When he was thinking about where to pursue his PhD in Modern Jewish Studies, Revson Fellow Zach Mann knew what was important to him: scholarship, faculty, and a sense of shared experience. That made Zach's decision easy: The Graduate School of The Jewish Theological Seminary provided the perfect combination of academics and community. Having grown up in a Conservative Jewish family as the son of two English teachers, he already knew this mixture well. And Zach knew that The Graduate School, where he’d earned a master’s in the Interdepartmental Studies (IDS) program, was the ideal place to find that combination while studying for his PhD.
Zach grew up attending synagogue regularly and was very involved with United Synagogue Youth. After completing a bachelor’s degree in Political Science at Binghamton University, he came to IDS for its unique, broad overview of classical and modern Jewish studies and its rigorous emphasis on developing the skills for serious textual analysis. “I like that JTS puts the emphasis on the text and the source itself, more so than a lot of other places. And being here, where there’s such a large community of graduate students who are all doing things related to Jewish studies—that’s something unique, that you don’t get anywhere else.”
Zach uses the incomparable resources at JTS in Jewish history and philosophy to pursue his academic focus: studying and writing intellectual history. As a scholar, he’s interested in understanding American Judaism in the context of religion in America. Zach has been researching the work of Conservative rabbi and Jewish philosopher Jacob Agus (1911–1986), who was influential in the areas of the Conservative religious service, Jewish law, and interfaith dialogue. “Understanding his life could be a way of understanding the Americanization of Judaism,” Zach says, “and The Library has an archive of Agus’s papers. JTS is the only place that has the culture, the faculty, and the materials I need so I can do the scholarship I want.”