I am proud that two former students are finishing their PHD’s and are continuing as academics. Unfortunately, Modern Orthodox tends to confuse being a wonker or engaging in “hocking” about scholarship with actual academia. Ringel defends on June 30th. Congratulations.
Joseph Ringel, The Sephardic Rabbinate, Sephardic Yeshivot, and the Shas Educational System, Brandeis University (Near Eastern and Judaic Studies)
Joseph Ringel’s dissertation explores the debates over Sephardic identity by examining how Shas’ network of schools and Sepahrdic yeshivot transmit what they consider to be Sepahrdic values in the student body. This process of identity reconstruction includes the search for a usable past in order to confront the challenges modernity poses to the Sephardic religious tradition – this process has resulted in the preservation of certain religious practices and traditions, the creation of new customs and ideas through re-interpretation, and the misinterpretation and distortion of other elements of the Sephardic tradition. In exploring the debates within the Sephardic world surrounding Shas’ reconstruction of Sephardic identity, Ringel’s dissertation explores the complexities of connecting past experiences and traditions to current realities.
Joshua Z. Teplitsky, Between Court Jew and Jewish Court: David Oppenheim, the Prague Rabbinate, and eighteenth-century Jewish politics, New York University
David Oppenheim (1664-1736) was, among other things, the scion of a rabbinic family, the chief rabbi of Moravia and then of Prague and Bohemia, a legal authority, and a Talmudic commentator. Oppenheim’s various roles placed him at the crossroads of several important developments of the early modern period for both the history of Jewish political cultural development and the history of the Habsburg monarchy and its imperial politics. Joshua Teplitsky’s dissertation views the changes in the relationship between the Habsburg state and local Jewish communities in the early modern period through the lens of Oppenheim’s career.
Not a student but a relevant topic. It is on how the whole question of authority (serara) in the public sphere is an American Christian influence.
Caroline Block, The Spirit of Tradition and the Institution of Authority: Knowledge and Community in American Orthodox Women’s Talmud Programs, Johns Hopkins University (Anthropology)
Caroline Block notes that while these women are enrolled in postgraduate programs that are part of the Judaic tradition of preparing for rabbinic ordination through textual studies, they are also profoundly affected by the American practice of denominationalism, particularly due to the way in which the rabbinate in the U.S. has been influenced by the Protestant tradition, and “rabbi” has come to refer not to an academic distinction, but to a job in the public sphere. Block’s dissertation explores the tensions of American Jewish denominationalism and particularly how denominationalism relates to Modern Orthodoxy.