Meet the students selected for the Frances Taylor Eizenstat '65 Israel Travel Grant Program.
Sean Berman is a rising sophomore planning to major in Politics and Philosophy and minor in Legal Studies and Mathematics. This summer, through the Boston Onward Israel in Jerusalem program, Sean will be interning at the Israel Model United Nations Association (IMUNA) as a Projects and Programs Associate. IMUNA is an NGO that supervises Model United Nations programs at various Universities throughout Israel and aims to help students develop leadership and diplomacy skills. Sean will be working on managing some of these programs, including the IMUNA annual Youth Leadership Summit, which is a two-day summit with panels and workshops on building skills in personal and professional development. His duties include raising money, inviting speakers and selecting a venue. He was drawn to this organization because he spent over five years working in Model United Nations through high school and university, and he recognizes the potential of Model United Nations to foster important skills in students. He hopes to build his own personal and professional skills as he works with students and employees from a variety of different backgrounds and learns how to manage large projects with the utmost efficiency. As Sean is interested in the field of education, he also hopes to learn more about initiatives to further students’ education. Lastly, he hopes to make a positive, lasting impact on the communities he is privileged to work in.
Miriam Fisch (she/her) is a rising junior delving into both STEM and the humanities, studying both Biology and Near Eastern & Judaic Studies. Her passions shine through beyond the classroom as well, where she divides her time among coordinating Tikkun Olam (Social Justice) events for the Hillel Student Board, instructing a kickboxing class, and learning new languages on Duolingo. Miriam is working towards becoming a gynecologist and sex educator in Israel. This summer, through the OU-JLIC Summer in Jerusalem program, which combines a daytime internship with evening lectures and text study, she will be taking steps towards achieving these goals. Miriam will split her time among several clinics in The Patricia and Russell Fleischman Center for Women's Health at Hadassah Ein Kerem, serving populations across religious and economic divides. As an assistant to the nursing staff, Miriam will develop her patient care skills, and craft her Hebrew-language bedside manner. She will also use her knowledge as a new EMT to learn and perform first aid skills across language barriers. The combination of these two skill sets will allow her to understand the role of a doctor and an educator in the gynecological realm. As a long-time hospital volunteer and assistant chaplain, Miriam is excited to branch out beyond what she knows and see what patient care looks like in other cultures, as well as to make an impact on the patients she speaks with on her journey.
Tyler Lecours is a graduate student in the Classical and Early Mediterranean Studies Program, where he is working on a master’s degree in Ancient Greek and Roman Studies. At the beginning of the summer, Tyler will spend a little over a month taking part in the Birsama Exploration Project in the northern Negev, where he will work as an assistant site supervisor at the ongoing archaeological excavation of a Roman fortress. He will also help teach new and inexperienced archaeologists at the field school. Tyler’s participation in the project will support his master’s thesis on cross-cultural relationships in ancient Mediterranean colonialism and his professional development as a classical archaeologist. Tyler hopes to gain a better understanding of Israeli history during the Roman occupation, while expanding his understanding of archaeological methodology. Following his master’s degree, he plans to apply for a doctoral program in archaeology. Tyler aspires to become a professor of archaeology, encouraging future investigations on how ancient Mediterranean colonialism drastically impacted local societies by analyzing the shift in local administrative structures and the production of material culture. This project offers an incredible opportunity to explore a new historical region while further developing his understanding of classical archaeology. Tyler’s previous experiences as an archaeologist and Peace Corps volunteer have well prepared him for this project, and he hopes to make a positive contribution to the team while working to preserve Israeli history for future generations.
Gaya Malka is majoring in Biology, Neuroscience, and Health: Science, Society, and Policy. She will spend the 2024 spring semester participating in the Voyage to Medicine program at Tel Aviv University, where she will work in a hospital, joining doctors on their rounds in 15 different departments throughout the semester. She will also interact with patients and learn first aid in order to help with Magen David Adom, Israel’s equivalent to the Red Cross. This program offers a look into what it is like to be a doctor in a hospital, as Gaya aspires to be. It also provides the opportunity to delve into all the different specialties available and will allow Gaya to see if any of them truly catch her eye. On a more personal level, as a child of Israeli immigrants this program will also allow her to explore her Israeli identity and build a closer relationship with family members living in the area. She hopes to leave Israel, with more knowledge, practical medical experience, a deeper understanding of herself, and a stronger connection to her family, so that one day she can pursue medicine with a full and complete understanding not only of the field itself but of herself as well.
Rachel Shpuntoff is a rising sophomore majoring in Theater with a minor (which may turn into a double major) in Creative Writing. This summer, through Onward Israel, she will be traveling between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv to intern at the Ethiopian Theater as they devise and rehearse their next production and prepare to travel to perform it in Nigeria later in the season. Rachel is active in student theater at Brandeis, and having recently had her first experience as an assistant director, she is excited to delve deeper into different aspects of theater-making. She is thrilled that the Ethiopian Theater internship will allow her to work with and learn from people in various capacities as they continue to develop their current piece. She is particularly excited to work with the ensemble on the unique kind of physical theater that they have developed from both of the cultures that they work with. Rachel is Argentinian and American, and has seen and done theater in both countries. She has always been fascinated by the power of theater and live performance to communicate across cultural and language barriers, so she is very excited to contribute to the organization’s mission of creating a theater that melds and puts into dialogue both Ethiopian and Israeli cultures.
