Georgetown University
Albert J. Wood Fellowship 

Research Topic

Music, Spirituality, and Healing in Orthodox Feminine Circles  


Jessica Roda is an assistant professor of Jewish Civilization at Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. Her research interests include religion, music, performing arts, cultural heritage, gender, and media. She is the president-elect of the Canadian Association for Traditional Music and the co-chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology’s Special Interest Group for Jewish Music.  After investigating Sephardic music and heritage in France and Canada for over ten years, she started a new project on ultra-Orthodox feminine artistic life in North America. Her forthcoming monograph (New York University Press, 2024) For Women and Girls Only: Reshaping Jewish Orthodoxy through the Arts in the Digital Age is the result of this ethnographic work and tells the stories of ultra-Orthodox Jewish women, as well as the ones who broke away from religion, and their use of the arts and digital technologies to reshape Orthodoxy. At the Katz Center, she will examine the Haredi female music industry and its connection with the culture of wellness and spirituality.  Beyond her academic life, she is also a trained pianist and modern jazz dancer and grew up in French Guiana, a childhood that shaped her as a person, educator, and a scholar.   

Selected publications

“Home beyond Borders and the Sounds of Al-Andalus: Jewishness in Arabic, the Odyssey of Samy Elmaghribi,” Religions 11 (2020).  

Reinventing Sephardicness in the Present: Family, Community and Musical Heritage (French; Presses Universitaires de Rennes, 2018).  



This year is devoted to the study of sound and music as a part of Jewish life, and we are delighted to announce the cohort of scholars who will join us for a year of research, conversation, and engagement with the Penn community and with the public.