Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program

Affiliated Faculty

Jennifer Thompson, Ph.D., Director of Jewish Studies Program, Associate Professor

Jennifer ThompsonJennifer Thompson, Ph.D., Director, Jewish Studies Program 

  • Jewish Studies
  • Associate Professor
  • Maurice Amado Professor of Applied Jewish Ethics and Civic Engagement
  • Office: Santa Susana 232
  • Phone: 818.677.2963


  • Ph.D., Ethics and Society, Graduate Division of Religion, Emory University
  • M.T.S., Harvard Divinity School
  • B.A., summa cum laude, Brandeis University, English & American Literature; minor, Comparative Religion; Women's Studies Program
  • Universität Bielefeld, Bielefeld, Germany: International Summer Academy, "Research Strategies in Faith Development and Biographical Study in Contemporary Religion"
  • Harvard University: Special Student in Anthropology

Courses taught include:

Sociology of Jewish Families and Communities, Jewish Identity in the U.S., Justice and Judaism, Applied Jewish Ethics, American Jewish Experience

Selected publications:

Jewish on Their Own Terms: How Intermarried Couples are Changing American Judaism

Applied Ethics, 2015
Applied Ethics bookcover. Agape Garden pictured


Selected Awards/Honors:

  • Community Engagement Discipline-Based Grant, Office of Community Engagement, California State University, Northridge, 2013, 2014
  • Incentive Regional Allocation Grant for Mapping the Jewish Valley project, The Valley Alliance of the Jewish Federation of Greater Los Angeles, 2012
  • Seminar on Debates about Religion and Sexuality, Harvard Divinity School, 2012
  • Center for Ethics, Emory University, Ethics and Servant Leadership Summer Internship Program, 2009
  • Graduate Fellowship, Center for Study of Myth and Ritual in American Life, Sloan Center on Working Families, Emory University, 2005–2010



  • American Academy of Religion
  • Association for Israel Studies
  • Association for Jewish Studies
  • Society for Scientific Study of Religion
  • Association for the Social Scientific Study of Jewry
  • Society of Jewish Ethics


Jeffrey Auerbach, Ph.D., Professor

Jeffrey Auerbach, Ph.D., Professor

Shira Brown, M.A., Lecturer

Shira BrownShira Brown, M.A., Lecturer


Shira Brown graduated from Californian State University, Northridge, with a BA degree in Women’s Studies and English in 2002. Prof. Brown also holds an MA degree in Applied Women’s Studies, with a concentration in Community Building & Education, from Claremont Graduate University, earned in 2004.

While at CSUN, Shira held the position of Director of the Women’s Resource Center on campus, as well as Director of the Women and Youth Supporting Each other (WYSE) CSUN chapter.

Immediately after earning her MA, Shira began working at the Institute for Multicultural Counseling & Education Services, Inc. (IMCES), where she became a Certified Domestic Violence Advocate and Program Coordinator for a CalWorks Domestic Violence program. It was here that she worked one-on-one with survivors of domestic violence providing access to community resources.

In addition to working as Program Coordinator and Case Manager at IMCES, Shira was successful in writing and was awarded two Requests for Proposals from the Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services, including a contract for the Family Preservation Program and the Wraparound Approach Services program – providing more than $4 million of funding. In Fall 2012, Shira was awarded a Campus Action Project grant from the American Association of University Women, where she was able to explore the gender wage gap with CSUN students.

Since August 2011, Shira has served as the Staff Director for CSUN's Women's Research and Resource Center.  She has been teaching in the CSUN Gender and Women’s Studies department since Spring 2006.

Resume (pdf)

Dorothy Clark, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Dorothy ClarkDorothy Clark, Ph.D., Associate Professor

Dr. Dorothy Clark is a professor of English. She earned both her undergraduate and doctoral degrees at UCLA and received an M.A. in English and a secondary English Credential from CSUN.  Dr. Clark has been teaching as full-time faculty at CSUN since 2001. 


Her interests and courses include Children’s Literature, Yeats, interdisciplinary courses on good and evil, and the Holocaust with a focus on issues of memory and representation.  The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Dr. Clark has been a board member of the 1939 Society (the largest Holocaust survivor organization in the U.S.) for over a decade.  She helped to initiate the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program’s trips to Poland, leading the first trip in conjunction with Loyola Marymount University in 2010.

