Brief Spotlight: Eliana Padwa ’21

Eliana Padwa, a Brandeis student, stands in front of a sculpture on campus
Mike Lovett
Eliana Padwa

Hometown: Riverdale neighborhood of the Bronx

Studies: Major in history, minor in teacher education

Career plans: Teaching in secondary school

Motto: “Everything makes sense one day.”

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It seems unlikely Eliana Padwa ’21 has much free time. The characteristically calm and sensible junior is pursuing a major and a minor, helping to edit two student publications, participating in Shabbat dinners every week and making time to chill with friends.

The organizing principle in Padwa’s academic and social pursuits is the Jewish experience.

“I love that everything is connected at Brandeis,” she says. “Academics are not really separate from friends or Jewish life. I have a community here.”

Over the summer, Padwa worked as a Gilda Slifka Intern at the Hadassah-Brandeis Institute, researching questions at the heart of Jewish feminism. Earlier in the year, she helped launch the Brandeis Judaic Studies Journal, a twice-yearly publication of student scholarship. Alongside Jonathan Mohr ’20, the journal’s editor-in-chief, and Benji Schwartz ’21, the founder and treasurer, Padwa, who acts as managing editor, spent countless hours in late-night meetings, editing sessions and debriefs to create the inaugural issue, which includes articles about Maimonides, Mishkan Israel and the Memphis Jewish community.

President Ron Liebowitz penned the foreword to the 82-page issue, which was inspired by the Framework for Our Future, the university’s strategic plan. “Like their professors […], Brandeis students have an enduring commitment to learning and producing excellent scholarship,” Liebowitz wrote. “The Brandeis Judaic Studies Journal not only reflects these inspiring commitments but also highlights Brandeis students’ impressive engagement with some of the pressing Jewish topics of our day.”

With donations from various sources, 350 copies of the issue were printed and distributed at Alumni Weekend in June. “The journal is a lot of work and a huge learning curve, but it shows undergraduates are producing real scholarship,” says Padwa. The second issue will be published in December.

In addition to working on the journal, she is associate editor at The Justice. She’s also a Roosevelt Fellow, spending many hours each week advising students, especially first-years, on how to navigate academic and personal life.

Despite this go-go schedule, she knows the importance of “learning to balance personal and emotional needs with ambition and the desire to always be doing more,” she says. “Stepping back and making some time to relax is a strength, not a sign of inadequacy.”