JTS Recognizes Faculty Members for Academic Scholarship

Press Contact: Nina Jacobson
Office: (212) 678-8950
Email: nijacobson@jtsa.edu

August 5, 2009, New York, NY

Two members of the faculty of The Jewish Theological Seminary (JTS) have been recognized for their academic scholarship. Dr. Edna Nahshon has been promoted to tenured full professor, and Dr. Beth Berkowitz has been promoted to the tenured rank of associate professor.

Dr. Nahshon specializes in Jewish theater and performance, a subject on which she has written extensively in both English and Hebrew. Her books include Yiddish Proletarian Theatre: The Art and Politics of the Artef, 1925–1940 (Greenwood, 1998), From the Ghetto to the Melting Pot: Israel Zangwill's Jewish Plays (Wayne State University Press, 2006), Stars, Strikes, and the Yiddish Stage: The Story of the Hebrew Actors' Union (YIVO, 2009), and Jewish Theatre: A Global View (Brill, 2009). She is currently working on a book that examines the gamut of Jewish responses to The Merchant of Venice. She advised the Jewish Museum in Vienna in connection with its current exhibition Being Shylock, An Experiment at the Yiddish Art Theatre New York 1947 and wrote the introductory essay for its catalog.

Her recent publication, Jews and Shoes (Berg, 2008), has garnered much attention and has been reviewed in such publications as History Today (United Kingdom), Bookforum (United States), Ha'aretz (Israel), Books Magazine (France), and in various American Jewish media. In December 2008 she gave a lecture about the book at the Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Dr. Nahshon's work has been supported by grants and fellowships by the American Council of Learned Societies, YIVO, the Memorial Foundation, the Skirball Foundation, the Lucius N. Littauer Foundation, and the American Academy for Jewish Research. She is senior associate of Oxford University's Centre for Hebrew and Judaic Studies.

Dr. Nahshon served as the historical adviser to the television project The Life and Death of the Federal Theatre, which aired in October 2003 on PBS, and she is a member of the editorial board of All About Jewish Theater, a multilingual electronic database. She is a member of New York University's Center for Religion and Media's working group on "Jews, Media and Religion," and has developed its unit on Jewish theater. She is co-convener, with Professor Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett of New York University, of a faculty seminar on "Jews and Performance," held at the JTS campus.

In February 2009, Dr. Nahshon organized "Jews/Theatre/Performance in an Intercultural World," at JTS, a groundbreaking international three-day conference that focused on drama, theater, and performance that are of Jewish interest by virtue of their themes, authors, artists, or audiences. Dr. Nahshon holds a PhD in Performance Studies from New York University.

Dr. Berkowitz, who teaches Talmud and rabbinics at JTS, specializes in rabbinic literature, Judaism and Christianity in late antiquity, and theories and methods in the study of religion.

She received a bachelor of arts, master of philosophy, and doctoral degree in Religious Studies from Columbia University, and holds a master of arts degree from University of Chicago Divinity School. She was a postdoctoral fellow in the Program of Judaic Studies in the Religious Studies Department at Yale University from 2001 to 2003. Dr. Berkowitz was also a fellow of the Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at University of Pennsylvania in 2007–2008 and will be a fellow of the Tikvah Center for Law & Jewish Civilization at New York University School of Law in 2009–2010.

Dr. Berkowitz has taught at Columbia University and Yale University, serves on the board of the journal Prooftexts, and sits on the steering committee for the History of Judaism section of the American Academy of Religion. Her first book, Execution and Invention: Death Penalty Discourse in Early Rabbinic and Christian Cultures (Oxford University Press, 2006), was awarded the 2007 Baron Prize for Outstanding First Book in Jewish Studies. Currently, she is working on a book titled Anxieties of Identity in Jewish and Christian Reading: Leviticus 18 and "Their Laws." She is also the author of numerous articles and reviews, and a member of a working group on Islamic and Jewish legal reasoning convened by the University of Toronto in which an international group of scholars read the texts of each tradition together.