Rachel Adelman, PhD

Rachel Adelman

Rachel Adelman, PhD
Assistant Professor, Bible
Rabbinical School of Hebrew College
radelman@hebrewcollege.edu | 617-559-8646

Teaching: Torah & Parshanut; Tanakh; Midrash
Research: Women and Tanakh; Midrash
Pirqe deRabbi Eliezer)


  • Ph.D. in rabbinic literature, hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • M.A. in Jewish Studies, Matan/Baltimore Hebrew University, Jerusalem
  • B.A. in Biology and Creative Writing, Reed College 

Personal Website

Involvement in Rabbinic Education

"I am passionate about bridging the intellectual rigor of the academic world with the love of traditional rabbinic discourse, while making Torah relevant to my students’ lives.  

I am not a Rabbi myself, but I am a teacher of Torah, which is what rav means in Hebrew. For me a great teacher (rav or rabbah) conveys the light of Torah in the Presence of his or her face (paraphrasing R. Nachman, Likutei Maharan 230). The challenge of teaching Tanakh to rabbinic students resides in conveying the rigor of text skills, while enlivening the biblical characters and narratives such that they feel relevant to our modern lives.  One way I wish to convey this is through a deep appreciation of the rabbinic tradition, which reads Tanakh as a seamlessly interconnected web, bridging the past context of the biblical stories to the present of the reader, whether it be the Amoraim of 5th century Babylon or Rashi in 11th century France. But there were no women rabbis then! And gender issues are just one aspect of the radical shift from the classic interpretation to the present context.  So eventually my students must learn to make their own midrash, building a bridge from the world of Tanakh to the world in which they live.  I want to empower my students to learn (paradoxically) in humility and hubris from the rigors of language and literary work and from the great wisdom and creativity of the rabbinic tradition, so that
they may convey the eternal light of Torah in their own face." 


Rachel Adelman, who joined the full-time faculty in 2012, provides a dynamic, open approach to text study, drawing on a wide range of sources, from Tanakh and classical midrash to modern Israeli poetry. She holds a Master of Arts in Jewish Studies from Matan/Baltimore Hebrew University and a Ph.D in Hebrew literature, with a specialty in midrash, from The Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Adelman's first book "The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha" (Brill, 2009) is based on her dissertation work. Her second book is entitled "The Female Ruse: Women’s Deception and Divine Sanction in the Hebrew Bible," (Sheffield Press, 2015). When she is not writing books, papers, or divrei Torah, it is poetry that flows from her pen.

Current Research

 I am now working on a series of papers related to the question of theodicy in Bible and Midrash (Why do bad things happen to good people?).

Research Grants

  • 2011-12 recipient of the Women Studies in Religion Program at Harvard Divinity School.
  • 2007-08,  Ray D. Wolfe Fellow, Jewish Studies Program/Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, University of Toronto


  • Genres and Themes in Biblical Literature (Bible 502a and 502b, Mekorot)
  • Bereshit (Core Text: Bible 100 and 101)
  • BeMidbar (Core Text: Bible 400)
  • Hamesh Megillot (Bible 250)
  • Song of Songs (Bible 532, joint course Hebrew College & ANTS)
  • Torah & Haftarah Readings for Yamim Noraim (Elul Program, Mekorot, INTD110)

Selected Publications

Recent Presentations

  • “From the Cleft of the Rock” (Seminar: Why Theology)   AJS Conference, Boston ( Dec. 2015)
  •  "The Fate of the First Clothing” (EAJS Conference,) Paris, July 2014
  • “Reading Trans-Gender Across Genre: Rabbinic Midrash and Feminist Hermeneutics on Esther” (AAR/SBL Conference, Baltimore) Nov. 2013
  • “’Strangers in a Land not their Own’ – The Conditional Gift of the Land in the Covenant with Abraham” (Shalem Conference, Jerisalem) July 2013