News from PSGS Director Rabbi Richard S. Sarason, Ph.D.

Dear Students, Faculty, Alumni, and Friends of the Pines School of Graduate Studies,
As I write these words, we have just extended offers of admission to the PSGS for next year; admittees have until April 15 to respond. As we look forward to welcoming a new cohort of graduate students in the fall, we also look forward to awarding four Ph.D. degrees in May to students whose dissertations have now been submitted and approved: Caleb Gilmore, Sharon Love, Jared Saltz, and Keith Vande Vrede. Julia Olson will be awarded the MPhil degree, while we also anticipate awarding MAJS degrees to Evan Vossman and Rebekah Wallace, and the DHL degree to Belle Michael.
In November we held our second reception for alumni via Zoom during the time of the joint annual meetings of the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature. The reception was well attended, with updates from President Andrew Rehfeld, Ph.D. and Provost Andrea Weiss, Ph.D. as well as greetings from Joan Pines; Alumni Leadership Council President John Kampen ‘85, and PSGS Alumni Association President Michael Graves ‘06. Breakout sessions allowed colleagues to catch up with each other. We hope that next year we can host an in-person luncheon at AAR-SBL in Denver, as in prior years.
PSGS alumna Angela Erisman ‘03, ‘08 will again offer a professional training workshop to current graduate students (including interested DHL students) dealing with academic writing and publication later this semester. Xavier University, for the first time, will offer an opportunity for interested graduate students to participate in a May teacher-training workshop as part of an agreement by which two of our advanced graduate students annually will have faculty-mentored teaching fellowships at Xavier, comparable to our agreements with the University of Dayton and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.
Five graduate students will participate in this year’s Summer in Israel program, which we are finally able to offer again after COVID shut down our plans for the summer of 2020. The students will spend seven to ten days at our Jerusalem campus where they will study and tour with Dr. Jason Kalman and some of our Jerusalem faculty, followed by a month of digging at Tel Dan under the supervision of our Jerusalem colleague Dr. David Ilan, who runs the dig. Before leaving for Israel, they will take a one-week intensive course in archaeology taught by our colleague and PSGS alumna Dr. Kristine Garroway ‘09.
And while we are discussing archaeology, the Cincinnati Art Museum in December celebrated the installation of their re-designed Ancient Middle East gallery that prominently features Nabatean artifacts excavated by former HUC-JIR president Nelson Glueck and gifted to the Museum by Dr. Glueck and his family, Several PSGS students, under the guidance of former PSGS director Dr. Nili Fox, worked over a number of years on the research, selection, labeling, and deployment of the items in the exhibit. As one of two Andrew W. Mellon Curatorial Research Fellows, PSGS student Julia Olson wrote an article, “Cincinnati and the Ancient Middle East: A Collection of Stories,” that appears in the exhibit brochure. Congratulations to all our students who worked on this project, gaining valuable professional experience along the way!
PSGS alumnus and newly retired HUC-JIR faculty member Dr. Mark Washofsky ‘80, ‘87 will give the keynote address at Founders’ Day this year (another community observance that COVID had put on hold for the past two years).
Alumni from all HUC-JIR programs have been invited to two town hall meetings with President Rehfeld and Provost Weiss for an update on strategic planning and to discuss the administration’s proposal currently before the Board of Governors. Those meetings will have taken place by the time this newsletter reaches you. The proposal does not directly address the Pines School of Graduate Studies, but certainly has implications for its future.
Let me take this opportunity to express our gratitude to those of you who have contributed to the PSGS Scholarship Fund, which supports the living stipends for our 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, Pines School of Graduate Studies