Jennifer R. Grayson Appointed to HUC-JIR and Xavier University Faculties as Assistant Professor of Jewish History in Cincinnati

Monday, June 5, 2017

Rabbi Aaron Panken, Ph.D., President of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, has announced that Jennifer R. Grayson has been jointly appointed to the Cincinnati faculty and Xavier University faculty as Assistant Professor of Jewish History. A thought leader in the fields of medieval Mediterranean and Genizah history, medieval European history and historiography, and modern Jewish history, Grayson will begin her appointment as of January 1, 2018. 

Rabbi Panken stated, “Professor Grayson’s academic training at Johns Hopkins University and Cambridge University and her other scholarly achievements reflect her intellectual excellence.  Her keen commitment to forging new scholarship and her leadership capacity will invigorate our Rabbinical School, Pines School of Graduate Studies programs, as well as Xavier University’s History Department. We welcome her to our Cincinnati campus, where she will be a wonderful addition to our diverse community of students and faculty.”

Michael J. Graham, S.J., President of Xavier University said, “We are thrilled to welcome Professor Grayson to our faculty. This position reinforces and strengthens a relationship between Xavier and HUC-JIR dating back to 2008 when our institutions came together to create a Jewish and Interfaith Studies Program. It was the first partnership of its kind that we know of between a Jesuit, Catholic University and a Reform Jewish Rabbinical Seminary.”

Rabbi Michael Marmur, Ph.D., Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel Provost, added, “The addition of Jennifer Grayson to our faculty in Cincinnati is an exciting development for our institution. She has studied with great accomplishment at some of the finest academic institutions. Her scholarship and teaching are highly impressive and her areas of expertise are of the greatest significance. The future looks bright with individuals of her caliber on our faculty.”

Grayson is a Ph.D. candidate in History at The Johns Hopkins University, where her dissertation focuses on “Jews in the Political Life of Abbasid Baghdad, 908-1258.” She earned her M.A. in History at Johns Hopkins (2016) and her M.Phil. in Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Cambridge (2013), where her theses was on “Geniza Fragments of the Introduction to Kitab al-Luma by Jonah ibn Janah”. She received her B.A. magna cum laude, from Brown University (2011).

She is the recipient of numerous academic prizes, fellowships, and grants, including the Stulman Jewish Studies Award and Diamond Fellowship at Johns Hopkins, the Mellon foundation Summer Language Study Travel Award, the Offit Fund for the Study of Jewish-Christian-Muslim Relations in the Premodern World Language Training Grant, the Islamic Studies Language Training Grant at Johns Hopkins, and was a Gates Cambridge Scholar at the University of Cambridge.

Her article on “Origin of Hebrew According to Rabbinic and Medieval Sources” was published in the Encyclopedia of Hebrew Language and Linguistics, ed. Geoffrey Khan (Leiden: Brill, 2013). She presented her paper at the International Congress of Medieval Studies (2016) on “’His fathers are like sheepdogs! A Testimony of Jewish Communal Strife in Abbasid Baghdad.”

Grayson has served as a research assistant at the Princeton Geniza Lab (2014-16) and for “Documents and Institutions in the Medieval Middle East,” funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Collaborative Grant. She has been a teaching assistant at Johns Hopkins on courses including “The Medieval World,” “Modern Occidental Civilization,” “Modern Jewish History,” and “Race, Diaspora, Nation, and Politics.” She has participated in the Lehmann Memorial Master Workshop in the History of the Jewish book at the Katz Center for Advanced Jewish Studies; the Workshop on Textual Corpora and the Digital Islamic Humanities at Brown University; the intensive course on Arabic Manuscrips and Early Qur’ans at Princeton University; the workshop on Languages of Everyday Writing in the Medieval Islamic World: History, Methodology, Digital Prospects at the University of California-Los Angeles; and the workshop on Everyday Writing in the Medieval Near East: Documentary History and the Cairo Genizah at Yale University. Her proficiency in modern and ancient languages encompasses Hebrew, Standard Arabic, Spanish, French, Classical Arabic, Judeo-Arabic, Classical Hebrew and Babylonian Aramaic.  


Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates men and women for service to North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding. www.huc.edu