Winners of the Best Jewish Studies Project Contest

The committee for the Best Jewish Studies Projects Awards has chosen two winners for the Best Jewish Studies Award: one in the creative category and one in the academic category. For the best creative project, the winner is Shayna Dollinger’s Abayudaya Radio Show. In this remarkable radio podcast, Shayna explores the Abayudaya, the unknown Jewish community in Uganda. The podcast moves elegantly and smoothly between Shayna serving as a journalist and the community’s rabbi whom she interviews. While exploring the subject, Shayna does not shy away from confronting controversial questions about the difficulties of Aliya (immigration to Israel) that members of the community face in light of the unfair and possibly racist attitude of the Israeli religious authorities and the establishment. For the best academic paper, the winner is Noah Kline’s paper on Memory in the Spotlight. Relaying on interviews with Spiegelman and other sources, Kline offers a fascinating analysis of Art Spiegelman canonical comic Maus that expands into existential and philosophical questions regarding truth and memory. While the issue of preserving the private Holocaust experiences of Spiegelman’s father from Auschwitz through graphic narration is brought to light by Kline in a thorough way, he explores  deeper questions: What is memory and does it represent the truth? How can we describe the reality of one person’s experience and translate it into a work of art? Is it possible to create a meaning out of someone else memories? Kline did a great job in this piece by articulating his philosophical questions while providing answers and suggestions for answers leaning on the multilayered complex work of Spiegelman.


Talia Cohen is the Winner of the Best Student Paper in Jewish Studies.

On behalf of the Center for Jewish Studies, I am delighted to announce that a committee consisting of Jewish Studies faculty members has chosen Talia Cohen’s Paper, “She Walks in Beauty Like the…Sabbath? A Musical Message of Jewish Pride,” as the winner of the Best Student Paper in Jewish Studies Award. Members of the committee were impressed by the through research, the textual analysis of Byron’s lyrics and Nathan’s music, as well as the originality of the work. Mazal Tov, Talia!

A certificate of achievement will be presented to Talia during the annual Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial lecture on Thursday, April 12 at 8PM at Russell House.

Students of the Center for Jewish Studies Visit the Archaeological Collections at Wesleyan University

Jessie Cohen, Archaeological Collections Manager at Wesleyan University, hosted a visit by Professor Greenblatt’s History 247, Jewish History: From Biblical Israel to Diaspora Jews class. Students examined ancient Near Eastern coins related to places and times they have studied in class. The coins include, for example, one of Antiochus IV, villain of the Hanukkah story. Here are two pictures taken by Campus’ photographer, Olivia Drake.

Center for Jewish Studies              blog photo CJS

Final Event: Showcase of Students’ Work in Jewish and Israel Studies

Another academic year is about to end. Just a few classes are left. A crunch time for our students and faculty, but also a time to celebrate students’ achievements. Since 2010 students and faculty have celebrated students’ projects in Jewish and Israel Studies. And while some students will indeed graduate with the Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate this year, others are still working on their courses, and still some are engaged in research and creative projects contributing to Jewish and Israel Studies without getting the certificate.

Herzl Forest Poster for the 50th Anniversary of the Jewish National Fund, 1954
Herzl Forest Poster for the 50th Anniversary of the Jewish National Fund, 1954


Come and join us! 

Learn about politics of trees in Israel/Palestine; folklore among Jews from Europe and Arab countries; Holocaust memory and family story; women and Jewish liturgical practices; rhetoric of otherness against Jews and Muslims in Europe; bioethics and Jewish law! And much more.

Come and get inspired to do creative work in Jewish and Israel Studies.

Reception will follow.

Monday, May 7, Allbritton 103, 4:30 PM

Mogulesco-A Tale of the Yiddish Theater

After a very busy semester of Jewish and Israel Studies events, our almost last event is on Sunday, May 8: Mogulesco-A Tale of the Yiddish Theater, a production of Music 297 class, written by Mark Slobin, directed by Joshua Margolin ’11, music direction by Amanda Scherbenske.With student and faculty actors.


