Our Faculty

The Tikvah Scholars Program is anchored by a world-class faculty, selected for its breadth of scholarship and passion for seminar-style teaching. Under the leadership of our dean, Rabbi Mark Gottlieb, our faculty is comprised of leading college professors, rabbis, journalists, public intellectuals, and key policy figures.

Dr. Harry Ballan

Harry Ballan is a managing director of Alliant‘s Global Mergers and Acquisitions Group and an adjunct professor at New York University Law School. He holds a B.A., M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. from Yale University and a J.D. from Columbia Law School. After law school, he clerked for the Hon. Wilfred Feinberg in the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, before spending almost 30 years practicing law at Davis Polk & Wardwell LLP. Dr. Ballan served as dean of Touro Law School from 2016 to 2019 and was the founding dean of Tikvah Online Academy in 2020.

Rabbi Scott Bolton

Rabbi Scott Bolton serves as the spiritual leader of Congregation Or Zarua on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He served as head of school for two private day schools, before moving into a congregational position. His work in Jewish educational circles includes evaluating texts and preparing curricula that seek to celebrate and engender cultural identity while promoting understanding regarding the dignity of difference. “Educating everyone, from government officials to youth—tomorrow’s leaders—about how to express and take pride in their own heritages and at the same time dignify their neighbors’ is our tallest order,” said Rabbi Bolton.

Dr. Justin Cammy

Dr. Justin Cammy is professor and chair of the programs in Jewish Studies and World Literatures at Smith College. A specialist in Yiddish literature and eastern European cultural history, he also teaches courses on Hebrew literature and Israeli history. Cammy's publications range from essays on Yiddish writers to scholarly translations of foundational texts to introductions to new editions of works by Yiddish poets and memoirists that open them up to a broad readership. His scholarship on the generation of “when Yiddish was young” challenges post-war myths about Yiddish. Cammy’s recent critical edition and translation of Abraham Sutzkever’s From the Vilna Ghetto to Nuremberg: Memoir and Testimony was awarded the 2022 Leviant Memorial Prize in Yiddish Studies from the Modern Language Association, the Canadian Jewish Literary Award for Yiddish, and the Finestone Prize for the best translation of a book on a Jewish theme from the J.I. Segal Awards. Cammy holds a PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from Harvard and a BA in Middle Eastern Studies and Political Science from McGill, which included a junior year at the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. For almost twenty years, he also has been a faculty member at both the Steiner summer program at the Yiddish Book Center and the Naomi Prawer Kadar International Yiddish summer program at Tel Aviv University.

Matthew Continetti

Matthew Continetti is the director of domestic policy studies and the inaugural Patrick and Charlene Neal Chair in American Prosperity at the American Enterprise Institute. Mr. Continetti is a columnist for Commentary and co-hosts the magazine's daily podcast. He is also the founding editor of the Washington Free Beacon and a contributing editor at National Review. He has been published in the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, among other outlets. His broadcast appearances include Fox News Channel’s Special Report with Bret Baier and NBC News’ Meet the Press. Mr. Continetti is the author of three books, including, most recently, The Right: The Hundred-Year War for American Conservatism (Basic Books, 2022). His previous books were The Persecution of Sarah Palin: How the Elite Media Tried to Bring Down a Rising Star (Penguin, 2009) and The K Street Gang: The Rise and Fall of the Republican Machine (Doubleday, 2006).

Rabbi Yakov Danishefsky

Yakov Danishefsky is a licensed clinical social worker, specializing in trauma, sex-addiction, couples-therapy, and other life-adjustment challenges. He is also a speaker and educator for various Jewish organizations, blending spirituality, philosophy, and psychology. As both a therapist and teacher, Yakov is warm and personable, as well as direct and depth-oriented. He earned semicha and a masters in Jewish philosophy from Yeshiva University, completed his masters in social work from Walden University, and was a member of the Wexner Graduate Fellowship. Yakov recently began a private practice, Mind Body Therapy(www.mindbodychicago. com), and he lives in Chicago with his wife and four children.

Gila Fine

Ms. Gila Fine is a teacher of Aggada at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies, exploring the tales of the Talmud through philosophy, literary criticism, psychoanalysis, and pop-culture. She is also a faculty member of the London School of Jewish studies, the Nachshon Project, and Amudim Seminary, and has taught thousands of students at conferences and communities across the Jewish world. Haaretz has called her “a young woman on her way to becoming one of the more outstanding Jewish thinkers of the next generation.”

