Jonathan Milgram

Born in New Jersey, Dr. Jonathan Milgram, the son of Venezuelan immigrants, grew up in South Florida as an active member of Temple Beth Ahm Israel. Dr. Milgram's colorful childhood, imbued with the mix of his parents' Latin American culture and the old-world Yiddish culture of his grandparents' Romanian shtetl, Novoselitz, laid the groundwork for a life of intellectual inquiry, and as a young man he embarked upon a broad academic career, culminating in his present position as assistant professor of Talmud and Rabbinics at The Jewish Theological Seminary.

Dr. Milgram holds two bachelor's degrees: one in Comparative Literature from Columbia University and the other in Talmud from JTS. He earned his master's degree in Talmud and rabbinic ordination at Yeshiva University, and his doctorate in Talmud from Bar-Ilan University in Israel.

Dr. Milgram has been visiting assistant professor at Hunter College and has lectured locally at the Drisha Institute and Yeshivat Chovevei Torah, as well as at other universities in this country and abroad.

From 2000 to 2003, while writing his dissertation for Bar-Ilan University, Dr. Milgram served as the Sam and Vivienne Cohen Lecturer in Jewish Studies, a joint appointment at the University of London's School of Oriental and African Studies and the London School for Jewish Studies (formerly Jews' College).

From 1997 to 2003, Dr. Milgram served as coordinator of JTS's Saul Lieberman Institute for Talmudic Research, and in 2005 was assistant editor for Talmud and Rabbinics for the Encyclopedia Judaica, second edition. Dr. Milgram is also the former assistant rabbi of Manhattan's prestigious Park East Synagogue and a trained cantorial soloist, having led High Holiday services in different synagogues in this country and abroad.

Dr. Milgram's research interests include Talmud criticism and medieval Jewish law. His doctoral dissertation, a critical commentary to the eighth chapter of Tractate Bekhorot will be included in the Talmud commentary series published by the Society for the Interpretation of Talmud in Israel.

In addition, Dr. Milgram is currently writing a study of rabbinic inheritance law in comparative context. The book will engage the multiple strands of traditions in tannaitic literature (Mishnah, Tosefta, and Midrash Halakhah) and compare them to ancient near eastern, Greek and Roman inheritance practices with the goal of understanding the legal context(s) that produced rabbinic inheritance law.

Dr. Milgram and his wife, Adina Levine Milgram, reside in New Jersey, with their five wonderful children.

Dr. Milgram's Speakers Bureau Bio

JTS students vote Dr. Milgram "2010 Professor of the Year." Read the article from the New Jersey Jewish Standard.

Published Works

Review of Steven Fraade, Legal Fictions: Studies of Law and Narrative in the Discursive Worlds of Ancient Jewish Sectarians and Sages, in Journal of the American Oriental Society 134.4 (2014), pp. 748-750.

"The Talmudic Hermeneutics of Medieval Halakhic Decision-Making: 'Compound Ambiguities' and the Reading Practices of the Rishonim," Journal of Jewish Studies 65:1, Spring 2014, pp. 88-112.

"Mishnah Baba Batra 8:5: The Transformation of the Firstborn Son from Family Leader to Family Member," Talmuda de-Eretz Israel: Archaeology and the Rabbis in Late Antique Palestine, Steven Fine and Aaron Koller (eds.), De Gruyter, Berlin, 2014, pp. 19-28.  

"Prolegomenon to A New Study of Rabbinic Inheritance Law on the Fiftieth Anniversary of Yaron's Gifts In Contemplation of Death," Jewish Law Association Studies 23, 2012, pp. 181-192.

"Then and Now: A Summary of Developments in the Field of Talmudic Literature through Contributions to the First and Second Editions of the Encyclopaedia Judaica," Currents in Biblical Research 11(1), October 2012, pp. 128-143.

Review of Essays on Halakhah in the New Testament, The Catholic Biblical Quarterly, Vol. 73:2, April 2011

"Methodological Musings on the Study of Kelalei Pesak: 'Hilkheta ke-Rav be-Issurei ve-khi-Shemuel be-Dinei'," Journal of Jewish Studies 61:2, Autumn 2010, pp. 278–290.

"Iyun u-vikoret be-Shitat Francus: Al Hagdarat ha-Munach 'Pagum li-Kehunah' ba-Talmud ha-Bavli ve-ha-Gormim le-Machloket Rishonim ba-Nose," Tiferet Le-Yisrael: Jubilee Volume in Honor of Israel Francus, Joel Roth, Menahem Schmelzer, and Yaacov Francus (eds.), JTS Publications, New York and Jerusalem, 2010, pp. 35–41.

"Dugmah Mi-perush Bikorti le-perek Yesh Bekhor (perek chet de-masechet Bekhorot): Sugyat 'Met Ha-ben be-tokh sheloshim,' Bekhorot 49a," The Wisdom of Batsheva: Dr. Beth Samuels Memorial Volume, Barry Wimpfheimer (ed.), Ktav Publishing, Hoboken, 2009, pp. 21–45.

Synopsis of Bekhorot 46b-49b

Parashah Commentary and Podcasts

Dr. Jonathan Milgram discusses the idea of the divine image in humankind and its theological significance in his commentary on Parashat Bereishit.

Dr. Jonathan Milgram discusses the themes of encroachment on the Tabernacle and its related punishments in his commentary on Parashat Korah.

Dr. Jonathan Milgram discusses fulfilling our potential in his commentary on Parashat Devarim.


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