Hannah Zaves-Greene

Undergraduate Discipline

Religion

BA, Sarah Lawrence College. PhD, New York University. Zaves-Greene’s research focuses on the intersection of American Jewish history, migration studies, disability studies, gender and women’s history, and American legal and political history. Her current book project, Able to Be American: American Jews and the Public Charge Provision in United States Immigration Policy, 1891-1934, explores how American Jews responded to prejudice against immigrants on the basis of health, disability, and gender in federal law and its enforcement. In addition to teaching at NYU, she has taught at Cooper Union and the New School for Social Research. Her public history writing appears online at the JewniverseActivist History Review, and Jewish Women’s Archive; her academic work on the politics of birth control and disability-based immigration discrimination has been published in American Jewish History and AJS Perspectives, with forthcoming work in a peer-edited volume on Irish and Jewish migration and the Journal of American Transatlantic Studies. SLC, 2023-

Undergraduate Courses 2022-2023

Religion

In a Strange Land: The Making of the Jewish Diaspora

Open, Seminar—Fall

Originating in biblical lore, the concept of being a foreigner—a stranger in a strange land—has struck a deep root in Jewish life and culture. Through violent expulsion, economic hardship, and political persecution, we will travel with Jewish migrants across the centuries as they gathered their belongings and left home to make new lives elsewhere. As they moved throughout the world, motivated by their search for security, freedom, and economic opportunity, the migrants established distinct communities, identities, and religious practices in each place they settled. This course will examine Jewish immigration, a complex and multifaceted process that embraces Jewish immigrants’ decisions to leave, journey across land and sea, settle in a new home, negotiate state bureaucracy, build new lives, and grapple with the question of naturalization. Together, we will question the nature of “borders”; the relationship between immigration policy and eugenics; shifting rhetoric about immigration; and how gender, race, ethnicity, religion, sexuality, and disability influence immigration from departure to settling. We will ask what it means to be a foreigner, how related communities develop distinct characteristics, and how the diverse sets of Jewish practices that we know today emerged and evolved. As we trace the journeys of these migrants, we will discuss how the Jewish diaspora came to be, how gender impacted the migrant experience, and how Jews established their own social and political structures in an array of locations and moments across the sweep of history.

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Mobility and Modernization: Exploring Received Narratives in American Jewish History

Open, Seminar—Spring

What is “Jewish” about American Jewish history? Does a single “American Jewish history” even exist? What does “Jewishness” mean, and does it differ from “Judaism”? How do we reconcile history and memory? This course invites us to think critically about American Jewish history beginning in the colonial period, when Jews first settled on American shores, and thereafter and continuing into the present. These questions will allow us to explore how Jews developed a diverse and fluid array of social, cultural, political, and religious practices as they encountered new social structures, ideologies, and cultures throughout what became the United States. Through the lenses of gender, race, ethnicity, class, religion, and disability, our discussions will center Jewish communal formation and evolution in response to the changing conditions of the United States over time. In our classroom community, we will deepen our conceptions of American Jewish history by analyzing texts, featuring both storied figures and marginalized voices, as we learn to apply different theoretical approaches and examine how historical narratives evolved and coalesced. Students will analyze primary sources, write creative pieces unpacking historical events, and produce a research paper on a topic of their choice. The readings chosen for this course are not meant to be exhaustive but, rather, to strengthen students’ understanding of American Jewish history, provide a range of theoretical approaches to enhance their analytical toolboxes, and illuminate the construction and perpetuation—and, when relevant, associated agendas—of American Jewish historical narratives.

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The Many Faces of Jewishness: Representations of Jews Through the Ages

Open, Seminar—Spring

The shrewd moneylender, the newly arrived immigrant, the nosy busybody, the heroic pioneer, the cunning villain...different images of Jews populate our history, literature, and media, impacting our cultural ideas of the “typical Jew.” How did these archetypes first develop? How did they evolve? What common biases do we unthinkingly accept? What is the relationship of these biases to Jews’ historical roles in society, and how do they manifest across time and geographical location? Together, we will explore these questions and more through a multidisciplinary array of sources that portray Jews—spanning centuries, borders, and diverse societies. As we do so, we will encounter a variety of images of Jews—including observant Jews who grapple with tradition in the face of modernity, Jewish immigrants adapting to their lives in the United States, displaced Holocaust survivors fighting for a permanent home, American Jews who push boundaries as they negotiate conflicting identities, and still others—allowing us to unpack our own assumptions and preconceptions about what it means to be a Jew.

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Thinking Beyond Feminism: Reimagining Gender and Sexuality Across Jewish History

Open, Seminar—Fall

Although historically pushed to the margins in both Jewish practice and scholarship, women have played a critical role throughout Jewish history. This course re-examines Jewish life and culture through the prisms of gender and sexuality, as we center previously silenced voices and overlooked experiences. Based on an extensive array of sources from the Hebrew Bible to contemporary scholarship, we will interrogate received narratives about Jewishness and Judaism, exploring how incorporating gender and sexuality reshapes and reanimates our established conceptions. What happens when we apply gender and sexuality as analytical lenses to the narratives that we think we know? Who has the authority to construct Jewish history and to determine who and what gets included? How do gender and sexuality shape hierarchies of power? How have feminist movements impacted our understanding of Jewish history and pushed us to reconsider Jewish identity and practice? And what about intersectionality? This class will situate gender and sexuality at the core of a re-envisioned, more comprehensive Jewish history, complicating Jewish identity and self-understanding in our contemporary landscape.

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