Prof. Clark has taught classes on the Holocaust and American Culture and the Rhetoric of Memory—focusing on the Holocaust and the Armenian Genocide.

Current Research Interests:

Holocaust education and preserving an “authenticity of memory”; children’s literature and new media; representations of good and evil in popular culture.

Recent Selected Publications:

  • Co-editor, Frontiers in American Children’s Literature. Accepted for publication by Cambridge Scholars Press, January 2014.
  • "Healing Shattered Worlds: The Unforeseen Effects of a Second Generation Daughter's Return to Her Parents' Polish Village." Tikkun Magazine, Tikkun Daily, December 2011.
  • “Hyperread: Repurposing Children’s Literature and Digital Storytelling.”  Postmodern Reinterpretations of Fairy Tales. How Applying New Methods Generates New Meanings.  Ed. Anna Kérchy.  The Edwin Mellen Press, 2011.
  • “Being’s Wound: Evil and Explanation in The Killer Inside Me,” in the Enigma of Good and Evil: The Moral Sentiment in Literature, edited by A. Tymieniecka, Analecta Husserliana Book Series 85, The Netherlands: Springer Publications,  December 2005.


  • Member of the Editorial Board (Polish Peer Reviewed Journal):  A/R/T Journal: Analyses/Rereading/Theories: A Journal Devoted to Literature, Film and Theatre
  • Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • Children’s Literature Association (ChLA)
  • American Literature Association (ALA)
  • Children’s Literature Society, American Literature Association

Beth Cohen, Ph.D., Lecturer

Beth Cohen, Ph.D.Beth Cohen, Ph.D., Lecturer


  • Ph.D. Holocaust History, Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, Clark University, Worcester, MA. 2003.
  • M.Ed. Developmental Psychology, Harvard University.
  • B.A. Psychology, Adelphi University. This included one year in the Tel-Aviv. University Overseas Students Program with a focus in Jewish Studies.

Research and Teaching Interests

The Holocaust and its aftermath including the intersection of the Holocaust and American Jewry, and the appearance of the Holocaust in public consciousness and memory from postwar until today.

Her current research focuses on child survivors’ postwar experiences. In addition to articles and a book on the Holocaust, she has volunteered as an interviewer for the USC Shoah Visual History Foundation and consulted to The March of the Living, PBS Frontline “Memory of the Camps, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous, and other film and educational projects.


  • “Reconstituted Families After the Holocaust “ in Ofer, Dahlia and Cohen, Sharon, eds, New Research from the Kestenberg Archives, Berghann Books (forthcoming 2015).
  •  The Youngest Remnant,” in K. Darian-Smith, Childhood, Culture, and Heritage. Valentine-Mitchell, 2013.
  • “The Myth of Silence: Survivors Tell a Different Story,” in Sundquist, Eric and Cesarani, David, After the Holocaust: Challenging the Myth of Silence. Routledge, 2012.
  • “Holocaust Survivors in the United States,” entry in Cambridge Encyclopedia of Judaism and Jewish Culture, Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • “Face-to-Face: Holocaust Survivors and the American Jewish Community, 1946-1954” Approaches to Jewish Displaced Persons in Postwar Germany, Wayne State University Press, 2010.
  • Holocaust Survivors in America, Albany, NY: New York Archives Journal, Spring 2008.
  • Case Closed: Holocaust Survivors in Postwar America. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press in association with the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington, DC, 2007.
  • “From Case File to Testimony: Reconstructing Survivors’ First Years in America.Casden Annual, Vol. 6:  The Impact of the Shoah on America and in Jewish American Life. PurdueUniversity Press, 2009. 
  • “Helping Hands? The Resettlement of Holocaust Survivors in America, 1946-1954.” In Steinert and Weber-Newth, eds. Beyond Camps and Forced Labour. Current International Research on Survivors of Nazi Persecution. Proceedings of the first International Multidisciplinary Conference at the Imperial War Museum, London,   January 2003, Osnabrueck (Secolo Verlag) 2005.
  • “In the Shadow of Genocide: A Comparison of Literature by the Descendants of the Armenian Genocide and the Holocaust,” Journal of Armenian Studies, Spring 2001.