Location :    World Music Hall, 3 pm

Sponsor :    Music Department
Admission :    $5 general public; free admission for Wesleyan students
Event URL :
For more information :, 860-685-3355


Please join us for this student-faculty performance.

Showcase of Student Projects in Jewish and Israel Studies

The semester–nay the year–is almost over.  Just one more week of classes is left.  It is a crunch time, but also a time to celebrate students’ achievements.  Since 2010 we have showcased students’ projects in Jewish and Israel Studies.  Some students will indeed graduate with the Jewish and Israel Studies Certificate, but some of our students are engaged in research and creative projects contributing to Jewish and Israel Studies without the certificate.

On Tuesday, May 3, 2011, at 4:30 pm I hope you will join me for a celebratory reception of our students’ achievements.

Rachel Tecott (GOVT) will share her findings on “Israeli Counterterrorism Decision-Making: The Causes and Costs of A-Strategic Incoherence.”  This presentation is based on Rachel’s honors thesis in Government, in which she demonstrates a fallacy of the two conventional wisdoms that Israeli counterterrorism is effective, and that Israeli counterterrorism is the product of rational, unitary action.  Her evidence includes interviews with key Israeli counterterrorism decision-makers (including several Major Generals, National Security Advisors, and senior-ranking Israeli Intelligence officers).

Daniel Hymanson (FILM) will present his short film “Slothman” – Daniel’s honors thesis project for the film studies department.  It tells the story of a boy named David and his encounters with sloths, the Chicago Bulls, a newt, and his mother. The film’s opening scene was shot at Adath Israel in Middletown.

A screen shot of "Judah" from Seth Alter's computer game "Divided Monarchy"
A screen shot of “Judah” from Seth Alter’s computer game “Divided Monarchy”


Seth Alter (HIST and JIS) will demonstrate his new educational video game “Divided Monarchy” that simulates ancient Israel in the Iron Age. The game comes with serious academic research historical and archaeological material. Every in-game component to “Divided Monarchy” has been included in accordance to modern scholars’ understanding of biblical society and culture.


All this on Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 4:30 pm in Allbritton 103.


On Tuesday evening, our student Ross Shenker (THEA and JIS) will share his capstone project in a very special event Inside The Playwright’s Studio: An Evening With Donald Margulies

Donald Margulies
Pulitzer Prize winning playwright Donald Margulies


Join Pulitzer Prize Winning Playwright Donald Margulies and Ross Shenker ’11 for a look inside the playwright’s studio. Professor Margulies is the acclaimed author of the plays “Time Stands Still,” “Brooklyn Boy,” “Dinner With Friends,” Sight Unseen,” “Collected Stories,” and others. He has received a Lucille Lortel Award, an Outer Critics’ Circle Award, two American Dramatists’ Guild Hull-Warriner Awards, one Tony Award nomination, five Drama Desk Award nominations, two Pulitzer Prize nominations, and one Pultizer Prize. His works have been performed on and off Broadway and at major theaters across the United States, in Europe, and around the world.

Presented by the Jewish and Israel Studies Department. This event is in partial fulfillment of Ross Shenker’s Senior Project entitled “Embedding The Self In One’s Art: How Donald Margulies Draws Upon Contemporary Jewish-American Identity In His Playwriting.”

Usdan Center, Taylor Room, 8pm

Reception to follow next door in Andersen Meeting Room-110


Upcoming Events in Jewish Studies This Semester

Spring 2011 (remaining events):

March 29, Yiddish Cultural Expressions Series: Professor Samuel Kassow, “Jewish Cultural Expression under Nazi Occupation – The Case of the Warsaw Ghetto,” CFA Hall, 7pm

March 31, The Ring Family Israeli Film Festival: a screening of two Israeli TV shows: Serugim (the dating saga of young Religious Israelis) and Arab Labor (An Arab journalist’s hilarious attempts to fit into Israeli society). Speaker: Isaac Zablozki, director of Film Programs at the JCC Manhattan. 8 pm, Goldsmith Family Cinema

April 5, Yiddish Cultural Expressions Series: Professor Olga Litvak, “Getting Tevye Wrong – Sholem-Aleichem’s Astonishing Farce of Misperception,” CFA Hall, 7pm

