Shalem College
Isaiah Gafni

Isaiah Gafni

President

Prof. Isaiah Gafni is a world-renowned scholar of Jewish history in the Second Temple period. Formerly a professor emeritus and the Sol Rosenbloom Chair of Jewish history at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, he is the author or editor of numerous books, academic articles, and more than 100 entries in the Encyclopedia Judaica. Prof. Gafni was awarded the Holon Prize in Jewish Studies for his socio-cultural analysis of the Jews in Talmudic Babylonia, and was also honored by the Hebrew University’s Talmud Department with the prestigious Rosenthal Prize in Talmudic Studies. A dedicated teacher and mentor for more than four decades, Prof. Gafni is also the recipient of The Hebrew University’s Michael Milken Prize for exceptional teaching.

Prof. Gafni, who moved to Israel from New York in 1958, holds a Ph.D. in Jewish history from The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he went served as director of the university’s Mandel Institute of Jewish Studies and as director of the graduate program of its Rothberg International School. He has also served as a visiting professor at numerous universities abroad, including Harvard, Yale, and Brown, and was honored as the Louis Jacobs Fellow in Rabbinic Thought at Oxford University

Much of Prof. Gafni’s academic career has also been devoted to the dissemination of Jewish historical knowledge on a popular level: He authored the first course in Jewish studies at Israel’s Open University, and served as chairman of the publications committee of Israel’s Zalman Shazar Center for Jewish History, devoted to the enhancement of Jewish historical consciousness. For a world-wide, English-speaking audience, Prof. Gafni filmed two courses for the highly regarded company, The Great Courses, a college-level series whose professors are leading figures in their fields of inquiry.

Prof. Gafni began his term as president of Shalem College on October 1, 2016.

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Daniel Polisar

Daniel Polisar

Executive Vice President

Among the founders of Shalem College, Daniel Polisar served as president of the Shalem Center from 2002-2013, after holding posts as Director of Research, Academic Director, and Editor-In-Chief of the center’s journal Azure. Before joining Shalem, he was founder and director of Peace Watch, a non-partisan organization monitoring Israeli and Palestinian compliance with the Oslo Accords, and head of the Peace Watch observer team during the January 1996 Palestinian elections. Dr. Polisar received his B.A. in politics from Princeton University and his Ph.D. in government from Harvard University, where he was the recipient of Truman and Fulbright scholarships, as well as of a Mellon Fellowship. His research interests include the history and philosophy of higher education, education in Israel, and Israeli constitutional development.

Dr. Polisar has testified before the Knesset Constitution Committee on Israel’s character as a Jewish state. Since 2005, he has served on the board of Metzilah, the Center of Zionist, Jewish, Liberal and Humanist Thought, and in 2006, he was appointed by the prime minister to be the first chairman of the National Herzl Council, responsible for commemorating the legacy of Theodor Herzl, a position he held for three years.

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Daniel Gordis

Daniel Gordis

Senior Vice President, Koret Distinguished Fellow, and Chair of the Core Curriculum Department

Daniel Gordis is Senior Vice President, Koret Distinguished Fellow, and Chair of the Core Curriculum at Shalem College. Previously the vice president of the Mandel Foundation in Israel and director of its Leadership Institute, Dr. Gordis was also the founding Dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at the University of Judaism in Los Angeles. Author of numerous books, a regular columnist for Bloomberg View and The Jerusalem Post, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times, The Times of Israel, and other leading news outlets, Dr. Gordis lectures throughout the world on Israeli society, American-Israeli relations, and the challenges facing the Jewish state.

Dr. Gordis is a two-time winner of the National Jewish Book Award, first for Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (Wiley, 2010), and then for his recent Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn (Ecco, 2017), a comprehensive yet accessible single-volume history of the state of Israel from its inception to the present day.

Dr. Gordis’s other books include Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul (Nextbook, 2014), an original examination of Israel’s sixth Prime Minister, and The Promise of Israel, Why Its Seemingly Greatest Weakness is Actually its Greatest Strength (Wiley, 2012), which was named by Jewish Ideas Daily as one of the “best Jewish books of 2012.”