  • Social Studies History Association
  • American Jewish Historical Society (Academic Council Member)
  • Association for Jewish Studies
  • Western Jewish Studies Association

Daniela Gerson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Daniela GersonDaniela Gerson, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Daniela Gerson is an assistant professor of Journalism at California State University, Northridge, with a focus on community, ethnic and participatory media. Previously she was co-founder of the immigration newsletter Migratory Notes; a senior fellow at the Center for Community Media (CCM); community engagement editor at the LA Times; director of the Community Engagement and Journalism Initiative at University of Southern California; and immigration reporter for the New York Sun. She started her career as director of the Jewish Student Press Service and editor of New Voices Magazine. She has reported for WNYC: New York Public Radio, BBC/ PRI’s The World, Der Spiegel, Financial Times, CNN, The New York Times, among other outlets. She was awarded a first-place RIAS Berlin Commission radio award for her German-language radio documentary Too Many Geisters on the legacy of the Holocaust on the third generation. 

You can find her on Twitter @dhgerson

Recent Jewish-themed articles: 

April 26, 2021

NOVEMBER 1, 2020

Elaine Goodfriend, Ph.D., Lecturer

Elaine Good friend Elaine Goodfriend, Ph.D., Lecturer

  • Religious Studies, Jewish Studies, History
  • Office: Santa Susana Hall 418
  • Phone: 818.677.6875 or 818.677-6762 (messages for Jewish Studies), 818.677-3392 (messages for Religious Studies)


  • June 1990: Ph.D. in Near Eastern Studies, University of California at Berkeley.  
  • September 1982 - June 1983: Fulbright Grant, Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
  • June 1980: M.A., M.L.S. Concurrent Degree Program in Near Eastern Studies and Librarianship, U.C. Berkeley. Wheeler Fellowship in the Humanities.
  • December 1976: B.A. in Semitic Languages, Cornell University;  Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and graduation with honors. 


Teaching courses in Ancient Near East, Bible (Hebrew Bible and Christian Bible), Jewish history, women in Judaism and Jewish culture, general religious studies.

Research in Hebrew Biblical studies. 


  • "Food in the Hebrew Bible," in Food and Jewish Traditions. Editors: Aaron Gross, Jody Myers, and Jordan Rosenblum. Forthcoming.
  • "Leviticus 22:24: A Prohibition of Gelding for the Land of Israel?" in Current Issues in Priestly and Related Literature: The Legacy of Jacob Milgrom and Beyond. Editors: Roy E. Gane and Ada Taggar‑Cohen, et al. Resources for Biblical Study. Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, Spring 2015.
  • "Ethical Theory in the Hebrew Bible," Oxford Handbook of Jewish Ethics and Morality.  Editors:  Elliot N. Dorff & Jonathan K. Crane. Oxford University Press, 2012. 
  • Author of 118 sample annotations for's "Tagged Tanakh." This project is the Jewish Publication Society's endeavor to publish the Hebrew Bible/Tanakh as an electronic, online text, integrating the original Hebrew with JPS's English translation and selected commentaries. My annotations linked the Hebrew Bible with sources from the Ancient Near East.
  • "Book of Exodus," "Prostitution," and "The Ancient Near East." Cambridge Dictionary of Judaism and Jewish Culture. Editor: Judith Baskin. Cambridge University Press, 2011.
  • Central commentaries for the weekly Torah portions Yitro, Mishpatim, Tazria, and Metzora. The Torah: A Women's Commentary. Editors: Tamara Eskenazi and Andrea Weiss. New York: URJ Press, 2008.
  • Contributions to Women in Scripture:  A Dictionary of Named and Unnamed Women in the Hebrew Bible, Apocrypha, and New Testament.  Editors: Carol Meyers, Toni Craven, and Ross Kraemer.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2000.    
  • "Could keleb in Deuteronomy 23:19 Actually Refer to a Canine?" in Pomegranates and Golden Bells: Studies in Biblical, Jewish, and Near Eastern Ritual, Law, and Literature in Honor of Jacob Milgrom.  Editors: David P. Wright, Avi Hurvitz, and David Noel Freedman.  Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1995. 
  • "Adultery," "Prostitution," Anchor Bible Dictionary, 1992.

Jody Myers, Ph.D., Professor Emerita

Jody Myers, Ph.D.Jody Myers, Ph.D., Professor Emerita

We are sad to share the news that Professor Emerita Jody Myers passed away. As Director of the Jewish Studies Program for 34 years, Dr. Myers oversaw vibrant and unique programming that served students and the community. She created opportunities for students to travel to Central Europe, gain career skills in Jewish nonprofit organizations, and learn about Jewish environmental thought together with wilderness-survival skills. Community members enjoyed the Jewish Studies film series and public lectures that she offered. Her influence on CSUN students and the community beyond was deep and wide-ranging, and she will be profoundly missed. Her obituary appeared in the (Minneapolis) StarTribune on Oct. 25, 2022.  