April 7, The Ring Family Israeli Film Festival: Wrist cutters: A Love Story. This is an adaptation of the internationally renowned writer, Etgar Keret’s novella Kneller’s Happy Campers (interesting translation….). Featured guest speaker, Etgar Keret. 8 pm, Goldsmith Family Cinema

April 13, Professor Shalom Sabar “The Sabbath in Jewish Art and Folklore,” Russell House, 8pm

April 28, The Samuel and Dorothy Frankel Memorial Lecture: Director Andrzej Krakowski will present his 2002 documentary “Farewell to My Country” about Jews forced to leave Poland in 1968, Goldsmith Family Cinema, Film Studies, 8 pm

May 3, Jewish and Israel Studies Student Achievements Showcase, Allbritton 103 at 4:30 PM

Research Opportunities at the Yiddish Book Center

The National Yiddish Book Center is now accepting applications for two educational programs: the Fellowship Program for recent college graduates and the Steiner Summer Program for undergraduates.

The Fellowship Program offers talented young college graduates who are passionate about Yiddish language and culture the opportunity to work at the Book Center for a year. As paid, full-time staff members, fellows provide content for existing programs and spearhead new ones, while continuing their education in Yiddish language, literature and culture. Applicants should have strong backgrounds in Jewish studies or related disciplines and a working knowledge of Yiddish. Application deadline: January 3, 2011. For more information, please visit

The Steiner Summer Program offers matriculating college students a unique opportunity for a tuition-free, seven-week intensive course in Yiddish language and culture. Beginning and intermediate students will study original and adapted Yiddish texts, as well as the history, literature, culture and music of the Jews of central and Eastern Europe. Applicants must be enrolled in a degree-granting program as of January 1, 2011. Application deadline: February 1, 2011. For more information, please visit

An Opportunity for Students

One of our former students is currently working for the Moment Magazine and sent this announcement:

Award-Winning Magazine Seeks Student Contributors for Blog of Jewish Ideas

Moment Magazine, co-founded by Nobel Prize winner Elie Wiesel, is recruiting bright, inquisitive, and diverse university students to contribute to our blog “In the Moment.” Moment is the world’s largest independent Jewish magazine, and our blog gets upwards of 10,000 hits a month. As a student blogger, you will write one post a week on topics of Jewish politics, religion and culture. This is an incredible opportunity for young writers to develop their skills and benefit from the expertise of our team of experienced editors. At the end of each semester, the three bloggers who have generated the most web hits will receive a cash prize.

To apply, please send an application consisting of the following to by October 10, 2010:

  • Your name, age, university and major.
  • 1-2 short paragraphs on why you’re interested in Jewish issues and what unique perspective and background you bring to the blog.
  • 2 short writing samples.
  • 4 specific, original ideas for blog-posts you’d want to write.

Check out “In The Moment” at and Moment’s website at <> .

Undergraduate Research Opportunities at the Center for Jewish History

The Center for Jewish History in New York has announced programs supporting undergraduate research in Jewish studies:

Undergraduate Research Fellowship Program
Advanced undergraduate students at North American universities are invited to apply to carry out research in the archives and libraries of CJH’s partner institutions. This fellowship is designed for third and fourth year undergraduates preparing theses or other major projects in Jewish history and related fields. Projects require substantive use of archival and printed sources (e.g., newspapers, collections of sermons, memoirs, institutional reports) housed at CJH and not available at the student’s home institution. The amount of the fellowship is up to $1,000 and students are encouraged to seek matching funding from their home institutions. The award may be used for travel purposes and lodging while at CJH.

Joseph S. Steinberg Emerging Jewish Documentary Filmmaker Fellowship
Undergraduate and graduate emerging filmmakers working on topics related to modern Jewish history are encouraged to apply for this fellowship, which supports research in the archives housed at CJH. The award is designed to help further existing projects, or to start new projects, whose subject matter is in line with the collections housed at CJH. Recipients are eligible for awards of up to $5,000 and are provided with access to the resources at CJH. Students are selected for one academic year of research through a rigorous and competitive process and are expected to present finished documentary works, or works in progress, to a public audience at CJH.

For more information, go to: