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MJSA Board


President:  Dr. Mara Cohen Ioannides,

Department of English, Missouri State University


Mara Cohen Ioannides is emeritus faculty at Missouri State University, and specializes in American Jewish studies. Her work focuses on the Jews of the Ozarks, a region that includes Southwest Missouri, northern Arkansas, and a corner of Kansas. Jewish Reform Movement in the U.S. (2017), a revised version of her dissertation on the American Reform movement’s Haggadah and how the changes in the group’s theology influence the content of this book, was published by De Gruyter. She lectures regularly around the world. Along with her work on American Jewish studies, Mara writes historical fiction about Greek Jewry. Her first novel, A Shout in the Sunshine, was published by the Jewish Publication Society and the Second, We are in Exile/Estamos en Galut, was released by Hadassa Word Press.



Vice President: Dr. Laura Wiseman,

professor of Education and Humanities at York University,Toronto 


Laura Wiseman is professor of Jewish Studies, and Koschitzky Family Chair in Jewish Teacher Education.  Her PhD is in Hebrew Language and Literature with a collaborative doctorate in Jewish Studies. Her primary research concerns intertextual echoes of biblical, talmudic and medieval Hebrew sources in modern Hebrew literature. She interprets their significance in contemporary Hebrew poetry and life writing, and sometimes in poetry AS life writing.  Professor Wiseman coordinates and instructs in the undergraduate Jewish Teacher Education Program at York University, working with emergent Jewish Studies teachers. She also teaches Picture Books in Children’s Culture, Holocaust Literature of Children and Youth, and Literacy and Culture. Her graduate courses include Research in Adolescent & Children’s Literature, Visual and Verbal Portraiture in Nonlinear Life Writing, and Love Actually: Hebrew Love Poetry (biblical, medieval and modern).  Laura has been a member since 2014 and likes the Midwestern Jewish Studies Association for many reasons. For one, it has improved her sense of geography:  who knew Toronto was considered “Midwest”?!


Treasurer:  Dr. Stephen Michael Cohen

Independent Scholar

Stephen Michael Cohen has been researching, presenting, and publishing studies of scientific terminology in Yiddish for twenty-five years, after receiving his Ph.D. in Chemistry at Rice University in Houston, Texas. He has researched the life of his cousin, Haim Kantorovitch, who was a Socialist theoretician, writer, teacher, and leader of the Workmen’s Circle in the 1920s and early 1930s, the development of modern Judaic calligraphy, and the early history of the Arbel Chorale, along with publishing literary criticism of Yiddish science fiction. His books include "O Mg! How Chemistry Came to Be" (World Scientific Press, 2022), a graphic novel on the history of chemistry, and "America's Scientific Treasures," 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2020), as well as “What’s in a Name? A Young Person’s Jewish Genealogy Workbook” (Hakodesh Press). He is also a professional calligrapher of Judaic art for many years, a published composer of Jewish choral music, and the family genealogist for over four decades (with over 4500 people in his family back to the late 1700s). He is a Board member of the Royal Society of Chemistry–US Section, the Past-President of the Sharim v’Sharot Foundation [a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public about and performing Jewish music], a member of Yugntruf–Youth for Yiddish, the League for Yiddish, ASCAP, the Philadelphia Calligraphers’ Society, the American Chemical Society, and the Society for Technical Communication. He gives presentations and workshops on calligraphy and genealogy to the general public, and speaks only Yiddish to his children.




Dr. Peter Haas

Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies, Case Western Reserve University













Peter Haas held the Abba Hillel Silver chair in Jewish Studies at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio from 2000 until his retirement in the summer of 2016.  He was chair of the Department of Religious Studies from 2003 until 2015.   His teaching centered on contemporary Judaism after the Holocaust, but he also regularly taught courses on Western religions, the religions of the modern Middle East and on the Middle East crisis. For many years he taught as a visiting professor at Spertus Institute in Chicago.  He was active in the Wroxton Symposium on the Holocaust since its formation in the mid 1990’s.  He currently teaches for the Siegel Lifelong Learning program at CWRU and volunteers for a number of community organizations.



