Alyssa M. Gray, JD, Ph.D., Professor of Codes and Responsa Literature and Emily S. and Rabbi Bernard H. Mehlman Chair in Rabbinics at HUC-JIR/New York, has been appointed a Thomas and Elissa Ellant Katz Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania’s Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies. This year’s Fellows will pursue research on the topic of Rethinking Premodern Jewish Legal Cultures.
“I’m very excited to be a part of this cohort of amazing scholars,” shares Dr. Gray. “My project title for the year is Reading Halakhah: The Jewish Legal Canon as Literature. I’ve been exploring topics related to this theme in articles I’ve published, classes I’ve taught at HUC-JIR, and with individual students I’ve mentored. My plan for the fellowship year is to take my research to the next level and make significant progress on a book-length treatment.”
Natalie Dohrmann, Ph.D., Associate Director of the Katz Center, writes, “This fellowship treats law in theory and practice, as both created by and imposed on Jews. It focuses on the broad contexts in which Jewish (and Israelite) law was developed by and for Jews, and in which it operated, treating law as a necessary component for understanding the broader dynamics of culture, history, governance, and economics of each place and period. Seeing law as constituted by and embedded within wider dynamics, the new fellows see law’s impact on various historical, religious, intellectual, artistic, and political moments, for a wide variety of actors: Jews and non-Jews, men and women, the empowered and the marginal.”
Dr. Alyssa Gray’s research interests include Talmud criticism (with a focus on comparative study of the Babylonian and Jerusalem Talmuds); wealth, poverty, and charity in classical and medieval rabbinic literature; and the application of new theoretical perspectives on law, literature, and history to the reading of medieval Jewish legal literature. She has served as a visiting professor at Yale University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and lectured in a variety of other academic and non-academic settings. Dr. Gray is currently co-editor of AJS Review: The Journal of the Association for Jewish Studies and also sits on the editorial boards of the Journal of Jewish Ethics and of HUC Press. Dr. Gray received her Ph.D. with distinction in Talmud and Rabbinics from the Jewish Theological Seminary, and earned an LLM in Mishpat Ivri (Jewish law) from the Hebrew University Faculty of Law. She is a graduate of Barnard College (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa) and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and earned a JD from the Columbia University School of Law, where she was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.
The Herbert D. Katz Center for Advanced Judaic Studies at the University of Pennsylvania is driven by the mission to deepen and broaden the understanding of Jewish history, texts, cultures, ideas, and experiences. The research it supports spans all periods of Jewish history, from distant antiquity through to the present day; it reaches into every part of the globe where Jews have lived, and it is grounded in a wide range of disciplines and approaches. Over the decades, after supporting hundreds of scholars and untold numbers of discoveries and publications, it has earned a reputation as the nation’s preeminent research center in the study of Jewish history and culture. Lear more about the Katz Center here, and learn more about the 2021-22 Fellowship here.