Meet the 2017 Interns

July 17, 2017

By Elana Luban and Amy Powell

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 the eight-week program, the interns also attend educational lunch sessions with scholars, visit Jewish sites of interest in the Greater Boston area including Mayyim Hayyim, and a walking tour of Jewish Boston. The Gilda Slifka HBI Summer Internship is supported by a generous gift from Gilda Slifka.

Meet the 2017 interns and their work

Gabriela Bucay is a recent graduate of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, where she majored in fine art with a concentration in painting and printmaking. At HBI, Bucay will engage in a creative project exploring Jewish attitudes towards cosmetic surgery as a gendered practice. Bucay hopes to respond to rabbinic commentary which disproportionately allows for and encourages women to make surgical alterations to their appearance but forbids men to do the same on the grounds that cosmetic surgery is a "feminine practice." Bucay is also interested in the modern representation and or erasure of women’s "Jewish" features in popular culture.

Born in Mexico City and raised in San Antonio, Texas, Bucay has grown up with a strong interest in Latin American Jewish communities and their diasporas. Through her work with Dalia Wassner, PhD, she will research this topic, focusing on the life of Mariana Yampolsky, investigating the artist's ties to her religious and national identities. Though born to Russian Jewish immigrant parents in Chicago, Yampolsky moved to Mexico City and joined the socialist movement, going on to become one the nation’s most notable photographers of indigenous groups. In her spare time, Bucay enjoys dancing, traveling and baked goods.

Ruth Fertig, originally from Bloomington, Indiana, just graduated from Brandeis University. She will be making aliyah, moving to Israel in August 2017, and plans to serve in the IDF. At Brandeis, Fertig completed an independent major in gender and social policy and a major in music through a Cultural Studies track. This summer she is doing a project on independent Israeli pornography — "homemade/indie" pornography being made currently, which features more marginalized groups. Since the Internet has allowed anyone to create, produce and distribute pornography and provided greater access to greater variety, there has been a rise in gay male porn, and most of Israeli porn and cinema work seems to focus on machismo masculinity. Fertig is interested in examining how the Internet allows greater representation and access, and looking at the representations of gender and masculinity in modern "indie" pornography from the perspective of Israeli film studies and Jewish sexuality.

She is also working with Janet Freedman, PhD, on two projects: helping Freedman write a pamphlet for the Academic Engagement Network on feminism and Zionism, as well as making a crowdsourced glossary of terms that are commonly used by activists and the meanings they are given by activists. In her spare time, Fertig loves to sing, draw and watch movies and television, confessing to a bit of a film habit. She especially loves to see showings of old/indie/experimental films in old theaters, and admits there's a part of her that wants to drop everything and spend the rest of her life writing about audiovisual media.

Lindsey Jackson is a doctoral student at Concordia University in Montreal, in Religious Studies with a research focus on contemporary Canadian and American Jewish practice. She is writing her dissertation specifically on Jewish parents who are choosing not to circumcise. She also holds BA and MA degrees from Concordia in religious studies. During her time at HBI, Jackson will complete an article on brit milah in popular culture and submit the article for publication. She is also working with Professor and Rabbi Jane Kanarek of Hebrew College to examine a portion of tractate Arakhin, as found in the Babylonian Talmud. This research will contribute to the production of a complete feminist analysis of Arakhin for inclusion in the "Feminist Commentary on the Babylonian Talmud," an ongoing scholarly project conceived by Professor Tal Ilan, of the Freie Universität Berlin. In her free time, Jackson likes to run, do yoga, learn to cook vegetarian foods in creative ways, travel and spend time with her dog, Riley.

Elana Luban is a junior at Stern College for Women, part of Yeshiva University in New York, where she is majoring in psychology with plans to become an occupational therapist. At HBI, Luban works with Amy Powell, Communications Director, as a blog assistant for Fresh Ideas from HBI. Her blogs will be based on experiences within the Jewish community, coupled with new material from research and interviews, and the activities of the HBI Gilda Slifka Summer Internship to develop blog articles with themes that lie at the intersection of gender and Judaism.

For her independent research project, Luban, a Jew by choice, plans to create a piece of art by researching Jewish conversion and personal accounts of female converts to Judaism. Her art piece will reflect identity confusion and resolution central to the experiences of female converts. Even in her free time, Luban enjoys writing including poetry, short stories and articles for the Yeshiva University newspaper. She also loves playing guitar, especially the Russian songs which are such a large part of her family culture. Luban's entire family emigrated from Russia, but she was born in the U.S.

Gina Malagold is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst studying Spanish. She holds at BA in Spanish literature and an MA in Latin American Studies from the University of Wisconsin Madison. At HBI, her independent project is to examine Jewish community in Mexico, in early the 20th century, specificaly Sephardic and Ashkenazi encounters. She is also working with Dalia Wassner, PhD, to research Mariana Yampolsky and her role in socialist circles in Mexico. Yampolsky was an important photographer, but there is little published on her. Malagold will start intitial research on Yampolsky's role as transnational Jewish woman.

In her spare time, Malagold dances salsa and flamenco, runs and enjoys cooking Argentine food. She also taught Spanish composition and language at UMass and worked as a Spanish oral historian at the Yiddish Book Center's Wexler Oral History Project in Amherst, Massachusetts. Next semester, she will be a visiting member of the faculty at the University of Granada. Her family is from Uruguay.

Julie Sharff, from DeLand, Florida, is a rising junior at Florida State University. Sharff is majoring in Religious Studies and minoring in History/Herstory. While at HBI, Sharff is researching "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" by Isaac Bashevis Singer as an example of Yiddishkeit's creation of the potentiality for a queer culture in Judaism. She will be looking into the ways that Yentl/ Anshel performed gendered roles ultimately identified as neither male nor female. Sharff will use Mishnaic texts that set precedent for "typical" female behaviors and compare the ways that Yentl either portrays these standards or contradicts them.

Sharff is also working with Penina Adelman, MA, MSW, researching her fictionalized memoir by collecting information about the intersection of women and the early Hasidic movement in Eastern Europe. In Sharff's free time, she is reading the Harry Potter series for the first time. She also loves playing with dogs and eating popcorn, but not at the same time.

Noaem Shurin is a rising junior at Brandeis University majoring in Afro and African American studies and minoring in legal studies while still considering an economics major. She will research different methods of sex education in private Jewish educational institutions and try to compile a sex education pamphlet that is both blunt and kosher. Because private schools don't always have to abide by the state rules of sex education that are usually stricter than Shurin believes they should be, they often don't use that freedom to help their students. Shurin is also working with Professor Joyce Antler on the completion of her book on Jewish women's experiences in radical feminist movements of the 1970s.

In her free time, she likes debate and is on the Brandeis debate team, practicing some evenings to be ready for fall.

Prepared by Elana Luban, HBI blog intern, and Amy Powell, HBI communications director.