News from the Director

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

November 15, 2023

Richard Sarason

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

Last month we shared the decision of the Board of Governors, based on the administration’s recommendation, to phase out the Pines School of Graduate Studies Cincinnati residential programs—the Ph.D. and the Master of Arts in Jewish Studies. While for some this was not unexpected after the vote 18 months ago to sunset the residential Rabbinical program in Cincinnati, this decision remains painful for many of us.

Going forward, the Board also accepted the administration’s recommendation to wait for up to five years to explore needs and options before making any decisions about future Jewish Studies degrees or certificates that the Graduate School might offer. 

At the same time, the administration and Board have reaffirmed their commitment to support the work of our current graduate students through to the conclusion of their programs. We currently have 28 Ph.D. students in various phases of their work: 14 students writing dissertations (2 of whom we anticipate will receive their degrees this year), 11 students in candidacy, and 3 students remaining in course work. Additionally, there are 3 MAJS students whom we anticipate will receive their degrees this year, and one part-time student whom we expect will finish next year. At graduation ceremonies this past spring, we awarded one Ph.D., to Eric Barrios, and an MAJS to Hye mee Moon. 

Our DHL population continues to grow—there are currently 19 active students in the program. This program remains open for rolling admissions. We will be looking at ways to evolve this program to make it more user-friendly and collaborative to complete, with more opportunities to study together in cohorts and/or online and intensive courses. The work of some of our DHL students will be highlighted at the Rabbinic Alumni Study Retreat with the Cincinnati faculty here January 7-10, 2024. 

The bottom line in the near term for Ph.D. alumni is this: We still need your tangible support for our current students. Think about becoming a mentor for one of them. PSGS Alumni Association Chair Michael Graves is coordinating this program. Please reach out to him to indicate your willingness to do this. It need not be particularly time-consuming, and it means a great deal to our students. Michael can be reached at We will have an opportunity to discuss all this further at the annual alumni luncheon at the AAR-SBL national meeting in San Antonio on Sunday, November 19, about which you have recently received registration information (please join us!). Provost Andrea Weiss will be there to answer your questions and respond to your concerns. 

In the meantime, I can report that we plan to hold additional professional workshops for our students this year. Four of our dissertation and candidacy students are holding mentored teaching fellowships this year at Xavier University, the University of Dayton, and the Methodist Theological School in Ohio.  

All our students and faculty are deeply concerned about the current conflict between Israel and Hamas. One of the first victims of the Hamas massacre on October 7 was Hayim Katsman, z”l, the grandson of our late teacher and colleague Ben Zion Wacholder (he was Hannah’s son), who was living on Kibbutz Holit. View the article: A Mother Remembers Her Son. Some of you, I know, have already reached out to Hannah and her siblings.  As we pray for peace, we hope that we will be able to run our archaeology program in Israel again this summer. 

Please know how grateful we are for your continued support during these difficult times, and how much we can continue, and must strive, to achieve together for the good of our students and our world.