PO Box 400126
Charlottesville, VA 22904-4126
Judaism in the ancient world; literary approaches to rabbinic literature; talmudic and midrashic hermeneutics; orality in rabbinic culture; modern theological contexts for rabbinic literature; the role of law, legal reasoning and legal argumentation in Judaism; women and gender in rabbinic literature.
- Bachelor of Arts (BA), Haverford College in Pennsylvania
- Master of Arts (MA), Yale University
- Master of Philosophy (MPHIL), Yale University
- Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Yale University
My research currently focuses on what the rabbis of antiquity (70-600 CE) thought was at stake in being male vs. female. I examine legal codes that compile lists of instances where the law treats women differently than men. I also investigate the rabbis' methods of interpreting scriptural passages where gender is an important concern. While my research is structured around questions concerning gender, I give serious consideration to the generic conventions in which rabbinic ideas about gender are expressed. In my current research I build on earlier research that focused on literary features of rabbinic texts, as well as their oral character. I especially focus on the earliest strata (tannaitic) of rabbinic texts (c. 70-200 CE).
Publications, Awards, and Activities
- Transmitting Mishnah: The Shaping Influence of Oral Tradition, Cambridge University Press, 2006.
- Between Man and Woman: Reading for Gender in Early Rabbinic Law, manuscript in progress.
Monograph – Commissioned
- Feminist Commentary to Tractate Berakhot, Series Editor, Tal Ilan, Mohr Siebeck.
Articles in Preparation
- “Shema and Tefillin as Textual Rituals: Accounting for Women’s Exemption.”
- “Torah Study as Ritual: Gender as a Category of Analysis.”
- “Women as Ancillary Subjects of Biblical Language: A Preliminary Examination of Rabbinic Reading Practices.”
Articles – Peer Reviewed
- “A Literary Approach to the Mishnah: Avraham Walfish in the Context of Recent Mishnah Scholarship,” AJS Review 32:2 (2008), 1-16.
- “From Whence the Phrase ‘Timebound, Positive Commandments’?,” Jewish Quarterly Review, 97:3 (2007), 317-346.
- “Casuistic Elements in Mishnaic Law: Examples from Tractate Shavuot,” Jewish Studies Quarterly 10:3 (2003), 189-243.
- “Art, Argument and Ambiguity in the Talmud: Conflicting Conceptions of the Evil Impulse in b. Sukkah 51b-52a,” Hebrew Union College Annual 73:97-132.
Articles – Invited
- “The Mishnah,” Cambridge Dictionary of Jewish History, Culture and Religion, ed. Judith Baskin, (Cambridge University Press), forthcoming 2010.
- “Why Study Talmud in the 21st Century? The View from a Large Public University or Studying Talmud as a Critical Thinker,” Why Study Talmud in the 21st Century: The Relevance of the Ancient Jewish Text to our World, ed. Paul Socken, (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 2009), 11-24.
- “Abraham in the Image of Job: A Model for Postcritical Readings of Scripture,” Call, Crisis and Leadership in the Abrahamic Faiths, eds. Peter Ochs and Stacy Johnson (New York, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), 209-221.
- “How Tefillin Became a Non-Timebound, Positive Commandment: The Yerushalmi and Bavli on mEruvin 10:1,” A Feminist Commentary to the Babylonian Talmud: Introduction and Studies, ed. Tal Ilan et. al., (Mohr Siebeck, 2007) 61-89.
- “The Orality of Rabbinic Writing,” Cambridge Companion to Rabbinic Literature, eds. Martin S. Jaffee and Charlotte Fonrobert, Cambridge University Press, 2007, 38-57.
- "The Impact of Feminism on Rabbinic Studies: The Impossible Paradox of Reading Women into Rabbinic Literature," Jews and Gender: The Challenge to Hierarchy, ed. Jonathan Frankel Studies, New York: Oxford University Press, 2000, 101-118.
- "The Fixing of the Oral Mishnah and the Displacement of Meaning," Oral Tradition 14:1 (March 1999), 100-139.
- "Cracking Open the Fissures: Testing the Limits of Continuity," Textual Reasonings: Journal of the Postmodern Jewish Philosophy Network, Vol. 5, No. 3, November 1996, 14-16.
