Rabbi Dr. Barry Freundel has taught seminars on government ethics on Capitol Hill and on medical ethics at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and served on the Theological Commission of the Human Genome Project. He is author of Contemporary Orthodox Judaism's Response to Modernity as well as many scholarly articles and other publications. Dr. Freundel is also the Rabbi of Kesher Israel, the Georgetown Synagogue, a modern Orthodox synagogue in the heart of the nation's capital, and an Adjunct Professor at Georgetown University Law School, the University of Maryland at College Park and George Washington University.
Dr. Freundel has appeared on a television shows such as the McNeil/Lehrer Hour and Da Ali G Show.
Dr. Freundel earned bachelor’s degrees from Yeshiva College and the Erna Michael College of Hebraic Studies, his MS from the Bernard Revel Graduate School, his Rabbinical Ordination, from REITS, Yeshiva University and his PhD from Baltimore Hebrew University.
Susanna Garfein A native of Tallahassee, Florida, Dr. Garfein began her academic career at the University of Georgia, where she majored in Religion with a concentration in Judaic and Biblical Studies. Dr. Garfein’s studies led her to pursue both the archeological and textual aspects of biblical studies. During the summers of 1991-1993, she participated in the Harvard-sponsored Leon Levy archaeological expedition in Ashkelon, Israel. In 1992, she wrote her senior paper, “Linguistic Transition in the Book of Ezekiel.”
Graduating cum laude in 1993, Dr. Garfein then went on to attend the Hebrew University of Jerusalem’s one-year graduate studies program in Hebrew Bible. There, her studies concentrated on Aramaic and linguistic changes within Biblical Hebrew.
In 1995, Dr. Garfein was accepted into the Ph.D. program in the department of Near Eastern Studies at the Johns Hopkins University where her concentration was in Hebrew Bible and Northwest Semitic Philology. She completed her doctorate in May 2004 and is currently editing and expanding her dissertation, “Temple-Palace Conflict in Pre-Exilic Judah,” for publication.
Dr. Garfein is a member of both the Society of Biblical Literature and the American School of Oriental Research. She also serves on the editorial board for the Society of Biblical Literature Series, Writings of the Ancient World.
Dr. Garfein served on the faculty of Baltimore Hebrew University teaching courses in Hebrew and Bible 2002–2009. In addition, she teaches the History of Israel and the ancient Near East at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Dr. Garfein lives in Baltimore with her husband, Ross Goldstein, and their dog, Ruthie.
Barry M. Gittlen
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 the recently published 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. He is preparing a book of conference papers titled The Archaeology of Worship in Biblical Israel.
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.
Shimon Shokek 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 also teaches 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:
Mavoh Le-Machashevet Israel. (Introduction to Jewish Thought), Selected Articles in Jewish Philosophy and Mysticism, edited by S. Regev and S. Shokek, Published by the Academon, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1984 and 1985. (Hebrew).
Early Jewish Mysticism: Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, Volume VI (1-2), co-editor of a collection of articles with Prof. Joseph Dan, Published by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1987. (Hebrew)
Jewish Ethics and Jewish Mysticism in Sefer Ha-Yashar, Published byThe Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, 1991. (English).
Ha-Teshuvah Be-Siffrut Ha-Mussar Ha-Ivrit, Ba-Philosophia Ha-Yehudit U-Va-Kabbalah ( Repentance in Jewish Ethics, Philosophy, and Mysticism ),Published by The Edwin Mellen Press, Lewiston, New York, 1995. (Hebrew).
Kabbalah and the Art of Being: The Smithsonian Lectures, Published by Routledge, London & New York, 2001. (English).
Ke-Etz Shatul, (Like A Planted Tree), A Novel in Jewish Philosophy and Kabbalah, Published by Yediot Sefarim, Tel Aviv, Israel, 2008. (Hebrew).
The Language of Jewish Mysticism and Kabbalah , to be published in 2009 -- manuscript has already been accepted for publication by Yediot Sefarim, Tel Aviv, Israel. (Hebrew).
"The Affinity of Sefer Ha-Yashar to the Circle of Geronese Kabbalists." Jerusalem Studies in Jewish Thought, Volume VI (3-4), Published by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1987, pp. 337-366 (Hebrew).
"In a Place where a Penitent Stands." Yovel Orot,Rav Kook Volume, edited by B. Ish Shalom and S. Rosenberg, Published by Ha-Histadrut Ha-Ziyonit Ha-Olamit, Tel Aviv, 1987, pp. 245-256 (Hebrew).
"Le Sefer Ha-Yashar et la Litterature Morale du 13' Siecle." Archives Juives, 1987, pp. 54-57 (French).
"Rationale and Mystical Elements in Ibn Paquda's Duties of the Heart." The World Jewish Congress, Published by The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1993/94 (Hebrew).
Valerie Thaler Dr. Thaler received her Ph.D. in Modern Jewish History from Yale University in May 2008. Her research focus was American Jewish identity in the 1950s. Dr. Thaler teaches courses in Jewish history and contemporary American Jewish life.
Prior to earning her doctorate, Dr. Thaler received an M.A. in Jewish Studies and Jewish Communal Service/Education from Brandeis University. She was a recipient of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship for her studies in Jewish education, and has extensive teaching experience in both formal and informal settings.
She also graduated magna cum laude from Yale University in 1994 with a B.A. in American Studies, and was named to Phi Beta Kappa in 1993. She received a Coca-Cola National Scholarship in 1990.
Dr. Thaler spent 1994-95 studying in Jerusalem as the recipient of a Dorot Fellowship; she attended the month-long Seminar for Holocaust Educators at Yad Vashem, interned in the Department of Education at Yad Vashem and took courses at the Pardes Institute.
Dr. Thaler is a member of the Association for Jewish Studies, as well as of the Jewish Communal Service Association of North America.
A native of Norristown, Pennsylvania, Dr. Thaler is married to Alex Thaler, and has one daughter, Sabrina.