Research Fellowships – Jewish Intellectual History

Research Fellowship in Jewish Intellectual History – the History of the Jewish Tradition of Practical Wisdom

The Research Fellowship in Jewish Intellectual History is an opportunity to read sources from almost the whole range of the primary texts of the Jewish people’s tradition. It is an opportunity to analyze, both textually and historically, a wide range of passages from most of the authors and works of late First-Temple through sixteenth-century-CE Jewries as discussions of practical wisdom.

The Research Fellow’s primary service is to follow the lines of the draft version of Elisha Ancselovits’s A Peoplehood of Wisdom: The History of Jews, Study, and Norms – Volume One: 600 BCE–1600 CE and read in the original Hebrew or Aramaic (Greek is a plus but not a requirement) all the primary Jewish sources that are translated and that are even merely referenced. The research fellow will then provide in a weekly meeting both their evaluations of the translations and their evaluation of the relevance (or clarity thereof) of the references. This, aside from corrections of any typo mistakes in the references. At each meeting, the fellow may choose to also discuss the book’s parallel non-Jewish primary sources (ancient pagan through Christian and Muslim) and secondary literature on the Jewish texts and on the historical periods, but that is not a requirement of the fellowship.

Description of Faculty Research:

A Peoplehood of Wisdom: The History of Jews, Study, and Norms – Volume One

This work has moved beyond Elisha’s article publications in Jewish law (Biblical through 20th century), narratives, sermons, and poetry – which explain interdisciplinary and illustrate how to access both an author’s intent (albeit not full depth) and an author’s insight. This work has moved beyond Elisha’s publications that explain and illustrate how Jewish law and all forms of specialized Jewish discourse (such as philosophy or kabbala) have always been at their best only common-sense discussions of real-life human issues spoken in a range of vocabularies. A Peoplehood of Wisdom has moved beyond those works by now showing rather than telling.

A Peoplehood of Wisdom is a political and intellectual history – a story that quotes primary sources and in passing shows how to read them as reflections of practical wisdom. It is a scholarly history of twenty-eight periods and locales but is written as a meaningful story of what it has meant to live Jewish lives.

The book has been undergoing stylistic editing with a laypeople test audience and the draft is scheduled to be completed this summer. The research fellow’s primary service will be to identify any minor – and especially glaring – errors in the author’s thinking, translation, and citation (and even communication with fellow scholars).

Fellowship Requirements

  • 6 hours/week in the Pardes Beit Midrash. (As regards primary sources published in journals or in rare books, the plan is to have the researcher use online access and not require the researcher to visit a library.)
  • Weekly meeting with the faculty advisor. One book chapter per week for 28 weeks. (The book is composed of thirty chapters including the introduction chapter and the methodological chapter. Those two chapters, however, do not fall under the research fellow’s obligations.)
  • Participation in the Unpacking the Sages course (Tuesday 5:15-7:15 pm) and in the Kollel-level classes.


  1. August 2021: The Research Fellow will receive the draft book at least two weeks before the beginning of the Pardes academic year and will read it.
  2. August 2021: Elisha will begin the process of submission to publishers. (Initial steps are already underway.)
  3. September 2021 through May 2022: The research fellow and Elisha will meet to discuss the researcher’s findings and questions.
  4. June 2022: Elisha will submit to the publisher the book version to be sent out for peer review

Prerequisites: Fluency in rabbinic Hebrew and Aramaic.

All fellows will receive a guaranteed living expense grant ranging from $300-$500/month (exact amount determined by financial need) AND receive highly subsidized Year Program tuition: $3,000 discount for those not eligible for Masa Israel Journey funding, and $2,000 discount for those eligible for Masa funding.

A letter of recommendation from a supervisor who can speak to the candidate’s relevant experience and potential growth and contributions through the fellowship is required. This may be one of the two letters of recommendation required for the Year program application, or an additional recommendation. The letter must be submitted along with the Fellowship Application and the 2022-23 Pardes Year Program application.