Dr. Rachel Fish

Dr. Fish completed her doctoral degree in the Near Eastern and Judaic Studies department at Brandeis University. Her dissertation, “Configurations of Bi-nationalism: The Transformation of Bi-nationalism in Palestine/Israel 1920’s-Present,” examines the history of the idea of bi-nationalism and alternative visions for constructing the State of Israel. In 2015 Dr. Fish held the Rohr Visiting Professorship at Harvard University, where she lectured on modern Israel and received the Derek Bok Certificate of Teaching Excellence. She is co-editor, with Ilan Troen, of the book Essential Israel: Essays for the Twenty-First Century.


Sherif Girgis

Mr. Sherif Girgis joined Notre Dame Law School in 2021. His work at the intersection of philosophy and law—including criminal law, constitutional law, and jurisprudence—has appeared in academic and popular venues including the Virginia Law Review, the University of Pennsylvania Law Review, the Yale Law Journal, the American Journal of Jurisprudence, the Cambridge Companion to Philosophy of Law, the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy, The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times. Prior to joining Notre Dame, he practiced appellate and complex civil litigation at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., having previously served as a law clerk to Justice Samuel Alito, Jr., of the U.S. Supreme Court and Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Now completing his Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton, Girgis earned his J.D. at Yale Law School, where he served as an editor of the Yale Law Journal and won the Felix S. Cohen Prize for best paper in legal philosophy. He earned a master’s degree (B.Phil.) in philosophy from the University of Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar and a bachelor’s in philosophy from Princeton, Phi Beta Kappa and summa cum laude.


Rabbi Mark Gottlieb

Rabbi Mark Gottlieb is chief education officer of Tikvah and founding dean of the Tikvah Scholars Program. Prior to joining Tikvah, Rabbi Gottlieb served as head of school at Yeshiva University High School for Boys and principal of the Maimonides School in Brookline, MA, and has taught at The Frisch School, Ida Crown Jewish Academy, Hebrew Theological College, Loyola University in Chicago, and the University of Chicago. He received his BA from Yeshiva College, rabbinical ordination from the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary, and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Chicago, where his doctoral studies focused on the moral and political thought of Alasdair MacIntyre. Rabbi Gottlieb’s work has been featured twice in the Wall Street Journal and his writing has appeared in First Things, Public Discourse, SEVEN: An Anglo-American Literary Review, The University Bookman, Tradition Online, the Algemeiner, From Within the Tent: Essays on the Weekly Parsha from Rabbis and Professors of Yeshiva University, and, most recently, Strauss, Spinoza & Sinai: Orthodox Judaism and Modern Questions of Faith. He is a trustee of the Hildebrand Project and serves on the Editorial Committee of Tradition: A Journal of Orthodox Jewish Thought. He lives in Teaneck, NJ, with his wife and family.

Dr. Ryan Hanley

Ryan Patrick Hanley is Professor of Political Science at Boston College. Prior to joining the faculty at Boston College, he was the Mellon Distinguished Professor of Political Science at Marquette University, and held visiting appointments or fellowships at Yale, Harvard, and the University of Chicago. A specialist on the political philosophy of the Enlightenment period, he is the author of Adam Smith and the Character of Virtue (Cambridge, 2009) and Love's Enlightenment: Rethinking Charity in Modernity (Cambridge, 2017), and Our Great Purpose: Adam Smith on Living a Better Life (Princeton, 2019). His most recent projects include The Political Philosophy of Fénelon, and a companion translation volume, Fénelon: Moral and Political Writings, both of which will be published by Oxford in 2020.

Dr. Anna Moreland

Dr. Anna B. Moreland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Humanities at Villanova University. Her interests lie in faith and reason, medieval theology with an emphasis on Thomas Aquinas, the theology of religious pluralism, and comparative theology, especially between Christianity and Islam. Her publications include Known by Nature: Thomas Aquinas on Natural Knowledge of God and Muhammad Reconsidered: A Christian Perspective on Islamic Prophecy.

Dr. James Otteson

Dr. James R. Otteson received his BA from the Program of Liberal Studies at the University of Notre Dame and his PhD in philosophy from the University of Chicago. He specializes in business ethics, political economy, the history of economic thought, and eighteenth-century moral philosophy. He has taught previously at Wake Forest University, New York University, Yeshiva University, Georgetown University, and the University of Alabama. His books include Adam Smith’s Marketplace of Life (Cambridge, 2002), Actual Ethics (Cambridge, 2006), Adam Smith (Bloomsbury, 2013), The End of Socialism (Cambridge, 2014), The Essential Adam Smith (Fraser Institute, 2018), and Honorable Business: A Framework for Business in a Just and Humane Society (Oxford, 2019). His most recent books are The Essential David Hume (Fraser, 2021) and Seven Deadly Economic Sins (Cambridge, 2021). His just-released book is Should Wealth Be Redistributed? A Debate (with Steven McMullen; Routledge, 2023).

