The Posen Society of Fellows


The Posen Foundation congratulates the Final Posen Society of Fellows Cohort of 2019-2021.

The Fellowship has now closed and we will no longer be taking applications for future cohorts.


Advisory Committee

Fania Oz-Salzberger
Fania Oz-Salzberger (chair)

Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

Israel Bartal
Israel Bartal

Department of Jewish History, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Chair, The Historical Society of Israel

David Biale
David Biale

Emanuel Ringelblum Professor of Jewish History and Director of the Davis Humanities Institute, University of California, Davis

Sarah Abrevaya Stein

Professor of History and Maurice Amado Chair in Sephardic Studies.

Michael Gluzman

Professor Michael Gluzman, Department of Literature, Tel Aviv University

Michael Brenner

Seymour and Lillian Abensohn Chair in Israel Studies at American University in Washington DC and Professor of Jewish History and Culture at Ludwig Maximilian University, Munich.

Posen Society of Fellows Coordinator

Rachel Biale‏

Class of 2019-2021

Doctoral Candidates

Itamar Ben-Ami, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

The “Schmittian” Jews: Leo Strauss, Isaac Breuer, and the Foundations of Jewish Theopolitics of the State

When did the state – a distinctively modern institution – become a “Jewish” vocation? The invention of Jewish Orthodoxy’s theopolitics of the state was neither “religious/messianic Zionist” nor part of an eternal Jewish inclination towards “theocracy.” Rather, it is a product of the Weimar Republic’s political and theological crisis. Leo Strauss and Isaac Breuer were the inventors of statist Orthodoxy through an innovative and hazardous engagement with the political thought of later Nazi-aligned theorist Carl Schmitt.

Canan Bolel, University of Washington, Seattle

Constructions of Jewish Modernity and Marginality in Izmir, 1856-1914

The project focuses on the marginal Jews of Esmirna (Izmir) as a case study of the poor, diseased, criminal, and religious converts, and their experience with Ottoman and Jewish modernizations. This research maps a new methodological terrain by placing the Ottoman Jewish body at the center.

Matthew Johnson, University of Chicago

The Weak Joint: German-Yiddish Literature after 1900

An exploration of the relationship between German and Yiddish literature after 1900. It identifies an understudied corpus of texts that use both German and Yiddish and shows how this linguistic intersection became a concentrated space for reflection and literary experimentation that opened new possibilities for modern Jewish writing.

Caroline Kahlenberg, Harvard University

Hawkers and Housekeepers: Gender, Class, and Jewish-Arab Relations on Palestine’s Margins (1887-1948)

This study examines everyday relationships that arose in early 20th century Palestine when Jewish workers entered Arab employers’ homes and when Arab workers entered Jewish employers’ homes. Specifically, I trace the experiences of peddlers, housekeepers, nannies, and midwives to construct a social history of a transformative period in Palestine.

Tamar Menashe, Columbia University

Jews in Cross-Confessional Legal Cultures in Germany, 1500-1700

The thesis uncovers the culture of a legally conscious, proactive, and multi-normative German Jewry in the context of major imperial legal reforms underway. Drawing on a previously overlooked body of Jewish cases before the Imperial Supreme Court (Reichskammergericht), alongside internal Jewish sources and German legal sources, it complicates historiographical conventions pertaining to rabbinic legal culture, Jewish citizenship and Jews’ perception of state institutions.

Amanda Siegel, University of California, Berkeley

Modern Jewish-Argentine Literature: Reconsidering the Canons

This project considers the transnational, multilingual literature of Ashkenazic Jewry in the Argentine context. Through an evaluation of literary influence, transculturación, and canon formation, I examine what is revealed when we dismiss or turn away from languages or literatures.

Class of 2018-2020

Doctoral Candidates

Aviv Derri, New York University

Credit, Debt, and the Politics of Favor: Non-Muslim Merchant-banking Families in Ottoman Damascus and its Hinterland, 1840-1890

The work narrates the story of Ottoman Jewish and Christian financial elites under foreign protection, who came to play a key role in the provincial administration and economy of Damascus amidst the Ottoman state’s reform project as well as dramatic shifts in world financial markets.