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Seth Goldstein

Seth Goldstein

Vice President and Chief of Staff

Seth Goldstein is Vice President and Chief of Staff at Shalem College. In this role he works to advance the educational mission of the College and oversees the finance, operations, communications and fund development teams. Before joining Shalem, Seth served as Deputy to the President of Yeshiva University with a focus on philanthropy and community. In this capacity, he was part of a small leadership team guiding the overall University and he played a central role in the University’s historic $1 billion capital campaign. Immediately prior to his time at Yeshiva, Seth worked as a litigator at Dewey Ballantine LLP in New York City, where he handled complex commercial litigations. Seth is a graduate of Cornell University and New York University School of Law.

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Sharon Goldman

Sharon Goldman

Vice President of Strategic Initiatives

In her role as Vice President of Strategic Initiatives at Shalem College, Dr. Sharon Goldman is responsible for designing innovative strategies for engaging the college’s leadership. A frequent speaker and writer on such topics as Zionism, the American-Jewish diaspora, and the U.S.-Israel relationship, she is also developing and teaching a course for students on the fundamentals of the American political system and the history of the U.S.-Israel relationship.

Previously Dr. Goldman served as the AIPAC Deputy Regional Director for the Northeast Region, where she was responsible for the overall management and training of AIPAC’s largest regional staff, as well as the communications, business development, and political and development campaign of AIPAC’s largest region. Prior to this position, Dr. Goldman served for 8 years as AIPAC’s Northeast Regional Political Director, in which role she devised a comprehensive strategy for political engagement. In addition, she educated activists on relevant policy concerns, trained members on effective relationship building with elected officials, managed the organization’s legislative mobilizations, and conducted briefings with candidates for federal office.

Dr. Goldman received her doctorate in political science from Yale University in 2001. From 2001-2006, Sharon was an assistant professor of political science at Ramapo College of New Jersey. During her academic tenure, Sharon presented papers and chaired panels at the annual conferences of the American Political Science Association, the New York Political Science Association, and the Northeastern Political Science Association. She has also served as an executive board member of the New Jersey Political Science Association and the Northern New Jersey Hillel.

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Ido Hevroni

Ido Hevroni

Educational Director

Ido Hevroni’s research focuses on themes in Jewish literature, and in particular the Talmud. He is also an expert on the educational philosophy behind—and the practical teaching of—the Great Books, of the West, of Judaism, and of Israel. He teaches literature in various academic institutes in Israel, and lectures in widely at cultural institutions on both academic and popular subjects.

Between 2009-2011, Dr. Hevroni served as the academic director of “Rimon,” a Shalem Center initiative designed to expose top Israeli high-school students to new angles on Jewish and Zionist thought. During the same period, he served on the faculty of the Mandel Leadership Institute, where he was also Fellows Dean in the School for Educational Leadership, and Academic Coordinator in the IDF Educational Leadership Development Program. His work included the development and management of curricula in such fields as Western classics, Jewish literary classics, and Jewish-Israeli narratives.

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Orit Avnery

Orit Avnery

Dean of Students

Dr. Orit Avnery is a lecturer in Bible at Shalem College and a research fellow at the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Kogod Research Center for Contemporary Jewish Thought. An expert on biblical law and narrative, she is the author of a volume on the Books of Ruth and Esther, both of which she has taught at the Jewish Statesmanship Center, MATAN – The Sadie Rennert Women’s Institute for Torah Studies, and the Shalom Hartman Institute’s Lev Aharon Program for IDF Senior Officers, among other institutions.

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Sharon Weber

Sharon Weber

Vice President of Human Resources

Sharon Weber joined Shalem in 2002 as part of the marketing team, with responsibility for promoting Shalem Press books among Israeli universities, and encouraging their integration into curricula. She was later promoted to Director of Marketing, a role that involved developing long-term marketing strategies in Israel and abroad. In 2010, she was appointed Director of Human Resources, and in 2012 became Vice President of Human Resources for Shalem College.

