Dr. Susanna Garfein received her Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies with a concentration in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Philology from the Johns Hopkins University in 2004. Garfein came to Towson from Baltimore Hebrew University and has been a visiting professor at Johns Hopkins University, UMBC and McDaniel College. Her research is concerned with political identities in ancient Israel and how these identities shaped the religious and historical picture of ancient Israel. Currently she is editing and expanding a monograph based on her dissertation entitled, “Priests and Politics in Pre-Exilic Judah.”
At Towson, Dr. Garfein teaches a variety of courses that are concerned with the history, language and literature of the Hebrew Bible for the Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, the Graduate Programs in Jewish Studies, the Department of Foreign Languages, as well as the minors in Ancient Mediterranean Studies and Jewish Studies. She also teaches courses in Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Judaism in the time of Jesus and Hillel, and Kingship and Messianism. In addition to serving as a faculty member in the department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Dr. Garfein serves as the Program Director for the Graduate Program in Judaic Studies.
Benjamin Fisher joined the History Department and Graduate Programs in Judaic Studies in 2011. He earned his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania for his 2011 dissertation, “The Centering of the Bible in Seventeenth-Century Amsterdam: Jewish Religion, Culture, and Scholarship.”
Dr. Fisher studies the social, intellectual, and cultural history of Jewish society in medieval and early modern Europe. His research focuses on the history of the ways in which Jews in diverse settings have studied and taught the Bible, the origins of modern critical approaches to biblical scholarship in Jewish and Christian communities, and the impact of the Protestant Reformation on Jewish religious culture.
Dr. Fisher is currently working to expand his dissertation into a book that describes the emergence of the Bible, rather than Talmud and rabbinic literature, as the central focus of education, culture, and rabbinic scholarship in the Jewish community of seventeenth-century Amsterdam. This project provides valuable context for understanding the emergence of Benedict Spinoza from within this milieu, one of Europe's most impactful early modern philosophers and readers of the Bible, and for understanding the primacy of the Bible as a cultural resource in many modern Jewish communities.
Dr. Barry M. Gittlen has spent the better part of his life in the pursuit of the past. He has scoured the earth in search of ancient Israel at Tell Gezer, the Jenin-Megiddo Survey, Tell Jemmeh, Tel Ser’a, and Be’er Resisim. As Field Archaeologist and Archaeological Coordinator for the Tel Miqne/Ekron Excavations in Israel (1982-1996), he helped recover the fascinating history of this Philistine industrial city. Combining the disciplines of Archaeology and Biblical Studies, Dr. Gittlen strives to bring Israel's past to life and to reach new understandings of the Israelite populace which produced Biblical Literature.
Dr. Gittlen received his PhD from the Department of Oriental Studies of the University of Pennsylvania (1977) and has authored many scholarly articles as well as edited the volume Sacred Time, Sacred Place: Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Eisenbrauns 2002), Dr. Gittlen is currently preparing Tel Miqne-Ekron: Report of the 1984-1996 Excavations in Field III, the final report on his excavations at Philistine Ekron. In work related to his research and teaching, Dr Gittlen was flown to Egypt by the BBC (in May 2003) to be filmed for the BBC/Discovery Channel program on Joseph in Egypt which aired in October 2003.
Formerly Interim President of Baltimore Hebrew University, Dr. Gittlen is Chairman of the Mid-Atlantic Region of the American Schools of Oriental Research. The recipient of numerous grants and fellowships, Dr. Gittlen is listed in the Who’s Who in Cypriote Archaeology and Who’s Who in Biblical Studies and Archaeology and has served as consultant to documentary film makers. Named Baltimore Hebrew University’s “Most Popular Professor” by Baltimore Magazine (January 1997) and the 1993 recipient of the President's Award for “The Professor Who Most Exemplifies the High Ideals of the Baltimore Hebrew University,” Dr. Gittlen’s students constitute a critical legacy.
Dr. Shimon Shokek earned his BA Cum Laude, MA Cum Laude, and PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, the Department of Jewish Thought, where he also taught Jewish Ethics, Kabbalah, and Jewish Philosophy for seven years. Dr. Shokek has taught at Goucher College in Baltimore, MD and has taught for many years at the Smithsonian Institution. He is the author of the following books and articles: