2018 Great Jewish Books Summer Program Faculty & Staff

The 2019 Great Jewish Books Summer Program faculty and staff will be announced shortly.

Core Faculty

Josh Lambert is the Yiddish Book Center Academic Director and visiting assistant professor of English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He is the author of Unclean Lips: Obscenity, Jews, and American Culture, which won a Canadian Jewish Book Award and the Jordan Schnitzer Award from the Association for Jewish Studies, and American Jewish Fiction: A JPS Guide. His reviews and essays have appeared in the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Haaretz, the Forward, the Globe and Mail, and many academic journals. 

"The teachers, guest speakers, and RAs helped make this a meaningful experience. The teachers introduced me to a new kind of literary criticism, the guest speakers taught me diverse views and the RAs help me get to know myself more.”

—2018 alum

Sasha Senderovich is an assistant professor in the department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies, and a faculty member at the Stroum Center for Jewish Studies, at the University of Washington, Seattle. He has also taught courses in Russian, Jewish, and comparative literature, culture, and cinema at the University of Colorado Boulder, Tufts University, Lafayette College, and Rutgers. His field of study is Soviet Jewish literature, film, and culture, and he has published articles on the writers Isaac Babel, David Bergelson, and Moyshe Kulbak, as well as on Soviet-born American Jewish writers like Gary Shteyngart, Anya Ulinich, Irina Reyn, and David Bezmozgis. He is working on his first book, How the Soviet Jew Was Made: Culture and Mobility after the Revolution; together with Harriet Murav, he translated, from the Yiddish, David Bergelson's novel Judgment (Northwestern University Press, 2017). He has published essays on literary, cultural, and political topics in the Los Angeles Review of Books, the New York Times, the Forward, Lilith, the Huffington Post, the Stranger, and the New Republic, and on the New Yorker's Page-Turner blog.

Claire Solomon is associate professor of Hispanic Studies and Comparative Literature at Oberlin College. Her book Fictions of the Bad Life: The Naturalist Prostitute and Her Avatars in Latin American Literature 1880-2010 explores how the literary prostitute of the late nineteenth century incarnated racial, ethnic, and sexual tensions in tropes that have persisted into the twenty-first century. In particular, it looks at how contemporary historical fiction contributes in unexpected ways to Jewish-Argentine identity. Her current research focuses on how the popular and the avant-garde overlap in Yiddish, Black, anarchist, communist, and other “minoritarian” theater of the 1920s, ’30s, and ’40s in North and South America. In the last year she has taught courses on Literature and Economics, Gabriel García Márquez's A Hundred Years of Solitude and Love and Death: Jewish Literature and Culture of the Americas. 

Visiting Writers

Elisa Albert is the author of the novels After Birth and The Book of Dahlia, and the short story collection How This Night is Different.  Her stories and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Tin House, Guernica, the Guardian, Bennington Review, the Paris Review, and in many anthologies. (Session 2)

Erika Meitner is the author of Inventory at the All-Night Drugstore (Anhinga Press, 2003), Makeshift Instructions for Vigilant Girls (Anhinga Press, 2011), and Ideal Cities (Harper Perennial, 2010), which was a 2009 National Poetry series winner. Her fourth book of poems, Copia, was published by BOA Editions in 2014; her fifth, Holy Moly Carry Me, is due out from BOA Editions in September of 2018. Meitner’s poems have been anthologized widely, and have appeared in Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, the New York Times Magazine, the New Republic, Tin House, and elsewhere. Meitner was a 2014-15 US-UK Fulbright Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing and an MA in Jewish Studies from the University of Virginia. Meitner is currently an associate professor of English at Virginia Tech, where she directs the MFA and undergraduate programs in Creative Writing. (Session 1)

Ibrahim Miari is a theater artist, originally from Israel. He holds an MFA in theater education from Boston University. While living in Israel, he was a member of the Acco Theater Center ensemble, creating original plays in Hebrew, Arabic, and English, and performing in Israel and Europe. He has performed his semi-autobiographical one-man show In Between both nationally and internationally at universities, theaters, and arts festivals. The play was nominated for the Independent Reviewers of New England award for Best Solo Show in addition to being an actor, he is also a language lecturer at the University of Pennsylvania, a yoga instructor, and a Sufi dancer. (Session 1)

Tova Mirvis is the author of the memoir The Book of Separation as well as three novels, Visible City, The Outside World and The Ladies Auxiliary which was a national bestseller. Her essays have  appeared in various publications including the New York Times,  the Boston Globe Magazine, the Washington Post and Psychology Today, and her fiction has been broadcast on National Public Radio. She lives in Newton, MA. (Sesson 2)