Maya Soudry is a rising Junior double majoring in Business and Psychology. Maya will spend the 2024 spring semester studying at Tel Aviv University. She is excited to have this special opportunity to take classes on Israeli politics and history, with the goal of becoming a more educated, knowledgeable, and informed advocate of the State of Israel. She cannot wait to visit and speak with people in many different communities of Israel and hear their stories and perspectives. Her studies in and outside of the classroom will foster new experiences and conversations. By learning from classmates, locals and professors, Maya hopes to gain the skills to become more confident in facilitating meaningful and nuanced conversations about Israel and Israeli current events back at Brandeis and beyond. Maya is also looking forward to further exploring her interests in business by taking coursework on Israel’s innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship. She hopes that the content and skills from these courses will help prepare her for a career in the business field. Maya is grateful that studying abroad and The Frances Taylor Eizenstat Grant are making it possible for her to have this special and important learning opportunity in Israel.
Maya Stiefel is a rising senior majoring in Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology and Studio Art. This summer, Maya will be working as a research assistant at the Joshua Lab, which is part of the Edmond & Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at Hebrew University. Maya will be involved in a project that analyzes the eye movement of monkeys in relation to neural recordings to gain a better understanding of motivation. Maya is drawn to this project because her previous two years of research experience have been with humans studying memory and cognition, and she is excited to have the opportunity to try something different and work with animals. Maya hopes to pursue a second degree at Hebrew University when she graduates from Brandeis next spring, and this internship provides an excellent opportunity to foster relationships and create connections with those working in the Neuroscience field in Israel. Maya aims to learn new skills when engaging with the monkeys, and will strive to gain a better understanding of how the brain processes and chooses motivations. Maya is very grateful to be given this opportunity. She hopes to bring the tools she has gained from her previous research experience to the lab, and is excited to see all the new things she will learn!
Kayla Turnof is a rising junior majoring in Politics and minoring in Legal Studies. She is also studying Hebrew. This summer, through the Aish jInternship Onward Israel Program, Kayla will be conducting research as an intern at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA), an independent research institute that focuses on Israel’s national security and applied diplomacy. They perform studies on a variety of strategic topics such as Israel’s doctrine of defensible borders, the Israeli Arab sector, BDS, terrorism, Israelophobia, and international and Israeli law. Kayla is very interested in Israeli politics. She chose this internship because she wants to understand how the research that contributes to policy making is conducted. She also wishes to make Aliyah to Israel after college, so having an Israeli internship will give her insight into what it is truly like to work and live in Israel. Kayla hopes to make an impact by doing research that the JCPA can use to influence Israeli policy.
Maya Ungar is a rising junior double majoring in Education and American Studies. This summer, through the OU-JLIC Summer Internship Program, she will be interning at Pantry Packers in Jerusalem, where she will serve as a Group Leader for the touring volunteers who will pack pantry staples for needy households across the country. Maya is excited to be able to facilitate the visitor experience from start to finish, from the moment volunteers walk through the doors, to following up with groups after they leave. She is interested in gaining experience in the nonprofit sector, and this opportunity allows her to do so while serving in an educational capacity for a variety of different groups. During her time at Pantry Packers, she hopes to make a positive impact on the visiting groups, inspiring them to continue to live lives of chesed (loving kindness, compassion) and giving back to the people of Israel. She also hopes to gain insight into the reality of working in an Israeli nonprofit organization and learn from her supervisors and coworkers about serving in the field of social services.
Tavorr Vaxman-Magid is a rising junior triple-majoring in Politics, International & Global Studies, and History. This coming fall semester he will study at the Rothberg International School (RIS) at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. In addition to his regular studies, Tavorr hopes to take advantage the special Ulpan programs RIS offers, which are designed to allow students to explore and experience Jerusalem. This unique city is the perfect place to discover history and explore politics. Tavorr also has personal reasons for wanting to explore the city. His mother attended school at Hebrew University, so Jerusalem has a lot of personal significance for him. It is also the home of many important Israeli institutions, such as Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial Museum. Many of Tavorr’s older relatives were Holocaust survivors, and their stories have always fascinated him. During the last few years, he had the honor to hear and record the stories of his great-grandmother, Chaya Magid, a Holocaust survivor and former partisan, who, unfortunately, passed away earlier this year. Being in Jerusalem near Yad Vashem, home to an archive of thousands of records, will give Tavorr the opportunity to continue the family roots project he began after his great-grandmother’s passing. He looks forward to an exciting semester in Jerusalem, which he hopes will give him an opportunity not just to expand his understanding of the world but also to investigate his own family’s history, the details of which may very well be stored in the constructions, institutions, and soul of Jerusalem.
