Kulanu Academic Cohort (KAC)

The Kulanu Academic Cohort (KAC), founded in 2015, is comprised of academics who have researched and written about returning, emerging and isolated Jewish communities around the globe. Some of the communities studied are “Kulanu communities.” Kulanu has helped many scholars over the years with resources and connections to Kulanu communities and is looking to strengthen the ties between the academic study of Judaising communities and the work that Kulanu does.

Below are the KAC members and links to their biographies. Each person listed has a Ph.D. in a Jewish Studies-related field.

Kulanu Academic Cohort Members are:

Nathan P. Devir, is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies, Religious Studies, and Comparative Literary and Cultural Studies at the University of Utah, where he also directs the Middle East Center. His doctoral and post-doctoral research focused on the intersections of literary discourse, hermeneutics, and biblical exegesis in modern Judaic cultural production. His more current research, situated between Ethnography and Religious Studies, involves field-based analyses of Judaizing movements in India and sub-Saharan Africa (Cameroon, Ghana, Madagascar).

Marla Brettschneider is Professor of Political Philosophy at the University of New Hampshire with a joint appointment in Political Science and Women's Studies where she serves as the Coordinator of Women's Studies. She has long worked on matters of diversity in political theory and specifically Jewish politics, communities, and thinking.

Brettschneider is author of numerous books and has edited many special editions of academic journals on Jewish diversity. Brettschneider published Cornerstones of Peace: Jewish Identity and Democratic Theory, Democratic Theorizing From the Margins as well as the award winning The Narrow Bridge: Jewish Views on Multiculturalism with a foreward by Cornel West and more recently The Family Flamboyant: Race Politics, Queer Families, Jewish Lives.

Brettschneider's history of theorizing Jewish diversity and her new book, The Jewish Phenomenon in Sub-Saharan Africa, situate her work most closely with this Kulanu cohort, a space for an array of scholarly views to come into conversation. Her book, Jewish Feminism and Intersectionality, will be out in Fall 2015. Bretschneider's work on Queer Politics is scheduled for print in 2016. Her work in progress is Revolutionary Legacies: Jewish Feminist Political Thinking.

Brettschneider has a long history of involvement in Jewish and other communal organizations, including having served on the board of the Jewish Multiracial Network and having been Executive Director of Jews For Racial and Economic Justice.

Yulia Egorova is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology and the Centre Director of the Centre for the Study of Jewish Culture, Society and Politics at Durham University in the United Kingdom. She received her PhD from the School of Oriental and African Studies in 2003. Her research interests include Anthropology of Jewish communities, the social aspects of science and biotechnology, and the relationship between science and religion. In recent years she completed an AHRC-funded project devoted to the Indian Jewish community of the Bene Ephraim of Andhra Pradesh, and a cluster of studies exploring the socio-cultural implications of population genetics with particular reference to South Asia. At the moment she is developing a new project on Jewish-Muslim relations in the UK.

Emanuela Trevisan Semi is professor of Modern Hebrew and Jewish Studies at Ca’ Foscari University in Venice. She has published many books and articles about Jewish contemporary movements, Judaizing movements, Jewish diaspora in the Mediterranean, Jews in Ethiopia and Morocco, Modern Hebrew Literature and Mizrahi Literature. She has also organized many conferences on Israeli Literature and on the Mediterranean countries and edited and published the proceedings in a special series (Quaderni di Merifor). Among the publications are: Les Caraites: un autre Judaisme, Paris, Albin Michel 1992 (reedited with a new postface, Paris, Harmattan, 2013), L'epistolario di Taamrat Emmanuel: un intellettuale ebreo d'Etiopia nella prima metà del XX secolo/ La correspondance de Taamrat Emmanuel: intellectuel juif d'Ethiopie dans la première moitié du XXème siècle ( Torino, L'Harmattan Italia, 2000 ), Judaising movements, London, Curzon, 2002 (with Tudor Parfitt), Leggere Yehoshua (Torino, Einaudi 2006), Le migrazioni nel Mediterraneo, Bologna, Il Ponte, 2006, Jacques Faitlovitch and the Jews of Ethiopia, London, Vallentine Mitchell, 2007, (with Hanane Sekkat Hatimi), Mémoire et représentations des juifs au Maroc: les voisins absents de Meknès, Paris, Publisud,), (with Shalva Weil) Beta Israel: The Jews of Ethiopia and Beyond (Venezia, Cafoscarina, 2011), (with Dario Miccoli, Tudor Parfitt) and Memory and Ethnicity, Ethnic Museums in Israel and the Diaspora, Cambridge, Cambridge Scholars Publishers, 2013.

