The Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies is comprised of internationally recognized scholars in the fields of history, literature, linguistics, film, philosophy, and political science.

Affiliated scholars specializing in areas of Judaic studies and Middle Eastern studies offer courses that supplement our existing curriculum. 

In addition, visiting faculty enrich our course offerings in subjects as diverse as Israeli literature and international relations.

All Faculty and Staff

Department Chair and Associate Professor of Middle Eastern Studies and Public Policy

david mednicoff

Professor Mednicoff's research deals with broad connections between legal and political ideas and institutions at the national and transnational levels, particularly as these relate to current issues in the Middle East.

david mednicoff

Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies

aviva ben-ur

Professor Ben-Ur is a historian specializing in Atlantic Jewish history, slavery studies, and the Ottoman diaspora.

aviva ben-ur

Distinguished Professor Emeritus

Jay R. Berkovitz

Jay R. Berkovitz received his Ph.D. at Brandeis University. His research and teaching focus is on the early modern history of European Jews, with special emphasis on Jewish law, family, ritual, and communal governance.

Jay R. Berkovitz

Professor Emeritus

Shmuel Bolozky

A linguist by training, Professor Bolozky specializes in Hebrew phonology (sound systems of languages) and morphology (word formation). His work centers on natural phonetically-motivated processes and on word-formation patterns and productivity.

Shmuel Bolozky

Five College Lecturer in Hebrew

Joanna Caravita

Prof. Caravita's research focuses on native and non-native teachers of Hebrew and Arabic.

Joanna Caravita

Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies & Professor of History and Judaic Studies

Alon Confino

I am broadly interested in the theory and practice of writing history displayed in particular in the topics of memory, culture, and nationhood. My work has often taken modern German history as a point of departure, yet has consistently cast its net wider.

Alon Confino

Office Manager, Department Administrator

Rachel Diana is the office manager and department administrator in the Department of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies at UMass Amherst.

Professor of Arabic and Near Eastern Studies

Tayeb El-Hibri

Professor El-Hibri specializes in classical Arabic historiography and in medieval and modern Arabic literature.

Tayeb El-Hibri

Professor of Judaic and Middle Eastern Studies & Film Studies Adjunct Professor

Olga Gershenson

Olga Gershenson is Professor of Judaic and Near Eastern Studies and of Film Studies at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is a multi-disciplinary scholar, with interests at the intersection of culture, history, and film.

Olga Gershenson

Assistant Professor of History & Near Eastern Studies

Hadi Jorati

Hadi Jorati is a historian of Pre-modern Islamic societies, with a focus on Intellectual History and History of Science.

Hadi Jorati

Assistant Professor of Judaic Studies

Jordan Katz

Jordan Katz is a historian of early modern Jewry, with a focus on Jewish cultural history, history of medicine, and women and gender in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Jordan Katz

Lecturer in Arabic

Senior Lecturer in Judaic Studies

ralph melnick

Dr. Melnick specializes in the post-Medieval Jewish experience with particular interest in European and American Jewry, the Jewish-Christian relationship, Jewish intellectual and cultural history of all periods, as well as African-American history and the Jewish/African-American social and cultural encounter.

ralph melnick

Director of the Religious Studies Certificate Program & Associate Professor of Judaic Studies

susan shapiro

Susan Shapiro specializes in Jewish philosophy and philosophy of religion, gender studies, and political and cultural theory.

susan shapiro

Director of the Middle Eastern Studies Program and Assistant Professor of Middle Eastern Studies

Malissa Taylor

Professor Taylor specializes in the history of the Middle East in the early modern period (1400-1800). 

Malissa Taylor

Distinguished Professor Emeritus and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies

James E. Young

James E. Young is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus of English and Judaic & Near Eastern Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he has taught since 1988, and Founding Director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies at UMass Amherst.

James E. Young

Lecturer in Hebrew

Ofir Zussman

Dr. Zussman specializes in various aspects of Hebrew linguistics, including pragmatics; grammaticization; concession; and discourse particles; and Hebrew as a Second Language.

Ofir Zussman