Rachel Araten is a rising junior majoring in Education and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies with a minor in Studio Art. This summer she will be participating in the Onwards/OU-JLIC summer in Jerusalem. She will work at her internship during the day and engage in Jewish learning at night. She will be interning at the ALYN Hospital, Israel’s only pediatric, adolescent rehabilitation facility. It treats patients with congenital, acquired conditions and is the leading hospital worldwide in pediatric rehabilitation. She was drawn to this internship because of the positive impact it has on children’s lives. Rachel has had a lot of experience working in school and camp settings with children with disabilities. This internship though will allow her to explore the field of education within a medical setting. She hopes to learn a lot about this field and observe the different therapies and educational tools that are used in rehabilitation. She is excited to help out in their classrooms as well as explore different areas of the hospital. As a studio art minor, she hopes to explore the field of art therapy and the impact that it can have in rehabilitation. She looks forward to all the new experiences this summer will bring.
Lena Ben-Gideon is from Greensboro, North Carolina and is a rising junior. She is pursuing a major in Health: Science, Society, and Policy as well as minors in Philosophy and Studio Art. In the spring semester of 2023, she will be studying at the Arava Institute for Environmental Studies on Kibbutz Ketura, located in the south of Israel. She believes that this opportunity to study environmental issues will not only give her a unique lens with which to view health issues but also allow her to engage in meaningful conversations on peace and coexistence with students from many different backgrounds. She is really excited to experience Israel through a different lens after a four-year hiatus. She hopes to come back to Brandeis with a different perspective that will contribute to programming at both Hillel and the Study Abroad office.
Sarah Bernstein is a rising senior from Connecticut double majoring in Education Studies and Near Eastern & Judaic Studies (NEJS), with a minor in Psychology. She spent the spring semester at Hebrew University, participating in the Nachshon Project. She anticipates that studying abroad will help her acquire adaptability skills and further her leadership skills, which will help her as she pursues a career in Jewish education. She was drawn to the Nachshon project because its mission is to help empower students to become Jewish professional leaders, which Sarah hopes to be one day. Through this experience, she gained knowledge about different types of opportunities and career paths in the Jewish world, equipping her to pursue a career she is passionate about, and which allows her to do what she loves. The program taught her the skills she will need in order to make an impact on future generations of Jewish students. Many teachers and Jewish professional leaders in her life have served as role models, and she hopes to be able to do the same for her future students and colleagues, sharing her love and passion for Judaism and Jewish education with those around her.
Joseph Levine is a rising sophomore majoring in Chemistry and on the pre-med track. This summer he will be working in an Oncology research lab at Hebrew University in Israel. The research focuses on creating new cancer markers to help determine the stage of cancer, as well as detect cancer that remains after treatment. In addition to working in the lab, he will also have the opportunity to shadow an Oncologist at Hadassah medical center. This is the first opportunity he has had to work in a lab. He is very excited to learn more about, and assist with, the research being done and to work on a project that will hopefully provide tangible benefits. He hopes to help the researchers in whatever way he can. He also hopes to immerse himself in the language and culture. At some point in the future, he would like to make aliyah (move to Israel and become an Israeli citizen). In addition to learning and working within the field, the internship will allow him to make valuable connections that he otherwise would not be able to make before moving to Israel. In addition to his internship, he will be participating in the Orthodox Union’s Summer in Jerusalem program, where he will live in a dorm and learn Talmud with other program participants in the evenings.
Isaac Minkoff is a graduate candidate in the Hornstein Program for an MA in Jewish Professional Leadership and in the Heller School for Social Policy and Management’s Master of Public Policy Program at Brandeis. For his Eizenstat Grant project, Isaac will be traveling to Israel for the Myra Kraft Seminar in Israel, part of his MA program, and an intensive Hebrew ulpan and Israeli immersion program through Maslool, a Masa affiliated program. As part of his Hornstein program requirement and personal and professional growth, Isaac needs and wants to complete Hebrew learning in the Land of Israel. Isaac is an aspiring public policy professional with a desire to serve the policy needs and interests of Jewish communities. By immersing himself in intensive ulpan Hebrew and participating in the program’s cultural events and travel throughout the country from Maslool, Isaac hopes to develop a deeper understanding of Israeli society. Moreover, the Myra Kraft Seminar in Israel helps aspiring Jewish professionals like Isaac develop a more complex personal and professional relationship with Israel. Between the experience of Myra Kraft Seminar and Maslool’s immersive Hebrew and Israeli immersion, Isaac hopes to develop his modern Hebrew, engage with Israel from a position of greater understanding, and to better serve world Jewry from a policy perspective.
