A Message from Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D., Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies

Thursday, November 3, 2022

Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni, and Friends of the Pines School of Graduate Studies,

As I write these words, we are three-quarters of the way through the fall semester, after a break for the Jewish holidays. I look forward to greeting many of you later this month at our annual alumni luncheon at the national meeting of the American Academy of Religion and Society of Biblical Literature in Denver. This is the first time in three years that we will be able to meet in person again—a welcome return!

Here is a summary of what has been going on in the Pines School of Graduate Studies since our spring newsletter:

In May, we celebrated the graduation of four new Ph.D.s: Caleb Gilmore, Sharon Love, Jared Saltz, and Keith Vande Vrede. Julia Olson was awarded the M.Phil. degree; the M.A.J.S. degree was awarded to Evan Vossman and Rebekah Wallace; and the D.H.L. degree to Rabbi Belle Michael. Given the results of recent dissertation progress reports, we anticipate awarding one Ph.D. this spring, with several more to follow next year.

Evan Vossman (who is also serving as president of the Graduate Student Assocation) began his Ph.D. work with us this fall, as did Ryan Cataldo. Evan is working in the History of Biblical Interpretation, while Ryan is working in Jewish and Christian Studies in the Greco-Roman Period. They were joined this fall by three new M.A.J.S. students Jonathan Bell, Thomas Carroll, and Darhla Miles. With this article, you can see some of the pictures from our orientation week programs this year. Graduate students also took an active role in the planning and execution of the all-campus Shabbaton at the beginning of the school year. (Evan and I jointly led a learning session on representations of Jewish purity laws in the Gospels.)

Five graduate students participated in this year’s Summer in Israel program, which we were finally able to offer again after Covid-19 shut down our plans for the summer of 2020. The students spent a week at our Jerusalem campus where they studied and toured with Drs. Jason Kalman and David Levine, followed by a month digging at Tel Dan under the supervision of Drs. David Ilan and Yifat Thareani, who ran the dig. Before leaving for Israel, they took a one-week intensive course in archaeology taught by our colleague and PSGS alumna Dr. Kristine Garroway ’09. You can find several of their own accounts of their experiences elsewhere in this newsletter.

The decision taken by the Board of Governors at its April meeting to close the Rabbinical School in Cincinnati over the next three years has major implications for the Pines School of Graduate Studies. Current students (including those just beginning their programs this year) have received formal assurances from the national administration that they will be able to finish their programs in residence here. The administration has also publicly voiced its commitment to the continuation of the Graduate School, although not necessarily in its current configuration. A program review of the School is in the process of formation. We will keep you informed as matters develop.

Let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those of you who have contributed to the PSGS Scholarship Fund, which supports (and will continue to support) the living stipends for our current students in course. To paraphrase the Babylonian Talmud: Just as we have benefited from those who have provided for us, so are we obliged to provide for those who come after us (see b. Ta’anit 23b).

Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D.
Director of the Pines School of Graduate Studies