UMass Amherst
Judaic and Near Eastern Studies


Students are attracted by the high caliber of the faculty, greatly respected men and women who are known for their prolific contributions to the field. One of the Department’s great strengths, this distinguished body of active scholars, writers, and researchers stimulates and inspires undergraduate and graduate students alike.



Aviva Ben-Ur, Associate Professor, B.A., Wellesley, 1990; M.A., Columbia, 1992; M.Phil., 1994; Ph.D., Brandeis, 1998.

Jay Berkovitz, Professor and Chair of Department, B.A., Brandeis, 1973; M.A., 1977; Ph.D., 1983.

David Bernat, Lecturer, B.A., Jewish Theological Seminary, 1995; Ph.D., Brandeis, 2002.

Shmuel Bolozky, Professor, B.A., Hebrew University, 1965; M.A., London, 1968; Ph.D., Illinois, 1972.

Tayeb El-Hibri, Professor, B.A., Stanford, 1986; M.A., Columbia, 1988; M.Phil., 1989; Ph.D., 1993.

Olga Gershenson, Professor, BA., Ural State University, 1990; M.A., Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1998; Ph.D., University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 2003.

David MednicoffAssistant Professor and Director of Middle Eastern Studies Program. Middle East Law and Politics, Center for Public Policy

Ralph Melnick, Lecturer, B.A., New York University, 1968; M.A. in Religion, M.Phil. in Religion, Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary, 1974, 1975; M.S.L.S. in Library Science, Columbia University, 1970; Ph.D. in Religion Program, Reconstructionist Rabbinical College/Temple University Joint Rabbinical/, 1968-1969; Ph.D. in Religion, Columbia University/Union Theological Seminary, 1977

Robert A. Rothstein, Professor, S.B., Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1960; A.M., Harvard, 1961; Ph.D., 1967.

Susan Shapiro, Associate Professor, B.A., Washington University, 1973; Ph.D., Chicago, 1983.

Jacquelyn Southern, Lecturer, A.B., Bryn Mawr College, 1991; M.S., University of Massachusetts at Amherst, 1994; Ph.D., Clark University, 2009.

James Young, Professor, B.A., California at Santa Cruz, 1973; M.A., California at Berkeley, 1976; Ph.D., California at Santa Cruz, 1983.

Adjunct Faculty

N.C. Christopher Couch, Lecturer, Graphic Novels. Program in Comparative Literature

Walter Denny, Professor, History of Islamic Art and Architecture. Program in Art History

Laszlo Dienes, Professor, Russian-Jewish Literature and Culture. Program in Comparative Literature

Andrew DonsonAssistant Professor, Holocaust Studies. Program in German and Scandinavian Studies

Harley ErdmanAssistant Professor, Jewish Theater. Department of  Theater

Richard S. Ellis, Professor, Torah, Commentaries, and Biblical Interpretation. Department of Math & Statistics

Max Page, Professor, Middle Eastern Art & Architecture, Memory Studies. Department of Art, Architecture and Art History

Catherine Portuges, Director, Film Studies Program. Program in Comparative Literature

Jillian Schwedler, Associate Professor, Middle Eastern Politics. Department of Political Science

Neil Silberman, Lecturer, History and Politics of Middle Eastern Anthropology. Department of Anthropology

Jonathan SkolnikAssistant Professor, German Jewish Studies. Program in German and Scandinavian Studies

Michael Sugerman, Assistant Professor, Archaeology of Israel and Palestine. Department of Anthropology

Robert Sullivan, Assistant Professor, Crusades and Islam. Program in German and Scandinavian Studies

Mary C. Wilson, Professor, History of the Middle East. Department of History

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