Dina Millerman is a rising sophomore double majoring in Environmental Studies and Chemistry and minoring in Hispanic Studies. For her grant project, she will participate in the Onward Israel internship program. She will be living in Haifa and interning as a research assistant in the Marine Geoarchaeology and Micropaleontology Laboratory at the University of Haifa with Dr. Beverly Goodman-Tchernov. She was drawn to this experience because she is passionate about Israel and the environment and believes that by helping conduct environmental research on the coast, she can have a direct impact on creating a greener future. She finds Dr. Goodman's work in climate science to be fascinating, and it will be a direct application of the skills and concepts she has learned in Climate Science with Brandeis Professor Sally Warner this past academic year. Dr. Goodman’s lab makes use of climate proxies such as analyzing foraminifera (single-celled organisms that live in along the coasts and in other bodies of water) gathered from sediment samples, a practice about which Dina completed an assignment and will now get to practice in the real world. She hopes to gain research experience and insight into the most pressing climate research and issues, as well as participate in conversation with climate experts. Through this internship, she hopes to help advance projects in the sector of climate science and marine research.
Lotem Sagi is a rising junior at Brandeis majoring in Environmental Studies. She will be doing an internship through Destination Israel, focusing on environmental education. She will work for EcoOcean, a nonprofit Israeli organization that aims to empower people to care for the coastal environment of Israel and the region through research, education, and civic engagement. During her time interning with them, she will be researching, translating, and creating educational materials to be used throughout the upcoming academic year. In addition, she will be leading and educating people through beach cleanups and will help conduct marine environmental research at sea. She was drawn to this project because she sees a future for herself in community building and sustainability. She is from Israel originally and looks forward to getting involved with the community there, helping to both educate and inform children and the public through her work with EcoOcean. She hopes that her existing knowledge in climate change, agriculture, waste, and environmental justice will be valuable in shaping the content that is used to educate students throughout the school year. She is also thrilled to be able to aid with environmental marine research, as it will be a new experience for her and one that she looks forward to immensely. She is very excited to be working with EcoOcean and is sure that this experience will be instrumental in shaping her connection to the environmental field.
Nathan Ashner '22 is a senior majoring in International and Global Studies (IGS) and minoring in Jewish Studies and Philosophy. This past summer he interned for Tazpit Press Service (TPS), an independent international English-language Israeli news agency in Jerusalem, and studied at Yeshivat Ohr Sameach. For TPS he did copy editing, gathered information for and wrote daily email newsletters, and tweeted their top stories each day. Nathan has always been passionate about current events and believes his most marketable skills are writing and editing. This internship perfectly combined his interests and the professional skills he seeks to foster. He had a lot of experience writing, but this internship enabled him to gain experience in journalism, the career path he is eagerly pursuing. Furthermore, it gave him a more nuanced understanding of Israeli life and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He now utilizes this knowledge and experience at Brandeis to help his peers have conversations around this topic that are more well informed, less one-sided, and based on history and political realities.
Arielle Leeman '22 is a senior studying Biology, and Anthropology. Over the long winter break, she had the pleasure of pursuing a meaningful project in Israel to advance her personal development at Midreshet Rachel V’Chaya in Jerusalem. During the coronavirus pandemic, she spent time reflecting and found that there was a fundamental aspect of her identity that she wanted to develop more, in order to pursue her career and personal goals to their fullest potential. Her religious identity is a driving force in her motivation for a career in science. Studying science and medicine is part of her religious way of understanding the world around her. Judaism teaches that the first ethical question man asks in the Bible is, “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Or in other words, “Is it my moral duty to be responsible for the welfare of another?” She was taught from an early age that the answer to this question is yes. She believes medicine is the ultimate opportunity to help others, for one has nothing without health. With this in mind, she has spent time diving into her studies in Jerusalem, in a neighborhood called Har Nof. At Midreshet Rachel V’Chaya, each day started with intensive Hebrew and Torah textual study. She also delved into different topics, including prayer, lifecycle events and traditions, issues in Jewish contemporary society, the code of Jewish laws, and the 13 principles of faith. She feels transformed – in her knowledge and perspectives – getting closer to understanding how she wants to live her life: as a good friend, community member, mother, and doctor.
Yael Perlman '23 is a junior studying Politics with minors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies and Economics. This past summer she interned with ITIM (“Passages” in Hebrew), the Jewish Life Advocacy Center, Israel's leading think tank focused on issues of religion and state. ITIM has four departments including the Public Policy Center, the Legal Center, the Conversion Center, and the Assistance Center which provide a variety of services including serving as a government watchdog, issuing policy papers, and participating in Knesset hearings to reform key religion-and-state issues. As an intern, she served as a research assistant in the Assistance Center and learned more about the specifics of discriminatory practices within the State’s Jewish policies. Additionally, she participated in Jewish Learning Initiative on Campus' Onward program (JLIC) where she studied Torah with peers in the evenings. She was drawn to this project by her passion for Israeli policy and helping to make it a more inclusive and pluralistic state for its various populations. As someone who hopes to one day live in Israel, she was excited to see how advocacy works on the ground and learn more about possible career paths there.