  • Ph.D., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1985.
  • M.A., History, University of California, Los Angeles, 1977.
  • B.A., cum laude, History, Brandeis University, 1975.


Jewish culture and history, contemporary religious thought, American religious life, sustainability and nature.


  • Feasting and Fasting: The History and Ethics of Jewish Food, co-editor with Aaron S. Gross and Jordan D. Rosenblum (New York University Press, 2019).
  • Kabbalah and the Spiritual Quest: The Kabbalah Centre in America (Praeger Publishers, 2007).
  • Seeking Zion: Modernity and Messianic Activism in the Writings of Tsevi Hirsch Kalischer (Oxford and Portland, Oregon: Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, 2003). 

Selected Articles:

  • “Kabbalah in the Modern Era,” in Cambridge History of Judaism, Vol. VIII: The Modern World, 1815 – c. 2000, eds. Mitchell B. Hart and Tony Michels (Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • “Kabbalah Centre: Marketing and Meaning,” for Controversial New Religions, Second Edition, eds. James R. Lewis and Jesper Aagaard Petersen (Oxford University Press, 2014).
  • “Jewish Service-Learning Partnerships between Hillel and the Public University: A Case Study,” co-authored with Renée Cohen Goodwin, Journal of Jewish Communal Service, Vol. 87, (Winter/Spring 2012).
  • “Teaching Contemporary Israel through the Internet and Student Blogs” in Coping with Diversity: Language and Culture Education, eds. Hanna Komorowska and Lucyna Aleksandrowicz-Pędich (Academica, Warsaw, 2011).
  • “Kabbalah for the Gentiles: Diverse Souls and Universalism in Contemporary Kabbalah,” in Kabbalah and Spiritual Revival: Historical, Sociological and Cultural Perspectives, Boaz Huss, ed. (Ben-Gurion University Press, 2011). 
  • "The Myth of Matriarchy in Contemporary Jewish Women's Spiritual Writings," Jewish Social Studies, vol. 4, no. 1 (Fall, 1997).
  • "The Secret of Jewish Femininity: Hiddenness, Power, and Physicality in the Theology of Orthodox Women in the Contemporary World," in Gender and Judaism: The Transformation of Tradition, ed. T.M. Rudavsky, (New York University Press, 1995).  Co-authored with Jane Rachel Litman.
  • "Messianism and Zionist Ideologies," in Studies in Contemporary Jewry, volume VII (Oxford University Press, for the Institute of Contemporary Jewry, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1991).

Michele Paskow, M.A.H.L., Lecturer

Michele PaskowMichele Paskow, M.A.H.L., Lecturer

  • Jewish Studies
  • Office: Santa Susana Hall 420
  • Office Hours: Wed. 11:00 - 11:45 a.m.
  • Phone: 818.677.6878 or 818.677-6762 (messages)




  • HEBREW UNION COLLEGE, New York, NY: Rabbinic Ordination, 1991; M.A. Hebrew Literature, 1989
  • UNITED STATES ARMY CHAPLAINCY SCHOOL: Officer's Basic Course, 1990 - Ft. Monmouth, NJ;
  • Officer’s Advanced Course, 2000 – Ft. Jackson, SC
  • HEBREW UNIVERSITY OF JERUSALEM: Graduate study, Hebrew Literature, 1986-87; Summer study, 1983
  • UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA, LOS ANGELES: B.A. Hebrew Language and Literature June 1986, cum laude



Mira Rosenthal, Lecturer

Mira Rosenthal, Lecturer

Mira Rosenthal earned her Advanced Teaching credential in 1978 at the Gordon Seminary, Haifa, Israel. In the first twenty years of her teaching career, she mainly focused on teaching higher education Hebrew classes and Algebra, as well as training new teachers at the Marcus Army School for the IDF and at the Damum Correction Facility Center. In 1978 Mira shifted her focus from teaching native speaking Israelis to teaching Hebrew only to immigrants at Leo Baeck High School, Haifa.