Catherine Greer, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Singing in the Anteroom to Hell: Memorializing Music in Theresienstadt

The work complicates prior reductive, redemptive narratives of musical activity in Theresienstadt that rely upon tropes of resistance and defiance. Through a contextualized analysis of musical works that were rehearsed and performed in the camp-ghetto, the work establishes a historically nuanced understanding of the performances’ multifaceted function in Theresienstadt and in postwar contexts.

Danny Luzon, University of California, Berkeley

Translational Encounters with Modernism: Jewish-American Multilingual Literature in the Age of Mass Migration

An exploration of a strand of twentieth-century Jewish literature made uniquely possible by the encounter between Jewish multilingualism and Anglo-American modernism. Multilingual representational strategies in Jewish-American works - technically written in a single language (English, Yiddish and Hebrew) - manifest relationships to traditional Jewish textuality in their response to the modernist crisis of expression.

Angelina Palmén, Oxford University

Liberating Labour? Jews, Women and Work in Wilhelmine Germany and the First World War.

The project examines the role of Jews and women in the market economy vis à vis the emerging welfare state, juxtaposing Jewish occupational history with the history of women's economic emancipation in Imperial Germany and exploring the role of work in contemporary German-Jewish constructions of gender.

Daria Starikashkina
Daria Starikashkina, Giessen University

Broken Rings: Leningrad Jews in the Siege

The work analyzes the identity of the “Subject of the Catastrophe,” formed within the besieged space of Leningrad, 1941-1944. For the Jewish population there, identity included a complicated need to overcome the symbolic death of the term “Jew,” as it was inscribed in racist ideology and anti-Semitic discourse.

Rephael Stern
Rephael Stern, Harvard University

The Making of a Postcolony: Legal and Economic Technocracy in Late British Mandate Palestine and the State of Israel, 1939-1967

A study of the special role that technocratic experts in the late Yishuv and early State of Israel played in building legal and economic institutions using the colonial scaffoldings from British Mandate Palestine and other former colonies. The project thereby connects the histories of Palestine and Israel with late British Empire decolonization and postcolonial state formation.

Class of 2017-2019

Doctoral Candidates

Amy Kerner, Brown University

Heritage and Loss: The Fate of Yiddish in Buenos Aires, 1929-1961

Language loss is at the center of the post-war Jewish experience. Multilingual Jewish intellectuals in Argentina, refugees and survivors from Eastern Europe, experienced the decline of Yiddish as a vernacular and its refashioning as a shared Jewish language. Archival materials, memoirs, and oral histories show how the Holocaust, revelations of Soviet crimes, and the creation of Israel shaped attitudes toward Yiddish in Buenos Aires, linking loss and heritage.

Krzemien Suzanna
Zuzanna Krzemień, University College London

Salomon Dubno (1738-1813) and the Influence of East European Jews on the German Haskalah

The project examines the largely overlooked input of Eastern European Jews to the German Jewish Enlightenment. This contribution is elucidated through the case of Salomon Dubno (1738-1813), a Polish Jewish poet, grammarian, and a teacher, best known for his collaboration with Moses Mendelssohn on the German Pentateuch translation and commentary, one of the most important Haskalah projects.

Mia Laufer, Washington University, St. Louis

Le Goût Sémite: Art Collecting, Identity, and Antisemitism in Early Third Republic Paris, 1870-1914

The ubiquity of Jewish collectors of modern art , particularly Impressionism and Symbolism, in Paris during the early Third Republic raises an intriguing question: why were so many Jewish collectors attracted to these art movements? Furthermore, Jewish ownership changed the way contemporaries understood this art, compelling them to describe it in language steeped in anti-Semitic stereotypes.

McDonald Charles
Charles McDonald, New School for Social Research

Return to Sepharad: Jewish Revivalism and the Pragmatics of Inclusion in Spain

An investigation of how the return of Jews and Judaism to Spain animates often-incompatible claims about the nature Jewishness and Jewish culture, and who/what counts as Jewish. It sheds light on the fraught state of European multiculturalism and outlines what “return” and “inclusion” might entail, in an era when representing Jewish pasts and securing Jewish futures are increasingly part of statecraft across Europe.

