Steering Committee

The Jewish Studies steering committee assists the program coordinator and the Jewish Studies faculty by overseeing the Jewish Studies program, engaging in long-term planning, and participating in the grants process for student and faculty/staff grants. Members of the steering committee teach in several departments of the College and offer a variety of perspectives on Jewish Studies.

Rebecca Lesses, Coordinator and Associate Professor of Jewish Studies, teaches core and upper-level courses for the Jewish Studies minor. Her courses include "Gender and Sexuality in Judaism" and "Jewish Mysticism." Her research centers on early Jewish mystical and magical texts and the interplay between them. She is currently working on a book entitled Angels' Tongues and Witches' Curses: Women and Ritual Power in Early Judaism. The book focuses on Jewish women's involvement in visionary mysticism and ritual practices to gain power.

Don Beachler teaches in the Department of Politics. His courses include two in the area of Jewish Studies, "The Holocaust," and "Political Implications of the Holocaust." The second course, a Politics seminar, explores political and ethical issues raised by some of the debates in the vast academic and popular literature on the Holocaust.

Stephen Clancy teaches in the Art History Department, and has developed a course in Jewish Studies entitled "Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Spain." This 300-level course explores the rich artistic and architectural interactions between Jewish, Islamic, and Christian cultures at a time when flourishing Jewish communities lived under both Islamic and Christian rulers, resulting in a unique mixture of visual traditions in Jewish cultural production.

During the spring 2010 semester Prof. Clancy was a Visiting Fellow at the Australian National University's Research School of Humanities, pursuing a project entitled "Visualizing the Self and Others: Muslins, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Iberia," which explored the specific ways in which Jewish, Islamic, and Christian cultures visualized and rationalized their relations with others, with a particular focus on the intersection between resistance and appropriation in medieval Iberian visual culture.

Garrett Eisler is an assistant professor of Theatre Studies in the Department of Theatre Arts, where he teaches Theatre History, Theory, and Directing. A specialist in 20th century US performance, his research focuses on Jewish-American identity in theatre (including musical theatre), film, and popular culture. His current book project is a study of playwright-screenwriter Ben Hecht’s activism on behalf of antifascist & Zionist causes during the World War II era and the role such cultural work played in the transformation of Jewish identity during this period. He holds an MA in English from New York University and a PhD in Theatre from the CUNY Graduate Center, where he additionally specialized in American Studies.

Annette Levine is associate professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures and teaches Spanish and Latin American Studies. Her research focuses on cultural production (literature, film, art, monuments, music, and theatre) in the aftermath of dictatorships in Latin America. Prof. Levine is an active member of the Latin American Jewish Studies Association and has published several articles devoted to Latin American Jewish authors in the journal Modern Jewish Studies and in the Hostos Review. Her book, "Cry for Me, Argentina: The Performance of Trauma in the Short Narrative of Aída Bortnik, Griselda Gambaro, and Tununa Mercado" (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), grapples with literary and cultural manifestations of the Argentine Dirty War’s haunting repercussions. She is currently coediting a volume of scholarly articles devoted to the aftermath of the AMIA bombing in Buenos Aires, which is under contract with the Brill Latin American Jewish Series.

Peter Silberman is an associate professor of music theory in the Ithaca College School of Music. He is an active Klezmer musician and plays piano in the Ithaca College faculty Klezmer ensemble. He is also an occasional service leader at Congregation TIkkun v’Or, Ithaca’s Reform synagogue, and has composed and performed original music for synagogue services.