From 1999 to present, Mira has been teaching Hebrew at the Whizin Center for Continuing Education as well as Hebrew grammar and conversation at the American Jewish University's Rabbinical School and at the Jewish Education department. Mira is also a part time faculty member at CSUN's Modern & Classical Languages and Literature department where she teaches beginning and intermediate Hebrew as a second language.

Audrey Thacker, Ph.D., Lecturer

Audrey ThackerAudrey Thacker, Ph.D., Lecturer

English, with an emphasis on American literature and sub-specialties in Jewish American literature, African American literature, the novel, and the 20th and 21st centuries
Office: Sierra Tower 835
Phone: 818.677.6337
  • Ph.D, English, Claremont Graduate University, 2005
    • Dissertation:  My Story, Your Story, Our Story--Whose Story? "Storying" the Holocaust and Confronting Questions of Narrative Authority and Authenticity through Art Spiegelman's MAUS: A Survivor's Tale
  • M.A., English, California State University, Northridge, 1992
    • Thesis: Jewish Dreams/American Dreams: Ethnic Absence and Presence in Four Jewish American Texts
  • B.A.,  English, University of California, Berkeley, 1986
    • ​Thesis: Humor and Emily Dickinson: An Unexpected Acquaintance

I am currently in my 15th year of teaching English, usually American literature, at CSUN, and am also a faculty member in the Liberal Studies Online Degree Completion Program. In addition to teaching, I assess CSUN's Upper Division Writing Exams (UDWPE) and work actively with the Affordable Learning $olutions (AL$) team to make my courses zero-cost with regard to textbooks
At present, most of my research and writing involves both Jewish and African American performance. The idea of performance is a fascinating and a timely one in a current social context in which the borders of ethnic and racial identification are often blurred, both intracommunally and from without.
Complicating Constructions: Race, Ethnicity, and Hybridity in American Texts, co-edited with David S. Goldstein, Ph.D., of the University of Washington, published June 2007 by the University of Washington Press

Review of Weequahic’s Gentle Giant, by Robert Masin, Philip Roth Studies, Fall 2010
Select Papers Presented
“Shifting Borders/Shifting Jews: In Literature and in Life, ‘Big J’s,’ ‘Little j’s and the Farblunget Parameters of Jewish Performance,” presented at the conference of the Western Jewish Studies Association (WJSA), Palm Desert, CA, May 2019
Sorry to Bother You, and Welcome to Braggsville--but Now Get Out! In Underground/Underskin Racial Performance, Will the “Real” Black Man Please Stand Up?,” presented at the conference of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the United States (MELUS), Cincinnati, Ohio, March 2019

“Pop Goes the Professor: Brands, Stands and Reprimands in the Teaching of Jewish American Texts,” presented at the conference of the Western Jewish Studies Association (WJSA), Claremont McKenna College, Claremont, CA, March 2017

Nu? THIS Is Where We’re Going? Moving the Holocaust from the Sacred to the Profane in Melvin Jules Bukiet’sAfter and Tova Reich’s My Holocaust,” presented at the conference of the Society for the Study of Jewish American and Holocaust Literature (JAHLIT), Salt Lake City, Utah, September 2009

Melissa Weininger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor

Melissa WeiningerMelissa Weininger, Ph.D., Assistant Professor


Ph.D., Jewish Studies, The University of Chicago, 2010

B.A., English Language and Literature and Women’s Studies, Harvard University, 1995

Research Interests

Prof. Weininger works in the fields of Hebrew and Yiddish literature, with an emphasis on contemporary Israeli literature. She is completing a book on diaspora Israeli literature and culture. Her other research interests include gender, nationalism, and popular culture, with a particular interest in Israeli television.


Prof. Weininger has taught courses on Jewish literature and film, graphic novels, gender and sexuality. At CSUN has taught Women in the Jewish Experience and the American Jewish Experience, and will teach Israel’s History and Peoples, Jewish Ethics, and Nonprofit Internship in the Jewish Community.

Kassandra Wilsey, M.A.

Kassandra WiseyKassandra Wilsey

Kassandra graduated top of her class with a Masters Degree in Recreation Management from California State University Northridge. As a part-time instructor in both the Recreation and Tourism Management Department and the Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program, she teaches outdoor education and environmental sustainability. She also teaches Environmental Judaism which is an examination of teachings on the natural environment found in Jewish literature and oral teachings, with an emphasis on values and practices related to respect for natural life and environmental conservation. It is her goal to bridge the growing gap between students and their natural environment with hopes of a more sustainable future.