April 19, 2024
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Fair Lawn Rebbetzin Goldstein Pursues Studies at Heb. U.

“I’ve always been interested in how people think, and how they got to what they think,” says doctoral candidate Rebbetzin Julie Goldstein, wife of Rabbi Uri Goldstein of Ahavat Achim in Fair Lawn. Goldstein is especially interested in children as evidenced by her doctoral thesis, Children of the Sacred Covenant: Imagining Child Martyrdom in Twelfth-Century Ashkenaz.

Next month Goldstein, along with her husband and their
children, will be packing up and leaving Bergen County. The family is headed to Israel for a year, as Goldstein was awarded the Golda Meir Postdoctoral Fellowship from The Hebrew University. The Zionist fervor that exists in the Goldstein house fuels the family’s excitement for the chance to experience life in Israel for a year.

Receiving the prestigious fellowship had its seeds from a meeting with Dr. Israel Yuval. Dr. Yuval, a renowned scholar of Jewish history at The Hebrew University, was giving a speech at New York University, where Goldstein is pursuing a joint doctorate in history and Hebrew and Judaic Studies. Goldstein conversed with him and sent her work to him at the suggestion of her advisor, Dr. Robert Chazan. Dr. Yuval was very impressed with Goldstein’s scholarship.

As part of the fellowship, Goldstein will have two responsibilities: research and writing. The primary goal of the fellowship is that the fellow will publish. Along those lines, Goldstein is considering turning her dissertation into a book for a more general audience. She is also very excited to explore Hebrew University’s library, which is known for its medieval manuscripts.

Goldstein feels that she was given a wonderful Jewish education. She received massive amounts of information and was “encouraged to memorize, internalize, and make the material part of my life.” She was looking for something more, though. “I was not encouraged to think about the roots. It was divine and that’s it.”

Goldstein’s interest in medieval studies was piqued when she took a course at Stern College taught by Rabbi Dr. Ephriam Kanarfogel. “He introduced me to medieval Jewish History as foundational to where we are today.” The class helped Goldstein to understand, “the clear interface/exchange between the outside world and Judaism itself. This resonated with me as a Modern Orthodox Jew and reinforced my openness to the outside world.”

Goldstein takes these interests to Ma’ayanot High School where she is a very popular teacher of Medieval Jewish History. Her students recognize Goldstein’s love of history when her hands go flying and her eyes widen, while she strives to make the history as relevant as possible. “I want to make my students think about the texts and figures in front of them as well as engage and judge materials as if they are in a courtroom. They should judge the history.” She wants to work on the girls’ critical thinking skills, and wants them to utilize those skills as they move forward.

Goldstein is very grateful to be a Bergen County resident. She feels the people in the community are smart and engaged Jews and they appreciate that, “I am a woman pursuing Jewish studies. They are interested in my work.”

It is Goldstein’s intent that her academic work relate to and enhance the experience of Jewish life within the Jewish community. It is very important to Goldstein that she maintains a foothold in Jewish communal service. This is her passion.

Larry Bernstein is a free-lance writer, teacher, and tutor. He and his family live in Bergen County. You can find his website at www.larrybernstein.com. His blog address is memyselfandkids.com

By Larry Bernstein

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