PSU hires region’s first Israel studies professor

PSU hires region’s first Israel studies professor

Israel studies is getting a boost in the Pacific Northwest.

Dr. Nina Spiegel has accepted the position of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer Professor of Israel Studies at Portland State University, the only designated tenure-line position in Israel studies in the Pacific Northwest.

The Harold Schnitzer Family Program in Judaic Studies at PSU will now have four Judaic studies tenure-line faculty members. With four core faculty, PSU is now poised to offer a Judaic studies major beginning in 2013.

Dr. Spiegel received her PhD in history from Stanford University, and is currently both assistant professor of Jewish studies at American University and a scholar-in-residence at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute at Brandeis University.

Her scholarly work focuses on the history of modern Israeli culture, and her first book, Embodying Hebrew Culture: Aesthetics, Athletics, and Dance in the Jewish Community in British Mandate Palestine, is forthcoming from Wayne State University Press.

In addition to her many other accomplishments, Dr. Spiegel has been a Schusterman teaching fellow at American University, a curatorial fellow at the National Museum of American Jewish History, and a board member of the international Congress on Research in Dance.

The position is named in honor of Rabbi Joshua Stampfer, PSU faculty member and rabbi emeritus of Congregation Neveh Shalom in Portland, and was created with the support of Portland State University and numerous community members.

PSU’s Judaic Studies Academic Director Michael Weingrad, also a professor in the department, said, “We are delighted to welcome our new colleague to the program, the university and the city. Her first course, on Israeli culture and society, will be taught this fall term in the Department of International Studies.”

In addition to Weingrad and Speigel, other tenure-line professors are Natan Meir, who was hired in 2009 as PSU’s Lorry I. Lokey Chair in Judaic Studies, and Loren Spielman, who concentrates on the ancient period.

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