Robert Harris

 Robert Harris
Address3080 Broadway
New York, NY 10027

Associate Professor,Bible, Jewish Theological Seminary of America

B.A., Columbia,
B.H.L., Jewish Theological Seminary,
M.A., Judaica,
Ph.D., Jewish Theological Seminary,

Robert A. Harris is associate professor of Bible at The Jewish Theological Seminary, teaching courses in biblical literature and commentary, particularly medieval Jewish Biblical exegesis.

Over the years, Dr. Harris has served JTS in a variety of roles, including assistant to the director of The Library, JTS professor-in-residence at Camp Ramah in the Poconos, and as a gifted director of musical-theater productions at JTS.

An expert in the history of medieval Biblical exegesis, Dr. Harris’s dissertation was titled The Literary Hermeneutic of Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency. In 2004, Dr. Harris published a book in the Brown Judaic Studies series, Discerning Parallelism: A Study in Northern French Medieval Jewish Biblical Exegesis. In addition, he has published many articles and reviews in both American and Israeli journals. Dr. Harris regularly delivers papers at academic conferences, such as the International Medieval Congress and the World Congress of Jewish Studies; many of these addresses have resulted in scholarly publications in various academic journals.

Dr. Harris also lectures on biblical narrative and Jewish liturgy in congregations and adult education institutes around the country. One of his most popular series is “Unfolding the Text: An Introduction to Jewish Medieval Bible Commentaries” (the first chapter of which is entitled “I Peshat the Torah!”); Dr. Harris is currently at work on a book on this subject. Other topics include “Murder, They Wrote,” a study of Biblical murder narratives; “Threes Become Four: How the Maxwell House Haggadah Became a Canonized Text”; and “That Kislev Affair: What Really Happened at Hanukkah?” Dr. Harris’s forthcoming books include Rabbi Eliezer of Beaugency’s commentary on Amos and Jonah (with selections from Isaiah and Ezekiel).

Dr. Harris has served as a rabbi in several congregations in the United States and Israel, including the Pelham Jewish Center in Westchester County, New York, and Moriah Synagogue in Haifa. For the past several years, he has taught in the Meah Program, the renowned adult-education course administered by the Boston Hebrew College. Dr. Harris spent 1995–97 as a visiting scholar at the Bible Department of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and returned there again in the summer of 2007 as a Visiting Associate Professor. Dr. Harris is past president of the Society for the Study of the Bible in the Middle Ages, a constituent organization of the International Medieval Congress. In 2004 and 2007, he taught in Moscow at JTS’s Project Judaica at the Russian State University for the Humanities.

Dr. Harris regularly performs with his garage band, SR2 (Shake, Rabbis and Roll), and composes original rock and roll. In 2006, he and his band completed a second studio CD (Keep Your Day Job!) and also issued a live album (Live at Primetime). The band’s 2003 release, Tales from the Upper West Side, according to the humorous Dr. Harris, reached the nonexistent “aluminum” category on the music charts.

A former actor who performed in musical and dramatic productions in the New York area, Dr. Harris is past director of Theater at Camp Ramah in Wisconsin. There, he translated more than a dozen musical comedies into Hebrew. Dr. Harris also directed musical productions in Hebrew at JTS as well as in Jewish schools around the metropolitan area. He has continued his interest in musical theater by producing concert versions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas each year for charitable causes. In the early ‘90s, Dr. Harris did stand-up comedy at New York’s Stand Up, New York! club—where he was once voted “New York’s Funniest Rabbi”—and also at the Concord Hotel in the Catskills.

Dr. Harris is a graduate of the Joint Program between JTS and Columbia University, having received a BA in Ancient Studies from Columbia and a BHL in Talmud from JTS. He also received an MA in Judaica, MPhil in Bible, rabbinical ordination, and a PhD from JTS. Dr. Harris’s wife, Nellie, is a Jewish educator, and the two are the proud parents of daughters Naamah and Merav.

Areas of Interest

Medieval Biblical Exegesis;

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