Hadassah-Brandeis Institute welcomes interns for summer 2012

Eight students explore the fields of Jewish women's and gender studies

The Hadassah-Brandeis Institute (HBI) welcomed eight student interns on June 11 for the 14th year of the HBI Summer Internship Program. Funded by the Jim Joseph Foundation and an anonymous donor, the internship provides college students, recent graduates and graduate students with a paid opportunity to explore the fields of Jewish women’s and gender studies.

The students work with HBI researchers and Brandeis and Boston-area faculty. The internship is supervised by Brandeis graduate student Rachel Bernstein, who also leads the interns on weekly outings to research archives and local places of Jewish interest. A highlight of the internship is the students’ creation of independent research projects that align with HBI’s mission to develop fresh ideas about Jews and gender worldwide.

The eight students are enrolled at Brandeis University as well as Smith College, Mount Holyoke College, Oberlin College, Rollins College and the Polish Academy of Sciences.
“The interns choose amazing, original questions to investigate,” said Brandeis professor Shulamit Reinharz, founding director of the HBI. “The staff learns a lot from them and looks forward to the end of the summer when all of the interns present their work.”
Aislinn Bentacourt, a recent graduate of Rollins College in Winter Park, Fla, is examining the impact of second-wave feminism on Judaism’s views on reproductive rights. She hopes to spend time next year learning about Islam’s views, which she can then put in comparative perspective. 
Several of the students are interested in sexual identity among Jews. Katy Swartz is focusing on the intersection of multiple identities among gay and lesbian members of the Jewish community and how they navigate their multiple minority statuses. A related project by Sydney Sadur hopes to bring attention to the narratives of transgender-identified Jews and their relationship to their faith.  

Alicja Podbielska, a graduate student from the Polish Academy of Sciences, is exploring the role of gender in the representation of people who risked their lives during the Holocaust to save Jews. When her work is complete, she plans to send it to Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem, a Holocaust memorial and research center, which is only now beginning to explore gender factors related to the Holocaust. 

After the summer ends, the interns continue to stay in touch with the HBI. As former intern Elizabeth Marder of Hobart and William Smith Colleges wrote, “Jewish studies is a topic that was new to me and now has become an important framework through which I see the world. At the same time, the internship helped foster a strong connection with my Jewish identity.”
Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

Categories: Humanities and Social Sciences

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage