Center for Jewish Studies Welcomes Deena Aranoff as Director

For immediate release, January 28, 2016

The Richard S. Dinner Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) at the Graduate Theological Union is pleased to welcome Dr. Deena Aranoff as the Center’s new director. Dr. Aranoff, who has worked with CJS and served on the GTU faculty since 2006, takes over the role from Dr. Naomi Seidman, who served as CJS director for the previous 16 years. Dr. Seidman will continue to work with CJS and its students as the Graduate Theological Union’s Koret Professor of Jewish Literature.

Dr. Aranoff, whose teaching specialties include rabbinic literature and medieval Jewish culture and history, received her doctorate from Columbia University. She celebrates the Center for Jewish Studies for “writing the newest pages in the history of Jewish scholarship and thought.” Aranoff believes “something magical” happens at CJS—“a kind of intellectual alchemy in which classical Jewish sources meet contemporary perspectives, producing new articulations of ancient themes.”

As she assumes the role of CJS director, Dr. Aranoff praised the diverse scholarly work of the Center’s MA and PhD students, whose research ranges “from Maneschewitz to Moon worship, and from Talmud to tattoos.” The Center for Jewish Studies, she says, develops scholars “rooted in a strong sense of the Jewish past and present,” equipping them to serve in local Jewish communities as well as in the academy.

The new CJS director also commended the leadership and continuing partnership of her predecessor. “I have learned so much from Naomi’s style,” Aranoff reflected, from “her capacity to expand rigid definitions, her devotion to students and colleagues alike, and her love for the GTU and all it represents. I look forward to our next decade together.”

Founded in 1968, The Richard S Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union is a premier center for the advanced study of Jewish history, literature, and culture. In addition to resourcing the GTU’s PhD, MA, and certificate programs in Jewish Studies, CJS serves as a vital hub of Jewish life in the San Francisco Bay Area, hosting scholarly lectures, conferences, films, holiday programs, and other public events. For more information, contact the Center for Jewish Studies at