Aliana Velick '22 is a senior double majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology with a double minor in Religious Studies and Art History. For her grant project she participated in a summer internship working in a neuroscience laboratory at the University of Haifa, researching Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). She focused on social deficits in mice that result from specific genetic mutations associated with ASD, and the effects of different variable conditions on social behavior. She is extremely interested in ASD, especially because it is such an innovative field and is changing so rapidly. She was drawn to this internship in particular for the opportunity to work in Israel, so she could immerse herself in an entirely different environment and culture, and further her education on Abrahamic religion in Israel. She was excited to gain experience working in a laboratory and aiding in research that could have implications for the future of ASD. But most of all, she was excited to develop an understanding of Israeli culture and cultural differences, and discover a new perspective on her Jewish identity.
Aviva Weinstein '23 is a junior majoring in Anthropology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and minoring in Business. This past summer, she took those interests with her to Israel where she interned with an organization called the Ethiopian National Project (ENP). During her time there, she lived in the Lev Yerushalayim hotel as part of the Boston Onward Israel program’s Jerusalem track. As an ENP intern, she worked on both the business development and marketing sides of the company. She also helped gather real people’s stories of living as Ethiopian Israelis, all while researching the impacts of ENP’s programs across the country. As an aspiring anthropologist with interests in aiding unique non-profit Jewish organizations, she was excited for the opportunity to go out into the field and collect stories of individuals. She was eager to help spread the word of this fascinating organization within the North American Jewish community through outreach efforts, and working with one of the team members on research and fundraising development methods. She was especially excited to work with ENP because last year, she interned with a Boston organization called the Cape Verdean-Jewish Passover Seder. This organization has worked for over 15 years to connect the New England Jewish community with Cape Verdean Jews, or descendants of Jews from this group of islands in West Africa. She may use these experiences of working with African Jews/Israelis for research in her senior year at Brandeis. With this knowledge, as well as a background in marketing, research, and some business development from various clubs and classes towards her minor, she believes that she contributed to ENP on an organizational/business level, and was even able, to some degree, to expand the company’s research from an anthropological perspective. Overall, the experience afforded her the opportunity to create new connections and make a difference in people’s lives.
Hannah Cook '20 is a junior with a double major in International/Global Studies and Anthropology and a minor in Hebrew Language, Literature and Culture. This summer she will be interning at the Society for International Development (SID)’s Israel branch for 10 weeks. SID is a leader in the field of international development, bringing people together from different parts of society to advance important projects. Hannah was drawn to this internship in particular because it combines her passion for international affairs and development, while enabling her to build on her Hebrew language skills and deepen her understanding of Israeli society and office culture. She is excited to join the team in Tel Aviv advocating for collaboration between business and government sectors working towards Israel’s role in international development. She also hopes to make a difference in the field through her own research project with the Sudanese refugee community in Tel Aviv. She thinks this experience will her help her determine whether she can see herself living in working in Israel after she graduates from Brandeis. Hannah anticipates returning to Brandeis in the fall with a clearer understanding of what international development looks like from a country other than the U.S.
Natalie Fenwick '21 is a sophomore majoring in Sociology and minoring in Education Studies and Social Justice & Social Policy. This summer she will be interning at the African Refugee Development Center (ARDC) in Tel Aviv. She will serve as a higher education caseworker. She will be responsible for maintaining contact with agency clients and helping them sign up for classes or apply for educational opportunities. She will seek to connect schools and educational facilities with the agency’s clients. Natalie was drawn to this project by the opportunity to engage directly in the nonprofit world. She anticipates that the work will prove difficult and challenging, but is motivated by the chance to help people directly, to see firsthand the impact of her work. Through this experience she will also develop new a skill set, learning how to be independent in a fast-paced and demanding environment. She plans to do everything in her power to serve her clients’ needs and help them feel supported in their new country by the ARDC.
Batsheva Moskowitz '22 is a rising sophomore planning to major in Creative Writing and minor in Theater and Business. For her grant project, she will attend a program called Summer in Jerusalem. She will live in an apartment in Jerusalem, gaining work experience in an internship during the day, and taking evening classes in Judaic studies. For her internship, Batsheva will work as a story gatherer for an organization called the Ethiopian National Project (ENP), which strives to advance the integration of Ethiopian-Israelis into Israeli society. Her responsibilities will include visiting various projects and collecting stories on the impacts of ENP’s programs. Through writing, photography, and videography she will share and promote ENP’s work and its participant’s stories, through social media, with the North American Jewish community and global Jewry. Batsheva looks forward to learning how to use her creative talents in a business setting, how to tell stories that showcase the essence of an organization to promote it effectively. This internship with ENP will provide important work experience in her field of interest and in the country where she plans to live in. She feels energized by the prospect of using her creativity and business aptitude to promote the programs of this important organization, and to make a difference in the lives of people and communities.
Yona Steinman '20 is a rising senior at Brandeis University. Hailing from Ottawa Canada, he is majoring in economics with minors in mathematics, business and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. For his grant project, he will be interning at DreaMed Diabetes, an Israeli medtech (medical technology) startup that develops personalized support solutions for insulin therapy. The company is dedicated to enhancing the lives of insulin dependent patients with innovative personalized medicine and decision support technology. Yona will be focusing on the company’s entrance into the Canadian market, as well as overall sales. He was drawn to this project because it combines his passions for Israel, business and helping others. Through his internship, Yona hopes to gain valuable business skills to assist him in his future career. He also hopes to gain a better understanding of Israel’s start-up ecosystem, specifically regarding medtech companies. Lastly, he hopes to truly make a difference for the company and help them expand, not only for the company’s sake, but also to help them make a substantial difference in people’s lives.
