HBI Gives 14 Research Awards

April. 6, 2022

By Amy Powell

When the pandemic hit, frequent research collaborators Elly Teman and Zsuzsa Berend, already accustomed to working on Zoom and across multiple time zones, decided to have some fun with their research.

Elly Teman"We were both going a little bit crazy, me with my kids and Zsuzsa with the Zooms, and we decided to translate our ethnographic research into something visual," Teman said. "We wanted to do something that would be shared with more than other scholars."

Teman, at Ruppin Academic Center in Israel, and Berend at University of California, Los Angeles, applied to HBI for a Research Award to create "A Tale of Two Surrogates: A Graphic Novel of Surrogacy in Israel and the U.S."

Zsuzsa BerendThe graphic novel will tell the stories of Dana in Israel and Jenn in the United States, who both contract to carry babies for infertile intended parents highlighting the detailed regulatory context and largely standardized contractual arrangements in Israel and the deregulated arrangements in the U.S. where surrogates negotiate provisions with infertile parents and lawyers directly. It will be rooted in data and research.

Their award is dedicated to the memory of Frances Leder Kornmehl.

Frances Leder Kornmehl

Frances Leder Kornmehl was born in 1925 in Tarnow, Poland, the youngest of five children. In 1941, Tarnow was liquidated and, once living in the ghetto, it was her role to smuggle food hidden in her clothes to sustain her family. In 1943, 18-year-old Frances was deported to Krakow-Plaszow Concentration Camp. From there, she was sent to Auschwitz, and in a miraculous turn of events, was saved from the gas chambers. After the liberation, she returned to Tarnow where she learned that she was the only remaining member of her family. She met her husband, Nathan Kornmehl, in a displaced persons camp in Germany, and subsequently they emigrated to the U.S. Family, education, and her faith were the most important elements in Frances' life; her table was always lively with her husband, her five children and her childrens' neighborhood friends. Frances always maintained her faith, optimism and a sense of wonder that she expressed creatively in the poetry she wrote and published. Frances took great pride that her five children achieved higher education, built family lives and had children of their own- surrounding her with nine grandchildren to carry on her family's legacy.

Teman and Berend were among 14 recipients of HBI's 2022 Research Awards totaling $49,000. These awards are given annually for work that incorporates HBI's mission to support research at the intersection of Jewish studies and gender studies. Recipients range from historians and anthropologists to artists to poets, and across geographic boundaries, this year encompassing the U.S., Canada, Israel and Poland. All the titles and recipients can be found here.

To select the recipients of these competitive annual research awards, HBI relies on the expertise of an Academic Advisory Committee,  comprised of 188 experts and academics from around the world. Final decisions are made by the HBI Academic Awards Decision Committee, this year comprised of Dr. Elisheva Baumgarten of Hebrew University, Dr. Deidre Butler of Carleton University, Dr. Debra Kaufman of Northeastern University, Dr. Pnina Lahav of Boston University, Dr. Ilana Szobel of Brandeis University and Dr. Lisa Fishbayn Joffe, The Shulamit Reinharz Director of the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute.

"HBI's mission is to support new research in Jewish gender studies across a range of academic disciplines," Joffe said. "We are so grateful for the time and care our colleagues around the world devote to evaluating proposals so that we can identify and fund the most important and impactful new research. This year's roster of recipients represents exciting new work from across the field of Jewish women's and gender studies."

HBI's Research Awards are part of a broader program at HBI to support scholars in the field at every stage of their career, a value exemplified by Teman: She was one of HBI's first summer interns in 2002. Other recipients this year include "The Criminalization of Get Refusal," a project by Hadas Raichelson of Bar-Ilan University that looks at several developments in Israeli criminal law regarding the prohibition of Jewish divorce refusal including discussion on the appropriateness of imposing criminal responsibility on recalcitrant spouses in light of theories of criminalization, the aspects of family law, and the feminist critique of law. The award is funded by the HBI Project on Gender, Culture, Religion and the Law which recently hosted an international workshop on this emerging topic, "Using New Criminal Laws Against Coercive Control to Combat Get Abuse: Lessons from the Field."

In "Medicalizing Ritual Life Among Judeo-Spanish Communities: Women, Religion and Health in the Late Ottoman Empire and Beyond (1870-1940)," Anabella Esperanza of Hebrew University of Jerusalem exploresthe interconnected history of health and ritual, bringing together methodologies of Jewish studies, medical history, and gender analysis, while at the same time using a regional and comparative approach. This award is dedicated in memory of Dr. Harris A. Berman.

Dr. Harris A. Berman

Dr. Harris Alan Berman was dean emeritus of the Tufts University School of Medicine and a pioneer in the field of managed care. From 1965 to 1967, he served in the Peace Corps in India. He came away with a strong interest in infectious diseases and a belief in the importance of public health and preventative care. In 1977, he co-founded the Matthew Thornton Health Plan, one of the first staff-model health maintenance organizations in the country, and in 1986 became chief executive officer of Tufts Health Plan. In 2003, he retired as CEO and joined Tufts University as chairman of the department of public health and community medicine and dean of public health and professional degree programs. He was named interim dean of the medical school in 2000 and served as dean from 2011.

Laura LeibmanHBI also offers opportunities for award recipients to share the fruits of their research. As part of the HBI Sandra Seltzer Silberman Conversations Series, Dr. Laura Arnold Leibman shared her award-winning new book, "When We Were Slaves: The Extraordinary Journey of a Multiracial Jewish Family," which was supported by an HBI Research award. In her remarks, Dr. Leibman noted that it was this early support that allowed her to explore archives to uncover the life story of Rebecca Brandon, whose story became one the centerpieces of her book.

Judy BatalionJudy Batalion received three HBI Research Awards over several years for translation of the Yiddish memoir, "Freuen in di Ghettos," which turned into her bestselling novel, "The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler's Ghettos." It is currently being made into a movie by Steven Spielberg. Dr. Batalion credited HBI for being there in the beginning to value work by women, about women, all leading to research on the Holocaust that had not been widely known.

"Categorically, there is no way this book would exist without your support at HBI. Your support was 100 percent necessary for the development of this project and of all my work the past 14 years," said Batalion.

Learn more about HBI Research Awards. To discuss opportunities to name a research award, contact Amy Powell.

Amy PowellAmy Powell is the assistant director of HBI.