Barbara Vinick is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and earned a Ph.D in sociology from Boston University. After post-doctoral work in human development at Harvard University, she conducted research in gerontology at the Department of Veterans Affairs and Boston University School of Public Health. Her publications have focused on family issues in later life. Currently, she is a research associate at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University, where she has edited two collections of essays from Jewish women around the world and is working on a third. She is secretary of Kulanu.

Daniel Lis is a Swiss-Israeli research fellow at the Centre for Jewish Studies, University of Basel (Switzerland) where he teaches and researches about African Jewry. He is also a recent visiting research fellow at the S. Daniel Abraham Centre for International and Regional Relations at Tel Aviv University.

Len Lyons, an independent researcher and writer, received a Ph.D. in Philosophy from Brown University. He taught at the University of Santa Clara but decided to “retire” quite early to write several books about jazz. He continues to teach “Exploring Jazz” at several universities in California. Through meeting Ethiopian Israelis in 2004, he became interested in Ethiopian Jews and their origins (www.ethiopianisraelisproject.org). He wrote about their struggle for integration into Israeli society in his book, The Ethiopian Jews of Israel: Personal Stories of Life in the Promised Land (2007). He has also written about other groups of African descent, especially African American communities, who assert Jewish identity and practice Judaism. His writing also appears in the Journal of African Religions, The Jewish Daily Tablet, and the Jewish Review of Books.

Tudor Parfitt

Shalva Weil

Jonas Zianga is a lecturer in the inter-University program for African Studies, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (Israel). He is a Graduate in Education (M.Ed.) and Sociology (Ph.D) from Strasbourg University (Alsace-France). His field of specialty concerns Black-African Jewry in Israel and in the Diaspora (history, identity, culture and traditions). Ben Gurion University and the Bialik Institute published his book, From the Promised Land: Modern Discourse on African Jewry http://www.bialik-publishing.co.il/product_info.php?products_id=1535.

Nathan Katz is Distinguished Professor in the School of International and Public Affairs, Emeritus, at Florida International University. He was the Founding Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, the Bhagwan Mahavir Professor of Jain Studies, the Kaufmann Professor of Global Entrepreneurship in the College of Business Administration, an affiliated faculty in the College of Medicine, Director of Jewish Studies, and founder and director emeritus of the innovative Program in the Study of Spirituality. He is also the Co-founder and co-editor of the Journal of Indo-Judaic Studies.
Dr Katz’s research spans the religious traditions of South Asia and focuses on Indo-Judaic Studies. He has written or edited fifteen books about Buddhism, Hinduism, and Judaism. His books include a memoir,Spiritual Journey Home: Eastern Mysticism to the Western Wall (2009), Who Are the Jews of India? (2000), which was a Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award,The Last Jews of Cochin: Jewish Identity in Hindu India (co-autor, 1993), Ethnic Conflict in Buddhist Societies: Sri Lanka, Thailand and Burma (co-author, 1988), and Buddhist Images of Human Perfection (1982).
He is currently leading a multi-year, international research project on the impact of “New Age” spiritualties, especially those of Indian origin, on the American Jewish community and on the State of Israel. The project is housed at the Van Leer Institute-Jerusalem and FIU. He also serves on the Board of SIvananda Yoga Ashram Bahamas, where he coordinates symposia on interfaith and spiritual themes.

Santiago Slabodsky holds the Florence and Robert Kaufman endowed chair in Jewish Studies at Hofstra University-New York and previously was assistant professor of Global Ethics and director of the program of Religion, Ethics and Society at the Claremont Graduate Consortium in California. An Argentinean-born social theorist, he explores intercultural encounters between Jewish and Global South political thought and social movements. At the national level he is currently co-chair of the Liberation Theologies unit at the American Academy of Religion. At the international level he is director of the trilingual journal Decolonial Horizons housed at the GEMRIP institute in Latin America and has held concurrent visiting positions at diverse institutions including UNISA-Pretoria in South Africa, Roosevelt College at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands, the Center for Global Dialogue hosted at the University of Granada in Spain, the Foundation Center of Islamic Civilization hosted at the South East European University in Macedonia, and the UN-sponsored University for Peace in the outskirts of San Jose in Costa Rica. He is the author of numerous publications including Decolonial Judaism: Triumphal Failures of Barbaric Thinking (2015), Living Traditions: Prospects and Challenges for Peace in Multirreligious Communities (2016) and the forthcoming Unequal Siblings: The Subalternization of non-Western Jewish Thought. He can be contacted at santiago.slabodsky@hofstra.edu .