Jewish Studies Faculty

We are privileged to field an exceptional faculty whose teaching in the field of Jewish Studies has shaped its contemporary expression in North America today. They are not only published scholars but experienced in contemporary Jewish life; they are instrumental in creating a new paradigm of leadership for Jewish teaching, learning and living.

Our outstanding faculty include rabbis and professors from Hebrew College and other institutions worldwide. In addition, Jewish Studies students have access to world-class faculty currently teaching in the Hebrew College Rabbinic School, School of Jewish Music and Shoolman Graduate School of Jewish Education.

rabbi michael shire

Rabbi Michael Shire

Chief Academic Officer, Hebrew College
Dean, Shoolman Graduate School and Jewish Studies Program 
Rabbinic Ordination, Leo Baeck College
Ph.D., Hebrew Union College

Michael Shire joined Hebrew College in 2011 from Leo Baeck College in London, where he served as vice principal and director of education. Shire has published widely in the field of religious growth and development as well as the Jewish theology of childhood. He has also published four books of creative liturgy with medieval illuminations in association with the British Museum. He and his wife, Rabbi Marcia Plumb, have two children.

rachel adelman 

Rachel Adelman
Assistant Professor, Bible
Ph.D., Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Rachel Adelman, who joined the full-time faculty in 2012 after serving as an adjunct instructor in 2011-12, 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 in Jerusalem; her doctorate is in Hebrew literature, with a specialty in midrash. Adelman's "The Return of the Repressed: Pirqe de-Rabbi Eliezer and the Pseudepigrapha" (Brill, 2009) is based on her dissertation work.

edward bruer  Edward Breuer

Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Harvard University

Edward Breuer teaches Jewish history at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His work focuses on medieval and modern Jewish intellectual history, specializing in the Jewish Enlightenment of the 18th and 19th centuries. Breuer is the author of "The Limits of Enlightenment: Jews, Germans and the 18th Century Study of Scripture" (Harvard University Press, 1996).

rabbi ilan fuchs 

Rabbi Ilan Fuchs
Adjunct Instructor
Rabbinic Ordination, Chief Rabbinate of Israel
Ph.D., Bar Ilan University

Ilan Fuchs is an expert in legal history; gender and Judaism; religion and politics; and international public law. In addition to his position at Hebrew College, he serves as the rabbi at the Chabad House of Brandeis University. Prior to that, he was a visiting professor at Tulane University and the University of Calgary. Fuchs has a forthcoming book, "Women's Torah Study: Orthodox Religious Education and Modernity."

abigail gillman 

Abigail Gillman
Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Harvard University

Abigail Gillman, an associate professor of modern languages and comparative literature at Boston University, is an expert on German Jewish culture, bible translation, the art and architecture of memory and on the historic dialogue between German and Hebrew language and literature. She is the author of "Viennese Jewish Modernism: Freud, Hofmannsthal, Schnitzler and Beer-Hofmann" (Pennsylvania State University Press, 2008) and is writing a cultural history of German Jewish Bible translation from 1783 to 1961.

sarunas liekis 

Šarūnas Liekis
Adjunct Instructor
Ph.D., Brandeis University

Šarūnas Liekis is a Lithuanian historian and political scientist. He serves as dean of the faculty of political science and diplomacy at Vytautas Magnus University in Lithuania, where he has worked since 2010. His research and scholarship areas include Eastern European history, political science, minorities, and international relations. He studied at Hebrew University in Jerusalem and earned a doctorate at Brandeis University in 1998.

Ariel Mayse 

Rabbi Ariel Mayse
Director, Jewish Studies
Ph.D., Harvard University

In addition to authoring several scholarly and popular articles on Kabbalah and Chassidut, he is co-editor of the two-volume collection Speaking Torah: Spiritual Teachings From Around the Maggid’s Table (Jewish Lights, 2013) and editor of From the Depth of the Well: An Anthology of Jewish Mysticism (Paulist Press, 2014). His current research deals with the role of language in Hasidic theology, expressions of Jewish mysticism in the twentieth century, the formation of early Hasidic literature, and the relationship between spirituality and law.

provost barry mesch Barry Mesch, H'13

Stone-Teplow Families Professor of Jewish Thought and Special Adviser to the President
Ph.D., Brandeis University

Barry Mesch, an expert in medieval and modern Jewish thought, theology and the Holocaust, and the history of biblical interpretation, oversees the academic programs of the college and takes special responsibility for the Jewish studies and Hebrew language programs. In 2001, he guided the creation and administration of the first online Master of Arts in Jewish Studies program on the Internet. Prior to his arrival at Hebrew College in 1990, Mesch had a 20-year career as the founding director of the Center for Jewish Studies at the University of Florida, Gainesville. During this time, he was instrumental in acquiring several large collections of Judaica for the university. These became the Isser and Ray Price Library, the largest Judaica collection in the southeast. His book, "Joseph Ibn Caspi, Fourteenth Century Philosopher and Exegete," was published in 1975.

nehemia polen 

Rabbi Nehemia Polen
Professor of Jewish Thought
Rabbinic Ordination, Ner Israel Rabbinical College
Ph.D., Boston University

Nehemia Polen is a leading expert in Hasidism and Jewish thought. A widely published author, his books include "The Holy Fire: The Teachings of Rabbi Kalonymus Kalman Shapira, the Rebbe of the Warsaw Ghetto" (Jason Aronson Inc., first ed., 1977); "The Rebbe's Daughter" (Jewish Publication Society, 2002), based on Polen's research as a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow and recipient of a National Jewish Book Award; and "Filling Words With Light: Hasidic and Mystical Reflections on Jewish Prayer" (Jewish Lights Publishing, 2004), written with Lawrence Kushner. Polen holds a doctorate from Boston University, where he studied with and served as a teaching fellow for Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel. Prior to his career in Jewish academia, Polen served for 23 years as a congregational rabbi.