Free from what she calls the “really real,” this is a powerful memory by Laura Levitt who studied under the wing of the late Jacob Neusner at Brown before launching her own spectacular career as a pioneer scholar of Judaism and gender. Well-know for his rigor and cruelty, Neusner never claimed her as his “own,” which Levitt marks as both painful and liberating. Not Neusner’s student, i.e. not a scholar of Mishnah or Talmud, she writes, “Perhaps this disappointment was the greatest gift. Because he never claimed me as his, I remained free. In the years after I entered the academy, Jacob Neusner never acknowledged or responded to any of my scholarly work, although there were many times when I would have loved a response, any sliver of recognition. But in the end, I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve had a career all my own. Since I left Brown, I’ve been beholden to no one. Without him, I’ve been free to cultivate my imagination, to read and write, research and teach exactly what I want.” You can read the whole piece here.