Jacqueline Zenou '19 is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Business. This past winter break, she volunteered at the Shalva National Center in Jerusalem. She spent her time in a “gan shiluv,” an integrated classroom. This preschool classroom consisted primarily of typically functioning one- to three-year olds, joined regularly for various activities by one- to three-year olds with disabilities. As an aspiring school psychologist, this opportunity was especially interesting to Jacqueline because it gave her a chance to learn how to teach the value of inclusion, especially from such a young age. It also enabled her to interact with children who have a number of disabilities, which was a new and exciting experience for her. Jacqueline hopes to make Aliyah in the near future, and this opportunity allowed her to meet people pursuing careers similar to the one that most interests her, and in the place she loves so dearly. She was delighted to meet new people, make connections, learn about teaching inclusion, and create positive memories with the students. She sought to impact the children, and to alleviate, as much as possible, the stress of the staff, whose jobs can be exhausting. She hopes the children understand how much they meant to her, and that she enriched their lives during their time together.
Ezra Cohen ’19 is a double major in Psychology and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. This summer he traveled to Israel to conduct research for his senior thesis, which explores the interaction between halakha (Jewish law) and mental illness. His thesis pays special attention to halakhic sensitivities to mental illness, in particular, to instances of alteration and even suspension of standard halakhic obligations for observant Jews struggling with mental illness. Ezra interviewed mental health professionals, hospital chaplains, and religious authorities to inform his understanding of how halakha is applied differentially to mentally ill individuals. He sought to answer questions about when Jewish law pardons a mentally ill individual from halakhic strictures; how mental health professionals operating in religious communities employ the guidance of rabbis and spiritual authorities when treating mentally ill individuals; and how religious authorities utilize the advice of mental health professionals in dispensing religious guidance to such individuals. He hoped his research would ultimately contribute to the treatment of mental health in observant Jewish communities by bringing halakha and mental health into dialogue with one another. Ezra is considering career paths in the rabbinate and in psychology and believes his experience this past summer will help him determine which professional path to follow.
Shai Dinnar ’20 is double majoring in Neuroscience and Business. Before entering Brandeis, she participated in a Social Leadership Gap Year in Israel, learning about Israeli societal issues with a group of Israeli youth, while leading projects aimed at developing future solutions. This spurred her interest in social entrepreneurship, which she explored upon enrolling in Brandeis. Here, she joined a small group of Heller school graduate students at Brandeis University’s Heller School for Social Policy and Management to found a technology startup providing economic empowerment to refugees worldwide, and discovered her passion for the startup community. These experiences shaped her current career interests, which she was able to pursue this summer in Israel, famously known as Startup Nation. Shai worked as a Business Development Intern at Neura, a Tel Aviv-based technology startup company specializing in mobile artificial intelligence (AI). This internship combined her Neuroscience major focus in artificial intelligence and machine learning with her Business major entrepreneurship skills. The notable gender imbalance in both technology and the startup industry often results in barriers to women seeking to enter these fields; this internship served as a critical entry point for this young female entrepreneur into the Israeli startup ecosystem.
Haley Director ‘20 majors in Biology and minors in Spanish. She was offered an internship position, through Onward Israel,* in the lab of the influential geneticist Yosef Gruenbaum, a professor and researcher at Hebrew University in Jerusalem. This internship is highly coveted by students interested in pursuing a career in genetics and is very competitive. Professor Gruenbaum is very influential in the genetics community. He and his team have published several papers that have changed the field of genetics; they continue to make discoveries that contribute substantively to scientific understanding of the genetic foundation of a number of diseases. Haley was assigned to one of the scientist’s current research projects, and her work this past summer could contribute to a scientific paper the lab may eventually publish on the study’s findings. She was excited to have the opportunity to be part of this work, which could have such profound and concrete impact on vital issues in human health. Through this internship, Haley hoped to gain a deeper understanding of the interplay between genetic and biological processes, which, coupled with this work experience, has moved her closer to her chosen career as genetic counselor.
Gavi Kutliroff ’19 majors in East Asian Studies. He spent the summer at the Gershom Scholem Library in Jerusalem, researching and preparing to write his senior thesis, a comparison of Hasidic and Taoist concepts of the self and ego-death. Gavi received access to the Library’s extraordinary collection of Hasidic texts from the past several hundred years, and had the Library’s director, Zvi Leshem, as his mentor. The relationship between Jewish and Taoist philosophies is virtually unstudied; only a handful of scholars have written on the subject, and most of them live in Israel. Gavi arranged to meet with several of them. This opportunity granted him access to rare texts, and rare access to the small community of scholars working in this area of study. It also gave him the time he needed to focus and develop his ideas before he begins writing. Gavi is considering a career in academia, exploring more deeply the philosophical relationship between Judaism and the religions and cultures of the Far East. This opportunity to engage in deep and serious scholarship helped Gavi determine that he does in fact wish to pursue an academic career, and when he does, this experience was an enormously helpful step in that direction.
Jerry Miller ‘19 double majors in Economics and Computer Science. Over winter break he took part in the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) Student Leadership Mission to Israel, a program that aims to empower Jewish student leaders with the tools to fight anti-Zionist sentiment on campus. Participants spent time in the West Bank, meeting with Israeli and Palestinian officials. They also visited residents of Palestinian villages and cities, as well as Israelis living in nearby Jewish settlements. Motivated by his interest in the Israeli political economy, Jerry was particularly interested in gaining a nuanced understanding of the impact that Jewish West Bank settlements have on both the Israeli and the Palestinian economies. Through firsthand interactions with Palestinian workers in West Bank-based Israeli factories, Jerry discovered that some viewed Israeli settlements as the source of significant economic opportunities to which they would not otherwise have access. This information challenged the black and white view of the Jewish settlements as a divisive obstacle to peace so often conveyed in Western media. In highlighting a different perspective on the situation, the experience demonstrated how the the Jewish settlements could have a positive impact on both the Palestinian and Israeli eonomies, while also offering opportunities to connect the area’s Palestinian and Jewish residents in productive ways.
Hadas Nahar ‘20 is a Psychology major. This summer, through Onward Israel,* she was an intern at Beit Ha’Gefen, an Arab-Jewish Cultural Center in Haifa. The organization aims to bring together Arabs and Jews to build a shared society in Haifa and in Israel, promoting coexistence and tolerance and providing tools to navigate the complex issues of a multicultural society. Hadas was eager to learn about and participate in Arab-Jewish coexistence efforts, and was excited by the prospect of contributing to this important work. From a career standpoint, this internship helped expand her skill set and build her resume, while also enabling her to explore her professional interests. In her work at Beit Ha’Gefen, Hadas saw firsthand how a non-profit organization functions and learned about fundraising, management, and community work. On a personal level, Hadas wished to strengthen her connection with Israel. While there, she hopds to advance her Hebrew language skills, building upon her Hebrew School education, and moving towards fluency.
* Onward Israel is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide young Jewish adults ages 18-26 foster a connection with Israel while connecting them with opportunities to further develop their professional interests.
Maytal Babajanian ‘19 double majors in Biology and the Health: Science, Society and Policy (HSSP) program. She is spending August through December of 2017 participating in Tel Aviv University’s Voyage to Medicine fall semester program. Through the program, Maytal is gaining experience in one of the Tel Aviv area's finest hospitals and its medical institutions, taking academic courses and getting hands-on hospital experience, under the tutelage of expert physicians in the field. That hands-on experience includes shadowing medical professionals, volunteering as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT), and spending time in various medical units, including the ER and OR, Pediatrics, Orthopedics, and Gynecology.
Mya Goodman ’18 double majors in Education Studies and African and Afro-American Studies. This summer Mya interned with Onward Israel’s Diversity and Social Justice Program in Haifa. In her time there, Mya developed skills in cross-cultural communication and community organizing. She appreciated the opportunity to help facilitate positive relationships amongst Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs at her internship as well as in her day-to-day interactions with Haifa residents. Mya's blog post
Rebecca Hersch ‘19, a Sociology major double minoring in Religious Studies and Near Eastern and Judaic studies, interned with the Yerushalmit movement, through the Onward Israel program. The internship involved community organizing for Israeli sociopolitical change, including fieldwork, promoting grassroots campaigns and conducting fundraising research. The Yerushalmit Movement works to empower social activists and foster pluralism in neighborhoods throughout Jerusalem, with the aim of strengthening the city’s human capital, improving quality of life and preventing negative migration. Rebecca's blog post
Yael Jaffe ‘18 triple majors in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies; Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies; and Sociology. This summer, she participated in the Hartman Institute's iEngage Internship, serving as a research assistant and attending classes taught by Hartman faculty. Yael enjoyed the opportunity to develop connections with the other students in her cohort and with the Institute as whole. During her time at the Hartman Institute, she worked to develop salient connections between academia and lived Jewish experiences. Yael's blog post
Tova Perlman ‘18, an Art History major, spent her winter break researching the politics of street art and issues of gentrification and urbanization in Tel Aviv for her senior thesis. After spending the previous summer in Harlem working on murals and street art, Tova became fascinated with the positive and negative impacts that street art can have on a neighborhood. She decided to use Tel Aviv as a case study for cross-cultural analysis and comparison, exploring the relationship between residents of Tel Aviv and the street artists who operate there. Tova's blog post
Doron Shapir ‘19, who majors in International and Global Studies is preparing for a political career in Israel, where he hopes to work towards a better reality and a peaceful future in Israel. He began that journey this summer when he interns with Israeli Member of Knesset Yoel Hasson, gaining hands-on experience in the political and legislative work he plans to pursue after he graduates. In tandem with his Knesset internship, Doron also interned with Roots, an initiative led by a joint Palestinian and Israeli committee, based in the West Bank, which endeavors to lay the groundwork for “a reality in which future agreements between our governments can be built.” Doron assisted Roots’ efforts to coordinate between Palestinian communities and the Israel Civil Administration. Doron's blog post
Our first two grantees for 2015-2016 are Sophie Brickman '16 who double-majors in Psychology and Health: Science, Society and Policy; and Gabriel Sanders '17 whose double-major is Economics and Islamic & Middle Eastern Studies.
At the Israel Center for the Treatment of Psychotrauma this Winter: "I always thought I wanted to work with people in a clinical setting, which I still enjoy, but my work at the center has helped me discover how much I love research." Sophie's blog
Gabriel has completed a Spring semester abroad at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem examining "the intricacies and complexities surrounding Israeli and Palestinian identity." Gabriel's blog
They are joined by the three more students in Israel over the summer: Camille Brenner '17, majoring in African and Afro-American Studies and volunteering on Kaima Farm, working alongside Israeli youth who have dropped out of school; Jared Kraay '19, majoring in Near Eastern & Judaic Studies and doing research at Shalem College; and Austin Shanabrook '18, majoring in Anthropology and Near Eastern & Judaic Studies, interning with the Israeli Antiquities Authority excavations in the ancient city of Hazor.
Emily Dworkin studies politics and economics and is enrolled in the Harvard spring honors program at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
"Taking economics classes at Hebrew University, interacting with professors and interning in Jerusalem will all offer me a once in a lifetime opportunity to learn about Israel through a hands-on approach." Emily's blog
Ohad Elhelo is a Slifka Scholar at Brandeis, studying business and economics. In July 2014 he returned to Israel to serve with fellow military reservists in Operation Protective Edge. Upon his return he spoke to a crowd of 3,000 people about the need for a 'new infrascructure of hope' and video of his speech went viral.
Ohad utilized the travel grant to expand the work of "Our Generation Speaks," formed to empower young Israeli, Palestinian and American college students and to promote productive conversation surrounding the conflict.
Hannah Kober is double-majoring in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and language and linguistics. In Israel, she conducted research for her senior honors thesis on the motivations of Mizrahi youth to participate in Arabic language programs in Israel. Hanna's blog
Ilana Rosenbaum majors in psychology with a minor in health policy and Near Eastern and Judaic studies. Having a leadership position in the TAMID Israel Investment Group at Brandeis, she is able to fuse her passion about Israel and innovation together with her academic pursuits at her internship with Innovation: Africa (iA).
"iA is a non-profit organization that brings Israeli solar and agricultural technologies to African villages to improve the lives of rural African people and, in doing so, improves the image of Israel around the world." Ilana's blog and podcast
Ethan Stein graduates in 2015 with a triple-major in computer science, film, and Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. He spent two weeks in Israel researching the Israeli technology sector and start-up scene, particularly with regards to cyber security. Stein is both an entrepreneur, having launched CyberSecurityPlan, and an award-winning student filmmaker.
Coming from a frigid, record-breaking winter in Waltham, nothing was more exciting to me than visiting the warm region in the Middle East...or so I thought. As my first meeting grew closer, news came that Jerusalem was expecting a major snow storm. Just my luck! Ethan's blog
Mirit Gendelman double-majored in International & Global Studies and Business. She used her award to study at Hebrew University, Spring 2014, in the Jerusalem Honors Program at the Rothberg International School. Gendelman appreciated the opportunity to immerse herself in Israeli society, and further her understanding of Israeli economic and business practices.
"Hierarchy systems in Israeli companies are for the most part pretty lax in comparison to the US. For instance, I was constantly having one-on-one meetings with the managing partner." Mirit's blog
Kochava Ayoun is double majoring in Psychology and International & Global Studies, with a minor in Film. The grant is funding her senior thesis research on the gap between the intentions and implementations of international treaties pertaining to women and children. While in Israel she will interview women, their children, judges, lawyers and social workers to gain insight into the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction as applied in Israeli courts. Kochava's blog
Viktoria Bedo majored in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. In Israel she interned as a research assistant in the Hartman Institute's iEngage program. Her impetus for working there was to narrow her research focus, and prepare for the rigor needed for graduate study in the field of modern Jewish studies.
"First, I worked on a preparing a source sheet for a lecture my mentor was giving on the value of compromise, with regards to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict." Viki's blog
Eliezer Buechler majored in Near Eastern and Judaic Studies. He assisted on an archaeological dig at Tel Abel Beth Maacah in Northern Israel. The excavation is a joint project between Azusa Pacific University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in collaboration with Cornell University.
"The archaeological dig at Abel Beth Maacah is entering its third week of excavations. I have worked for the past three weeks in Area ‘F’ unearthing the once powerful Aramean city in Northern Israel." Eliezer's blog
Catriona Stewart majored in English. She spent the summer of 2014 as a Resource Development intern for Kav LaOved, a non-profit organization that aims to protect and promote the rights of the most disadvantaged workers in Israel. Catriona's blog
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