- "Dialogue on the Theme of Martyrdom: Sanctifying God with Our Lives? and Responses," The Journal of Post-Modern Jewish Philosophy Network, Vol. 5, No. 1, March 1996, 18-26.
Book Reviews and Booknotes
- Book Review in Nashim 10 (Fall 2005), 243-249: Expanding the Palace of Torah: Orthodoxy and Feminism by Tamar Ross.
- Book Review in Shofar, 24:2 (2006), 166-168: Women, Birth and Death in Jewish Law and Practice by Rochelle Millen.
- Book Review in AJS Review 26:2 (Nov. 2002), 360-61: Rereading Talmud: Gender, Law and the Poetics of Sugyot by Aryeh Cohen.
- Booknote in Religious Studies Review, 27:4 (Oct. 2001), 424: Menstrual Purity: Rabbinic and Christian Constructions of Biblical Gender by Charlotte Fonrobert.
- Booknote in Religious Studies Review, 26:4 (Oct. 2000), 394-5: Kol Nidre: Studies in the Development of Rabbinic Votive Institutions by Moshe Benovitz.
Academic Conferences and Colloquia
- “Imparting Intellectual Skills vs. Replicating Cultural and Social Identity,” in a session on Rabbinic Pedagogy,” Conference for the Association of Jewish Studies (12/09)
- “Torah Study as Ritual,” Colloquium on “Methods and Theories of Religion,” Yale University (11/09)
- “Feminist Repair Through Torah Study,” Colloquium for Theology, Ethics and Culture, University of Virginia (10/09)
- “Torah Study as Cultural Reproduction: A Gendered Affair,” Public Lecture, Jewish Theological Seminary of America (4/09)
- “The Shema and Tefillin: Textualizing Ritual and Ritualizing Text,” Colloquium for the Program in Judaic Studies, Yale University (3/09)
- “Second Temple Iterations of What Eventually Became the Shema,” Colloquium of the Program in Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia (2/09)
- “Affinities between the Rabbi’s Oral vs. Written Torah and Paul’s Spirit vs. Law,” Conference of the Society of Biblical Literature, Washington, DC (11/08)
- “Reading Biblical Men: A Hermeneutical Challenge,” Lunchtime lecture series sponsored by the program in Scripture, Interpretation and Practice, Department of Religious Studies, University of Virginia (3/08)
- “Rabbinic Interpretations of Biblical “Man”: When are Women Included?” Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/07)
- Respondent to Papers on “Embodying Rabbinic Authority: Law, Theology and Ethics,” Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/07)
- “Reading Gender in the Mishnah,” William and Mary College (4/07)
- “What Does it Mean to Write a Feminist Commentary to the Talmud?” Scholar-in-Residence at the National Synagogue in Washington, DC (4/07)
- “Between Man and Woman,” Conference on Women and Gender in Rabbinic Literature, Haifa University (3/07)
- “How Commandments Came to Define Women’s Role in Judaism,” Graduate Theological Union (2/07), University of Virginia (4/06)
- “A Literary Approach to the Mishnah: Examining the Work of Avraham Walfish,” Annual Conference of the Society of Biblical Literature (11/06)
- "How the Talmudic Commentaries to m. Eruv. 10:1 Altered the Significance of Women's Exemption from Timebound, Positive Commandments," Conference on Women and Gender in Talmudic Festivals, Institut für Judaistik of the Freie Universität, Berlin, Germany (5/06)
- “Abraham in the Image of Job: A Model for Post-Modern Reading of Scripture,” Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ (5/06)
- “From Description to Prescription: Tracing the Relationship between Tefillin and Timebound, Positive Commandments,” Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Washington, DC (12/05)
- “When Halakhah Isn’t ‘Law’,” Harvard Jewish Law Conference on “The Relationship between Halakhah and Aggadah,” (5/05)
- “Modernity and Faith in Light of b. Sanhedrin 89b,” Society for Scriptural Reasoning, Center for Theological Inquiry, Princeton, NJ (5/05)
- “Severing the Relationship between Tefillin and Timebound, Positive Commandments,” Hartman Institute, Jerusalem (4/05)
- “From Description to Prescription: The Making of a Rule,” Hartman Institute, Jerusalem (4/05)
- “Timebound, Postive Commandments in the Tannaitic Sources,” Hartman Institute, Jerusalem (3/05)
- “When Mishnah Became ‘Torah,’” Johns Hopkins University (3/04)
- “Justifying Mishnaic Text by Reading in Borderline Cases,” Association for Jewish Studies (12/03)
- “Women and Gender in Rabbinic Literature,” William and Mary College (4/03)
- “The Art of Talmudic Argumentation: Introduction to a Classical Jewish Text,” Washington and Lee College (10/02)
- “Feminist Approaches to Sacred Texts: Paradigms from Rabbinic Literature,” Colloquium for the Program in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, University of Virginia (9/02)
- “Investing Textuality: The Shifting Status of Mishnah Shevu’ot,” Colloquium for the Program in Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity, University of Virginia (4/02)
- “Ritual in a Contemporary Context: Reviving the Mikvah,” Congregation Beth Israel, Charlottesville, VA (2/02)
- “Casuistic Elements in Mishnaic Law,” Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/01)
- “Abraham, Isaac and Ishmael in the Jewish Tradition,” Children of Abraham Institute, University of Virginia (10/01) (also filmed and aired on CSPAN about a month later).