Before coming to Shalem, Ms. Weber worked for the Jerusalem Inter-Cultural Center, which promotes dialogue between Jews and Arabs, religious and secular, and immigrant and native-born populations. She also served as a group leader for various Jewish Agency projects, including Birthright, and as an assistant to the Attorney General of Israel.

Ms. Weber holds a BA in political science and art history and an MA in Conflict Management and Resolution, both from the Hebrew University. During her military service, she served as rescue-operations instructor in the Homefront Command, teaching doctors, engineers, and reservists how to rescue civilians from disaster sites. She lives with her husband and two children in Jerusalem.

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Jonathan Mensh

Jonathan Mensh

Vice President of Finance

Jonathan Mensh brings a diverse accounting and finance background from a range of public corporate environments to Shalem College, including experience at publicly-traded corporations. Prior to joining Shalem, he was the corporate controller for IDT Global Israel, an organization of over one thousand employees, where he was responsible for establishing and managing the firm’s accounting and finance operations. He has also served as assistant corporate controller for Pediatrix Medical Group (now MedNax), the largest provider of neonatal medical services in the United States, where his role included supervising the reporting, accounting, payroll, and payables functions.

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Avishag Bar-Tal

Avishag Bar-Tal

Vice President of Operations

Avishag Bar-Tal is the Director of Operations at Shalem College, where she is responsible for planning, directing, and coordinating operations in support of the college’s growth. In addition to the oversight of special projects, Ms. Bar-Tal, who has more than eleven years’ experience in developing organizational infrastructures, manages the daily operations of the administration, IT, and personnel departments.

Before joining Shalem, Ms. Bar-Tal was a senior placement coordinator at Hever Hon, one of Israel’s leading human-resources firms. Prior to that, she served as coordinator for the high net worth clients team at Bank Leumi.

Ms. Bar Tal holds a B.A. in social sciences from Bar-Ilan University, where she also earned an M.A. in legal studies. Currently she is completing a certificate in conflict management from the Gevim Group, one of Israel’s leading professional firms.

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Martin Kramer

Martin Kramer

Chair of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department

Dr. Martin Kramer is chair of the Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies Department at Shalem College, where he previously served as its inaugural president. Author of the best-selling monograph Ivory Towers on Sand: The Failure of Middle Eastern Studies in America, Dr. Kramer is a renowned authority on contemporary Islam and Arab politics. Currently a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, he earned his undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Near Eastern Studies from Princeton University.

During his twenty-five-year career at Tel Aviv University, Dr. Kramer directed the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies. He has also taught as a visiting professor at Brandeis University, the University of Chicago, Cornell University, and Georgetown University, and served twice as a fellow of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington.

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Menachem Kellner

Menachem Kellner

Chair of the Philosophy and Jewish Thought Department

Menachem Kellner is the chair of the Philosophy and Jewish Thought Department. An expert in medieval Jewish philosophy and modern Jewish thought, Prof. Kellner taught at the University of Haifa for 33 years. Among other positions at the university, he acted as chair of the Department of Maritime Civilizations and dean of students, and held the Sir Isaac and Lady Edith Wolfson Chair of Religious Thought. He has been a visiting professor at the Sorbonne and at Northwestern University.

Author of nineteen books and close to one hundred articles, Prof. Kellner has twice been short-listed for the National Jewish Book Award. Two of his translations of classic texts have appeared in the Yale Judaica Series.

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Leadership

Libat Avishai, Academic Secretary

Michael Ben-Ami, Head Librarian

Shira Birnbaum, Director of Academic Administration

Marla Braverman, Director of Communications

Sharon Garubi, Director of Admissions and Student Affairs

Rachel Jacobson Gold, Director of Development

Erica Halivni, Art Director

Annie Kantar Ben-Hillel, Director of English Studies

Noa Kimmelman, Director of the Writing Center

Efrat Mazuz, Director of Student Recruitment

Marina Pilipodi, Director of Academic Development

Gila Rockman, Director, Department of Citizenship and Service

Assaf Sagiv, Editor in Chief, Shalem Press

Odelia Yatzkan, Director, Department of Career Services and Alumni Relations