Markus Krah had already established a noteworthy career as a journalist before arriving at The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary. In fact, it was his experience covering German politics for such news organizations as AFP (the French wire service), Reuters, and the Jerusalem Report—, coupled with his internship at the Jewish Daily Forward while in college at American University— that made Markus want to continue his education. "I wanted something that was more meaningful than what I was doing," he says, "and I wanted to explore religion and the world of ideas more deeply. I felt a PhD would be the best way to get into that world."
Like any good journalist, Markus researched his options and contacted people familiar with American Judaism before he began his application process. As he describes, "I spoke with Dr. Alan Mittleman, and he suggested that JTS would be an interesting place to study. I was impressed by both the academic standards and the supportive, vibrant community."
Now a PhD candidate concentrating in Modern Jewish Studies, Markus says, "The Graduate School has far exceeded my expectations. My experience here has provided a level of interaction with texts and materials that I never anticipated." Equally important is the welcome Markus received from the JTS community. "In theory, I should have difficulty fitting in; English is not my native language, I am not Jewish, and I am 15 years older than some students. But I have found many new friends, and it is invigorating." Markus has also furthered friendships with many of his fellow students while serving as copresident of the Graduate School Student Organization.
Markus is currently focused on his dissertation, which looks at American Jews in the 20th century and their East European past. For this project, he has received several fellowships from the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture, American Jewish Archives, and Targum Shlishi. "It's a great honor to have their support," he says.
Markus has taught American Jewish history at Free University Berlin in his native Germany, and Modern Jewish History at List College of JTS. He is currently a lecturer at the School of Jewish Theology at the University of Potsdam, near Berlin.