinema".

Her films include:

Working Woman (2018) Ophir Prize for Best Actress, Liron Ben Shlush, 2019
Dimona Twist (2016) Best Documentary, Jerusalem Film Festival; Shown at the 2017 Rutgers Jewish Film Festival
The Women Pioneers (2013) Research Prize, DocAviv Film Festival, 2013; Best Documentary, International Women Film Festival, Israel, 2013; Best Experimental Film, Polish Jewish Film Festival, Warsaw, 2014
Invisible (2011) Ecumenical Jury Prize in Panorama, Berlin International Film Festival, 2011; Best Israeli Film and Best Actress, Haifa International Film Festival, 2011; Grand Prize, Créteil International Women's Film Festival, France, 2012

Ron Lasri

Ron LasriJerome and Lorraine Aresty Visiting Scholar (Spring 2022)

Ron Lasri is a scholar of Sephardic literature and classical rabbinic literature. His research examines the reception of Talmudic stories—often referred to as Aggadah—within the Jewish communities of medieval Iberia, and among the Sephardic diaspora around the Mediterranean basin. He is particularly interested in how the contribution of literary analysis can enhance our understanding of the cultural history of Sephardi Jews.

Lasri completed his Ph.D. in Hebrew literature at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His dissertation, “Yitzhak Aboab's and Yisrael Al-Nakawa's Menorat Ha-Maor: A Literary Evaluation of Two Anthologies of Rabbinic Aggadah from 14th-Century Castile,” presents two rival Sephardic interpretive methods of handling the complex corpus of Aggadah: one emphasizes mimetic and political elements, while the other focuses on aesthetic adaptation. One example of Sephardic approaches to Talmudic stories will be presented in his forthcoming article in The Jewish Quarterly Review.

While at Rutgers, Lasri will study Ya'aqov Hagiz's Spanish translation of Yitzhak Aboab's Menorat Ha-Maor, printed under the title Almenara de la Luz (Livorno 1656), for use by conversos (Iberian Jews who converted to Catholicism during the 14th and 15th centuries, inclusive of their descendants). Lasri will also offer a mini-course for the public and participate in Bildner Center activities.

February 22 Faculty Seminar - Executing Jewish Informers in Medieval Spain: History and Literature in Yitzhak Aboab’s Menorat Ha-Maor

March/April Mini-Course - The Saint, the Queen, and the Joker: A Brief Introduction to Sephardic Folklore

Ezra Tzfadya

Ron LasriNorman and Syril Reitman Visiting Professor (Spring 2023)

Ezra Tzfadya is a scholar of Shia Islamic and Jewish political and legal thought and holds a PhD from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg with a dissertation entitled "Theocracy in Shia Islam and Judaism: Studies in Legal Theology." He comes to Rutgers following a term as Iran Policy Fellow at Johns Hopkins University's School of Advanced International Studies (Fall 2021) and as a Visiting Faculty in the IU Borns Jewish Studies program (2020-2021). Dr. Tzfadya also currently convenes the program "Shia Islamic and Jewish Legal Reasoning in Dialogue’ at Indiana-Bloomington’s Center for the Study of the Middle East (CSME),where he is senior fellow. 

Dr. Tzfadya's dissertation addressed the ideational and historical underpinnings of theocratic thought in both Shia Islam and Judaism, and the attempts by modern thinkers to theologically problematize and unwind theocratic syntheses that meld mysticism, law, philosophy, and politics for the sake of human autonomy. He examines key thinkers in the Jewish tradition such as Judah Halevi, Rav Kook, Leo Strauss, Franz Rosenzweig and Menachem Lorberbaum, along with figures in the Islamic tradition that include Mohamed Shabestari, Abdolkarim Soroush, Ayatollah Khomeini, Henri Corbin and Fazlur Rahman. The medieval theology of Judah Halevi’s Kuzari, which appropriates concepts from Shiism to form the core elements of its political theology, provides a philological basis for the endeavor. His next research project attempts to hermeneutically and dialogically understand the Iranian-Israeli conflict as an epistemic clash between modern Israeli-Jewish and Iranian-Shia postcolonial constitutional identities. His research has been supported by both a Fulbright fellowship and the German Academic Exchange (DAAD) doctoral fellowship.

January Faculty Seminar - Judaism in the Sectarian Muslim World: Conflict and Normalization Following the Abraham Accords

Article in Religions Modern Shia Islamic and Jewish Political Theosophy: An Elective Affinity?



Save the Date

Public Programs and Events

Annual Film Festival

Free Online Learning

Holocaust Education for Teachers