Nester Adi
Adi Nester, University of Colorado, Boulder

The Exile Bible: Language, Music, and Dispersion in the Works of German-Jewish Émigrés

The interaction between individual and community is elucidated through literary and musical works of German-Jewish émigrés, all based on materials from the Hebrew Bible. The works reject the idea of collectivity by using biblical references previously serving to unify the Jewish community in alternative ways. An hitherto overlooked voice that constitutes a response to exile and cultural uprooting.

Segalovitz Yael
Yael Segalovitz, University of California, Berkeley

New Criticism Int.: The Close Reader in the U.S., Israel and Brazil

The thesis uncovers the traces of traditional Jewish modes of reading within the prominent and self-proclaimed secular method of “close reading” in the literary theory of “New Criticism,” as it travels from the U.S. to Israel and Brazil. In all three locations the textual, ritual, and bodily practices that accompanied the traditional sefer offer a model both for the thinkers who develop this paradigm, and for the authors who attempt to subvert it.

Tagner Shai
Shai Tagner, Ben Gurion and Roma Tre Universities

The Evolution of the Israeli Asylum Regime (1948 - 2017)

An investigation of the evolution of the Israeli asylum regime from 1948 to the present, posing as core questions how has the regime evolved and what were the central factors determining this evolution. The way we define and treat others is intimately related to the construction of our own identity. This inquiry touches on the on-going negotiations of Israel’s “essence,” character and values and the tension that emerges from striving to be a liberal-democratic Jewish nation state.

Class of 2016-2018

Doctoral Candidates

Adrien Smith
Adrien Smith, Stanford University

Yiddish Russian: A People's History of Language and Literature in the Soviet Union.

The thesis traces the role of Yiddish as the linguistic means of ushering Jews into secular modernity in the Soviet Union, while facilitating intercultural crossings from Jewish to non-Jewish cultures.

Anne Perez, University of California, Davis

Attitudes toward conversion to and from Judaism in the Zionist movement and the State of Israel.

Views of conversion from Judaism to Christianity and vice versa in the early and mid-twentieth expose the profound differences between secular and religious Zionist definitions of Who is a Jew. The research shows that Zionists did not have a clear stance on conversion and there was, in fact, much more contact between converts to Christianity and secular Zionists than we might expect. Looking at cases of intermarriage, the position of intellectuals (e.g. Yosef Haim Brenner) and secular and religious parties in the young State of Israel, this thesis elucidates Israeli secularism through a unique, under-researched prism.

Chris Silver
Chris Silver. University of California, Los Angeles

Of Harmony and Discord: Jews and North African Music in the Twentieth Century

Advancing a novel approach, the thesis probes Jewish involvement - indeed, prominence - in the defining cultural product of twentieth-century North Africa: music. In the Maghrib, Jewish musicians, commercial agents, record label owners, and music venue proprietors came to play an outsized role in the music scene from the rise of the recording industry there at the turn of the century through Moroccan, Tunisian, and Algerian independence at mid-century. New light is shed both on Jewish-Muslim interconnectedness and on religious-secular spheres of interaction.

Geraldine Gudefin, Brandeis University

Navigating the Civil and Religious Worlds: Jewish Immigrants & Marital Laws in France and the United States 1881-1939

This is a study of the legal secularization of Jewish family practices in early 20th-century France and the United States. The juridical encounters of Jewish immigrants with civic courts and family law and their impact on the separation of church and state are reflected in the rise of civil marriage and divorce. These processes affected Jewish immigrants' transition to modernity, changing their sense of Jewish identity as they became new French or American citizens

Hadas Fischer-Rosenberg. Tel Aviv University

Jewish Life in a Colonial Home Front: The Yishuv and British Rule in Wartime Palestine, 1939- 1945

The thesis explores the role of the colonial (British) state and culture in the modernization of the Jews of the Yishuv. It examines popular culture and urban everyday life and practices such as domestic habits, dress and consumption, thereby uncovering the profound historical significance of war as an agent of change and modernization in the Jewish community.