Louis Petrich

Mr. Louis Petrich received his master's degree in social thought from the University of Chicago in 1986. He worked as a dramaturg, assistant director, and actor at the Court Theater in Chicago and at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington, D.C. in the late 1980's and early 1990's. In 1990, he received his first Fulbright Scholar Award to teach American literature at the Alexandru I. Cuza University in Iasi, Romania, where the worst communist regimes in Eastern Europe had just been violently overthrown. This experience caused him to spend the next decade in similar activities. In 1992, he joined the United States Peace Corps in Czechoslovakia to teach the future teachers of that country. He spent the next decade teaching American studies through the Civic Education Project to university students in Slovakia, Romania, and Kyrgyzstan. In 2001 He received a second Fulbright Scholar Award to teach American studies at Kyrgyz State National University in Bishkek, where he founded the American Studies Resources and Training Center. He returned to the United States in 2002 to begin a very different academic career as a Tutor at St. John’s College in Annapolis. He remains there to this day, teaching the great books across the liberal arts curriculum, while recently co-hosting the College's video and podcast series called "Continuing the Conversation." He took a leave of absence in 2010 to spend a year helping to found and teach the core program of liberal arts at the American University of Sulaimani in Iraq. He has two children, ages 25 and 18, and in his spare time he writes poetry and photographs marine life on the oceanic reefs of the world.

Dr. Daniel Polisar

Daniel Polisar is the co-founder and executive vice president of Shalem College in Jerusalem, Israel’s first liberal arts college. He previously served as the president of the Shalem Center from 2002-2013 and also as its director of research, academic director, and editor-in-chief of its journal, Azure. From 2006 to 2009, he served as the founding chairman, within the Office of the Israeli Prime Minister, of the National Council for the Commemoration of the Legacy of Theodor Herzl. Dr. Polisar received his BA in politics from Princeton University and his PhD in government from Harvard University, where he was the recipient of Truman and Fulbright scholarships, as well as of a Mellon Fellowship. His research interests include Zionist history and thought, Israeli constitutional development, and the history and philosophy of higher education.

Rabbi Mitchell Rocklin

Rabbi Dr. Mitchell Rocklin is Director of the Jewish Classical Education Concentration track at the University of Dallas and the academic director and dean of the Lobel Center for Jewish Classical Education. His prior work on Jewish Classical Education as a research fellow with Tikvah was featured in the Wall Street Journal. He received his Ph.D. in history from the CUNY Graduate Center, held postdoctoral fellowships at Princeton University and Yeshiva University, and taught at both CUNY and Princeton. He is also a chaplain in the Army National Guard with the rank of Major. Rabbi Rocklin is also the president of the Jewish Coalition for Religious Liberty, as well as a member of the Rabbinical Council of America’s Executive Committee and Military Chaplaincy Committee. Prior to his work at Tikvah, he served as a congregational rabbi in Connecticut. His writings have been featured in publications including The Los Angeles Times, National Review Online, The Daily Wire, The Forward, The Public Discourse, and Mosaic.

Dr. Elisha Russ-Fishbane

Elisha Russ-Fishbane, Associate Professor of Hebrew and Judaic Studies at New York University, is a historian of Jewish culture in the medieval Islamic world and a scholar of medieval Jewish thought, law, and literature. His first book on the movement of Jewish-Sufi pietism in medieval Egypt, entitled Judaism, Sufism, and the Pietists of Medieval Egypt: A Study of Abraham Maimonides and His Circle (Oxford University Press, 2015), was awarded the Salo Wittmayer Baron Book Prize by the American Academy for Jewish Research. His second book, Ageing in Medieval Jewish Culture, forthcoming with The Littman Library of Jewish Civilization, is a study of aging in the Jewish communities of the medieval Mediterranean and Near East and of old age as a paradigm and ideal in medieval Jewish culture. He is currently working on a study of how Islam, both as religious rival and political power, was portrayed in medieval Jewish literature, as well as how Muslims were depicted in the daily documents of the Cairo Genizah.

