2020 Student Awards
The Department of Jewish Studies and the Allen and Joan Bildner Center for the Study of Jewish Life, held their first "virtual" award celebration on May 5, 2020. Held through a Rutgers Webex, university administration, faculty, staff, students, family and friends gathered together to celebrate the students who received merit and research awards for the 2019-2020 academic year and the graduating Jewish studies major and minors.
Video presentations were prerecorded by graduating Rutgers students who discussed their research projects in the area of Jewish studies.
The graduating seniors from the Jewish studies department were acknowledged and celebrated with individual banners. Award recipients were announced and recognized for their academic merit research projects.
Below are the banners celebrating our amazing students and the student videos from the celebration. Enjoy!
Rutgers undergraduate Ivette Gonzalez-Soto, who is majoring in microbiology and minoring in food science, and who works for the Department of Jewish Studies and the Bildner Center, has been awarded second place for the Rutgers Student Employee of the Year. This honor is so well-deserved. Ivette is incredibly dedicated and helpful, and the Bildner Center and the Department are very grateful for Ivette’s contributions. Congratulations, Ivette!
Dina Fradkin, '20
Dina Fradkin, a psychology major and history minor, is graduating this May. For the last year Prof. Michal Raucher served as her advisor for her research. Prof,. Raucher observed Dina’s drive and her high capacity for multiple forms of research. Dina has adapted to all the twists and turns that human subjects research often brings, and the result is crucial findings about attitudes towards psychological services within a community that Dina identifies with strongly.
For the last year, Dina has been conducting research on Russian Jewish individuals, who are the first generation to be born in the United States and in Israel. As genetic predisposition to certain mental health disorders exists for this particular population, the study aims to examine if this at-risk population is able to turn to psychological aid without the weight of cultural stigma. Dina is comparing her results to those of a prior generation of Ashkenazi immigrants from the former Soviet Union, to see if treatment stigma has survived beyond borders and through familial values.
Dina plans to continue this research and publish it. It will surely result in better mental health care for Russian Jewish immigrant communities, so we are hoping for her continued success and dedication to this project.
Amanda Leifer, '20
Amanda Leifer hails from Englewood and is currently enrolled in the 4+1 program in Landscape Architecture, which means that she graduates this year with her B.S. degree, and expects to graduate next year with her M.L.A. degree. In addition, Amanda has two minors, in Plant Science and in Green Technology, with all of these degree programs housed in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences (SEBS).
Amanda spent summer 2019 and winter 2020 in Israel and the West Bank on various research projects, including at Kibbutz Lotan in the Arava, at Moshav Hamra in the West Bank, and at the Ecovillage community of Garin Harel in the western Negev.
As you will see in her presentation, Amanda hiked, explored the land, absorbed the local landscape, studied ecology, worked with Israeli landscape architects, volunteered on the date plantations, and enjoyed other agricultural endeavors.
Her senior research project is entitled, “Kibbutzim vs. Moshavim: A Comparative Case Study About Communities and Their Relationships with the Agricultural Landscape in Israel and the West Bank.”
This undergraduate research project, in turn, has led her to do graduate research about water politics in the Jordan River, whose resources are shared by Israel, Jordan, and the Palestinian Authority.
Rebecca Chanin, '20
Rebecca Chanin, hails from Titusville and is a graduating senior in the SAS Honors Program, with a double major in political science and Middle Eastern studies, in addition to her pre-medical studies. She is also a varsity athlete on the women’s rowing team. Rebecca was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa during her junior year and is a member of Alpha Epsilon Delta (the pre-medical honors society), Chi Sigma Alpha (the national athlete honor society), and Pi Sigma Alpha (the national political science honor society).
During the past academic year, Gary Rendsburg served as co-advisor (along with Atiya Aftab in Middle Eastern Studies) to Rebecca’s Interdisciplinary Honors Thesis, entitled “At the Hands of Others: Stories of Holocaust Survival,” with a special focus on Albania. As you will see, though, this was not a traditional thesis, for the focus of the project was a 52-minute documentary which Rebecca created.
Rebecca also has taken Hebrew with both Orly and Orna, and Arab-Israeli Conflict with Dr. Raucher, so even while not a major or a minor, she is no stranger to our Department.
We say goodbye to Rebecca, all the while knowing that she will remain nearby, as she commences medical school at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson in July 2020.
Ashley Jones, who double-majored in Jewish Studies and Political Science. Good luck to you and congratulations!
Bradley Dorfman is graduating with a Math major and a double minor in Jewish Studies and Economics. Congratulations, Brad!
Hanna Graifman is graduating with an English major and a Jewish Studies minor. Congratulations, Hanna!
Ryan McGinnis is graduating with a double major in Information Technology and Informatics and a minor in Jewish Studies. Congratulations, Ryan!
Leah Needle is graduating with a Psychology major and a Jewish Studies minor. Congratulations, Leah!
Arden Poller is graduating with a Psychology major and a Jewish Studies minor. Congratulations, Arden!
Yael Rabin is graduating with a Public Health major and a double minor in Jewish Studies and Sociology. Congratulations, Yael!
Eliran Sobel is graduating with a Linguistics major and a Jewish Studies minor. Congratulations, Eliran!
Caleb Squires is graduating with a History major and a Jewish Studies minor. Congratulations, Caleb!
A short video montage with some reflections and memories from our graduates.
Moya Bedward is a doctoral candidate in the Department of History who is due to graduate in 2021. She received the Alexander and Ruth Seaman Award, which will support research for her dissertation on race, slavery, and identity formation during the struggle for Moroccan nationalism between 1850 and 1962. The Seaman award will enable Moya to travel to French archives that hold studies on rural Jewish life in Morocco during that period. After graduating, Moya hopes to work as a faculty mentor and community activist at a university that serves underrepresented communities. Congratulations, Moya!
