Student Achievement Awards
Jewish Studies Student Achievement Awards
Jewish Studies Student Achievement Awards are given annually each spring based on faculty nomination. Candidates are students who have carried through on an important investigation or project, written a compelling scholarly paper, achieved special distinction in a course or set of courses, been involved in important community service or Jewish Studies-related internship, especially excelled in study abroad courses, or otherwise achieved distinction in an area of Jewish Studies.
Helena Bentley, a senior International Relations major in James Madison College, is an accomplished specialist in Jewish Studies who has focused in her work on peace and security studies in the Middle East. She has twice studied abroad at the Hebrew University and, while in Israel for the second time, completed internships at the Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education at Hebrew University and also at the Harry S. Truman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace. Here she conducted research and did translation work from Farsi for Institute publications. Helena Bentley was nominated by David Mendelsson of Hebrew University and Yael Aronoff of MSU.
Danielle Gittleman, a junior Human Biology major in the College of Natural Sciences, a pre-med student, is a third generation descendant of a Holocaust survivor and her special project is writing and transforming the memoir left by her late grandfather, Ira Mechlowitz, titled “I Was Happy When I Was Singing.” Mr. Mechlowitz wrote a hand-written memoir on four legal pads for his family — unpunctuated, without structure, unannotated — and Danielle Gittleman has been re-writing, annotating, bolstering, and contextualizing it as an original piece of Holocaust research and story-making. Ira Mechlowitz and family from near Mielec Poland were on an early train to Belzec but escaped, and the subsequent tale is of a fugitive life under Nazi occupation in rural Rzeszow County in southern Poland, moving in and out of area labor camps, hiding in the forest, maintaining contacts with remnant Jews, and finding work and shelter with area Poles on farms.