News Items from UNC Greensboro

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Provost Dunn and Dean Kiss have an announcement:

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Ellen D. Haskell has been appointed as the Herman & Zelda Bernard Distinguished Scholar of Jewish Studies. She is an outstanding professor and teacher-scholar in the Department of Religious Studies.

The Herman & Zelda Bernard Distinguished Professorship was established by family and friends in recognition of the Bernards’ contributions to the Jewish community in North Carolina. Zelda Bernard, a native of Danville, Virginia, was employed by the Works Progress Administration and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office until her marriage to Mr. Bernard in 1945. Herman Bernard, a native of High Point, North Carolina, was the founder of Casard Furniture Manufacturing and Bernards Inc., a furniture import business. The Bernards were both active in the affairs of B’nai Israel Synagogue and other important Jewish boards and communities in North Carolina.

As the new Bernard Scholar, Dr. Haskell brings groundbreaking approaches to Jewish Studies in her work on theology, culture, and gender. Her research productivity includes the publication of two monographs in important scholarly presses within four years, well-articulated plans for future scholarship, and most recently, an invited book chapter that will soon be published by Oxford University Press along with contributions from an international group of scholars.

Dr. Haskell’s area of specialty is late 13th-century Jewish mysticism and in particular the highly influential “Book of Splendor (Sefer HaZohar),” the major work of the Spanish Kabbalistic tradition. The Kabbalah is an esoteric school of Jewish thought that teases out the hidden meaning of Jewish scripture. Her scholarship focuses especially on two areas of discourse: gendered religious imagery, and indications of cultural transmission and the relationship between medieval Jews and Christians. In her first monograph, Suckling at My Mother’s Breasts: The Image of a Nursing God in Jewish Mysticism (SUNY, 2012), Dr. Haskell explores the many spiritual and theological meanings that invest the mystical representation of God as a nursing mother.

Dr. Haskell’s recently published second book, “Mystical Resistance: Uncovering the Zohar’s Conversations with Christianity” (Oxford, 2016), initiates a new scholarly direction. In this volume, she transforms our understanding of the Zohar by uncovering within it a range of hidden Jewish arguments against Christian claims. Her groundbreaking reinterpretation of the Zohar uncovers a rich record of the strategies and specific arguments that 13th-century Spanish Jews used to contest Christian power and illuminates Jewish resistance to a persecuting society in innovative ways. In summary, these achievements make clear that Dr. Haskell is a significant figure in her field and that she will continue to be a dynamic and engaged scholar.

We are pleased that Dr. Haskell will be the Herman & Zelda Bernard Distinguished Scholar of Jewish Studies at UNCG.

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