Meet the Interns
Every summer, HBI welcomes interns from across the country and world who complete original research related to the HBI mission of fresh thinking about Jews and gender worldwide and support the work of scholars affiliated with HBI and Brandeis.
During their eight-week program, the interns also attend educational lunch sessions with scholars, visit Jewish sights of interest in the Greater Boston area including the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit at the Museum of Science, Mayyim Chayyim, The Jewish Women’s Archives and others.
Here are our interns and their work.
Bailey Mezan, 21, of San Diego
An Israeli roommate spurred Bailey’s interest in Jewish studies. “She said I would love it there and I was interested,” Bailey said. After spending some time in Israel, “I realized how important it was and I focused on Jewish studies.”
A rising senior at the UC Santa Cruz majoring in modern literature and Jewish studies, Bailey researched the rape of women during the Holocaust and supported the research of Dr. Debra Kaufman on memory and post Holocaust narratives.
Ben Steiner, 23, of Los Angeles
Ben graduated from UCLA with a degree in history and is earning his master’s degree in Jewish gender and women’s studies at the Jewish Theological Seminary. He researched ways that rabbis at JTS have dealt historically with issues pertaining to agunot (chained women). He also assisted Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, director of the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and Law, with her research on conflicts between international law and halakha (Jewish law).
Casey Zierler, 22, of Culver City, Calif.
Casey graduated from Smith College in May with a major in Jewish studies and a minor in African studies. She created a resource guide for young, queer Jewish women and supported the research of Dr. Debra Blank, editing her upcoming book on birth rituals for Jewish girls.
Chelsie May, 22, of Sacramento, Calif.
Chelsie graduated from UCLA in 2011 with a major in Middle Eastern and North African studies and received her master’s from Brandeis in 2013 in Near East and Judaic studies. She looked at gender aspects relating to Iraqi Jewish history and mid-20th century feminism. Chelsie also supported the research of Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe on the application of sex segregation practices of Hasidim on Israeli public transportation.
Ilana Donohue, 21, from Ottawa, Canada
Ilana recently graduated from McGill with a major in history and Jewish studies. She researched young, observant Jewish women and how they apply the mitzvot of shomer negiah (guarded touch) and tzniut (modesty). She also supported the research of Dr. Janet Freedman by helping her with her book on consciousness-raising.
Nate Merritt, 21, of Canton, Ohio
Nate, a rising senior at Malone University, is majoring in women’s gender and sexuality studies and communication arts/film. He looked at feminist underground comics from the 1970’s by Jewish women for theories about comics, gender and sexuality and then applied them to his own graphic narrative. He worked with Sharon Rivo and Lisa Rivo, directors of the National Center for Jewish Film, on promotion and researched the center’s collection of silent Russian films and sought potential sources of funding for their restoration.
Rachel Koffman, 21, of Vancouver
Rachel recently graduated from McGill University with a major in industrial relations and a minor in Jewish studies. Her research focused on Klezmer music as a stage for women’s expression. She also assisted Fern Chertok and Matthew Boxer, research associates from the Cohen Center for Modern Jewish Studies at Brandeis, with their research on the role of gender in volunteer work among Jewish young adults.