Dr. Alan Levenson

Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History, University of Oklahoma

Alan T. Levenson holds the Schusterman/Josey Chair in Judaic History and has written extensively on the Jewish experience for both scholarly and popular audiences. His book, Between Philosemitism and Antisemitism: Defenses of Jews and Judaism in Germany, 1871-1932 was nominated for a National Jewish Book Award Prize (paperback edition 2013), and his textbook Modern Jewish Thinkers (2nd edition) is widely used in classes on Jewish thought. He has won a number of prestigious fellowships, including an ACLS, and has lectured in the United States, Israel and Germany. Since arriving at OU in 2009 he has completed three major projects: The Making of the Modern Jewish Bible(2011), a history of Bible translations/commentaries in the modern era; as General Editor of The Wiley-Blackwell History of Jews and Judaism (2012), and Joseph: Portraits Through the Ages (2016), a retelling of commentaries on Genesis 37-50 from the ancient world until today. He received his BA/MA from Brown University magna cum laude, and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University. Levenson’s first professional commitment remains teaching undergraduate and graduate students to write, speak and read more effectively. He has guided many students to award-winning essays generated in his classes: “Judaism: A Religious History,” “Genesis Through Jewish Eyes” and “The Bible Since The Enlightenment." 
Website | Email | Vita (pdf)

Dr. Joshua Shanes

Director of the Jewish Studies Program, College of Charleston



Joshua Shanes is Assistant Professor of Jewish Studies at the College of Charleston. He received his B.A. from the University of Illinois in 1993, his Ph.D. in History from the University of Wisconsin in 2002, and spent time in between studying in Israel. Professor Shanes’s research interests focus on Central and East European Jewry in the 19th and 20th centuries, specifically turn-of-the-century Galicia and the rise of Zionism as a counter-movement to the traditional Jewish establishment.


Dr. Charlyn Ingwerson

Drury University



Charlyn Ingwerson received her PhD in comparative literature and cultural studies from the University of Arkansas in 2019. She began teaching at Drury in the fall of 2002, becoming a faculty member in 2008. Dr. Ingwerson serves the university community in a number of advisory capacities: as a member of the President’s Council on Inclusion, the International Advisory Committee, and as co-director of the Drury Scholars Program. Ingwerson is a Fellow at the Schusterman Center for Israel Studies at Brandeis University, a Fellow at the Israel Institute, a member of the Association of International Educators (NAFSA), the American Association of Composers, Authors, and Publishers (ASCAP), and a member of the Board of the Midwest Jewish Studies Association. She has presented her critical scholarship in contemporary literature by Middle Eastern women, Israeli literature, Motherhood Studies, and women’s peace movements at a number of conferences. Dr. Ingwerson teaches courses in comparative cultural studies, American Studies, and courses in the Middle East Studies Minor that include Israeli literature, literature in translation by Middle Eastern writers, Iranian Studies, and Studies in Nonviolence. She also regularly teaches Grammar and Style, Expository Writing, and seminars in Lyric Writing.


Dr. Michael Pytlik

Oakland University

Michael Pytlik is an Adjunct Associate Professor in Anthropology as well as a lecturer and the Director of Judaic Studies at Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan. He teaches courses on the archaeology of Israel, Jewish Sacred Texts, Introduction to Judaism, Jewish Theology, Monotheistic Mysticism and World Religions. He also leads Oakland University students to Israel each year to excavate.  He has established a field school there in conjunction with Hebrew University. For five seasons the expedition excavated at Khirbet Qeiyafa, an important Iron Age site associated with the kingdom of David in Judah at about 1000 BCE. From 2014 to 2017 the team excavated ancient Lachish. Pytlik has taught at Oakland University since 2009. He holds a doctorate in Jewish Studies from Spertus College in Chicago.  His dissertation centered on the topic of King David through the lenses of archaeology, history and Jewish tradition.


Graduate Student Board Member:





Shai Zamir is a PhD history candidate at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. He works on the early modern Iberian world, Jewish and Separdi history, and on Jewish-Christian relations and polemics. He holds a masters degree from Tel Aviv University, and he also studied at Yeshivat Hadar in New York. His dissertation project explores the history of family, intimacy and friendship among Spaniards, Jews and New Christians during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

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