Dina Fradkin is a psychology major and history minor who is graduating this May. She received the Deborah S. and Herbert B. Wasserman Award in both fall 2019 and spring 2020 in support of her research project on beliefs and attitudes about mental health services among first-generation, American-born Russian Jews. This award enabled her to travel to Israel in the winter for research and she plans to return there and extend her current study to incorporate first-generation, Israeli-born Russian Jews. Congratulations, Dina!
Hanna Graifman, who is graduating this month from the Honors College, is receiving the Dr. Benjamin F. Glasser and Lillian Glasser Award. Hanna has incorporated her English major and her Jewish Studies minor in her senior honors thesis, comparing Lorraine Hansberry’s play A Raisin in the Sun and Chaim Potok’s novel My Name is Asher Lev as a way of examining how African Americans and Jewish Americans as minority groups challenge societal power structures and create their own identities. After graduation, Hanna hopes to go into publishing, perhaps working for a publisher of Jewish books or an academic journal in Jewish studies. Congratulations, Hanna!
Christine Jensen, a religion major and double minor in Jewish studies and history, will graduate in 2021. She is receiving the Dr. Benjamin F. Glasser and Lillian Glasser Award. She has applied to the Rutgers Religion Masters 4+1 Program for the fall. Christine hopes to work in research exploring topics related to the media and religion, perhaps in a university setting. Congratulations, Christine!
Anuska Lahiri is a political science major and global studies minor who will graduate in 2021. She received the Dr. Benjamin F. Glasser and Lillian Glasser Award in fall 2019, which helped fund her participation this spring in a study abroad program in Berlin, Germany, where she examined the history and cultural legacy of Jews in Eastern Europe from the late 18th century to the present. Anuska hopes to attend law school and pursue a career as a human rights lawyer, ultimately working for an international organization such as the United Nations. Congratulations, Anuska!
Amanda Leifer is graduating this month with a major in landscape architecture and a double minor in plant science and green technologies. The Norma U. and David M. Levitt Award in fall 2019 allowed Amanda to travel to Israel during winter break to conduct the research that she shared with us. This spring, Amanda is receiving the Herbert and Jacqueline Klein Award for Study in Israel to support her research project titled “Power Over Natural Resources: A Study of Political Ecology and Water in the Jordan River.” Congratulations, Amanda!
Ryan McGinnis is an information technology and informatics major and Jewish studies minor. He is graduating with his undergraduate degree this month and is set to earn his Master of Information degree in 2021. He is receiving the Ruth Feller Rosenberg Award. His interests in history, foreign policy, and technology have propelled his interests in Jewish studies, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the State of Israel more generally. After graduation, Ryan hopes to advance his career with Bristol Myers Squibb as a data analyst or cyber security analyst. He would also like to earn an MBA and a Ph.D. in Data Science. Congratulations, Ryan!
Brianna Newman, a political science and Jewish studies double major and a Middle Eastern studies minor, is receiving the Baruch S. and Pearl W. Seidman Award. Brianna is graduating in 2022. She decided to pursue Jewish Studies to better understand her cultural heritage and also to learn more about the histories of Jewish communities around the world. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in United Nations and Global Policy Studies at Rutgers and then either do humanitarian work related to the Middle East, international relations consulting, or foreign service work for the United States government. Congratulations, Brianna!
Yael Rabin is graduating in August with a major in public health and a double minor in sociology and Jewish Studies. She is receiving the Dr. Benjamin F. Glasser and Lillian Glasser Award. After graduating, she would like to work in the public health field and improve the health status of underserved communities. She is particularly interested in health education, programming, and policy. Ultimately, she plans to pursue a master’s degree in public health or health administration at Rutgers. Congratulations, Yael!
Brandon Roberts, due to graduate in 2021 with a major in management and leadership and a minor in modern Hebrew language, is receiving the Leonard and Adele Blumberg Award and the Louis Fishman Memorial Award. When Brandon came to Rutgers, he fulfilled a lifelong desire to learn Hebrew, taking a Hebrew language class every semester. Congratulations, Brandon!
Annabelle "Nonnie" Sinoff, an English major with a double minor in Jewish studies and business administration, is graduating at the end of this year. She received the Bernice and Milton I. Luxemburg Award in fall 2019 for her work with Professor Gary Rendsburg, which involved digitizing the Hebrew manuscripts collection at Alexander Library for Ktiv, the database of the National Library of Israel. Nonnie is also receiving the Betty and Julius Gillman Memorial Award this spring. After graduation, she hopes to work in the publishing industry, perhaps with a focus on Jewish books. Congratulations, Nonnie!
Avraham "Avi" Sommer, a Philosophy major and double minor in History and Jewish Studies, is graduating in 2021. He is receiving the Gertrude and Jacob Henoch Memorial Award. Within Jewish studies, his main interests are Talmud, medieval Jewish law, and medieval Jewish philosophy. For the past year, Avi has been Professor Azzan Yadin-Israel’s research assistant on a book about how the Forbidden Fruit in Genesis 3 came to be understood as the apple. Avi would like to attend graduate school in Philosophy and become a Philosophy professor. Congratulations, Avi!
Steven Weinberg, a doctoral candidate in the German Department, is set to graduate in 2022. He is receiving the Harold and Betty Perl Award, which will help to fund his dissertation project, which he plans to conduct in Berlin. His dissertation will explore the critical reception in Germany and the United States of a provocative new book by moral philosopher Susan Neiman, which is titled Learning from the Germans. This book compares the ways in which Germany and the United States have grappled with their racist legacies. Steven hopes ultimately to attain a professorship in literature or jurisprudence at an Israeli university. Congratulations, Steven!
Some good wishes for all of our students from our faculty!