- “Considering Evil: Art, Argument and Ambiguity in b.Sukkah 51b-52a,” Jewish Studies Program Colloquium, University of Virginia (3/01)
- “Blood, Beauty and Violation: Representations of Theodicy in b.Gittin 57a-58a,” Preliminary study session for the Mini-Conference on Being and Non-Being, University of Virginia (2/01)
- “Source Critical Observations in a Literary Reading of the Bavli: B.Sukkah 51b-52a and Its Yerushalmi Parallel,” Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/00)
- “Revisiting Women and the Commandments: Towards a Theory of Cultural Reproduction,” Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/99)
- “Transforming Tradition through Oral Transmission: A Case Study from Mishnah Shevu’ot,” Colloquium of the Department of Classical and Ancient Near Eastern Studies, University of Minnesota (3/99)
- “Explaining the Counter-Intuitive in Talmudic Interpretation,” Religion Department Colloquium, University of Indiana (2/99)
- "The Role of Mishnaic Rhetoric in Talmudic Interpretation," Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies (12/97)
- "Talmud to Talmud: A Hermeneutical Bridge," Symposium for Graduate Students and Faculty of the Jewish Studies Program, Yale University (4/97); Lunchtime Talk, University of Judaism (2/97)
- "The Ritual of Reading," Religion Department Colloquium, Reed College (1/97); Religion Department Colloquium, Haverford College (2/97)
- "The Fixing of the Oral Mishnah and the Displacement of Meaning," Annual Conference of the Association for Jewish Studies, Boston (12/96)
- "The Canonization of the Mishnah in Light of Exegetical Practices in Tractate Shevu'ot," Annual Meeting of the American Academcy of Religion/Society of Biblical Literature, New Orleans (11/96)
- "Akiba's Parable, Martyrdom, and Willful Naivete" at the Post-Modern Jewish Philosophy and Theology Conference on Talmud, Princeton University (8/95)
- "Does the Mishnah Set the Agenda for Its Own Exegesis?" at the Tri-Regional Conference for the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature in Boston (3/95)
- "Which Came First, Heaven or Earth: Rabbinic Philosophy in Genesis Rabbah," Religion Department Colloqium, Haverford College (4/94)
Awards, Fellowships and Grants
- Spring/Summer 2010 Hadassah Brandeis Institute, Research Grant
- Summer 2009 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- Summer 2009 Posen Foundation Course Development Grant
- Summer 2007 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- Summer 2006 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- 2004-2005 Yad Hanadiv/Beracha Foundation Fellowship
- Summer 2003 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- Summer 2002 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- Summer 2001 National Endowment for the Humanities Summer Research Stipend
- Summer 2000 University of Virginia, Summer Faculty Research Grant
- 1995-1996 National Foundation for Jewish Culture Dissertation Fellowship, Memorial Foundation for Jewish Culture Doctoral Scholarship, Yale University Dissertation Fellowship
- 1990-1994 Yale University Fellowship
- 1992-1993 Harry Axelrod Fellowship
- 1989 Phi Beta Kappa, High Departmental Honors, Best Senior Thesis in Religion