Rabbi Gamliel Shmalo

Rabbi Gamliel Shmalo has taught Jewish philosophy and law at Yeshiva University. He holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from Hebrew University in Jerusalem in Jewish Philosophy. He has also studied at Machon Shlomo, Yeshivat Kerem B’Yavneh, Heichal HaTorah B’Tzion, and Beit Ariel Jerusalem. He has published widely on Jewish themes, and he lectures internationally. He was the Director of Education for Meor NYU, and before returning to the U.S. he was on the faculty of Michlalah Jerusalem College and Yeshivat Ohr Yerushalyim for ten years. His book Learning to Grow is published by Kodesh Press. 

Dr. R.J. Snell

Dr. R.J. Snell is Editor-in-Chief of Public Discourse and Director of Academic Programs at the Witherspoon Institute. Previously, he was for many years Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Philosophy Program at Eastern University and the Templeton Honors College, where he founded and directed the Agora Institute for Civic Virtue and the Common Good. He earned his MA in philosophy at Boston College, and his PhD in philosophy at Marquette University. His research interests include the liberal arts, ethics, natural law theory, Thomas Aquinas, the Catholic intellectual tradition, and the work of Bernard Lonergan.

Dr. Sarah Skwire

Dr. Sarah Skwire is a Fellow at Liberty Fund, Inc., a non-profit educational foundation and the author of the college writing textbook, Writing with a Thesis, which is in its 12th edition. Sarah has published a range of academic articles on subjects from Shakespeare to zombies and the broken window fallacy, and her work has appeared in journals as varied as Literature and Medicine, The George Herbert Journal, and The Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization. She writes a regular book review column, Book Value, for the Freeman Online and blogs at Bleeding Heart Libertarians. Sarah’s work on literature and economics has also appeared in Newsweek, The Freeman and in Cato Unbound, and she is an occasional lecturer for IHS, SFL, and other organizations. Her poetry has appeared, among other places, in Standpoint, The New Criterion, and The Vocabula Review. She graduated with honors in English from Wesleyan University, and earned a MA and PhD in English from the University of Chicago.

Shuli Taubes

Ms. Shuli Taubes currently serves on the faculty of SAR High School in Riverdale, New York, where she teaches Tanakh and Jewish Identity, and chairs the Jewish Philosophy department. She has also developed and teaches a curriculum for educating Modern Orthodox high school students in comparative religion. Shuli is a member of the Machon Siach cohort on sexuality where she focuses her research on Jewish sexual ethics and education. For three years, she was the Sopher Community Scholar at the Young Israel of North Riverdale where she gave classes and served in a pastoral role. She is also a kallah (pre-marital) teacher and lectures in synagogues and adult education programs throughout North America. Shuli received her Master of Divinity (MDiv) from Harvard Divinity School and her BA in history from Barnard College. Shuli and her family live in New York City.

Dr. Aaron Tugendhaft

Aaron Tugendhaft studied history and philosophy at the University of Chicago, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and the Sorbonne. Since receiving his doctorate in ancient Near Eastern Studies from New York University in 2012, he has taught broadly within the humanities on four continents and has become a staunch advocate of traditional liberal education as a corrective to premature professionalization, academic hyperspecialization, and political polarization. His most recent book, The Idols of ISIS: From Assyria to the Internet (University of Chicago Press, 2020), is a philosophical meditation on an Islamic State video of iconoclasm that explores the political power of images and the significance of their destruction. In fall 2021, he joined the history department and became a director of interdisciplinary programs at the Ramaz School in New York City.


Sarah Wapner

Ms. Sarah Wapner is a faculty member at the Tikvah Fund. She previously served as a program manager for strategic partnerships at a private foundation in New York City. Sarah received her undergraduate degree from the University of Toronto, where she majored in political science and Jewish studies. She also taught history and Jewish studies at Bnei Akiva Schools of Toronto. Sarah is an alumna of the Krauthammer Fellowship (2021-2022) as well as fellowships at the Hertog Foundation and the American Enterprise Institute. She is a graduate of the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. Her writing has appeared in The Jewish Review of Books.

Miriam Zami

Ms. Miriam Zami is a PhD student in Talmud and Ancient Jewish History at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Jewish Studies. Formerly, she served as the Springboard Fellow for the Hillel at Baruch, City, and John Jay Colleges, where she developed curricula and led Jewish programming for hundreds of students across New York City. She is an alumna of Stern College for Women, Midreshet Lindenbaum, and various bet midrash programs including Drisha and the Center for Modern Torah Leadership. Miriam lives in Manhattan with her husband.

Each of our master teachers brings a unique and passionate vision to his or her work. We hope to provide students with faculty who are more than just teachers; students get to meet with teachers in informal settings such as meals and during free-time to learn from the faculty as citizens and role models.

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