Yuval Tal, Johns Hopkins University

The Ethnic Republic: The European Contours of the French Universal Idea and the Making of French Algeria, 1870-1919

Connecting modern Jewish history with questions of empire, religion, race and nationalism in France and French North Africa, the thesis analyses the political meaning of Jewish-Muslim-Christian encounters in Algeria. It touches on both Jewish and Muslim acculturation and assimilation and their interplay with the modern-secularist character of French republicanism, focusing on the recently prominent interest in the history of Empires.

Class of 2015-2017

Doctoral Candidates

Anna Elena Torres, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley

With an Unbuttoned Shirt (“Mit a Tseshpilyet Hemd”): Anarchist Modernism in Yiddish Literature

Marina Zilbergerts, PhD candidate, Stanford University

Rabbinic Textuality and the Rise of Secular Jewish Literatures in Imperial Russia

Michael Casper, PhD candidate, University of California, Los Angeles

The Creation of a National Jewish Culture in Interwar Lithuania

Noëmie Duhaut, PhD candidate, University College London

The Europeanisation of French Jews: French Jewish perceptions of Jews in Southeast Europe, 1840 to 1900

Noga Bar-Or Bing, PhD candidate, Ben Gurion University

Contemporary Hassidism: From Image to Reality. The Slonim Hassidism-test Case

Yemima Cohen Aharoni, PhD candidate, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Commemorating the Temple in Heritage Sites around
the Temple Mount in Jerusalem

Class of 2014-2016

Doctoral Candidates

Ofer Dynes
Ofer Dynes, PhD candidate, Harvard University

Jewish Culture and the Logic of the State: 1772-1848

Alec Burko
Alec Burko, PhD candidate, the Jewish Theological Seminary in New York

Saving Yiddish: Yiddish Studies and the Language Sciences in America, 1940-1970

Alma Heckman, PhD candidate, University of California, Los Angeles

Radical Nationalists: Moroccan Jewish Communists 1945-1975

Hadar Feldman Samet
Hadar Feldman Samet, PhD candidate, the Hebrew University

The Hymns of the Sabbatean “Ma’aminim” in their Ottoman Context

Sebastian Musch
Sebastian Musch, PhD candidate, Hochschule für Jüdische Studien Heidelberg

Jewish Responses to the Influx of Eastern wisdom into German Thought during the Wilhelmine Era and the Weimar Republic

Vanessa Paloma Elbaz
Vanessa Paloma Elbaz, PhD candidate, Paris-Sorbonne University

The Role of Women’s Song in the Transmission of Jewish Identity in Northern Morocco

Fiction Writers

Kim Brooks
Kim Brooks
Elhanan Nir
Elhanan Nir

Class of 2013-2015

Doctoral Candidates

Rivka Brot
Rivka Brot, PhD candidate, Tel Aviv University

Law and Community: Trials of Jewish Collaborators at Displaced Camps in Germany and in The State of Israel

Tally Gur
Tally Gur, PhD candidate, Haifa University

“In-Between” — Jewish Studies in Post WWII Germany 1960–2009

Elizabeth Imber
Elizabeth Imber, PhD candidate, The Johns Hopkins University

Jewish Political Lives at the End of Empire: Zionism, Nationalism, and British Imperialism in India, South Africa, and Palestine,

Sarah Frances Levin
Sarah Frances Levin, PhD candidate, University of California, Berkeley

Narrative Encounters of Muslims and Jews in Contemporary Rural Morocco

Fredrik Meiton
Fredrik Meiton, PhD candidate, New York University

The Electrification of Palestine, 1917-1948

Gil Rubin, PhD candidate, Columbia University

After Europe: The Transformation of Jewish Politics in World War II

Wojciech Tworek, PhD candidate, University College London

The Experience of Time in the Writings of R. Shneur Zalman of Liady

Sunny Stern Yudkoff
Sunny Yudkoff, PhD candidate, Harvard University

“Let it be Consumption!”: Modern Jewish Writing and the Literary Capital of Tuberculosis

Fiction Writers

Yelena Akhtiorskaya
Yelena Akhtiorskaya
Lea Klibanoff
Lea Klibanoff

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