Northeastern Undergraduates Engage in Innovative Jewish Studies Research

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207655_1644061705880_1366980107_31400837_448456_n_2We’re very proud of the independent Jewish Studies research projects that our undergraduates are conducting this semester on a wide variety of compelling topics.

Many of these projects are being done in conjunction with the Jewish Studies Module, a unique feature of Northeastern’s Jewish Studies curriculum in which students integrate their work in Jewish Studies into their major field.

Jordana Green, for example, a senior majoring in History and minoring in Jewish Studies, is exploring the experiences of the approximately 550,000 Jews, or 11% of the American Jewish population, who served in the American Armed Forces during WWII.  Jewish soldiers had an “H” on their dog tags, standing for “Hebrew,” which made them easy targets for other soldiers’ anti-Semitism.  Still, many soldiers carried tiny prayer books in an effort to keep their faith close; those who liberated the concentration camps used these objects to form immediate minyanim (prayer quorums) to say the Kaddish, or the prayer for the dead.Gaby_Raquel_Body_headshot-24018

Raquel Guss, a senior majoring in Journalism and minoring in Jewish Studies, is focusing on how Jews have struggled to overcome a long-standing stereotype of weakness.  Consulting with Prof. Paul Breines of Boston College, author of Tough Jews:  Political Fantasies and the Moral Dilemma of American Jewry, Guss is exploring the extent to which such stigmas have changed in contemporary times.

HinderliterJillian Hinderliter, a senior majoring in History and minoring in Jewish Studies, is exploring the use of social media and online communities as venues for Jewish women to express their women’s health activism.  Working with Northeastern Jewish Studies faculty member Jenny Sartori, she is also engaged in a larger study of Jewish women in the women’s health movement, 1960s through the present.

EmiliKaufman2262-150x149Emili Kaufman, also a senior Communications Studies major and Jewish Studies minor, is continuing the research conducted as the 2011-2012 Gideon Klein scholar on the art of German-Jewish surrealist painter Felix Nussbaum, who died in Auschwitz in 1944.  For more information on Emili and her project, click here.

Eli Lippman, a senior Communications Studies major and Jewish Studies minor, is exploring how social media helps Jews around the world to perform mitzvoth (Jewish laws) and live by Jewish values.   From philanthropy to Jewish dating services, from Sabbath calendars to kosher hospitality networks, Lippman is identifying a subset of central Jewish values and practices and internet resources that facilitate them.

Raleigh Mark is linking her strong interest in Jewish Studies with her major in Criminal Justice through a study of Jews in organized crime, under the direction of Prof. Larry Lowenthal, adjunct professor of Jewish Studies at Northeastern and former director of the Boston office of the American Jewish Committee.  She is particularly interested in how long it took for Jewish gangsters to transition from illicit to legitimate means and the role Judaism and Jewish identity played in facilitating this transition.

Diana Toubman, a senior majoring in Spanish, is focusing on Jewish culture in Puerto Rico for her senior capstone project in her major.  She will be traveling to Puerto Rico over spring break to speak with members of the Jewish community and to visit Jewish sites.

We wish our talented students the best of luck with these fascinating projects!