Congratulations graduates!

Congratulations to the Spring 2023 graduating class! The Jewish Studies graduation recognition and award ceremony was held on Friday, May 12, 2023. During this time, we honored students who graduated in this academic year – either in Spring 2023 or in Fall 2022.

Fall 2022 graduates are: Leah Anderson (BA Jewish Studies, Philosophy), Brian Bobka (BA Jewish Studies, minor History), and Beatrice Levine (Certificate in Holocaust and Genocide Studies). Spring 2023 graduates are: Caitlin Erickson (BA Physics, minor Jewish Studies), Kate Jacobs (BA Jewish Studies, Psychology), Austin Klinock (BA History and Jewish Studies, Honors Program, minor Communication Studies), and Mary Morrison (BA Political Science, minor African and African Diasporic Languages, Global and International Studies, Jewish Studies, and Middle East Studies).

We are so proud of our graduates. They are resilient, committed, thoughtful, enthusiastic, and determined to build a better future for yourselves and for our world. Congratulations to our Jewish Studies graduates, and to their families and friends, who supported them tirelessly.

Many congratulations to Austin Klinock, who was awarded the David and Sharyn Katzman Fellowship for his academic excellence. The David and Sharyn Katzman award is given by the faculty to a graduating senior who showcased growth and excellence in Jewish Studies. For his capstone, Austin Klinock submitted a successful IRB proposal and conducted semi-structured interviews with participants, discovering the important role that Jewish artifacts play in the lives of college students who transition from their homes to the new college environment. To quote from Austin’s conclusion, “The items we keep in our homes and bring with us when we walk out the door show the elements of Jewish culture that we find most important. They serve as an indication of a common identity among other Jews and spark conversations about what it means to be Jewish with others. In the face of hatred, physical representations of Jewish pride project strength and solidarity. And in a transient life where physical possessions are temporary, those that we choose to keep present in our daily lives indicate not just the level of connection we have to our Jewish identity, but also the values that characterize this identity and allow it to persist once its reinforcement becomes a personal responsibility.” Kudos!

We also have some exciting news to share – our Danciger funding was just renewed for another year, and we were able to award a number of Spring awards to students with outstanding achievements in Jewish Studies.

Brian Bobka and Kate Jacobs were awarded the Danciger Undergraduate Service Award in Jewish Studies for their enthusiastic support and involvement with the Jewish Studies Program.

Two students were the recipients of the Danciger Research Award: Kate Jacobs for a project analyzing antisemitism on social media (with Dr. Renee Perelmutter), and Eli Richman for studying the leadership of Menachem Begin (with Dr. Rami Zeedan).

The Danciger Award for Excellence in Hebrew has been awarded to Eric Fischer and David Franke (Beginning Hebrew), Ben Cook, Ethan Klinock, and Robbie Metz (Intermediate Hebrew), and Zac Kitay and Adina Thompson (Advanced Hebrew).

Jewish Studies minor Mary Morrison was honored with the prestigious University Award, which recognizes students who “embody service excellence, dedication, or whose academic achievements remain stellar.” In addition to a Jewish Studies minor, Mary received a BA in Political Science and minors in African & African Diasporic Languages, Middle Eastern Studies, Global & International Studies and Jewish Studies.

In addition to celebrating the accomplishments of our graduates, three Jewish Studies courses: Israel: From Idea to State (JWSH 410), Language, Gender, and Sexuality (JWSH 305), and Jewish Ethics (JWSH 347) taught by Dr. Rami Zeedan, Dr. Renee Perelmutter, and Dr. Bogi Perelmutter have been awarded the Christopher H. Haufler Award for KU Core Innovation. The funds from this award will be used to advance work on teaching, learning, and assessment in Jewish Studies. The Jewish Studies Program will be honored at the CTE Teaching Summit in August 2023.

In closing, an announcement about Jewish Studies leadership. I (Dr. Renee Perelmutter) have been promoted to Full Professor and will be on research leave in AY23-24. It has been an honor to serve Jewish Studies for these last four years! I am looking forward to many more years together. While I am on leave, Dr. Rami Zeedan will be stepping in as the Acting Director of Jewish Studies. Dr. Zeedan has just been tenured and promoted to Associate Professor – (congratulations!).  I am looking forward to seeing the program flourish next year under his leadership.

We are so proud of our graduating seniors, and of our community. This hasn’t been the easiest year, but I am looking forward to a future with so much hope.

Wishing all of you a wonderful summer,
Dr. Perelmutter