Ilan Stavans is the Lewis-Sebring Professor of Humanities, Latin American, and Latino Culture at Amherst College, the publisher of Restless Books, and the host of NPR’s podcast In Contrast. Born and raised in Mexico, Stavans attended Yiddish day school with other children of Eastern European immigrants. He came to the U.S. in the 1980s as a graduate student and is now a bestselling cultural critic, linguist, translator, public speaker, editor, short-story writer, and TV host. He is the author of On Borrowed Words, Spanglish, El Iluminado, Singer’s Typewriter and Mine, and Quixote, and the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories, The Schocken Book of Modern Sephardic Literature, The Norton Anthology of Latino Literature, The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry, and Oy Caramba!: An Anthology of Jewish Stories from Latin America. He has translated Pablo Neruda and Jorge Luis Borges into English, Emily Dickinson and Elizabeth Bishop into Spanish, Isaac Bashevis Singer from the Yiddish, Yehuda Halevi from the Hebrew, and Cervantes and Shakespeare into Spanglish. His latest books are the graphic novel Angelitos (illustrated by Santiago Cohen), the poem The Wall, and the play The Oven. He is cofounder and academic director of the Great Books Summer Program. The recipient of many awards and honors, Stavans’ work has been translated into a dozen languages. (Sessions 1 & 2)

Residential Assistants

Rena Branson is thrilled about being alive, basking in words, and working with young people. She has served as an educator in various settings, from teaching ESL in Alaska to creating Jewish outdoor curricula for Eden Village Camp. She has a BA from Oberlin College in Creative Writing & American Studies. For four years, she worked as a program assistant and volunteer recruiter at an understaffed after-school program in Ohio, and created a service-learning program for college students to volunteer there. After graduating in 2014, she participated in the Avodah Jewish Service Corps in her home city of NYC. She co-facilitated a support group for new members at Footsteps, an organization for people who grew up ultra-Orthodox and are exploring their own derech (path). She has been studying for the past year at the Pardes Experiential Educators Program in Jerusalem, immersed in ancient Hebrew and Aramaic texts. She’s excited to fast-forward 2,000 years and explore modern Jewish texts with students at GJB this summer!

Diana Clarke is an educator, translator, and writer living in Pittsburgh. They are a managing editor at In geveb: A Journal of Yiddish Studies, an early childhood teacher at the Waldorf School of Pittsburgh, and have recently taught classes on Yiddish translation and the relationship between humans and machines. In the fall, they will begin a doctoral program in History at the University of Pittsburgh. This is their fourth summer with Great Jewish Books.

Dory Fox is a PhD candidate at the University of Michigan, where she studies Jewish American literature in English and Yiddish. She also teaches composition and literature courses at UofM. Before starting grad school, she worked at the Yiddish Book Center and is also an alumna of the Center’s Steiner Summer Yiddish Program.

Abby Johnson hails from Rochester, New York. She graduated from Vassar College, where she studied English and women's studies. She also served as the fiction editor for the Vassar Review and as president of the Vassar Jewish Union. She has worked at arts and cultural institutions such as Writers & Books in Rochester, NY and currently is the Education Programs Manager at Brooklyn Heights Synagogue.

Zeke Levine is a musician and student of Yiddish, currently working as a fellow at the Yiddish Book Center. He graduated with a degree in music from the University of Texas at Austin in 2016, where he also studied Yiddish language and Jewish-American history as well as conflict resolution and peace studies. In the fall, Zeke will begin graduate study in historical musicology at New York University. 

Sadie Gold-Shapiro ​is a curious historian, Yiddishist, and translator based in western Massachusetts. They can usually be found in dusty and/or digital archives poking around in the past. Although they have been at the Yiddish Book Center in various capacities, this will be their first summer with Great Jewish Books. They are excited to delve into the texts in such fine company!


Great Jewish Books Program Manager Sylvia Peterson helps to run educational programs for all ages at the Yiddish Book Center. Prior to joining the Center in 2014, she worked at The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art. She holds a BA in classics from Mount Holyoke College and has a passion for art history and museum studies.

Education Program Assistant Margaret Frothingham keeps track of details for several programs at the Yiddish Book Center and enjoys getting to know the students at Great Jewish Books. Margaret is currently working towards her MA/MFA in Children's Literature through Simmons University and holds a BA in English and Art from Wheaton College.