Jacques Berlinerblau holds separate doctorates in ancient Near Eastern Languages and Literatures from New York University (1991), and in Sociology from the New School for Social Research (1999). He is an Associate Professor and Director of the Program for Jewish Civilization at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. He tweets about church-state issues and other matters here: @berlinerblau

Berlinerblau has published on a wide variety of issues ranging from the composition of the Hebrew Bible, to the sociology of heresy, to modern Jewish intellectuals, to African-American and Jewish-American relations. His articles on these and other subjects have appeared in Biblica, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, Semeia, Biblical Interpretation, Journal of Northwest Semitic Languages, Hebrew Studies, Journal of the American Academy of Religion, and History of Religions.

He has published five books, the most recent being How to Be Secular: A Call to Arms for Religious Freedom (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. His previous works include Thumpin’ It: The Use and Abuse of the Bible in Today’s Presidential Politics (Westminster John Knox), Heresy in the University: The Black Athena Controversy and the Responsibility of American Intellectuals (Rutgers University Press), and The Secular Bible: Why Nonbelievers Must Take Religion Seriously (Cambridge University Press).


Professor Fainberg is a sociologist and historian specializing in both Soviet Studies and Eastern European Jewish history, with a particular focus on how State politics shapes ethnic identities. Her dissertation (Paris: Fayard, 2012) traces how Soviet Jews reconstructed their ethnic personae, social networks and conceptions of Jewish heritage under the Soviet nationalities policy in the post-war period. She brings to her work a special interest in the shaping of collective identities, the mechanisms of social discrimination and the dynamics of collective memory. Her latest project moves her into the post-Soviet space, and explores the promotion of new national narratives and remembrance patterns among ethnic minority groups in Russia, Ukraine, and Belarus since the fall of the Iron Curtain.

Professor Fainberg received her academic training in Paris, first at École Normale Superieure in Philosophy and later at Sciences Po in Political Science, where she received her PhD in 2008. She has taught Political Sociology and History at the State University of St. Petersburg, Russia (2002– 2003) and at Columbia University (2005–2007) where she was a Visiting Scholar at the Harriman Institute for Russian, Eurasian, and Eastern European Studies.

At Georgetown Professor Fainberg has taught “Gateway to Jewish Civilization,” an
introduction to Jewish history and culture from antiquity to the present. Her other courses
include both lecture courses and advanced seminars on Eastern European Jewish history, the French Nation-State and its minorities, and political dissent in the former Soviet Union.


Aurora Nou is a 2011 graduate of the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, where she focused on International Politics and Women’s and Gender Studies. She is currently Research and Media Officer for the Program for Jewish Civilization and coordinates, a digital archive of the program’s web series and lectures. These include episodes of Faith Complex, a show about the intersection of religion, politics, and art, which is hosted by Jacques, Sarah, and a variety of students. Aurora previously worked with Jacques as research assistant on his book, How to Be Secular.

Aurora will receive her master’s degree in International Politics at the School of International Service at American University and will graduate in 2013. Her research interests include human rights, critical international relations theory, and feminist theory.