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KNOXVILLE — The Department of Religious Studies at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, has been selected to host a 2008-09 Schusterman Visiting Israel Professor.

Rivka Ribak, senior lecturer in the Department of Communication at the University of Haifa, will teach and lecture at UT and in the Jewish community and act as a liaison between several constituencies on and off campus.

The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise — with support of the Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Foundation — selects 20 American universities each year to receive grants to appoint a visitor.

Ribak earned her doctorate in communication from the University of California at San Diego and has published numerous papers since then. Recently Ribak and her colleague, Michele Rosenthal, received a three-year grant from the Israel Science Foundation to study “Unplugged: Case Studies in Media Avoidance.” Her work explores how different groups resist or renegotiate their uses of new and old communication technologies.

She will teach two classes each semester. “Israeli Filmmakers: Cinema and Society” explores contemporary Israeli cinema, and “Israeli Media Scholarship: Cultural Approaches” focuses on identities and processes in Israeli society as they are constructed in and through the media. Both courses are full for the fall semester.

“We are thrilled to have Dr. Ribak with us in this capacity. Her classes are full, so students are definitely able to benefit from her presence on campus. Her colleagues in the Department of Religious Studies are excited about the opportunity to exchange ideas with her, and the Jewish community is very happy to embrace her and her family while they are in Knoxville,” said Gilya Schmidt, professor and department head. Schmidt also chairs the Fern and Manfred Steinfeld Program in Judaic Studies in the department.

“We are grateful to the College of Arts and Sciences, our community donors and the American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise for making this special educational venture possible,” she said.


Gilya Schmidt, (865) 974-2466,

Elizabeth Davis, UT media relations, (865) 974-5179,