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.
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.
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 The Jerusalem Post, and a frequent contributor to the New York Times and other leading news outlets, Dr. Gordis lectures throughout the world on Israeli society and the challenges facing the Jewish state. His most recent book, Menachem Begin: The Battle for Israel’s Soul (Nextbook, 2014) is an original examination of Israel’s sixth Prime Minister and Begin’s singular devotion to Jewish peoplehood and identity. His earlier book, Saving Israel: How the Jewish People Can Win a War That May Never End (Wiley, 2010) was awarded the National Jewish Book Award. His new work, Israel: A Concise History of a Nation Reborn, is intended to be the first comprehensive yet accessible history of the state of Israel from its inception to present day, and is set to be published by Ecco Press in October 2016.
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.
Anat Altman is the Vice President for Strategic Planning at Shalem College. Anat joined Shalem in 2000 and previously served as Vice President of Operations, Vice President of Human Resources, and Marketing Director. Currently, she leads the team tasked with the launch and strategic positioning of Shalem College, as well as the student recruitment operation.
Before joining Shalem, Altman worked for a Jerusalem-based public relations firm specializing in the Haredi sector. She served in the IDF Teachers Unit of the Education Corps, where she worked with Ethiopian immigrants in the years immediately following Operation Solomon.
Anat Altman was selected to light one of the twelve torches at the official Independence Day Ceremony at Mount Herzl in 1995, on the eve of Israel’s 47th year of statehood. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Criminology from Bar Ilan University.
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.
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.
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 curriculain such fields as Western classics, Jewish literary classics, and Jewish-Israeli narratives.